“Not #23. He was my favorite.”
Death, destruction, chaos, kidnapping, unmasking, and flashbacks—all within a single issue! Though based on what the main cover suggests, what actually does happen in the second part of “Goblin Nation” may not exactly be what you’re presuming. Though after reading it, you might still believe the symbolism is apt.
“Goblin Nation, Part 2”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILS: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKS: John Dell
COLOR: Antonio Fabela
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
THE STORY: As the Goblin Army raids Spider-Island, SpOck, along with the Living Brain, make a hasty retreat, leaving behind the spiderlings as canon-fodder. The attack also prompts Mayor J. Jonah Jameson to publicly reveals Alchemax’s Spider-Slayers, which he has dubbed “Goblin-Slayers,” to go after the Goblin army. The Green Goblin also sends his troops after Peter’s loved ones, but Mary Jane Watson–armed with her own web-shooters–saves herself from being abducted by the Goblin-Kids and gets Aunt May and Jay Jameson out of their home before the Goblin Gang arrives, dragging her hapless and confused firefighter boyfriend, Pedro “Ollie” Oliveria, along for the ride.
Deep within Peter and Otto’s shared mind, Peter desperately tries to cling the memory of who he really is as he’s forced to relive Otto Octavious’ entire life leading up to the accident that fused Otto to his mechanical arms. The memories prove overwhelming, until finally, Peter declares that he is “Doctor Octopus.”
Meanwhile, SpOck, as Peter, and the Living Brain, arrive at Parker Industries, where he’s questioned by Sajani Jaffrey over his month long absence, then interrogated by Captain Yuri Watanabee, a.k.a.Wraith, over Carlie Cooper’s disappearance, only to then be attacked by Carlie, aka Monster, herself. After Carlie takes out Wraith and the Living Brain, SpOck, knowing that Carlie knows he’s really Doc Ock, is able to get Sajani out-of-the-way to safety. As he and Carlie fight, her transmitter used to communicate with the Green Goblin is damaged, thus allowing her to reveal that she has really been biding her time until she could get to SpOck, as she needs his and Peter’s brain to not only stop the Green Goblin but to cure her of the Goblin Formula.
Finally, at Empire State University, a woman picks up Ana Maria Marconi, claiming to be a friend of Peter’s sent by MJ to get her to safety. However, the woman is actually Lily Hollister, aka Menace.
THOUGHTS: On occasion, Dan Slott creates issues where, even though it feels as though a lot is happening, there’s not much in the way of actual story progression. Not there isn’t any progression or development, mind you; the subplot of Captain Watanabee investigating Carlie’s disappearance is resolved and we find out where Carlie’s loyalties really lie. It’s just the main action that occurs in this issue is still all about setting the stage for “Goblin Nation” even though we’re, counting the prologue, three issues into this story.
This was particularly evident in the scenes of Peter forced to relive Doc Ock’s life. Yes, it sets up a potential cliffhanger in that Peter is now brainwashed into thinking he’s really Doctor Octopus, but at the same time, it feels unnecessary. Last issue, with great effectiveness and subtlety, already showed us that Peter ended up getting lost inside Doc Ock’s mind and memories, and here it feels like padding. Even so, the sequences themselves, which a pair of two full-page spreads, are wonderfully illustrated and arranged by Guiseppe Camuncoli, and in an inversion of whenever we saw Otto experience Peter’s memories, we see Peter in place of Otto in his memories. If anything else, it’s nice visual reminder that Peter and Otto really are two sides of the same coin.
It’s also a scene which highlights another downside I had about this issue, and that is the frequent use of what listeners to the Spider-Man Crawlspace Podcast know as “Slott-Speak.” Maybe it’s just a consequence of Slott using Stan Lee’s “Marvel Method,” but he does have a tendency to cram in expository details within the dialogue and narration that either readers are already well aware of or can see for themselves on the printed page. Granted, it employs the notion that “every issue is somebody’s first,” but it also results in, at times, as if Slott doesn’t trust the reader enough.
The other aspect about this issue that was of particular notice was that this chapter felt less about SpOck and more about Peter’s ex-girlfriends. Sure, at the beginning, we get the sense that SpOck is now starting to realize just how unprepared and outmatched he really is, but once he escapes Spider-Island (and seeing SpOck use the Living Brain as a makeshift jet-ski will, for me, be one of the more memorable images of the Superior Spider-Man series) its the women in Peter’s life appear to take center stage.
As suspected, Carlie, in spite of being transformed physically and psychologically by the Goblin Formula, has been playing “undercover cop” since becoming “Monster.” Oh sure, Carlie still implies she still wasn’t in her right mind (after all, she is still murdering spiderlings with wanton abandon along with the other Goblins) and that she needs SpOck to cure her before she “loses control again,” but her being able resist the Goblin Formula at all is still way-too contrived. And, of course, it also sets-up and reinforces the notion that she’ll be the one person in the entire supporting cast to potentially bring Peter back. Although, another possibility could be that SpOck, even after everything that has happened, still believes he can stop the Green Goblin on his own, especially since he also thinks he’s fully erased Peter from his mind. All I can say is that this better not lead to some cockamamie “cure” for the Goblin Formula.
As for Peter’s other ex, I believe I mentioned before that one of bigger complaints about Superior Spider-Man has been the way Slott has depicted Mary Jane over the course of the series. Well, Slott must have been waiting to give MJ her proper due in this story, because we haven’t seen her be this tough, this savvy, or kick this much ass since Spider-Island. Seriously, the way MJ was able to quickly save herself and Ollie, assess the situation, determine what to do next, and then get Aunt May and Jay to safety would make Liam Nesson’s character from Taken proud, and shows that she is the real hero of this issue. Granted, lines like “you just got spanked Mary Jane Watson style!” and her that she’s “the wild card” come off as incredibly cheesy, but all that aside, this is the MJ Spider-Man fans have grown to love, and it’s nice to see her finally acting in-character after so long. Although, I have a feeling that MJ, Aunt May, and Jay are not as safe they might think based on this issue’s cliffhanger involving Ana Maria’s abduction.
Note how Lily persuaded Ana Maria to go with her by saying she was sent by MJ and that they were getting Peter’s friends out of the city for safety—which, of course, is exactly what MJ is doing. Which raises the question: how did Lily, and thus the Green Goblin, know what MJ was up to? It means either the Green Goblin foresaw what MJ was going to do, was tapped into MJ’s cellphone call to her Aunt Anna, or he has a mole in the form of Pedro “Ollie” Olivera. Perhaps I’m reading a bit too much into that last part, but Ollie did seem to know those Goblin-Kids actually were kids when every other character who has initially encountered them, including Otto, assumed they were just little people. So how did Ollie know…unless he’s been part of the Goblin Underground since the beginning? Remember, there was someone else with the unmasked Green Goblin in Superior Spider-Man #15 whose face we didn’t see, so we should keep that in mind.
While this issue may be a step down in terms of story, it’s still entertaining enough to maintain your interest. And again, Camuncoli’s pencil work is incredible throughout, with intricate details, distinctive character designs, and dynamic action scenes. Along with the scenes of Peter reliving Doc Ock’s life, the Goblin Underground’s attack on Spider-Island is particularly noteworthy. “Goblin Nation” may be taking it’s time getting to the end, but at least given what SpOck ends up losing in this issue, at least we can see the end in sight.
- I didn’t bring this up last time, but after this issue, I can’t help but ask “Where are the Avengers during all this?” After all, Mary Jane brings up the fact that Jonah is only just now revealing his “Goblin Slayers” well after the Green Goblin has been orchestrating a massive crime wave upon the city. Well, by the same logic, the Avengers should also have intervened much sooner, and certainly well before Spider-Island blew up, resulting in the deaths of several of SpOck’s minions. Speaking of MJ…
- If Ollie isn’t actually a mole for the Green Goblin, he sure must feeling like crap right about now. First, his girlfriend points out the faulty logic in his blind support of Jonah’s “Goblin Slayers.” Then he learns that her ex-boyfriend “built tech for Spider-Man,” and still keeps a present of his. Then he finds out that her ex-boyfriend also has the same first name as he does, and that she’s still on a first-name basis with her ex’s family. And finally, the real kicker is he overhears MJ telling her aunt that she doesn’t know if their relationship is even serious or not. At the very least, methinks Ollie is starting to think of how he can gently give MJ a “let’s just be friends” speech.
- Since Sajani confirms that SpOck has been absent from his CEO duties for a month, it once again makes me ask why no one, especially Sajani and Captain Watanabee, was going to his apartment to see if he was home? Especially given how last issue showed us that Sajani has tried to call him. You’d think after so many times, Sajani would’ve gone over to Peter’s apparent in person to see what was going on, not to mention Captain Watanabee as well.
- Just like Carlie’s hair, it seems as if the colorists can’t settle on a color scheme for her Monster costume, either.
- A Venture Brothers and a Kevin Bacon reference in the same issue? So what if these might be dated in a few years—this particular nerd thought it was still awesome!