In just a couple of weeks, Marvel’s most controversial title to date will be coming to an end very soon. Under the guidance of writer Dan Slott, Superior Spider-Man has been one of the most polarising titles released from the publisher, coming as it did on the heels of Peter Parker’s death and Otto Octavius taking on the superhero’s mantle. But now, in April, we will be seeing the dead hero come back alive in Amazing Spider-Man #1, and that means Superior Spider-Man is over. For the moment though, we have Christos Gage and Javier Rodriguez’s latest Superior Spider-Man Annual to consider.
To date, I’ve only read the first two volumes and the first annual for this series. When I read the first arc, I was pretty taken in with Dan Slott’s writing, and Ramos’ art. The second arc proved to be even better. And then there was the first annual, with which Christos Gage made me a fan of the series and the hero. I didn’t get a chance to read more, since I had to do arc catch-ups, but Christos’ writing has been damn good fun. In the new annual, he takes a moment to cover some of the lesser characters, like Phil and Ben Urich, and Norah Winters and Carlie Cooper. Which was excellent. And the art by Javier for the main story and by Philip Briones for the backup was just as good, if not better.
Michael Del Mundo’s cover isn’t exactly representative of the story, but fitting in with the overall theme of the series and the current Goblin Nation arc, it is quite appropriate. And even just besides that, it is a pretty damn creepy composition, which I loved. Say what you will about the art for the entire series, but the covers have definitely been among the best things for the title, and this one is no exception.
For the main story in this issue, with Phil Urich now outed as the Hobgoblin, his uncle Ben Urich takes it upon himself to find a cure for his nephew. But things are not easy since the Green Goblin has the city cowering under his reign of terror, which Superior Spider-Man is trying hard to combat. As a reporter with deep personal ethics however, Ben takes the lead in tracking down his villainous nephew and making him see that what he is doing is not right. With Christos at the helm, Ben wants to redeem his nephew, to make him see what kind of a monster he has become.
But Goblins will be Goblins right? It certainly is interesting how Phil’s character plays out in this issue. I’m not all that familiar with the Goblins of Spider-verse, but Norman Osbourne and others have always been quite fascinating characters in their own right and Phil is no different. If I’m honest, I would have liked to see more of him in this issue, and consequently Ben as well, but the way that Christos wrote the story allowed him to cover something else as well.
The 10-page backup in this issue deals with Carlie Cooper, who has been turned into one of the Goblins by the big bad Green Goblin himself, and her own desire to find a cure for herself with the help of Parker Industries and one of its lead scientists, Sajani Jaffrey. Both Carlie and Sajani are fantastic characters. I’ve seen Carlie since the start of this series, and she was, IIRC, one of the first characters in-verse to realise that Superior Spider-Man is not Peter Parker. With Sajani, this is my first time seeing her, and she impressed me. She’s under a lot of pressure to find a cure for Carlie, and this brings out her inner strengths, especially when she has to go up against the superpowered character known as the Wraith and Carlie both.
There is a lot of character drama all through this issue and also some great action, all of which worked together pretty well to tell a nice comprehensive story about the side-battles of Goblin Nation.
For the main story, we have Javier on pencils and colours with Alvaro Lopez doing the inks. These two were on the first annual as well and in my review for that title I mentioned how good they were as a team. They bring that same quality of work to the new annual as well and if I do say so, they are even better here. All the characters are captured well, especially their facial expressions, and their action scenes with Phil Urich and Superior Spider-Man are extremely kinetic and lively. For the backup story we have Phillipe Briones on pencils and inks with Veronica Gandini on the colours. Phillipe’s art style is different to Javier’s but is no less awesome. I loved the more detailed look at the characters we glimpsed in the main story, and the action panels are even better. Plus, Veronica’s colours are just superb here, they really make the art pop out. Her work on the recent Knights of Pendragon and Death’s Head II one-shots was similarly great.
Overall, while I’m not reading Goblin Nation at the moment, I certainly missed a lot of context, but the story here is a great side-story that still works as a sort of one-shot. And the art is great too.