Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #696

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This story is part of an Arc: "Danger Zone"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: Nov 2012.

Background...

A mysterious briefcase was stolen away from Philgoblin by Spider-man. After a random freakout in astral form by Julia Carpenter (at the Bugle and in front of Peter, Phil and Norah Winters) meant for Spider-man, combined with a Bugle story of how Peter Parker makes Spider-man's tech at Horizon Labs, Phil has kidnapped Peter as a means to get the briefcase back.

In Detail...

"Key to the Kingdom"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #696
Dec 2012 : SM Title
Summary: Hobgoblin, Kingpin, Roderick Kingsley, Madam Web appear
Arc: Part 2 of "Danger Zone"
Writer:  Christos Gage, Dan Slott
Artist:  Guiseppe Camuncoli
Inker:  Dan Green
Cover Art:  Steve McNiven
Lettering:  VC's Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Antonio Fabela
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Articles: Green Goblin IV (Phil Urich), Hobgoblin I (Kingsley)

The story opens with Julia Carpenter having seizure-like symptoms on the ground at the bus terminal. As paramedics arrive, she utters something about the "future dying, everything ends. Flash of gold. I'm so sorry Peter."

Over at Shadowland, Kingpin is demanding to know why the Phil Urich Hobgoblin has brought Peter there, who is tied up to chair. Phil explains Peter is Spider-man's best friend, that Parker designs Spider-man's tech over at Horizon Labs and they can trade him for the briefcase that Spider-man made off with last issue.

Kingpin addresses Peter, asking how exactly he contacts Spider-man. Peter, thinking that the spider-sense jammers were activated by Kingpin with the help of Tyler Stone, responds that they keep in touch via a signal based on spider-sense, and that the jammers will have to be turned off to make contact. Kingpin says no, Stone says he knows of another way to get a message to Spider-man. Phil says he can record a hostage video on his drone camera, which is programmed to stay close to him.

Over at Phil's apartment, meanwhile, Kingsley has used the same drone camera to track down Phil's civilian identity. He thinks to himself that how Phil keeps his gear in his own apartment is a rookie mistake. He also makes the connection that Phil is Ben Urich's nephew, and also finds pictures Phil has taken of Norah Winters coming out of the shower with the drone camera. Kingsley thinks that no woman is worth getting that hung up on, that "it just makes you weak", but "this particular weakness is practically a tradition--we goblins just can't resist blondes". Kingsley says Phil should be throwing her off a bridge instead of following her around "like a lovesick schoolboy". Suiting up finally in the classic Hobgoblin costume (yeah!!), Kingsley thinks "it's way past time the original Hobgoblin took you back to school".

Over at Horizon, Max Modell gets the hostage video of Peter made by Hobgoblin, and if he calls the police, Avengers or anyone, Peter dies. Hobgoblin wants Modell to get in touch with Spider-man and bring the briefcase, that "he'll know what you mean". Modell lets himself in Peter's lab, and has a device to open Peter's secure "black box" where he puts his inventions. Amid Peter's Spider-man costumes, Modell finds the briefcase.

Cut to Julia in the hospital. Some hospital nurses are standing over her as she's unconcious, discussing the last words she said before going comatose (they also note that her fingertips have been sanded off, so as not to identified via fingerprints). As they read back her last words about a "flash of gold", a mini gold octobot is seen emerging from the sea.

Modell arrives at Shadowland with the case. Kingpin has one of his ninjas open it, knowing it's booby-trapped, and killing the ninja. Inside the case--a gold key, with a goblin face on it. It's the key to "Norman Osborn's cache of assets--from goblin tech to secrets he amassed as head of H.A.M.M.E.R. national security--there is no greater treasure trove in this world." says Kingpin.

Kingsely at that moment appears above on his glider, saying the treasure belongs to him. Phil says he killed the old Hobgoblin and doesn't mind doing it again. "My name's Roderick Kingsley. That was my brother you killed. Which, honestly, I'm fine with. He was an idiot. But then you went too far--you stole my brand--so you're a dead man!". Yeah! As they fight, Kingpin holds his ninjas back, saying it should be amusing.

Modell runs over to Peter in the confusion, who has found a way to untie himself, even though the jammers are still sapping his strength. Modell says he came armed, and shows one of Peter's webshooters that he's grabbed from Peter's lab.

As they battle, Phil compares Roderick to "a cassette tape--kinda fun in a nostalgic way.. but useless!". Kingsley says just because Phil doesn't appreciate something it doesn't make it useless, just stupid and impatient like Phil's whole generation. He also tells Phil he's "got a lock on your little piece of fluff, Norah Winters--and if I say the word, she dies." Peter manages to catch a webline on Kingsley's glider, bringing both Goblins crashing down on top of the spider-sense jammer transmitter, shorting it out. He then fires a webline and captures the goblin key.

As Peter and Modell make a run for it, Kingpin demands both Goblins stop fighting eachother and retrieve the key--or make enemies with him. Out in the streets, the Goblins chase Peter and Modell, Phil says he and Kingsley can kill each other over who gets the key--after they "kill the geeks".

In General...

That's more like it. Even though Peter spends the entire issue mostly sidelined (until the last few pages where he breaks free), and out of costume, the battle between Phil Urich and Roderick Kingsley here just about more than makes up for any lack of Spider-man. If there's any caveat, it's that said battle between the two Goblins is rather short, and by the end of this issue, they're both already teaming up for Kingpin to retrieve the key to Norman Osborn's secret files.

Writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage have penned a good second act, one that is able to breathe a bit more than last issue, one with less cutaways and extraneous plot points. Of the extra plots, there's only Julia "Madam Web" Carpenter, and her final utterance of the future ending with a "flash of gold.", while a gold octobot crawls out of the harbor. Foreshadowing for the next arc that features Doctor Octopus? Is this gold octobot threat really benign, and somehow containing the consciousness of Silver Sable?

Great voicing of the characters here, especially Roderick Kingsley (great moment where Roderick says Phil killed his brother, which he's okay with since Daniel was an idiot. He's more upset at Phil stealing his 'brand'--a nod to Kingsley's fashion mogul past). It's a characterization that almost points the way forward for Kingsley, and I wonder if Marvel would ever put him in his own limited series. There's still the whole backstory of his time in Central America since Goblins at the Gate, and his persona of 'Devil Spider', to be explored. Really, between Phil, Roderick and Norman (still out there somewhere, and his presence felt this issue), there could conceivably be a Goblin ongoing series. The page where Roddy puts the Hobgoblin outfit back on was long awaited, and well worth the wait. The artwork here is also clean and kinetic--I'm glad Camuncoli took the art reigns on this story.

Overall Rating...

No Spider-man in action, but a good Hobgoblin battle that's been a long time coming. Bring on part three.