Superior Spider-Man is coming to an end in only a few short months, and writer Dan Slott is ready to go out with a bang he’s calling Goblin Nation. The Green Goblin subplot has been building for a long time now, but before Slott lights these fireworks, he’s got a few loose ends to tie up. And that’s why we have Superior Spider-Man #26. An enjoyable comic in its own right, this week’s issue is really just a scene-setting, character-moving comic that puts all of Slott’s ducks in a pretty little row.
There will be SPOILERS in this review because which stories get wrapped up is the entire point of the issue.
I can’t wait for Goblin Nation. I have loved Superior Spider-Man since the first issue and I really think Dan Slott has got something huge planned for the finale. Goblin Nation is poised to be the greatest Green Goblin story in years and I have more than enough faith in Slott to pull it off. But we’re not there yet. Like I said, Superior Spider-Man #26 is all about wrapping up certain ongoing storylines before the big climax. Slott breaks ties off between Spider-Man and the Avengers and he puts down Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin.
There’s also a bit of set-up for the return of Peter Parker, which I’m sure will give many fans a renewed hope for their favorite wall-crawler.
Both the Avengers and Kingsley storylines have been entertaining in their own right over the course of Slott’s run but it’s important to put them out to pasture before the start of Goblin Nation. How else do you explain why the Avengers or the Hobgoblin don’t join in the fun? One of the stories in this issue is clearly more entertaining than the other and that’s an epic battle between the Green Goblin and Hobgoblin. Roderick Kingsley and his company of would-be franchise supervillains come out of hiding and the Green Goblin is waiting for them with his army. It’s a vicious battle of words and pumpkin bombs drawn in the usual frantic, kinetic style of Humberto Ramos. I’ve always loved his take on the goblins. The fight is lively and exciting thanks to Ramos, with the villains throwing punches and taunts with equal measure.
And it’s the mark of a great franchise when a villain on villain fight is more exciting than what’s happening to the hero. Slott has done such a great job with the world of Spider-Man over the course of his run. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to the battle. First, the mystery of who is under the Green Goblin mask is at the forefront of the fight. The Goblin would have us believe he’s Norman Osborn but clearly Slott is setting up something bigger for the eventual reveal. Unless all this teasing is just a big red herring, and that really is Norman. Personally, I’m going to be a little upset if it’s not Norman. Who else could become something as awesome as the Goblin King?
The other issue is that Roderick Kingsley isn’t really in the fight. He sent a patsy in a Hobgoblin mask to pretend to be him. I guess perhaps Slott didn’t want to needlessly kill the original Hobgoblin, which is fine from a sense of overall continuity, but it hurts the story. It means this epic fight between the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin may have just been two patsies in masks.
Artist Marcos Martin draws the brief scenes with the ghost of Peter Parker, offering quite a bit of set-up. His simple, elegant pencils work nicely as Ghost Peter wanders the wastelands of his mind. And Javier Rodriguez handles the scenes between Spider-Man and the Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes question Spidey’s recent attitude adjustment, as well as the fact that he’s been tinkering with his medical files. It’s a scene that had to happen but Slott ends it quite simply: Spider-Man quits the Avengers. Simple as that. The move takes the Avengers off the table and promises to make things even more difficult for Peter when he gets back. Rodriguez’s pencils work well in these scenes. He’s got a nice, simple style, similar to Martin’s, and he draws each of the Avengers well. Unfortunately, put up against Ramos’ epic goblin battle, scenes of the Avengers standing around just aren’t as exciting.
Superior Spider-Man #26 gets the job done. The Hobgoblin and the Avengers are out of the way in time for Goblin Nation. Fortunately, Slott takes care of them in entertaining fashion, with the help of three spot-on artists. There are a few quibbles to be had but Slott’s only doing what must be done, and I can’t fault him for that. At least he gave us an awesome goblin vs. goblin fight.
Rating – 7/10.