Remember when people used to actually like Phil Urich? Before he became the Hobgoblin that everyone loves to hate, Ben Urich’s favorite nephew was the awkward, misunderstood Green Goblin IV. Years after his highly praised title was cancelled in the mid-‘90s, Dan Slott resurrected the character and turned him into a maniacal (yet still awkward) villain during the Big Time era. Again Urich decided to adopt a goblin persona; this time in the form of Hobgoblin V.
Last issue, Phil’s days as a Kingpin-employed villain came to an end. With the Superior Spider-Man wiping out all of Shadowland and forcing the crime boss to go underground, Urich is now out of a job and on the lam. Times are tough for our old friend Phillip, and chances are they’re about to get even tougher.
|Executive Producer:||Alan Fine|
|Chief Creative Officer:||Joe Quesada|
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Assistant Editor:||Ellie Pyle|
In a small shop on the Lower East Side, Hobgoblin drops off his damaged gear so that the Tinkerer (who was last seen in prison back in the unusual Avenging Spider-Man #13) can repair and upgrade it. In the back of the Tinkerer’s shop is the mysterious former Horizon Lab/Kingpin lackey Tiberius Stone. The Tinkerer gives the assignment of fixing up Hobby’s gear to Stone, which is unfortunate for the goblin. Stone has less than stellar memories of the Hobgoblin, dating back to when they were both employed by the Kingpin, and he has revenge on his mind.
In the wrecked remains of Shadowland, the Superior Spider-Man is orchestrating the cleanup of the now decimated fortress. Also on the scene are officers Carlie Cooper and Yuri Watanabe who are questioning the hero about his recent deed. It doesn’t take long for Otto’s violent rhetoric to give away what Carlie already presumes. This is not the Peter Parker that she knows so well. Watanabe seems convinced as well and says aloud that this may be a job for her alter-ego the Wraith.
At the Daily Bugle, Phil Urich is attempting to sell footage of Spider-Man’s raid on Shadowland to Norah and Robbie. The money that he receives from the Bugle just isn’t enough though. After receiving a call from Roderick Kingsley (the original Hobgoblin) asking for his monthly “franchise fee,” Urich decides he needs to do a little down and dirty villain work to get some cash. Meanwhile, Otto has figured out that his Spider-Bots are failing to find the Hobgoblin as his nightly crime sprees make front page news. If you haven’t been keeping up, the reason that the Spider-Bots aren’t working is because they’ve been reprogrammed by the Green Goblin. The new Goblin King is no longer going to allow this though, and he shuts off the programming.
As Peter’s loved ones and colleagues are finally becoming truly worried about his actions (or lack there of), Otto contemplates how much more efficient he could become if he were to just be rid of the entire Peter Parker persona. Not long after having these thoughts though, Anna Maria (his kinda-sorta girlfriend) calls to let him know that she has set up a meeting with Empire State’s chancellor. After finding out that, despite his absences, he will be receiving full credit in Dr. Lamaze’s class, Ock becomes smitten by the idea of again receiving a doctorate and possibly starting a more serious relationship with Anna. It doesn’t take long for Hobgoblin to show up on his radar though and he runs off to put on his new costume and ambush the unsuspecting villain.
The battle is lopsided from the start. Not only is the Superior Spidey too much for Hobby to handle, but Ty Stone is sabotaging the goblin’s equipment at every opportunity. Urich soon finds out that it’s best to flee the battle while he still can. After shedding his costume on a rooftop, Phil heads for the Daily Bugle offices where, in a sheer panic, he demands more money from Robbie Robertson. Unbeknownst to Phil, the Superior Spider-Man tagged him with nano-tracers during the fight. These machines allow Ock to hear exactly what his target is saying, which makes figuring out the Hobgoblin’s identity a snap. Surrounded by his uncle, his girlfriend and the rest of the Bugle staff, a television feed is intercepted by Spider-Man who announces to the world that Phil Urich is the Hobgoblin.
Well this was definitely a step in the right direction. After a couple months of action galore but very little plot development, Slott goes back to the things that made this whole Superior saga interesting in the first place. One of the most important improvements is seeing the much needed return of Spider-Man out of costume. Though his interactions with the supporting cast are limited, it’s still a nice change of pace. Seeing how many of Peter’s closest friends and family are reacting to his strange behavior also helps to push the main story forward.
Another element of this issue that I liked was the spotlight that was cast upon Phil Urich. I’ve always thought that Slott has mishandled this character from the very moment he turned him into a villain. It was never quite explained why a shy kid who tried his best to be a hero when he first stumbled upon his goblin gear became a murderous mad man. Here we see a vulnerable and neurotic Urich that exudes a personality that we haven’t seen from the character since he was being written by Tom DeFalco.
I still wish we could see a little more progress in the main storyline though. Even after reading a solid issue such as this one, I’m still a little bothered by the languid pace. I want to see Cooper and Watanabe act on their premonitions. I want to see Mary Jane and Aunt May confront Otto. I want to see Max Modell fire Peter Parker. The supporting cast’s lack of action just makes them look unintelligent and dense.
Humberto Ramos again handles the art on this issue, and does a fine job. While there aren’t nearly as many big splash pages to show off on like there was last time around, Ramos still goes the extra mile in creating lots of little details in his work. I especially like the scenes at the Bugle that are filled with interesting unnamed reporters that are going about their daily business.
For the first time since 1996, I actually care about what’s going to happen to Phil Urich. Hopefully we continue to see more progress in the main plot as this arc wraps up.