The Superior Spider-Man #16 (a Chris review)

ssm16Read my review so that you know the correct way to think about this issue. Leave a comment!

WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Humberto Ramos
INKER: Victor Olazaba
COLOR ART: Edgar Delgado
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos



      • Spi-dOck has revealed the secret identity of the Phil Urich Hobgoblin, or as I call him, the Phlobgoblin. Phob Gobich takes the Daily Bugle hostage (or should I say “phostage”?), but Parkter Pocktoper detonates the nano-spiders he injected into Philblin, stunning him. Arach-tavius pushes Hobich through the window and onto the street, where Spocky’s army surrounds Philob, who surrenders. The authorities take Urgob into custody.
      • The Avengers note Spotto’s odd behavior and warn him that he’s on probation. (This line could have been cut and pasted from my earlier reviews.)
      • Carlie Cooper and Captain Watanabe don’t like Spider-Man’s (AKA Otto Octavius possessing Peter Parker’s body) murderous rampage from [two issues ago] one bit, and they’re going to put a stop to it . . . as soon as they get more proof! (This line actually was cut and pasted from my last review.)
      • The Green Gob-Knows-Who sends Menace (BLEH!) to rescue Phob Urblin and recruit him. Phil gets a new costume and a new identity: The Goblin Knight.


I actually really like this issue, despite how it systematically checks off practically every item on my list of pet peeves for this series. Pointless, go-nowhere investigation by Carlie Cooper into the truth she already knows? Check. The Green Goblin talking ominously and recruiting more followers, but not actually doing anything? Check. The Avengers acting like fools? Check.

Spider-Man, the terms of your probation clearly state that if you commit murder, you can't do it with robots. Didn't you read the fine print?

Spider-Man, the terms of your probation clearly state that if you commit murder, you can’t do it with robots. Didn’t you read the fine print?

But the meat of the story, the scenes with Phil in the Bugle, work fantastically. It’s a confined space full of vulnerable people, and the creative team effectively builds the suspense by showing Phil lose his nerve and start to crack gradually. The reader knows that he could snap at any moment. Joe Robertson describes the scenario as a “pressure cooker” in the dialogue, and that level of tension comes across to the reader. I could not stop turning pages. And once the tables turn and Spider-Man has Phil at his mercy, the tension doesn’t go away because the question remains whether Spider-Man will outright murder him or not. Again, Slott and Ramos masterfully play off of that suspense.

Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 10.57.58 PM

When I first saw this story advertised, I began rooting for Phil’s punk ass to get wasted. Now I’m glad he survived, for two reasons. First, I’ve honestly warmed to him over the course of this story. The past few issues have been as much about conveying Phil’s sense of desperation due to his debt to Roderick Kingsley and his being pursued by Spider-Man as they have been about the danger Phil poses to other people. By pulling readers into Phil’s emotional state, Slott makes him somewhat relatable, if not sympathetic.

Second, SpOck killing Phil would have been repetitive of the endings to the Massacre and Smythe stories. I like that, thanks to those stories, I have no idea what SpOck’s going to do whenever he has a villain cornered. Mixing it up by having SpOck actually spare an enemy preserves that unpredictability.

The biggest knock against Superior Spider-Man #16 is that it makes Joe Robertson look like a dick. After the cops take Phil away, Joe sends Ben Urich on leave and fires Norah Winters due to their personal connections to Phil. I mean, damn, Norah Winters may not be my favorite character, but the woman just found out that her boyfriend was a psychotic hit man. She just had her life threatened. And Robbie fires her literally ten minutes after that happens? Since when was Robbie that cold?

The woman you see with a sword made out of fire pressed against her neck, being told that she is about to die, is fired by Joe Robertson the same day this happens just because she dated and worked on projects with the man threatening her. Joe Robertson can now be categorized as a bad person.

The woman with a sword made out of fire pressed against her neck, being told that she is about to die, is fired by Joe Robertson the same day this happens just because she dated and worked on projects with the man threatening her. Joe Robertson can now be categorized as a bad person.

I don’t have much to say about Menace joining the fold and Phil becoming the “Goblin Knight.” I’ll wait to see what Slott does with those characters. I will say that the Goblin Knight visual design looks pretty cool.




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(35) Comments

  1. hornacek

    @33 - Who knows? Even when the psychic blind spot was still a thing, they never explained how it works. And now that it's gone, they are in no rush to ever explain it. So in my opinion anything that occurred with Spidey after he unmasked is suspect and should have an asterisk next to it in the next edition of the Spider-Man Saga indicating "no one knows if this happened or if anyone remembers any of it".

  2. AmazingOSUman

    #27 - Couldn't they just remember that Spidey said it, but remember it as if they saw him with his mask on?

  3. Big Al

    @#30-31- I have the same problem. I think we are getting our wires crossed. You are making an argument about people knowing the Goblin killed Gwen. I am making an argument trying to figure out why no one has reacted to this global broadcast by a guy everyone collectively is blanking on. Wouldn't everyone freak at remembering someone with a blank face? Also it isn't so much it can't be considered in continuity it's that they've made it so convoluted and illogical we can't figure it out and everyone acts like a moron in the face of it.

  4. hornacek

    @27 - My response won't post so I'll just summarize. The DinF source for "is the Goblin involved in Gwen's death?" doesn't have any of the confusion associated with the mindwipe, so that's the one I use. Anything associated with the unmasking has the confusion of "how much of this do people remember?" and can't be considered to still be in continuity.

  5. hornacek

    Grr, I hate when I post something, the page reloads but it's not there, and when I try to post it again it says "duplicate post".

  6. stillanerd

    Okay, Chris, I think we need some of your legal expertise with regards to Carlie's discovery of the secret offshore Cayman Island account SpOck is using to pay his Spider-Army, and that while she says its not a smoking gun, it's "proves" that "Spider-Man" is an imposter because "[Carlie] knows the real Spidey. He can barely balance a checkbook, let alone a secret trust." Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that STILL a case of "he said, she said" at best? After all, her ex-boyfriend was able to keep secret the fact that he was a masked crime-fighter from her for months and yet she knows for a fact that this "same person" wouldn't have the skills to set up a private offshore account? Even if she and Watanabee could somehow prove the account belongs to someone else--as it's not likely they could just up and ask who the anonymous account belongs to without breaking a few laws--would Doc Ock, given his years of being a criminal mastermind and super-genius, actually be stupid enough to sign the account under "Dr. Otto Octavious?" (Not to mention very contrived in terms of plot.) And even that were the case, why wouldn't SpOck just go, "Well, Ms. Cooper, right before he died, Otto Octavious willed me that money and told me to put it into good use because he wanted to atone for all the evil he caused."

  7. Big Al

    @22 My point was that should raise flags that they all remember Spidey saying this but not what he looked like? Also my point was still that if Robbie is gonna fire Norah and put Ben on leave because of their associations with Phil it’s a bit unjustified since he and Jonah have both regained/kept their jobs at the Bugle despite having criminal associations which are a lot worse. Norah and Ben didn’t know Phil was evil, Jonah objectively created a super villain.

  8. tickbite

    Man, I could have done without menace. Too many goblib-likemonsters in this comic! And what's up with Spidey's 1-800 number? Did he set up multiple numbers to make sure everyone gets through, or why does it change from one comic to the next?

  9. Nick MB

    Good issue, I thought. The pacing of the Carlie arc remains a bit off, but at least she's finally doing something now, and the rest of it was good fun. Like Chris said, Slott did an impressive job of both making Phil both evil and relatable at once. And he also set up another well-judged example of Spock's approach to Spider-Man-ing perhaps causing more problems than it solves by just causing Phil to come back more dead set on revenge thanks to Otto deciding to publicly humiliate him instead of just arresting him. Ramos was really good here, he's clearly enjoying the range of new Goblin designs. This has definitely been a much better arc than the slightly sluggish No Escape. Looking forward to 2099.

  10. hornacek

    @23 - Yes but that's been taken away because of the mind-wipe. Or maybe people remember Peter saying that on TV but remember his face being a big blur. Anyway, the Death in the Family wasn't affected by the mind-wipe so that's easier to think about than anything in Civil War which automatically has an asterisk next to it indicating "may or may not have happened".

  11. J

    And during "Civil War:Front Line" Paul Jenkins extended Peter's reveal of his identity to include Peter publicly outing Norman as Gwen's killer. Norman saw it from prison and started seething, saying, "You broke the rules."

  12. hornacek

    @21 Everyone remembers that the Goblin killed Gwen because he went on TV and told everyone about it during Death in the Family. He put his spin on the story so that Spidey was to blame but you'd have to be pretty gullible to believe his version of the story. So even with Spidey's unmasking mind-wiped, the public still knows that the Goblin was involved in Gwen's death. Jonah stepped down at the end of Roger Stern's run when he announced that he had created the Scorpion. He got his job back when ... uh, hmm. Somebody help me out here. Robbie went to jail due to his past crimes with Tombstone. When he got out (was he pardoned? had his sentence overturned?) Jonah rehired him..

  13. Big Al

    # 14-Phil as the ‘Goblin Knight’ is better than him disgracing the Hobogblin mantle #15-So the general public remember and unmasked Spider-Man who’s appearance none of them remember telling them Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy???? #17-No because I don’t think Slott wants to acknowledge Sins Past existed. #19-I don’t. Did he have to be that harsh? Couldn’t he have put her on leave like he did with Ben, I mean Ben’s even closer to the subject of the story than Norah. Sorry but i forget, was Norah staging stories? Also shouldn't Robbie and Jonah technically be fired from the Bugle as well due to their connections to Tombstone and Gargan?

  14. hornacek

    @19 - I don't think Robbie fired Betty when Macendale revealed that Ned Leeds was the Hobgoblin. Was she working for the Bugle then? Was she still a secretary then? Or had she become a reporter? If Robbie was ticked about Peter staging photos in the 90s then I hope he never finds out about how he threw sand in the air and took photos of himself (as Spider-Man) diving through it.

  15. Bertone

    Regarding Robbie, I think it's to avoid the scandal and questioning of their journalistic ingetrity because a) she was dating the subject of the story b) she was part of the staged stories. Remember how ticked Robbie got when Peter staged a photo in the 90's? I buy it. Granted it's not inconsistent with letting Betty continue to work after Ned was outted or any other Bugle connections.

  16. JGC

    Great review Chris, I echo your thoughts exactly. I found myself really digging this 2-parter possibly because all the characters involved are one's that Slott has been building up over the past few years; Phil, Norah, Tiberius, Carlie, Capt. Watanabe. Do you have a guess as to who the new Green Goblin is? I'm even more excited for the Spider-Man 2099 storyline next month thanks to where this story has left things.

  17. hornacek

    @15 - When the Goblin went on TV to tell his version of Gwen's death in DitF he didn't give any indication about Peter's secret identity, I think he just said something like Gwen was an innocent bystander. So it shouldn't have been affected by the OMD reboot - everyone that saw the Goblin on TV saying that would still remember it.

  18. Xingken

    @8, @10, @12, also during Civil War Peter was questioned on the matter and confirmed that yes, Norman Osborn was responsible. Pretty sure OMD didn't erase that.

  19. hornacek

    @3, 7 - still getting that same message today. I emailed their customer service, will wait and see.

  20. hornacek

    @8, 10 - In Paul Jenkins' Death in the Family (?) the Goblin went on TV to say he was fighting Spider-Man on the bridge and that SM took things too far and caused Gwen's death.

  21. DPFW

    @#8- I think it's public knowledge that the Green Goblin was involved in the death of Gwen Stacy (maybe not the actual murderer, but involved in her death)

  22. Xellos85

    Great review, Chris. I'm glad someone is enjoying these issues. I haven't really been a fan of this series from the onset, but the past three or four issues have been surprisingly fun and entertaining. Hope we havent seen the last of Norah Winters and I hope the momentum keeps up!

  23. JT

    Nothing says "goblin" like a dead blonde? Norman Osborn being the murderer of Gwen Stacy is public knowledge?

  24. Big Al

    Oh. Menace. She hasn’t been forgotten about. Joy. I’d give this issue a harsher grade just because of Robbie’s actions. That is WAY out of character for him as in NOT the same character at all. Isn’t the mere fact that the Spider-Man is going on a MUDEROUS RAMPAGE at all proof enough that Otto should be stopped? Seriously did I miss something when was it suddenly cool for Spider-Man to kill people publically. Isn’t it still like REALLY illegal? This is not me criticising the issue now but I genuinely thought that Otto was off probation from Superior Team Up #1? Why is he on probation here?

  25. reader

    Green Goblin's monologue on the last page was so cheesy it sounded like one of Ock's speeches from Ends of The Earth.

  26. CrazyChris - Post author

    Hmm, sorry about that. I just redeemed a code for Avengers 18 and it worked fine. I'm not sure if this is a problem for my code alone or if its a problem with all codes for this issue. Hopefully it will work eventually. My intent was that whoever figured out the answers first would get the code, and since you obviously got it right (because that message does not appear when an invalid code is entered), I'll take down the puzzle off the review to make it more likely that you'll get to redeem it. I can't make any promises, though, since this was publicly posted, and someone else might have figured it out.

  27. hornacek

    And now it works. Grr. When I enter the code it says "We are experiencing difficulties connecting to our systems. Please try again later and if you're still experiencing this same problem 24 hrs from your initial visit, contact our customer service"

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