Phil Urich, the former heroic Green Goblin who's gone a little insane in recent years, stumbled upon yet another hidden lab belonging to Norman Osborn back in ASM #649. Bad timing though, as the Hobgoblin was there searching out gear to steal at the same time, and attempted to kill Phil.
Phil got the drop on this Hobgoblin with the help of his sonic laugh, and beheaded him, taking on the mantle of the Hobgoblin himself. Turns out this wasn't the true Hobgoblin that was beheaded at the time, but Roderick Kingsley's twin brother Daniel. Roderick, who has always excelled at such duplicity, was down in Central America at the time, and has now come back to New York to exact revenge on Phil for killing his brother and for taking over his super-villain identity.
|Writer:||Christos Gage, Dan Slott|
|Cover Art:||Steve McNiven|
|Lettering:||VC's Chris Eliopoulos|
Hobgoblin and some ninjas from the Hand are busting up a biker bar in Brooklyn, frequented by members of the Norman Osborn Goblin cult. Hobgoblin takes a mysterious briefcase from one of the bikers, saying what's inside will make the Kingpin very happy. At that moment, Spider-man swings in, snatching the briefcase away with a webline. Hobgoblin tries his killer laugh trick but Spider-man has worn earplugs invented at Horizon that block harmful frequencies. Hobgoblin says he has other tricks and signals to Tyler Stone on the rooftop of the building, who turns on a device that amps up Peter's spider sense (which wasn't the intended effect of Stone's device).
An angry Hobgoblin escapes and flies out, grabbing Tyler from the rooftop and threatens to drop him. Stone says he just got important data on Spider-man with the device and can make a few minor adjustments to make it work better. Spider-man spots Stone with Hobgoblin as they fly off and thinks he needs investigate Stone further. Someone else has spotted Hobgoblin and Stone as they fly off, also. Roderick Kingsley thinks the GPS-enabled 'bat-drone' Phil Urich / Hobgoblin uses has led Kingsley right to him. Kingsley thinks to himself that he knows the Goblin tech stolen by Phil better than anyone, and that's how he'll get payback on Phil.
Meanwhile, Julia Carpenter aka Madam Web is having one of her premonitions. She thinks about "an ending" that's approaching. She's sending off her young daughter to family in Colorado in preparation of what's coming.
Peter heads to Horizon Labs to find out what he can about Tyler Stone. He has the briefcase that he took from Hobgoblin, but thinks that it's certainly booby-trapped and that he'll have to figure out how to safely open it later, stowing it in a locker. He goes right to Max Modell's office to find out what he can about Stone, and finds Modell there with a reporter from the Bugle, Sally Floyd. Seems the staff has let slip to Sally that Peter makes tech for Spider-man, and she's decided to run with the story despite Peter's reservations.
Peter next heads to the Bugle to try to talk Robbie Robertson out of running it. Robbie says the article paints Horizon and Peter in a very good light, and that Peter himself has already been associated with Spider-man for years, having sold pictures to the Bugle of Spider-man. Peter asks for at least some time to prepare, but Robbie says the story is already about to go live on the internet.
Peter then runs into Norah and Phil Urich. Norah doesn't want Phil's photos of Hobgoblin fighting Spider-man, saying she's researching the legacy of Norman Osborn instead, which angers Phil. Peter's spider-sense starts going off the closer he gets to Norah and Phil and he can't figure out why. When Norah asks if Peter's feeling alright, Phil thinks that means Norah likes Pete again, and PHil thinks maybe Pete should disappear for awhile. Peter says it's just a headache.
Meanwhile, Kingpin has Tyler Stone in a stranglehold at his headquarters, saying Stone has disappointed him by losing the case. Stone says he has a way to both get the briefcase back and cripple Spider-man in the process. At the Port Authority bus terminal, Julia is waving goodbye to her daughter on the bus. Crosscutting between these two scenes, Stone tells Kingpin that he has made adjustments to the spider-sense jammers set up all over town, and they're waiting to be switched on. Julia dials 911, saying there is "a woman in dire need of medical attention" outside the bus terminal. When the 911 dispatcher asks what her relationship to the victim is, Julia says "I'm her".
Stone turns on the jammers, and it sets Peter's spider-sense into overdrive. He pushes Phil and Norah out of the way of a perceived danger--a Bugle staffer pushing a cart in their direction. Norah hands Peter a coffee which he drops, saying it's too hot. "Every potential threat is jolting my nervous system, no matter how small" Peter thinks, and he aims to get somewhere safe and regroup. "Looks like Horizon Labs doesn't drug test their employees" Phil cracks, at Peter's odd behaviour.
Meanwhile, Julia has a full-on precognitive attack. Screaming, she says she can see "everything", and in a two-page spread, she sees events happening to dozens of different characters in the Marvel Universe. She suddenly appears in front Peter at the Bugle in an astral form, trying to warn Spider-man that something is coming for him. Peter runs out, and Phil and Norah are left perplexed, but with Phil thinking that she was talking to Spider-man. He takes a call from the Kingpin, who says he has an assignment for Phil about locating Spider-man. Phil says funny Kingpin should mention that, as he was about to tell him he's got it covered.
Peter's running in the streets, but the commotion of the city plays havoc with his spider-sense. He thinks he has to make it to the Fantastic Four to find out what's causing the mental attack. Trying to ignore his haywire spider-sense, he doesn't anticipate Phil as Hobgoblin, who gasses him from behind. Hobgoblin drags him off into the air in front of onlookers on the street, saying talk about walking right into it, that he "finally got one over on you, Spider-man!"
There's a lot crammed into this issue. In light of recent announcements that Amazing Spider-man will end with issue #700 (with no announcement proper of a title relaunch), it does seem that writer Dan Slott is in a bit of a rush to close up certain plot threads. One of the longest-running of these, Phil Urich becoming the new Hobgoblin after seemingly killing Roderick Kingsley, is starting to be addressed, with the reveal that Kingsley survived and is looking for revenge. Phil's appearance this very issue is one of the very tedious things about this story, unfortunately. He hasn't changed a bit or had any real character progression, and the scene where he thinks he has to take out a perceived romantic rival, in this case Peter himself, came off very familiar (Phil did get in the best line of the issue, about how apparently Peter's employers at Horizon Labs don't drug test). But now Phil seems to know that Peter is Spider-man.
Christos Gage co-scripts with Dan Slott again this issue. When Gage last guest-wrote a few issues (starting with ASM #661), he had Peter making a passing mention of the "psychic blindspot", a spell cast by Doctor Strange to make the world forget Peter is Spider-man after he volunarily unmasked during the Civil War event. The spell could only be broken if Peter himself publicly unmasked again, which he sort of did during the Spider-Island storyline (when Peter broadcast himself using his Spider-powers to the public on the internet). This issue, Peter makes mention of the spell again when trying to convince Robbie not to run the story that Peter makes Spider-man's tech at Horizon Labs, thinking to himself that if people scrutinize too closely, the spell could unravel again.
While I think this premise is somewhat neat, and I suspect this will all tie in to however Amazing as a title ends in six or so issues, the logic is inherently flawed. Max Modell made the connection over 40 issues ago that Peter makes Spidey's tech, and hasn't remembered Peter's identity as Spider-man. Robbie says nothing of the connection, or even Sally Floyd, the reporter who comes up with the story. If these characters don't remember the identity reveal, would the public at large? It's surprising if Marvel is considering revealing Peter's identity again--something tells me Peter will end up going into hiding or faking his death at the end of the title's run.
Spider-man as a character is getting caught up in the Marvel Now campaign, in which the company is rethinking and relaunching all of their characters. It shows up abruptly this issue during Madam Web's little freakout, and it gives Slott's overall story, which was chugging along just fine, a very rushed feel all of a sudden.
I also wonder what is in the briefcase that Kingpin wants so bad, which Peter has stashed at Horizon Labs. If it was stolen from the Goblin Cult bikers, is it something to do with Norman Osborn himself?
The real wildcard of this arc, though, is Kingsley and what his next move is. Since Phil as Hobgoblin seems to know Peter's secret identity as Spider-man, it would be mighty convenient if Kingsley takes Phil out right now.
Dan Green inks over Camuncoli's art this issue instead of Klaus Janson. Green's inks give the art here a lighter feel than usual. I like Camuncoli's art, as usual, but he makes some odd choices at times, especially during scene transitions. Just what exactly is Kingsley looking over at in the last panel he's on before the page with the first of Julia's premonitions? Steve McNiven's cover art for this issue is rather brilliant, though.
This is a decent issue with some clever moments (I liked how Peter's beserk spider-sense was reacting to commonplace dangers all around him--high fructose corn syrup indeed), but with the end of the title coming soon and the changes to Spider-man on the horizon with the Marvel Now project, this story already feels a little hurried and overstuffed, and doesn't read as well a second time around.
But I am looking forward to seeing Kingsley and Phil Urich battle it out over who gets to be the Hobgoblin.