The Amazing Spider-Man #697 Review

 The Danger Zone reaches its climactic finish with Spider-Man going toe-to-toe with both Hobgoblins, young and old!

“Danger Zone Part Three: War of the Goblins”

Written by Dan Slott

Illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Inked by both Dan Green and John Dell

Colored by Antonio Fabela

Lettered by VC’s Chris Eliopoulos

THE PLOT: The two Hobgoblins, one Phil Urich and the other Roderick Kingsley, are chasing Peter and Max Modell through the streets of New York. They’re heading to Osborn’s secret hideout, lead by the Goblin key which contains his biggest secrets. Once arriving, Peter switches to Spider-Man while Modell attempts to save Norah Winters from the Goblin’s murderous drones.

LONG STORY SHORT: A battle ensues between Spidey and the Hobgoblins, resulting in the destruction of the Osborn hideout. Kingsley electrocutes Urich and is about to finish him, before coercing him to being Hobgoblin for just a little while longer. Spider-Man seeks out to destroy the remaining Spider-Jammers, while Tiberious Stone is on the run from the Kingpin’s wrath, now fired from Horizon Labs.

MY THOUGHTS: After two issues of feeling “meh” about this story, the third part ends with an action packed climax that hooks me from the start. It’s hard to put my finger on why this issue grabbed me where the previous ones didn’t, as it’s not like those were all that bad to begin with. Whatever the case, “Danger Zone” ends up being a perfectly serviceable entry into Slott’s run and brings back the classic Hobgoblin in true style.

I’ll start with the art. Normally, Giuseppe Camuncoli’s pencils leave me feeling cold and unimpressed. He’s certainly a solid artist with a sense for dramatic flair, but as I said in last issue’s review I’m not sure if he fits super hero comics, let alone Spider-Man. This issue makes me take that back, as the fight between Spidey and the Goblins was a lot of fun. It was a bit short, but I really enjoyed every panel of Spider-Man flying through the air, punching and dodging the Goblins’ blows. I’d like to compliment John Dell for his welcomed inks. They deliver a richer, more luscious depth to the pencils which serves as a nice change from the bitter, needle-esque linework that Green and Janson before him typically gave. It wasn’t just the inking however. Camuncoli’s storyboards worked wonderfully and carried the second half of the issue. From the moment Spider-Man comes bursting out of the Osborn building, there’s a real sense of dimension. Perhaps it’s due to the fight taking place outside in the open, as opposed to inside a building in the last issue. I never felt any excitement from the Hobgoblin battle there, but in the issue it felt like old times. Camuncoli had Spidey be very acrobatic and agile, harkening  back to stories like the Ron Frenz illustrated “Hobgoblin Lives” or the season one Hobgoblin two parter from the 90s show. This is what Spidey vs Goblin stories demand, and it was a treat to see it delivered in spades. The two Green Goblin masks that looked like Ditko-era and Romit-era was a nice easter egg as well.

 Writing-wise, it’s typical Slott fare which can go either way at any given moment. Characterization’s for the most part intact, but there are those plot contrivances which try to go past the reader as if there’s nothing wrong. The whole plot of the Goblin Key still comes off as a basic macguffin which is vaguely defined and happens to lead the character to exactly the right place…as though it had a mind of its own. The place is also hopefully in walking distance. Phil threatens Norah’s life to scare Peter and Kingsley has to say out loud to Phil “You really mean it don’t you?” to let the reader know that he does. We’ve seen Phil’s perspective several times throughout this run, why couldn’t we see if he did or not here? We read his thought bubble later on that he surprises himself that he doesn’t mind Norah dying, but that would’ve been better served without the exposition earlier. Finally, Slott feels the need to show his degree by referencing a famous Ditko story. Not saying that it wasn’t a fun call-back, but the reasoning for it was tenuous at best.

These are admittedly nitpicks which don’t really bring the issue down too much, but they’re conveniences  that serve as crutches for a writer who seemingly can’t do without them. I take that back. Slott is a solid writer and has shown in the past that he can do without using plot contrivances to tell a good story. It’s why it’s annoying whenever Slott so often employs such tropes.

In the end the bad guys were defeated, and the original Hobgoblin is back on top where he belongs. That’s all anyone really asks for, and it’s pulled off with moderate competence. I think it was a good thing that Slott didn’t have Kingsley kill of Urich even though it’s what everyone wanted to see. He’s a character with a sizeable history and potential, so I think the ending with Kingsley forcing Urich to work him made sense for the characters and benefits the future of the Goblin legacy.

Finally, the scene with Norman Osborn’s body disappearing made for an interesting plug for the next issue. Slott’s been famously screaming online for people to buy #698 but not to spoil or else. If nothing else, I’m dying to know what the big deal is. That’s a positive I can say for Slott’s run in these dying days of Amazing Spider-Man. He’s a writer who can make a longtime reader perpetually curious as to what will happen issue-to-issue. That’s a good way to go out if anything.

3.5/5 webs


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(16) Comments

  1. Jack Brooks

    Dave: The spell has already been shot to pieces. Strange told Peter that when he "announced" himself during Spider-Island that Peter basically blew a hole through the thing.

  2. Dave

    I may be misremembering, but wasn't Peter warned by Dr. Strange that if people thought to closely about his connection to Spider-Man, the spell that made everyone forget his identity would be undone. Because, so far Slott has spent most of the last few months beating us over the head with the "connection". Peter designs Spidey's tech (Max even sold the story to the Bugle), Pete wears a Spider-Man costume (sans mask) in front of Max, and "pretends" to be Spidey? How is this not drawing attention to the connection between the two? I guess remembering that bit of continuity is too much like work!!

  3. Eddie

    Nice! I think I fall somewhere between Bertone and Donovan. I enjoyed some of the issue, but it is completely unbelievable that Peter wouldn't go after Kingsley. Two quick notes:HEY MARVEL & Crawlspace haters!!! Can you not see that this guy is REALLY trying to like your book?!Bertone gets the money quote award. "Max Modell had a force field. Just….that." Made me laugh out loud.

  4. Donovan Grant

    @#5 Bertone: I gotta say after you hashed it out like that, there are a few minor points which do drag this down. I still liked it, but the Ned Leeds thing is flat out insulting. Peter spoke ill about a dead friend he himself knew was innocent just so Slott could stroke his fanboy ego. He also never really reacted to the fact that RODERICK FREAKING KINGSLEY is back in New York. The issue ends with the whole "loose ends all tied up", but Peter should by all rights be trying to track Kingsley down. Were I to re-grade it, it'd be about a 3. I still think it's DECENT for what it is, but those flaws really do bother me now that you bring them up.

  5. Old Guy

    It is looking more and more likely to me that whoever it was that said awhile ago that Amazing Spider-Man Vol.3 #1 will come out on the fiftieth anniversary of ASM #1 next spring was exactly right.

  6. stillanerd

    @3 and @4--Exactly!And I don't know about you guys, but I'd say after this issue, I'd say we now have TWO very strong candidates for who could be the Superior Spider-Man now.

  7. CrazyChris

    This must be the same hospital Eddie Brock was in when he was allowed to wander around freely and kill a nurse.

  8. Bertone

    Don Don Don....this issue blew and here is why.......1) Max Modell had a force field. Just....that.2) The Harry Osborn scene. Oh where to begin? The scene assumes that Norman doesn't constantly change his codes. The scene assumes that Norman would trust Harry with his codes. By the way, isn't Harry at least curious about WHY Peter needs this? And the mention of Stromm...well more in that when I discuss....3) Continuity porn. Oh howdy!!! a) Peter mentions him impersonating Spider-Man in ASM 12. Cool reference except he cites it in a situation that not only doesn't call for it, but a situation that works against him. Max is trying to tell him that impersonating Spider-Man is not an easy feet....Peter says "sure it is"...then cites a time when he tried it only to have nobody "fall for it" and he got his butt handed to him. Whoops. b) When Peter is guessing who the new Hobgoblin is...he asks if it's Leeds or Macendale. Funny that dialogue sounds REALLY FAMILIAR. Probably because Felicia Hardy said almost WORD FOR WORD the same thing in "Amazing Spider-Man" 649. Two characters making the exact same continuity reference? That means that it's Slott's voice and not their. And it's Slott shouting I CAN NAME PAST HOBGOBLINS. You might try to tell me those references work....but consider this...Peter has no reason to think Macendale or Leeds are alive. He knows Jason died and was skeletonized. He didn't disappear in an explosion...he was killed and everyone saw the footage. And Ned....oh Ned. PETER KNOWS NED LEEDS WAS NEVER REALLY THE HOBGOBLIN? Why? BECAUSE PETER HELPED CLEAR HIS NAME IN HOBGOBLIN LIVES! That and Ned was his friend....Peter was genuinely affected by his death (reread Kraven's Last Hunt). More on Ned Leeds later..... c) Harry gives Stromm's name out as a password. Cool...then he gives the readers exposition on who Stromm is....but here it comes off more as bragging and continuity an issue already full of it.4) Spider-Man not going after the Goblins. At the end of "Goblins at the Gate", Peter was tired and the building he was in was on fire. He needed to escape and Roderick and Norman were too busy focusing on eachother. He made a point that he couldn't leave them both to die and have them both kill eachother. The end of this issue was the exact opposite. It's not like he let White Rabbit or Mindworm go....this was Roderick Kingsley....NED LEEDS AND MANY OTHERS ARE DEAD BECAUSE OF HIM! You're really not going to at least try to arrest him? He's gonna kill so many other people!!!5) Daniel Kingsley....I'm not letting this one go. It's the end of the arc and we still don't know... a) Why Daniel had super strength as seen in ASM 649. b) Why the cowardly Daniel was acting like a murderous super villain when he hated murder in all other appearances and hated crime. c) Why he was working for his brother when his last appearance had him entering the witness protection program to get away from him!I really can't let number 4 go...

  9. Enigma_2099

    "Finally, the scene with Norman Osborn’s body disappearing made for an interesting plug for the next issue."... oh god. PLEASE don't let that Spider-Man kissing MJ be Norman Osborn!!!

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