“Ohhh, don’t look at me like that. You’re the one who wanted to make this personal.”
The Osborn Identity comes to a conclusion here, folks! Who will walk away from this one?!
…I’m actually being serious here.
Amazing Spider-Man (2015) #28
“The Osborn Identity, Pt 4: One-on-One”
Writer: Dan Slott
Pencils: Stuart Immonen
Inks: Wade von Grawbadger
Colors: Marte Gracia
Editors: Nick Lowe and Devin Lewis
As Spider-Man’s forces near the Symkarian Capital (I’m supposed to be reading The Amazing Spider-Man, not the spandex version of Patton), Norman launches his Goblin Gas missile. (The next day, Norman realized the missile was built with cheap North Korean parts.) Sending Bobbi to disarm the missile (Because a person with wings can catch up with a high-speed ICBM!) and the Wild Pack to evacuate the city (Well, nice to know you guys! Thanks for being disappointingly useless!) Silver Sable takes command while she and Peter storm Castle Karkov alone. (Because that worked out so well the last time, huh?)
Breaking into the control room, Spidey and Sable encounter the Countess, and Sable challenges her to a sword duel in the true form of Symkaria. Spidey goes on alone to find Stormin’ Norman, who…. Runs away. (Boy, he sure is dangerous.) However, a gas leaks into the room, one that Spider-Man recognizes as the ones used to neutralize his spider-sense, along with the rest of his powers. Rather than turn around when faced with a Norman Osborn who has evened the playing field, Peter decides to follow him into yet another room where an electrical burst shorts out Peter’s costume. And because he decided to not install fail safes (And I’m fairly certain there was no beta testing given how dumb Peter’s acted during this volume.) Peter has to tear out his lenses and, upon having a trigger of Gwen dead in his arms, violently tackles Osborn out a window.
Down below, the two manage to grapple (Even though Spider-Man’s out of the gas, so he should be back to strength, right?) but Osborn gains the upper hand. However, Spider-Man reveals his trump card; he still won because he relied on others. (That’s how you win every fight in Slottland! This isn’t a new concept!) Sable scratched the Countess, so she won I guess, Bobbi disarmed the bomb and landed it in a web the Wild Pack made, and the day is saved. And so Peter spouts how he’s super smart and things before beating Norman up with… a rock.
Norman runs away (That’s the second time since Superior #31. Norman’s new plan is just walk away.) and Peter passes out, only to be found by Mockingbird, Sable and Nick Fury, who severs all ties with Parker Industries… again. And so the Osborn Identity ends with the Uncle Ben Foundation bringing relief to Symkaria and Norman running away on a fishing boat, vowing to become the Green Goblin once again. (Wait, I thought you were supposed to be more dangerous without the Goblin Formula. What’s this crock about needing to be insane again?)
I never thought I’d say it, but Slott finally managed to make me care so little about the consequences of his storyline.
If I can give the man any kind of compliments, it’s that A) He has a very good eye for art teams, and thus makes very good-looking books that usually carry his current workload, and B) Regardless of how absurd it gets, or how dead the ending is, Slott usually manages to keep ramping up the stakes, and admittedly keep me on my toes.
With the ending of Osborn Identity, I didn’t feel anything. Anything.
Let’s get art out of the way, because at this point it feels like I’m beating a dead horse with my praise for the art. Stuart Immonen has consistently proven that he is a very talented artist, with expressive yet anatomically correct figures and facial expression. His page layouts are also gorgeous, especially the page where Peter has his flashback to Gwen’s death. Even better, Wade Von Grawbadger has vastly improved on his inks. While he still has a problem with excessive crosshatching, he manages to really give the environments he draws more weight with the heavy shadows he draws, in particular Spider-Man and Norman. Marte Gracia also gives the color palette a heavy overhaul, switching to a more dreary and darker set of colors, which fits the war-movie tone that Slott is trying to establish. So, everybody on the art team, not just Immonen, managed to win me over on this one.
Now, let’s talk about the plot.
First off, this is the second time where Norman has managed to win by simply running away. That crap ain’t flying. Superior #31 I could maybe buy, since Liz had Peter and Miguel incapacitated by a Spider-Sense jammer. But still, Camuncoli’s art gave the impression that Norman was leisurely walking away. Here? Spidey’s strength should have come back as soon as the gas dissipated from Peter’s system. He should have been able to easily subdue Norman, given how he tackles Norman out a window and is still able to fight him upon landing. Plus, Norman isn’t exceptionally strong as far as I’m aware given that he no longer has the Goblin Formula in his system. Norman’s escape also kills the idea of Norman being far more dangerous without the Formula, and it felt like Slott had to handicap Peter by knocking him down a few levels without proper explanation in order to make Norman seem more dangerous. Gimme a break.
The tone for this comic is also hard to nail down. I tweeted Slott asking what the general tone he was trying nail down for the story was, and I have yet to hear back from him. But I asked this because I was genuinely curious, because there wasn’t a sense of consistency to the type of story Slott was trying to achieve with the story. There are some tones that I was able to nail down, such as, as I mentioned, a war movie like Patton, but other times it seemed like he was trying to emulate a Bond Flick, or at least something outlandish enough that it would have made the final draft of the Die Another Day script. We switch from sword fights between Sable and Karkov that supposed to be Uber-serious to Mockingbird and the Wild Pack trying to disarm and stop an ICBM from gassing all of Symkaria. And then we have the fight scenes between Peter and Norman that feel more like the climax of an episode of Star Trek ‘66.
That’s not to say that Bond tropes can’t be done right. U.S.Avengers, one of Marvel’s best titles, played with them very heavily in its first arc. But the difference between ASM and U.S.Avengers is that Ewing understands tonal timing and consistency. There aren’t three dozen subplots playing around at the same time. And that’s also not a denial of the plausibility of the other themes used in this book also working, but they don’t exactly mesh well all in the same script. Granted, I’m not exactly the pinnacle of tonal consistency myself, but I’m not paid to write comics. (FNSM is, at this point, glorified fanfiction with an editor) Slott is, therefore, held to a higher standard than I am given that this is his livelihood and not just some passion project he cooked up in his head while he was bored at work.
Conclusion? I didn’t really care given the horribly anti-climactic ending we got, and with SpOck coming back again to wreak havoc once again just after Clone Conspiracy?
Final Grade: C