Comics : Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #18

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

The fifth Green Goblin has returned (the one from Spider-Hunt, whose identity has yet to be revealed), and this time he's got a mad-on for Liz Osborn. Spidey and Gobby tangled, the Goblin got away, and Spidey changed back to Peter Parker and was so tired that he decided to have a quick nap right there on the street corner. Unfortunately, someone nabbed the bag that held Pete's costume and web-shooters while he slept! (But doesn't he always wear the costume under his civvies? I guess he just happened not to this time)

In Detail...

"The Curse of Spider-Man?"
Peter Parker: Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #18
Jun 2000 : SM Title
Summary: Costume & web-shooters missing, Fake Green Goblin
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  Graham Nolan
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man Universe #5
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Flash Thompson, Jameson, J. Jonah, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

The issue opens with the Green Goblin flying over the city, Peter Parker walking through the rain searching for his stolen costume, and the kid who stole Peter's costume trying it on and deciding to sell it. Pete heads over to ESU where he cleans himself up again and runs into his old buddy Flash Thompson. Flash attempts to cheer Peter up by telling him how great it is to be Flash Thompson. Meanwhile, the Green Goblin is off ranting and raving somewhere, and the costume stealing kid is trying to figure out how to operate Pete's webshooters (he seems unable to press the button, since it must require the proportionate strength of a spider to do so). Pete and Flash arrive at the Daily Bugle (Pete wants to sell Green Goblin pics from ASM #18, and Flash intends to break up with Betty Brant), where they run into Liz Osborn. Pete tries to talk to Liz (who is too busy), while Flash talks badly about Peter behind his back. Pete's reputation is saved by the timely intervention of Randy Robertson, who makes fun of Flash's nickname and makes the bully skulk away, swearing revenge. Pete tries to sell his pics to Joe Robertson, who is forced to turn them down at the request of Liz, who asked that no further attention be paid to the connection between the Goblin and Osborn Industries. Disappointed, Pete starts on his way out, but is stopped by Randy who offers to share his apartment with Peter. Meanwhile, that kid finally gets the webshooters to work by walloping them with a hammer, promptly webbing himself to the wall.

Outside the Bugle, the Goblin swoops down as Liz leaves the building. This raises a commotion, Pete manages to ditch Randy, and is forced to cover his face with a dirty canvas since he has no costume. He trounces the Goblin before long, and takes him into an alley, where the Goblin takes off his mask to reveal the face of Harry Osborn. He's not actually Harry, though... instead, he's a genetic construct created by Norman Osborn. His body is destabilizing, and just before he melts all over the alley, he reveals that Norman is coming back.

Back outside the Bugle, Liz is being comforted by that nefarious Flash Thompson. Peter tries talking to Liz, but Liz says that she can't have him in her life, since everyone who gets close to Peter seems to pay for it. Back at the Parker residence, a couple of employees from the airline that caused Mary Jane's "death" deliver a chest to Aunt May. And in another dark alley, that kid who stole the costume sells it to J. Jonah Jameson.

In General...

Okay, I'll start with the stuff I liked: Graham Nolan's art was good... much better than in his Webspinners arc. And a nice JRJR cover.

Other than that, this issue was garbage. The main point of the story (as evidenced on the cover) was the unmasking of the mystery Goblin. This is a mystery that has been lingering for about two and a half years now, if memory serves. And the resolution that we've been salivating for for so long is that... he's a genetic construct who melts at the end of the issue. As if we want to be reminded of the Clone Saga. The only way this could have been worse is if the Goblin had been Uncle Ben (maybe I should watch my tongue... I still wonder who Mad Jack really is....).

But that isn't even what infuriated me most about this issue. That distinction is reserved for the treatment given to Flash Thompson by Howard Mackie. If Mackie were writing in 1965, his characterization of Flash would have been right on. Unfortunately, it's 2000 now, and Flash has grown up a bit. Flash had evolved into Peter's best buddy, and if you read the Spidey comics from around the late 80's, early 90's (which is around where I started reading), you'll really get the impression that these two would do anything for each other. But Mackie squashes all that when Randy Robertson says "That guy is... and always has been... a jerk." Flash Thompson, framed for murder and running from the cops, saved Spidey from the Hobgoblin in ASM #289. Flash Thompson, even though he knew he was completely out-matched, fought Tombstone somewhere around Spec. #205, because it was the right thing to do. Flash Thompson was the best man at Peter Parker's wedding. Flash Thompson, at least the one I know, is not a jerk.

Overall Rating...

I hated it. Possibly the worst Spider-Man comic I've ever read. Half a web, and that's for the art.