Story 1: Return of the Green Goblin
Credits: Written by Tom DeFalco, breakdowns by Sal Buscema, finishes by Bill Sienkiewicz and edited by Eric Fein
Cast: Peter ‘Spider-Man’ Parker, Dr Miles ‘The Jackal’ Warren, Ben Urich, Ken Ellis, Joe ‘Robbie’ Robertson, J.Jonah Jameson, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Firefist, the new Green Goblin (number IV I think?) and looks like the return of 3Pete.
Plot: The return of the Green Goblin opens with a homeless man called Sammy running for his life from someone seemingly in control of fire who monologues about having to rid the city of ‘degenerates’ to protect the’ righteous.’ He is caught and the only trace is his body engulfed in flames and the maniacal laugh of his killer.
At the grave of Harry Osborn, Peter laments over there being a new Green Goblin and questions what to do next. He then puts on Ben Reilly’s Scarlet Spider costume. At this point we finally learn why he’s been wearing it, his other costumes have been destroyed, so it’s this or his underwear. We then get an exposition heavy internal monologue as he swings home, so that we the reader can get upto speed.
Somewhere else, a naked Jackal is trashing his lab, enraged over the loss of his clone, who was living his fantasy ideal life. He blames this on the new Green Goblin and wonders who it is behind the mask.
Subplot time and Ken Ellis is talking with Ben Urich at the Daily Bugle. They are outside J. Jonah Jameson’s office where JJJ and Joe ‘Robbie’ Robertson are arguing over their coverage (or lack thereof) of Peter Parkers arrest for murder and the upcoming trial. Ben wonders where his intern in a female colleague is trying to divert calls between departments. Given the situation at Marvel at the time with the sales and marketing departments dictating creative and editorial policy, I can’t help but think that this is a thinly veiled dig at the higher ups from the creative team.
Anyway Peter gets home to a distraught Mary Jane who is finishing up making a fresh Spider-Man costume. As he changes clothes the pair fight over her need for him to be there against his obsession with Jackal, Kaine and Ben. She argues that it’s unhealthy to keep going like this and that the world will not end if he takes some time to try and sort through their own stuff regarding amongst other things the potential health issues of their unborn baby. Peter sees out the corner of his eye that there have been 10 killings (Sammy being the 10th) and he feels the need to go out and investigate this. After he leaves, MJ realises that rather than ignoring her concerns Peter is also trying to deal with it, as well as all of the Kaine, Ben and Jackal stuff and there seems no end or relief at all and this is all as well as grieving the loss of Aunt May, his last living relative.
Elsewhere, but who knows where, the new Green Goblin dresses in an augmenting suit and readies himself to go out. As this new Green Goblin flies over the area of the city where the killings have occurred, he sees some other homeless people there, when he flies down towards them he is attacked by Spider-Man who thinks he is the killer. He’s also incensed that there is a new Green Goblin. The Goblin tries to explain, but Spidey is having none of it. The Goblin flees and accidentally runs into the actual killer who goes by the laughable name of ‘Fire Fist’, all under the watchful eye of an unseen Jackal.
Mary Jane visits Ben in prison, who reassures here that the decision over what to do with the baby is hers to make, she is not alone.
Spider-Man continues to battle Fire Fist, but when the tide turns against him, the Green Goblin returns and keeps Fire Fist at bay with the sonic weapon he has dubbed the ‘Lunatic Laugh’. When Spider-Man regains the upper hand, the Goblin escapes, feeling he is not really up to this life. Spider-Man webs up his opponent and then goes home whilst Jackal returns to his lab and his plans to wipe out humanity only to be joined by someone who appears to be 3Pete.
Notes: This is the other half of the story that introduced the new Green Goblin in Web of Spider-Man 125. We get the usual misunderstanding fight before teaming up, but we don’t get the realising they are on the same side trope afterwards, Spider-Man leaves this issue thinking that this new Green Goblin is a menace, just like the last 3 were and we as readers don’t really get any more information that that ourselves beyond the fact that this person is absolutely in over his head and that is a hook that drags you in, this of course leading into an ongoing Green Goblin series that was came out later that year. We also get some good sub-plotty stuff, with Jackal meeting 3Pete as well as stuff with MJ and the Bugle staff too. A highlight is JJJ & Robbie debating coverage of Peter’s legal issues, these are hallmarks of good Spider-Man stories.
Mary Jane does this whole thing about Peter ignoring her and after her leaves she realises how wrong she is and we get this from an internal monologue. I got that, sometimes you realise you are in the wrong after you stop talking to someone and there’s little that can be done about it at that point, so it’s just left in your head till you see them again. We also get the welcome return of the Spider-Man costume to the Spider-Man titles.
This was a good use of a larger issue and it moves the clone saga forward whilst making room for a new character. It wasn’t so long after this that the wheels would start to come off, but so far this is going well.
Verdict: Writing 3 out of 5 – A solid, if uninspired story punctuated by moments of quality. I don’t know if the Clone Saga story anymore than it needed the last Judas Traveller story, but at least it was a fun read.
Art: 1 out of 5 – I am not going to mention again my issues with the art, any of the previous several months of Spectacular Spider-Man issues will fill you in there.
Overall : 4 out of 10 – A solid story let down by the art, which highlights a new character, whilst not overstaying it’s welcome.
Story 2: He was a nice Boy
Credits: Written by Tom DeFalco, breakdowns by Sal Buscema, finishes by Jimmy Palmiotti and edited by Eric Fein. This story adapted from the work of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Cast: Ben Urich, Angela Yin, Principal Davis, Eugene ‘Flash’ Thompson, Betty Leeds, Anna Watson and J.Jonah Jameson
Plot: As background for the coverage of the upcoming murder trial, Ben Urich is interviewing people about Peter Parker whilst Angela Yin takes pictures. He meets with Flash Thompson who talks about becoming friends with Peter in college, Principal Davis who talks about Peter’s academic history and how he became more outgoing and confident. He later meets with Anna Watson who talks about how loving a boy he was to his Aunt and then Betty Leeds talks about Peter as an ex who she is still very fond of. Finally JJJ comes into the story to mention Peter’s financial deal with Spider-Man over the pictures and how maybe Peter is covering for Spider-Man as the real killer. Urich then looks at the story as a whole and wonders what happened to turn this isolated bookworm into a daring news photographer and over his shoulder you see a picture of Spider-Man, just in case you didn’t get what the story was about.
Notes: A bit of filler that looks at Peter through the eyes of people who knew him back in the early days of the title. We see his high school bully, his old headteacher, his neighbour, his ex-girlfriend and his first boss to show that everyone saw him a little different. Maybe this is a story about how little we knew one another or how we contain multitudes, either way its a bit of fun without feeling too extraneous.
Verdict: Writing 3 out of 5 – It’s decently enough written and pays attention to continuity without having to show specific issues or stories and shows the reporters getting back story which often lead to innocuous beginnings of monsters.
Art: 3 out of 5 – More Sal Buscema, but this time with another person on finishes which makes the whole thing easier to enjoy, its not fancy, but for a story with mostly flashbacks and people sitting around it does it’s job very well.
Overall: 6 out of 10 – A nice little back up tale that adds colour to the subplot and sets up the next part of the Clone Saga.
Next Time: Back to the Age of Apocalypse and things are looking grim, well more grim.