Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #250

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This story is part of an Arc: "Evil Incarnate"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Norman Osborn is back with a vengeance, as we conclude this three-part arc which also features the return of Kraven and Jack O'Lantern...

In Detail...

"Citizen Osborn!"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #250
Oct 1997 : SM Title
Summary: Norman Osborn Returns
Arc: Part 3 of "Evil Incarnate"
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Luke Ross
Inker:  Al Milgrom, Dan Green
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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Articles: Watson, Anna, Calypso, Kafka, Dr. Ashley, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Harrison Thompson, Jameson, J. Jonah, Alyosha Kravinoff, Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, John Jameson (Man-Wolf), Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Robertson, Joe "Robbie"

The Green Goblin's ugly mug graces this issue's title page, as he has decided to fly by Peter and Mary Jane's Forest Hills home. While Mary Jane is there, suffering from a nightmare, Peter is at Dr. Kafka's place, trying to figure out what to do with John "Quasi-Man-Wolf" Jameson. A few choice words to John from Ashley are more than enough to complete his transformation, and she continues to give him therapy while Spider-Man tries to keep him from killing anyone. After a brief fight, John transforms back into human form.

Speaking of things that aren't human, Norman Osborn has returned to visit his daughter-in-law, Liz Osborn, who is more than a little upset at his reappearance. Liz is defiant at first, vowing not to let Norman go near her son, but her strength crumbles after Osborn's thinly veiled threat ("I'll have him, or NO ONE WILL!").

"Kraven", meanwhile, is spending a relaxing evening at the Kravinov mansion, when he is visited once again by Calypso. This time, her affections are not rejected, but the surprise is on her later when he reveals himself to be the son of Kraven. Infuriated, but at a disadvantage, Calypso leaves, vowing revenge.

Two weeks pass, and the action picks up again at the gala re-opening of the Osborn Foundation, with Norman as keynote speaker. His speech is full of thinly veiled hatred towards Spider-Man and, interestingly, Ben Urich. Osborn, as it happens, is denying any connection to the Green Goblin, claiming that he was in Europe during the years following his "death." As such, he condemns Urich's book, "Dynasty of Evil" (see "Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil" one-shot for further details) as being libelous. He speaks with Peter briefly, deliberately riling him up by mentioning Gwen Stacy, and his control over little Norman pushes Liz to the breaking point as she slaps her boyfriend Foggy Nelson and lashes out at MJ.

While all this is going on, Flash Thompson reaches a breaking point of his own. Despite a broken arm, a one-night stay in jail, another lecture by his sister, and the loss of his gym teaching job due to his drunken car accident, he still blames his father for what is happening to him. After cowering in his apartment for two weeks, Flash flips out, throwing his trophies around the room and shattering the bedroom mirror. He vows to confront "dear old Dad," during which he FINALLY realizes that he is the one that's truly at fault after he sees himself in what he blames his father for.

Meanwhile, Peter and Mary Jane return home from the Osborn gala to find that their house has been ransacked. Leaving a visibly shaken Aunt Anna with MJ, Peter rushes upstairs and finds a little Green Goblin doll in his trashed bedroom. Completely furious, he changes into his Spider-Man uniform and throws himself through the picture window of Norman Osborn's apartment, where he proceeds to brutally pound an unresisting Norman, demanding that he leave himself and everyone else alone. This show of brutality was just what Norman was hoping for, however, and the security cameras posted around the apartment captured Spidey's attack for all the world to see. Chased by the newly-arrived security guards, Spider-Man swings off into the night, tormented by his inability to stop the "Osborn curse" from endangering everyone and everything he holds dear.

In General...

Never let it be said that J.M. DeMatteis is not adept at weaving simultaneous plots into an issue (or three). Four major plot threads intertwine these three issues, and in ascending order of quality...

First of all, there is the Jonah's attack/John's transformation storyline to deal with. I loved the Jack O'Lantern in the past few issues, with his mind control abilities and other attributes, he is truly a force to be reckoned with. It almost makes up for his outfit. Jonah's reactions through the whole affair are well done, especially near the end of #248 when he's so scared by the thought of losing Marla that he's almost comatose.

John's story? Well, that's not so good. The whole Man-Wolf bit seemed to me an unnecessary bit of filler, there only to provide an excuse to have Peter ditch his wife in #249. I just wish it hadn't have spilled over into issue #250, as the rest of the plot there is put on hold to give the problem a quick fix.

Has Flash Thompson really and truly gotten his head on straight? Well, I thought he had about five issues earlier, then he reverted to form in the blink of an eye. Let's hope so this time. Flash has been presented as a sympathetic character, even while doing something as stupid as driving drunk, but my overall feel of the storyline lately has been "let's get on with it." There is a lot of dramatic potential yet to be mined here, and it's time to move forward.

The good news: it's not Kraven. That is one resurrection I would not have stood for. The bad news: it's his son. Haven't we seen this somewhere before? That having been said, I really like this guy anyway. The Grim Hunter was a wuss, this "Kraven" looks, acts, and speaks Kravinov. This son will be a worthy successor to his father's throne. (As far as the Grim Hunter is concerned, Kaine did us all a favor). Nice parallel in ish #250, pp. 24-25 of the beginning of "Kraven's Last Hunt," by the way.

Finally, as far as the return of Norman Osborn goes, my verdict is a hearty "thumbs-up!" We all know what he can do as a costume-wearing maniac, now we're beginning to see (again) what I feel is his TRUE strength: master manipulator. Throughout these issues, Norman plays everyone like marionettes, orchestrating them to do his bidding. This man will make Spidey's life even more miserable in the months to come, mark my words. Every comic book character needs a proper nemesis. Norman Osborn will do nicely.

A few minor details: Art was good, mostly. There were a few exceptions (ish #249, page 5, especially) but good overall. And does New York always rain as much as these issues would have it appear? I thought I was back in Seattle.

Overall Rating...

Very good job bringing Osborn back (again). Four webs.