So after months…and months…and months of build-up, the subplot of the Green Goblin and his ever growing army of tattooed followers is coming to fruition—just in time for “The End” of The Superior Spider-Man. Also, if the hype is anything to go by, everything that will happen in this story will all be SpOck’s fault. So let’s sit back and relish at just how badly Otto Octavious starts to screw things up, shall we?
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: John Dell
Color Artist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer Chris Eliopoulos
Cover: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Variant Cover: Mark Brooks
Animal Variant: Jenny Parks
Assistant Editor: Ellie Pyle
Senior Editor: Stephen Wacker
THE STORY: We open “31 Days Later,” and New York is in the midst of a crime-wave courtesy of the Green Goblin’s army, complete with it’s own laugh track. SpOck can’t understand how this happened under his watch until he sees the Green Goblin’s insignia spray-painted on the side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, Peter is still wandering through his and Otto’s mind, when Doctor Octopus starts to access the memory of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” in order to get a lead on the Green Goblin. Peter, not wanting to be discovered, decides to hide out in a memory both he and Doc Ock both share…only to get sucked all the way back to when Otto was born.
Back in the real world, SpOck, as Peter, tries to figure how his spider-bots failed to alert him to the Green Goblin and his army, when a conversation with Ana Maria Marconi (who is now living with SpOck) makes him realize that the problem lies in the spider-bot’s “facial recognition software” programed by Uatu Jackson. So after getting in touch with Uatu, the child prodigy creates a tracking program for SpOck to trace the transmission used to hack the spider-bots. As this is going on, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, now believing “Spider-Man” and the Green Goblin are in cahoots, goes to Alchemax to step-up production of their new Spider-Slayers. Also, Captain Yuri Watanbee is still searching for “Peter” as a “person of interest” in Carlie Cooper’s disappearance, and puts Parker Industries on constant surveillance, much to Sajani Jaffrey’s annoyance.
As SpOck arrives at where he assumes the Green Goblin’s lair, he’s confronted by the Goblin and the remnants of Hobgoblin’s super-villain franchise, who expected SpOck’s arrival. Much to SpOck’s surprise, the Green Goblin not only reveals that he knows SpOck is really Doc Ock (courtesy of Carlie’s case journal), but he’s also offers SpOck to help him run his new criminal empire. SpOck refuses, and the Green Goblin zaps him, only to learn that SpOck is still at Spider-Island and was using Dr. Carolyn Trainer’s VR device to create a solid hologram of himself. Undeterred, the Green Goblin plays his trump card—he orders Menace, Goblin Knight, Monster, the Goblin Kids, and the rest of his real Goblin army to attack and carpet bomb Spider-Island! To be continued…
THOUGHTS: Well this was certainly an impressive way to kick things off. One of Dan Slott’s biggest strengths has been the way he’s able to tie together seemingly innocuous events from earlier issues and make them essential to larger story at hand without it feeling forced, and this is used with great effectiveness here. For example, while we all knew why SpOck’s spider-bots were unable to detect the Green Goblin and his army, I had completely forgotten that them being able to find criminals was actually a program created by Uatu Jackson. Thus, there’s an organic reason for bringing Uatu into the story to aid SpOck in his search for the Green Goblin. Likewise, Phil Urich saying that it’s “Shadowland all over again” only in reverse is not only a nice callback to Superior Spider-Man #14, but underscores how Phil sees this as sweet revenge against SpOck. It really drives the point home that everything that is transpires in this issue is all the result of SpOck’s decisions and after seemingly getting away with literally murder for so many issues, he’s getting his comeuppance all at once.
There are also two stand-out sequences, both, of course, beautifully illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli. While the scene showing Peter wandering through the desolation of his memories may start off repetitive in light of Superior Spider-Man #26, it doesn’t take long for Slott to advance Peter’s story a very significant and important way. Not only do we learn exactly just how much Peter does remember (and not to worry Mary Jane fans, Peter still remembers her and their relationship together, thank goodness!), but a really unexpected, bizarre, and rather amusing obstacle gets thrown in Peter’s path. Just as Otto has “become” Peter, Peter has technically now “become” Otto, and this makes me think he’ll be reliving Otto’s life up right to the moment where Doc Ock was implementing his mindswap plan. And I believe if and when that happens, this will also be the moment where Peter and the reader learns that the Otto we’ve followed ever since Amazing Spider-Man #698 wasn’t the real Doc Ock but a copy of Doc Ock’s own mind. In any case, Peter living Doc Ock’s life as it happened is what will help Peter gain the upper hand and eventually retake control of his body.
The other highlight of the issue, of course, is when SpOck finally confronts the Green Goblin. Rather than being just a battle of brawn like we would expect, it’s a battle between intellects, and this makes perfect sense given how both the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus are mental adversaries for Spider-Man as well as physical. Note how their conversation takes place on a tiled floor which looks very reminiscent of a chess board; given the cover for the upcoming issue, this a very apt and symbolically fitting image as the Green Goblin has essentially been playing a “game of chess” with SpOck all along.
It’s also perfectly in-character for the Green Goblin to offer SpOck the job of being his second-in-command, even though he no doubt anticipated that SpOck would refuse. After all, the Green Goblin has no real qualms against Doc Ock and, at most, sees him as merely competition for control of the criminal underworld. So when SpOck declares that he’s no longer Doctor Octopus” that he’s “become something far greater” and that he’s “Spider-Man,” the Green Goblin’s responding with laughter is not only a mockery of SpOck’s belief that he will succeed, it’s a mockery that Doc Ock could ever Spider-Man’s shoes, much less be “superior” to him. Maybe I’m reading far too much into this, but I can’t help but feel that Slott is pointing out that, despite Otto’s success as Spider-Man, he’s become a joke because he’s deluded himself into believing he’s somebody he’s not. Of course, if this Green Goblin isn’t, in fact, Norman Osborn, this would not only be ironic, but also calling the kettle black on the Green Goblin’s part.
(By the way, here’s some potential ammo for all you folks who are suspecting Normie Osborn as the Green Goblin: notice who is conveniently absent from Alchemax when Jonah arrives to check on the progress of the Spider-Slayers? Which, given it’s taking place at night during that same day, we also have to assume, based on how SpOck is visiting Uatu in the afternoon, that it’s taking place around the same time as when SpOck confronts the Green Goblin at his secret lair. Which, given the assault on Spider-Island, also takes place at night. Sure, it’s circumstantial evidence at best, but I do think it’s rather telling that Normie is nowhere to be seen when he’s usually shown to be right by his momma’s side. Notice that he was also absent in Superior Spider-Man #23 while the Green Goblin was gliding around impersonating the Hobgoblin.)
One misgiving I have, however, is the one month forward jump in time from the last issue. I understand why it was done; it’s nice to see that Slott doesn’t delay into getting right to the story, and you’re definitely caught to speed about SpOck’s current status quo without being confused. It also, retroactively, allows for the some of the events outside of Superior Spider-Man (like, as we’re reminded via Steve Wacker’s note about the yet to be released Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #10) with a minimum of fuss. Even so, given how we know this is the last story arc of Superior Spider-Man, it feels a bit rushed. Also, the revelation that Ana Maria has now moved-in with SpOck does not bode well for her future at all. It shows that the more her relationship with Otto has advanced, the more it’s underscored that she’s a unknowing victim of Otto’s deception. If she survives “Goblin Nation,” that is. Either way, unless Slott proves otherwise, and can’t help but feel Ana Maria was merely created just to be “fridged” in some way shape or form.
Again, this is a terrific start by Slott and Camuncoli for “Goblin Nation.” It’s well plotted and illustrated, grabbing your attention from the start and never letting go. Here’s hoping the remaining four issues can keep up that same sense of momentum and quality.
- Hmm…so this issue takes place 31 days after the last one. And Peter only has 31 memories. There are only 31 issues total for Superior Spider-Man. And Amazing Spider-Man #31 was the first part of the three-part classic “If This Be My Destiny,” which featured you-know-who as “The Master Planner.” My gosh! 31 is the new 23, 42, and 52! (And bonus points to anyone who actually gets those references.) Of course, this also means I have actually go back and count through the back issues to see if Peter’s memories actually do total up to 31, doesn’t it?
So let me get this straight: Captain Watanabee has been unable to locate a key suspect to Carlie’s disappearance for a whole month, right? And she’s only just now investigating “Peter’s” company and putting it under a 24/7 watch? Which also raises the question of why she’s not also posting any uniformed officers outside Peter’s apartment, especially since everybody knows where Peter lives, including all the employees at Parker Industries? And while I admire Watanabee’s dedication in wanting to find her friend and fellow cop, she does know that the city is in complete chaos by the Green Goblin’s gang and thus this emergency would be considered a higher priority than her investigation, correct?
Here’s a question for you science majors–If SpOck wasn’t actually there at the Green Goblin’s lair and was only projecting a hologram of himself, how was his spider-sense able to still be working? Because if you think about it, SpOck wasn’t actually in danger the entire time. Ladies and gentlemen, I smell a “no-prize contest” in the works.