Comics : Superior Spider-Man #16

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This review was first published on: Sep 2013.

Background...

Phil Urich is the Hobgoblin and, thanks to the Superior Spider-Man, everyone knows it. Even after switching over to the dark side way back in Amazing Spider-Man #649, Urich has still kept his personal life relatively normal. He works part time taking pictures for the Daily Bugle, he dates Bugle writer Norah Winters and he is still is in good favor with his uncle Ben Urich. With Spider-Man having divulged Phil’s little secret to the entire world though, Phil’s comfortable life is no doubt coming apart at the seams.

In Detail...

"Goblin Season"
Superior Spider-Man #16
Oct 2013 : SM Title
Summary: Hobgoblin defeated
Writer:  Dan Slott
Pencils:  Humberto Ramos
Inker:  Victor Olazaba
Lettering:  Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist:  Edgar Delgado
Executive Producer:  Alan Fine
Publisher:  Dan Buckley
Chief Creative Officer:  Joe Quesada
Editor In Chief:  Axel Alonso
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Assistant Editor:  Ellie Pyle
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Review
Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin IV (Phil Urich), Menace

A brilliantly illustrated opening page (by Mr. Humberto Ramos) shows the crowded offices of the Daily Bugle finding out that Phil Urich is the murderous Hobgoblin. As Norah, Robbie Robertson, and Ben Urich surround the freshly accused villain, Phil sheepishly denies Spider-Man’s claims. Flanking the entire area, Spider-Man wastes no time entering the Bugle and confronting the Hobgoblin which eventually forces Phil to show his hand. Grabbing his flame sword (which I guess was tucked into his pants), Phil takes Norah hostage.

Meanwhile, Tiberius Stone, who helped the Hobgoblin lose to Spider-Man by sabotaging his equipment last issue, gleefully watches Urich unravel on television. He then checks off the Hobgoblin from his ‘To Do List.’ Next on the list? Ruin Horizon (as in Horizon Labs).

In another side story, we see Yuri Watanabe in her Wraith costume capturing one of Spider-Man’s henchmen. After grilling the thug and figuring out what bank account Doc Ock used to purchase his army, Watanabe and her partner Carlie Cooper continue to “follow the money.” This next clue leads them to the Superior Spider-Man’s offshore bank account. This story will apparently drag on into upcoming issues.

Back at the Bugle offices, Norah is tired of being a hostage. The spunky blonde elbows her boyfriend in the head which causes Urich to panic. As Spider-Man fights through the crowd to get to his enemy, Hobby breaks out into his ear-piercing laugh. That is, until the sight of his beloved uncle screaming in pain causes him to hesitate. That hesitation is all that the new Doc Ock needs to subdue his opponent. After detonating the “subdermal nano-tracers” that Spidey used to track down Hobby in the first place, Ock tackles Urich through a window and out into the street where police officers and an entire Spider army are waiting. Picking up Urich’s sword, Spider-Man implies that there is only one way to rid the world of the Hobgoblin’s sonic scream. A phone call from the Avengers distracts Ock though, and instead of finishing off the murderous villain, Spidey leaves him for the authorities.

The ineptitude of New York's finest is staggering though. In route to a Jersey prison, the female goblin known as Menace frees Urich and takes him to the Green Goblin’s underground layer. Fitting him with a new outfit, Urich kneels before the Goblin King who bestows the title of Goblin Knight to his newest follower.

In General...

Dan Slott ramps up the action again on this issue, but this time around it’s better plotted and definitely more enjoyable than some of the high octane fluff we’ve seen in previous installments. In the center of the action is Phil Urich, who is again the focal point of the story. This leaves Otto to play more or less a secondary character. Also, for what seems like more than half the issues of Superior, we never see Spider-Man without his mask on. This means that we get no scenes of Peter Parker interacting with the supporting cast. This is not necessarily a glaring omission though. Urich, with his back against the wall, becomes a more interesting character than he’s been in years. Seeing him lose all hope and basically give up his normal life to become a minion in the new Goblin’s army gives Urich a chance to become a better, more fully realized villain.

As far as side plots go, the Carlie/Yuri investigation is beginning to grate on my nerves a bit. Not only is it moving at a snail's pace, but it also seems tonally at odds with the rest of the Superior book. The switch from superhero action to gumshoe sleuthing is jarring, especially when it's being conducted by two of the least interesting characters in current Spider mythos.

The artwork is again topnotch from artist Humberto Ramos. It almost seems like Slott plans out his arcs so that the artist best suited for whichever particular story he plans on telling is the one in line to draw it. As much as I liked what Giuseppe Camuncoli did on the Hobgoblin arc back in the final issues of Amazing, Ramos was the artist that transformed Phil Urich into the Hobgoblin during the Big Time era and it only seems fitting that he would be the one to draw the arc in which Urich abandons his Hobgoblin persona.

Overall Rating...

While this arc was nothing groundbreaking, it still gave Slott a chance to steady the ship a bit and get the book back on track. I’m interested to see how Urich, whose character as a whole seems to have gotten a jumpstart from these last two issues, fits into the Green Goblin’s plan. Speaking of the Green Goblin, the anticipation has heightened to a peak – it's time to get to the reveal. Is it Norman? Harry? Someone completely unexpected? With this kind of buildup, I’m starting to think that it’s going to be the latter.