Friday, April 11, 2014

Superior Spider-Man #26 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

If Slott is banking on Peter losing most of his memories providing enough drama when Peter returns to keep "Amazing Spider-Man" interesting, man, he is barking up the wrong tree.  The advertisements announcing Peter's return say that he will pay "a cost" for returning, and his memories seem like the type of sacrifice that would fit the bill.  But, would anyone really believe that Peter would never regain them?  No.  After all, no one really believed that Peter would never return.  We'll get a few issues of humor when he doesn't remember who Ben Ulrich is, but it's going to get as old as it is when Otto doesn't remember those memories.  Same schtick, different issue.  It gets to my point from last issue:  at some point, I just want to read about Spider-Man fighting Venom, not Peter as Spider-Man forgetting who Flash is fighting Venom.

That said, I did like the idea that Otto made a mistake in keeping only Peter's core memories, allowing him an unfettered view of himself and the obstacles that he's capable of overcoming.  It reminds us who our boy is.

I also found that Slott managed to pull off something here that I never thought possible:  I actually buy Roderick Kinglsey as the Hobgoblin.  I recently just re-read "Amazing Spider-Man" #200-#300, and I can say that the Hobgoblin stories really were, without a doubt, some of the best stories that I've ever read.  The mystery over his identity was gripping, even as the clues got so muddled that it became clear that the reveal wouldn't wrap up all the loose ends and dropped hints.  But, Ned Leeds as the Hobgoblin worked, even if it wasn't a perfect reveal.  When I learned years later that it had been ret-conned to be Roderick Kinglsey setting up Ned, it just seemed to be yet more editorial interference.  I recently read "Spider-Man:  Hobgoblin Lives" and, even though it did a better job than I thought possible of telling the old stories in a way that made Kingsley's role as the Hobgoblin clear, it still felt wrong.

After reading this issue, though, I realized that it was because we never really knew Roderick.  He was always a bit player, never leaving you with the sense that he could become a villain on the scale of the Hobgoblin.  However, Slott has really built his character over his run.  By the time he fakes his death here at the hands of the Goblin by using his mind-controlled butler as a body double, you just have to smile, because it's exactly the sort of thing that he'd do.  It made me buy that he was crafty enough to do it to Ned Leeds, and it feels like closure to a long-standing pet peeve.

Finally, Slott really does set up the Goblin Nation story that kicks off next issue.  Now controling both his own and Hobgoblin's army (as well as possibly Spidey's, if "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up" #9 is to be believed), he's certainly got the fire power to give Otto a run for his money.

*** (three of five stars)

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