Superior Spider-Man Annual #2
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Javier Rodriguez, Philippe Briones, Alvaro Lopez, and Veronica Gandini
The short of it:
Ben Urich has a story to write, and unfortunately, this time, he’s a part of it. His nephew, Phil, was the Hobgoblin, and despite his status as ‘awesome reporter #1′, he completely missed it. He wasn’t the only one, either, former reporter (and Phil’s ex) Norah Winters is doing the talk show circuit to promote her book about being Phil’s ex. Phil laments his lost touch, as he was the first one to discover who Daredevil was, and he wrote the Osborn expose, but this was right under his nose and he missed it. He’s warned by MJ that the Goblin is going after people tied to Peter and Spider-Man, but Phil shows up as the Goblin Knight to tell his uncle that he won’t be harmed. He sees this as Phil protecting him, and then goes to tell Robbie to get his son and get out of town. Robbie voices concern, Ben lies to him and leaves. He makes a trip to Parker Industries to call Sanjani on the “Peter Parker is dead” bluff, and finds her working on a cure for Carlie. She’s afraid to use it, for fear of it killing Carlie, but Ben is willing to go test it on Phil.
He lays a trap for his nephew, using the allure of revenge against Norah as bait to lure him in and try to talk him down…try to cure him with the potential antidote. Unfortunately, Robbie followed him and got caught, so Phil freaks out and starts attacking people. Ben cries for Spider-Man, and since everybody gets one, Ock shows up to save the day. As Ock takes Robbie to the hospital, Ben begins to accept the reality. That his nephew is gone, as dead as his wife, but he still has one thing. The truth. Because he’s Ben Urich, and he’s a reporter.
Wraith wakes up, still a prisoner of the Living Brain, but she quickly changes that and escapes into Parker Industries. She quickly finds Sanjani and Monster, with Sanjani working on the cure to turn the girl back into Carlie, but Wraith goes in and blindly attacks. Literally, she can’t see Monster and fights by listening. Unfortunately, picking a fight with the girl who is barely in control of herself just pushes her over the edge, and Sanjani is forced to administer the cure without knowing if it will kill her or not. End result? Carlie is sleeping and nobody knows if she’ll wake up (probably will) and Wraith ditches her lenses so she can see Goblin’s for the sake of punching them.
What I liked:
Oooh, Ben Urich story!
Man, there was a lot of Carlie as Monster in this book. I was starting to forget that I liked her, she’d been so infrequent. She added such much needed comedy to this book, not to mention the random acts of violence.
I actually really love that Spider-Man was the most minor character in this issue. One of the real downsides of the Spidey-Ock status quo is that a lot of Peter’s supporting cast has been relegated to minor character status because they don’t fit in with what’s going on in Superior, so I was really happy to see an issue put the focus back on the side characters I’ve grown to love. And Wraith.
“You could inject a lab rat with the Goblin Formula.” “I tried. It broke out of its cage and came at me. It might even have killed me…if it hadn’t exploded.”
They did a pretty nice job matching artist styles to the story. The first story has a gritty and real feel to it, fitting of the fact that it follows around Ben Urich, and grants his perspective on things. Monster looks monstrous, Phil looks menacing, and Spider-Man isn’t flashy or flamboyant. Meanwhile, the second story, featuring Wraith, is a lot brighter and more kinetic, fitting with the theme of the super fight.
What I didn’t like:
Come on, Robbie isn’t THAT stupid.
Given the tone of the issue, I think it would have been better off had it been someone other than Spidey-Ock that showed up to fight Goblin Knight. A full issue of only supporting characters with no Spider-Man! It would have worked!
Chris Gage is one of the most underrated writers in the industry, and I love that he’s getting work like this. I love that he’s Dan Slott’s Spidey buddy, who gets to come on and co-write and take over annuals. He always brings the same tone as Dan, but it always has this added tone that is all Gage. It really takes me back to Initiative, where Gage took over for Slott and the quality didn’t slide a bit.
For as much Spidey as I’ve read in the last few years, and I’ve been an every issue guy since just before Spider-Island, I have NO idea who Wraith is. They keep telling me her name, and what she does, and the costume is kinda cool, but I don’t have a damn clue.
So, Goblin Serum thought/question; Norman got insanity and strength, Harry got insanity and strength, Phil got insanity and strength, Menace got shape shifting, and Carlie is just turned into a Monster? Why does it turn people into monsters? This isn’t Ultimate!
I never really cared about the Good Goblin, so I’ve been loving his time as Hobgoblin and Goblin Knight, and I’ll be mildly upset if he gets wrapped up when Goblin Nation is over. I understand that the Goblin’s will need to breath when this is all said and done, but I’d rather a half dozen of them in Spider-Man than a single Venom.
My favorite kind of Annual is the one that actually matters. I’ve read so many one off stories, or crossovers that are never mentioned again, that an issue like this really is refreshing. I wish it was a buck cheaper, but you take what you can get. At least the issue was enjoyable!
Tags: Christos Gage, Marvel Comics, Marvel NOW! (All-New Marvel Now!), Reviews, Spider-Man, Superior Spider-Man