Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #25

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

In the recent "Revenge of the Green Goblin" 3 part limited series, Norman Osborn returned and put into place a new plan to get Peter. Norman has been drugging and hypnotising Peter without him knowing towards a purpose unkown.

In Detail...

"Darkness Calling"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #25
Jan 2001 : SMURF 466.500 : SM Title
Summary: Norman Osborn
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Howard Mackie
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Revenge of The Green Goblin (TPB)
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Glory Grant, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Jameson, J. Jonah, Osborn, Jr., Norman (Normie), Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

Firstly, the "Revenge of the Green Goblin" mini-series isn't really essential to understanding this issue, though it is where this story starts. It explores Norman Osborn and how he returned this time, it also shows a lot of the footwork that Norman had to do for his plan, which comes to fruition this issue. But, this issue reveals all the essential things you need to know, but if you have questions about Norman's return this time, then pick up the mini.

We'll it's a doubled sized issue, so there's a lot of detail, hang on.

The issue starts with Norman recalling a childhood experience where his father forced him to stay alone in the dark family mansion, to toughen him up. Norman recalls how he was terrified, but now thanks his father for the experience. Elsewhere, Randy and Glory are out on a date when they are attacked by a seemingly different Green Goblin, they mange to escape as the Goblin makes a clumsy retreat.

Meanwhile, Peter is at home having a strange dream, where he remembers missing his parents and the role they could of had in his life. He is woken by Randy and Glory as they return after being attacked. So Peter sets off as Spider-man to track down the Goblin. He searches and finds evidence of him attacking Randy & Glory and also discovers the Daily Bugle attacked. All the time Norman is watching Spidey from the shadows. Peter is worried, but can't find the Goblin, so he stays at Aunt May's. There he sleeps and has more strange dreams, only to wake abruptly and to discover a familiar house burning in the distance.

Peter heads off as Spidey again and discovers he was right, and it is the Stacy's house which was burning. Peter arrives in time to save Paul Stacy and discovers that it was yet again the handiwork of the Green Goblin. Infuriated that the Goblin struck once while he was asleep, Pete heads home to clean up and then track the Goblin down. Once at Peter goes to the bathroom and when he brushes his teeth he feels disoriented and realises the toothpaste his drugged. He collapses.

Peter wakes in the hands of Norman Osborn. Osborn explains to Peter about his experiences with 'the darkness' and how it has saved him. He reveals that he wants to teach Peter about it and calls Peter his son. Peter faints to awake inside the darkened Osborn house. He runs around looking for Osborn, while Osborn persistently tries to coax Peter to his way of thinking. Peter sees a light and against Osborns urgings goes to it only to knocked unconcious. A short time later, Osborn has taken Peter outside the mansion again and as he regains conciousness, Osborn puts a Goblin mask on him and reveals that it was Peter himself who was recently running around as the Goblin and attacking his friends. He then takes Peter again into the darkeness to "Be a man. Be an Osborn." And there it finishes, to be concluded in Peter Parker Spider-man vol.2 #25.

In General...

Wow! This is easily the best effort from Mackie and Romita Jr in a long while. I used to enjoy their efforts on PP:SM before the reboot, but since the reboot I don't think they've done anything as strong as this issue. Not only does this story have a good idea behind it, but it is executed quite well. The idea that Norman wants to "adopt" Peter as his son is great. It has a lot of potential and it uses Norman in a way that works best. Norman isn't really all that scary as the Green Goblin. No, the best stories with Norman in them are when Norman is in control, pulling the strings and everything happens according to his twisted dictates. It was a waste to send him truly, blabbering and drooling insane with the "Gathering of Five" storyline. And I'm glad they have revered that.

The other good thing about using Norman in this way, is that it's presented in way that makes sense. Though that is also a weakness of this issue. Because, most of the story that explores how Norman reaches this point in his thinking is in the "Revenge of the Green Goblin" mini-series. Story elements that would have been better placed as at least sub-plots in the one or both of the main titles. It would have worked much better this way. I mean with the stories Mackie has been writing lately there was heaps of stuff that could've been cut so this could have been included!

But, I digress. What I really enjoyed most about this issue was the psycho-drama played out between Noramn and Peter. It was great. This struggle, esentially between their personalities, starts as Peter is trying to find Noramn at the start of the issue, with Norman in the shadows, pulling the strings. It biulds to the confrontation. Where Norman tries to manipulate and brainwash Peter at one level and at another level, tries to condition Peter through pysichal torture to repond in a way that is pleasing to him. All the while Peter struggles and Norman pesists. This is Spidey's mettle being tested. This is the sort of situation where he has to dig deep. This is where the character and inner strength of Peter Parker show through and it's great to see! This is heaps better than another stupid high powered fight that really means nothing in the end.

There are other good things about this issue, Romita's art is great for starters. But, I won't go on about them. Instead I'll hit on some of the weaknesses. The main one is, as I mentioned above, the fact that this story essentially started in a mini-series. I think you can still read this though and that Mackie did a good enough job for you to catch up, but it just seems a stupid thing to do on behalf of the editors or whoever makes that sort of decision. The other weakness, and I think the thing that will separate this issue from PP:SM #25 in quality, is that Makie's script & plot seem stiff and awkward in places. Some of the exposition is boring and the script is written in such a way that you notice it. I mean the words make sense, but they are written in a way that doesn't seem quite right and you realise you are reading a book and you are no longer caught up in the story. It's hard to explain what I'm talking about, but it's often a problem with Mackie. Just read the scene from this issue when Spidey saves Paul Stacey, Spidey's dialogue is just poor. I had to stop right after reading this scene (first to admire Romita's art, which was great on this segment) and just think to myself "What Spidey said, was technically something someone might say in that situation, but in reality, nobody talks like that!".

The only other negative is this plot device of Spidey always taking multiple naps. Mackie's used it a lot lately and I know it was part of Norman's maipulation, but it still doesn't fully make sense. Especially when we a supposed to believe that Peter is riled up about suomething and determined to figure it out. Anyway, this was best issue from this creative team in a long time.

Overall Rating...

I'm not sure if I'm giving this comic four and a half webs totally on it's own merits or in the vast improvement from the creative team. Either way it's great Spidey comic and worth your time and money.