Superior Spider-Man #26 Review (Stillanerd’s Take)


SuperiorSpider-Man#26-CoverThe solicitation for this issue states that “the thing that happened at the end of [Superior Spider-Man] #25” which “raised all those questions” would be answered. If this was supposed to be referring to the Avengers discovering SpOck erased their computers, I’m not sure readers were really asking any questions about that moment. Rather, they were asking questions like, “is Green Goblin still Norman Osborn,” or “is Ghost Peter actually the real Peter Parker?” And after reading the Superior Spider-Man #26, I’m not so sure we got answers to those questions, either. Although, as you read this review, we do get the answer to this question: “Is the Hobgoblin still Roderick Kingsley?”

“Goblin Nation, Prologue”

WRITER: Dan Slott

PENCILS: Ramos, Rodriguez, and Martin

INKS: Olazaba, Lopez, and Martin

COLORS: Delgado, Rodriguez, and Martin

LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos

COVER ART: Ryan Stegman and Jason Howard

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Ellie Pyle

EDITOR: Stephen Wacker

THE STORY: As SpOck leads his Spiderlings against AIM, the Avengers arrive, saying they “need to talk.” When SpOck refuses, the Avengers take out both AIM and SpOck’s Spiderlings, then take him back to the Avenger’s Tower for questioning. When they demand an explanation as to why he erased his examination results, SpOck defends his actions by claiming he was protecting his secret identity. This time, however, the Avengers don’t believe him, and Iron Man suggests that he can uncover traces of the file SpOck erased still within the hard drive. This makes SpOck angry and he quits the Avengers, boasting that they’re “nothing” without him, and that he “doesn’t need [them]” or “anyone.”

Meanwhile, inside their shared mind, Peter laments over how Doc Ock has erased nearly all of his memories except for those he shared with Doc Ock back in Amazing Spider-Man #700 and the ones Doc Ock previously recalled before Superior Spider-Man #9. However, Peter then realizes that the memories he still has are the “key ones” which “define” him, and he vows that he will not give up and that he’ll “find a way to win.”

Interwoven throughout the issue is the fight between the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin, the former having convinced the later to fight one-on-one instead of having their respective armies kill one another. The Hobgoblin accuses the Goblin of being Harry Osborn before hitting him with a pumpkin bomb. However, the Goblin survives, revealing a chest wound which he claims is from when he was struck by his Goblin Glider back in Amazing Spider-Man #122, thus “proving” that he is indeed Norman Osborn. Hobgoblin pleads for mercy, but it falls on deaf ears, as the Goblin gives him a savage beating, demanding that he “say [his] name,” until finally strangling him to death. The Hobgoblin’s franchise villains join the Goblin Underground, but Phil Urich stays behind to check on the Hobgoblin’s body. When he unmasks the corpse, sees that it’s not Roderick Kingsley. Kingsley, it turns out, is still in Paris, having sent a brainwashed proxy in his place and is the midst of preparing another via the Winkler Process. Deciding that he can afford the loss and lay low once again, Kingsley gives a toast to “his old foe” and “to Goblins everywhere.”

THOUGHTS: Normally, I’m turned off by single issues which use multiple artists to tell a story. Not only does it make for an incongruent issue, it suggests the artist assigned to the issue couldn’t, for whatever reason, meet their deadline. However, editors Steve Wacker and Ellie Pyle appear to have made the wise decision of having each of this issue’s three artists illustrate one specific subplot. With Humberto Ramos handling the “Goblin War,” Javier Roderiquez the Avengers confrontation with SpOck, and Marcos Martin dealing with Peter in his and Doc Ock’s mindscape, each portion of the story fits with each artists’ distinctive style, and as a result, the story as a whole isn’t as disjointed as it otherwise would’ve been. It’s a shame, then, that Dan Slott’s overall script feels lackluster by comparison.

SuperiorSpider-Man#26-p17In my last review, I assumed the Avengers would attempt to apprehend SpOck only for SpOck to capture them instead, which would then ironically make it easier for the Goblin Army to take over New York during “Goblin Nation.” Instead, we have SpOck quitting the Avengers in a desperate attempt to prevent them from uncovering that he’s really Doc Ock. This not only further isolates him and makes the Avengers even more distrustful and suspicious of “Spider-Man” in the process, it reminds the reader that SpOck is, appropriately, a self-righteous hypocrite. If one believes SpOck’s appeal for privacy is a persuasive argument, even with his citing Civil War as part of his defense, let’s not forget that SpOck has been unapologetic about violating other peoples’ right to privacy with his unauthorized spider-bot surveillance system. Further irony also comes from when Iron Man points out to SpOck the difficulty of completely wiping out “all traces of something off a hard drive,” as we then shift over to the climatic moment of Peter’s subplot.

Where the scene ultimately falls apart, however, is that even though the Avengers know SpOck has been lying to them, that he cannot be trusted, and that he may not even be the real Spider-Man, they still allow him to escape, watching him swing away with pensive stares through their broken window pane. Granted, SpOck has to roam free in order for the next five issues to happen, but at this point, the Avengers have more than enough justification to keep SpOck detained and uncover the truth. It’s not as if they’re above doing so since they did this before back in Superior Spider-Man #7 and #8 when they only had the vaguest of suspicions that “Spider-Man” might be an imposter.

Much better however, are the scenes depicting Peter in his and Doc Ock’s shared mind. Slott’s tenure on both The Amazing Spider-Man and The Superior Spider-Man is really one long deconstruction of Peter Parker, and this couldn’t be more clear than the scene with Peter wandering through his and Otto’s shared mindscape. By removing all of Peter’s memories only to restore the “key” moments which “define” him, Slott is attempting to metaphorically “reboot” Spider-Man by taking him apart, removing what he believes are the excess, and then putting him back together again–all without sacrificing any of Peter’s history even if the character now no longer remembers most of it.

True, showing the classic moment from Amazing Spider-Man #33 and having Peter say lines like “You’ve burned me in a crucible—distilled me to my core!” lacks all subtlety, but what helps to sell the scene overall is the stellar art by the always magnificent Marcos Martin. By showing Peter in a vast, ashen wasteland with only the rare instance of figures and scenes of his past, we not only see the devastation Otto has wrought, we feel Peter’s utter sense of hopelessness and despair, which only makes his new-found resolve to defeat Doc Ock all the more powerful and triumphant. An equally nice touch by Slott is when he has Peter saying the very lines of dialogue from the “memories” he witnesses, in that by repeating them, he will better commit it memory. It is, without question, the best sequence of the entire issue, even if it does feel a bit superfluous.

With regards to the resolution to the “war” between the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin, I confess that I’m a little disappointed. Not so much from the idea that Kingsley would use a brainwashed patsy instead of being at the battle in person; after all, the Hobgoblin has a long-standing history of relying upon and using doubles to carry out his schemes, including Ned Leeds, Flash Thompson, and even his own twin-brother, Daniel. Rather, I just have a hard time believing that after raising such a big stink about how there was someone was impersonating him and stealing his franchise money, and then finding out it was the Green Goblin, that Kingsley would then decide to essentially cut his losses and hand the Goblin the win. I’m sure we, the reader, are to take this as an example of him having shrewd business sense who isn’t consumed by the usual madness associated with the Goblins, and I admit that Kingsley’s nonchalant victory toast is pretty badass. Even so, it still doesn’t make the outcome of the “War of the Goblins” any less anticlimactic.

Then again, just as thSuperiorSpider-Man#26-p14e “Hobgoblin” in this issue wasn’t the real deal, we don’t really know if the “Goblin King” is the real deal, either, in spite of being given further anecdotal evidence that suggests he’s still Norman Osborn. When the Hobgoblin accuses the Goblin of being Harry, we’re meant to surmise this indeed Norman, given how offended he was over the Hobgoblin labeling Harry a “disappointment.” That is until we realize that, time and time again, Norman himself has regarded Harry as a disappointment and unworthy to carry on his legacy. Also, the Goblin’s line of “How dare you say that about my–” is deliberately vague. Sure, he could have tried to say “son,” but he also could have meant “best friend,” meaning the Goblin could be Peter. Or, even more out there, he could have meant “father.” Which means the Green Goblin could actually be Normie Osborn (which also means, technically, the Goblin was telling the truth last issue). After all, the Goblin formula can make a person to physically transform like it does for Lily Hollister and Carlie Cooper, and it can make a person older as happens with Gabriel and Sarah Stacy.

Also, I’m sorry, but based on the way Ramos’ illustrates the moment the Goblin reveals his chest wound, I refuse to believe it is at all real. I’m not any sort of medical expert, but as far as I know, scars and wounds do not look identical to impact craters made by bowling balls dropped on concrete. Yes, it’s true that people can have indentations in their chests known as pectus excavatum, only I believe these are usually the result of genetic defects or disease, not blunt force trauma—and they certainly do not cause the skin to have splintering fracture lines like you would see in rock. Not only that, but we’ve seen what Osborn’s actual chest wound from the Goblin glider looks like in the past, and it certainly didn’t resemble anything like what Ramos shows. Wouldn’t surprise me if the Goblin was wearing a fake chest plate of some kind and that the phony Hobgoblin was too frightened and dumb to see that the “scar” was fake. Then again, the phony Hobgoblin also slices the side of the Green Goblin’s chest with a razorbat, and given how Ramos shows a close up of this, this will very well play some significance later.

I realize that this issue is a prologue for “Goblin Nation” and thus certain developments must happen to set-up the larger story yet to come. Yet while I do believe Slott accomplsihes this, the issue also paradoxically feels as though nothing substantive actually happened. SpOck quitting the Avengers alone should be more of a bigger deal given how Spidey, not counting his reserve status, has been a member for the past decade. Yet like everything else which happens in this issue, I can only react to this and the issue’s other developments with a dismissive shrug.

 

C

 

NERDY NITPICKS:

  • To quote Wolverine: “I know some psychics. We could clear this up in no time.” Which of course is what he wanted to do back in Avenging Spider-Man #16 where SpOck also protested this by cited his “right to privacy.” That is until we saw later in Superior Spider-Man #6 how he was willing to give “Spidey” the benefit of the doubt all of the sudden in spite of his murdering Massacre in cold blood. Now he’s all in favor of using psychic mind probes on SpOck again? Geez, Logan, make up your mind already.
  • So in Peter’s own words, what defines him as a hero is that he is “the man who never gives up.” Except for that one time in Amazing Spider-Man #18, where he felt he had to give up being Spider-Man to take care of his Aunt May. And that other time in the classic “Spider-Man: No More” story from Amazing Spider-Man #50 where he threw his costume in the trash. Or during the Clone Saga in which, after burning his costume, he and Mary Jane moved out to Portland, Oregon. And then that other time before the Howard Mackie relaunch where he burned his costume yet again. Plus, didn’t Peter sort of give up by sharing his memories with Doc Ock while he was dying? Geez, how times did “the man who never gives up” give up anyway?
  • Also one of Peter’s defining moments? Him eating his Aunt May’s wheatcakes! Yes, we Spidey fans know of the legendary deliciousness of Aunt May’s signature dish, but one of these day, Marvel, you gonna have to reveal her recipe. At least tell us if Aunt May separates the egg whites from the yoke to make them light and fluffy.
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(31) Comments

  1. Stillanerd - Post author

    @#29 Sirspidermonkey--Oh yeah, I remember that story now! And as hornacek said, that was part of that whole "Powerless" arc where he also teams up with the Black Cat. Thanks for reminder, Jesse.

  2. Sirspidermonkey

    Hey Mike, you forgot to mention the time Spidey gave up his powers intentionally (A La Superman 2) because he absurdly thought that being Spider-Man was too dangerous and if anything happened to him no1 would take care of Aunt May. (ASM 341-342)

  3. Jeff Flannigain

    I do love how The Avengers have tracked people to the other side of the cosmos...but SpOck jumps out a window? "He's...very slowly...getting away!" *shrugs shoulders*

  4. Stillanerd - Post author

    @#5 Daniel -- Yes, that's the image I remember. Thanks, Daniel. @#6 hornacek -- Oh yeah, I forgot about those. Particularly ASM #100. Which is strange because one of the "memories" Peter sees in the mindscape is when he had six-arms (although upon a closer look, he has four! Oops.) @#10 AndrewRoebuck -- Thank you, Andrew! :) @#11 Chasing Amazing -- Just to be sure, I decided to do a Google search after reading your post, CA. And it turns out you were right! It was in the 1996 Annual of Untold Tales, to be exact. So thanks for the heads-up, good sir! Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, Aunt May's Wheat Cake recipe does indeed call for separating the eggs. @#12 & #18 Big John -- It should be interesting to see what happens with this, that's for sure. The only misgiving I have about this potential development is that Peter could potentially be encountering villains, allies, friends, etc. that he's previously met before but no longer remembers, which could result in a lot of exposition explaining who these people are. Course, it's also a potential source for comedy as well. Also, great observation about what the Green Goblin says about coming back "stronger" and comparing it to Peter. Especially when you look at Peter's speech in the issue. @#14 Hobo-Goblin -- Hmm...that's would be pretty clever if things do turn out that way. @#13 and #15 Jeff Gutman -- Well, Jeff, as I pointed out in the review (and as suggested by Gary and DarthSpidey), we have seen a strain of the Goblin formula which can physically transform someone into a Goblin like it does for both Lily/Menace and Carlie/Monster. So it could be theoretically possible that Normie has been taking a Goblin formula that can make him older or younger. You never know. @16 DadaHyena -- I here I thought it was the buttermilk that was making them look green!;) @#20 RDMacQ -- Let's not also forget Joshua Hale Fialkov's story coming out for the Infinite Comics Amazing Spider-Man, which is also dealing with an amnesiac Peter Parker, as well. Although how this is going to tie into what Dan Slott is apparently doing with Peter remains to be seen. @#21 George Berryman -- Harry's son, Stanley, huh? Okay, now I really can't wait to hear the upcoming podcast!

  5. RDMacQ

    The Goblin is Harry. That's my theory And I think this story lays the seeds for the "price" Peter will pay for returning as Spider-Man. He'll get Ock out of his body, but he'll sacrifice most of his memories that he has to get his body back. They'll still be there in the gold Octobot that the Living Brain has "disposed" of, meaning he'll get the back at SOME point. But I have a feeling the new "status quo" will have a Peter who doesn't have most of his memories save his "core" ones- which, I have a feeling, would include his feelings and "revelation" about his relationship with MJ, that she is his soul mate. Which would allow Slott to string to things out for another year or three.

  6. Big John

    The Goblin's probably Gabriel Stacy. "Don't talk about my. . .[brother]." (???) Of course, Slott seems to enjoy stringing us along with red herrings so much that he might pull a triple cross and be like, "It really was Norman GUYS, who else could it have been?!" I also kind of liked how the Goblin said that he would always come back stronger no matter what was thrown at him. Very Peter Parker-y

  7. DarthSpidey

    Hmm...what if it's Aunt May underneath the Goblin mask....That could explain why here wheatcakes are so diabolically tastey... On a more serious note I'd say that it's probably Normie. Given that it is Slott, it's highly possible that he could've introduced a new strand of Goblin formula that has a literal transformation ability just like the Super Soldier serum that Felicia Hardy was given during the 90's Spiderman cartoon series. IMHO it seems more like a twist that Slott would go for....but then again who knows.... I'll probably pick up the new ASM as well...but I'll be honest I'm ready for some new talent behind the wheel...

  8. Jeff Gutman

    @14 Since Normie appeared as a boy in the same recent comics that featured the adult aged Goblin - the only way it could be Normie would be if it was a robot goblin (maybe!) or Normie somehow has the ability to age and de-age at will!

  9. Hobo-Goblin

    I think it will turn out to be Normie. Slott's already played up the fact that Ock has a soft spot for kids, so maybe that might cause him to hesitate when he uncovers the truth.

  10. Jeff Gutman

    Well the Goblin can't be Normie because he just appeared in issue #19 when Liz Allen appeared and took over Horizon. He was still a boy in that issue - although a slightly older boy - but this was well after the new goblin's first appearance who is definitely a grown man.

  11. Big John

    @4 That's a fair point, your comparison to Tony's mind-reboot I mean. And it did turn out to be pretty interesting when we saw Tony take some flak for things he didn't remember doing, and that does seem to be where Slott is going with this plotline in Peter's story. I guess the comparison to the DC Reboot was kind of my first impression, which tend to be a bit more reactionary than further considerations are. I'm still going to pick up ASMvol3 and more than likely find plenty to enjoy about it. I guess I'll just have to wait and see!

  12. hornacek

    @8 Somewhere, Zach is crying that you described Peter Parker, Spider-Man #75 (Revelations) as just "an old issue of Spider-man".

  13. Gary

    @Daniel While Dan Slott does respect SOME continuity (like Stunner and several references to classic moments), but as seen with everyone in Peter's life being 10x dumber than any other writer has ever made them shows that sometimes Slott throws continuity to the wind. So an old issue of Spider-man may have had Norman with that scar, but Slott could have approved Ramos just making it look like a crater in his chest.

  14. Gary

    What's stupid about the whole Ock quitting the Avengers thing is Slott expecting us to just believe that Tony Stark will leave it at that and still not pull up the files of Spider-man's medical scan to see what they said. And I think Normie Osborn is the Green Goblin. I know the Green Goblin is a full sized adult here, but when Hobgoblin was mocking Green Goblin about what "loser" he might be under the mask, when Hobgoblin said something about that loser Harry, Green Goblin said, "Don't talk about my.." before getting hit. He could have been saying, "Don't talk about my dad". He could have had some kind of exposure to Goblin formula, which could have reacted differently to him and caused him to have the appearance of an adult. Sounds stupid, I know. But this IS Dan Slott we're talking about.

  15. hornacek

    I didn't read Norman's appearances in Thunderbolts or Dark Reign but I thought on this podcast someone mentioned that Norman was shown without a shirt during those issues and there was no scar. So either that was an art mistake or Norman had the scar removed, which would mean if this is not Norman they think he still has the scar and they added it to their fake chestplate. Regarding Peter quitting, don't forget ASM #100 when he tried to take away his powers and gave himself extra arms. And there was that anniversary issue (#275?) when he decided to quit (spoiler alert: he didn't). What a quitter.

  16. Stillanerd - Post author

    @1 George Berryman--Absolutely! Although I suppose we already had this last issue, so having it again may have been a bit redundant. Even so, at least the Avengers would've been doing something instead of watching Spidey get away and wonder, "Um...we should we go after him again?" @#2 Big John--Thank you, good sir. And I think that's a fair argument you make about Kingsley. As for Peter and what Marvel appear to be doing with him, I wouldn't exactly compare to how DC did their reboots (for one, One More Day is far closer and a bad attempt at that). Rather, I'm more reminded of what Matt Fraction did to Tony Stark during his run on The Invincible Iron Man. In his "Stark: Disassembled" storyline, Tony Stark was intentionally erasing his memories in order to prevent Norman Osborn from learning the true identities of registered superheroes. Then, if I remember correctly, both Pepper Pots and Maria Hill downloaded a copy of Tony's mind into his brain to wake him up from his coma. And because it contained only his memories of before he had injected himself with the Extremis virus, Tony had no recollection of his actions after having the Extremis injection, including Civil War. Which, given how tainted Iron Man was as a character because of that storyline, this worked out as a convenient "reset" without technically resetting anything. Looks to me as thought Slott is doing something similar with Peter going into the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man. @#3 reader--Hmm...that's a very good point you've just raised. Good call!

  17. Big John

    Man, both reviews released on the same day the comics were released? Great work! Both of you! I can see Slott's logic behind his usage of Kingsley's character, i.e. that the past two of three battles we've seen him in during Slott's run have not actually involved Kingsley himself, but a Winklered proxy because that's totally what he does, but I still don't like it. Slott has done to Roderick Kingsley what he's done to Miles Warren: made them unkillable. The Queen vaporizes the Jackal: it turns out to be a clone! Phil chops off the Hobgoblin's head: it's a brain-washed double! It just cheapens the characters, IMHO. Although, I found myself relishing some really good Kingsley-ish lines in this issue: "There's always more where THEY came from." (speaking about his lackies and showing his utter ruthlessness that makes him a great villain [but it wasn't actually him! Gah!]) And I agree, I loved his toast at the end of the issue. As for the whole back to basics thing with Peter: I don't like it. Axel Alonso has gone on record (during one of his Axel-In-Charge interviews about AvX) as saying that they're not going to reboot the Marvel universe because there's nothing wrong with it. And yet, he seems to have allowed the Superior Spider-Man experiment to occur because of the end-game deconstruction of Peter Parker's character. It feels a little too much like the DC reboot to me. Their keeping the essentials of Peter's character, but robbing him of the complexities and richness that makes up the other "insignificant" parts of his 50 year story. I just feel like Spider-Man has been slipping since they brought Aunt May back (instead of Baby May), then falling further into the abyss with the Burne/ Mackie reboot. then slightly crawling out of that ditch with JMS, before falling further in with the Civil War identity reveal, and (pun intended) completely falling into Hell with OMD. I honestly haven't cared as much about Spidey since because Marvel has just blasted his character to smithereens to the point that getting brain-raped by Otto Gunther Octavius and erasing the complexities of his history is just par for the course nowadays. . .

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