The Green Goblin is getting after the Superior Spider-Man all over the place…including in Superior Spider-Man Team-Up. Time is running out for Otto as Spider-Man and perhaps for this series as well.
We last left Spidey, Daredevil and the Punisher on Spider-Island with SpOck’s own army about to attack them. We begin this time with Otto Octavius remembering a time when “two neighborhood boys pretended to befriend [him] just so they could get a laugh out of the school crowd.” Why is Otto remembering this? Because he’s got betrayal on his mind, what with the Spider-Patrol turning against him. Various Patrol members are using super-villain equipment (page 3 panel 1 has a nice Marco drawing of SpOck being hit by a Doc Ock tentacle). The three heroes fight back but the Punisher is still blind from a flash bomb thrown last issue. Spidey, rattled by the attack, decides to trust no one he’s not sure of, including DD and Frank Castle. When he says this, Daredevil points out that Spidey is acting unlike himself, making DD unsure of Spider-Man.
As the fight continues, Spidey figures out (but I’m not sure how) that their foes “are just men disguised as my patrol. My actual patrols are still on the main floor above us.” Just then, a giant mechanical spider attacks. There’s a big “BOOOOM!” that apparently means that something blows up but I have no idea what or why. The three heroes continue to mistrust each other. Spidey snags DD’s billy club out of thin air and uses it to strike an opponent rather than trust that DD’s throw would do the job. DD tells SpOck to “call your damn men if you’re not willing to trust us” and Spidey tells him “I’m trying. But all frequencies are being blocked. And the codes on the doors have been changed. We’re on our own down here!” The Punisher then recognizes the sound of his glider. (Wait. The Punisher has a goblin glider? When did this happen?) SpOck swears he never confiscated the glider but Frank doesn’t believe him. Even blinded, the Punisher retrieves his glider, then uses its “government-issue drone missiles” to destroy the spider-robot. “You idiot!” says Otto, “That was an expensive piece of machinery!” DD tells Spidey that “we need to level the playing field.” He hopes Spidey has “some sort of self-destruct system” but Spidey tells him he does not. DD confronts Spidey, accusing him of lying and Otto admits that DD is right. He has a self-destruct that will flood Spider-Island “the moment I’m not here to defend it.” When DD tells him to trigger it, Spidey says, “But I’m here to defend it.”
DD tells Spidey they are losing and that he must trigger the destruct. He holds off the villains while Spidey attempts to do so. But the self-destruct codes have been changed too so the web-slinger must do it all manually. He succeeds, resulting in a two-page spread of masses of water pouring into the stronghold. The villains get caught in the deluge, as does Spider-Man. Just as his air is running out, Spidey is snagged by DD who is being towed by the Punisher on his glider. Still, SpOck’s faith is shattered. He wonders if the Punisher previously tried to shoot him. He wonders if DD got him to destroy Spider-Island in service to his enemy.
In spite of all the clues and Otto’s intellect, he still hasn’t figured out who is behind this attack. But then he checks the neck of one of his (unconscious or dead) assailants and finds a goblin tattoo. “How could I have been so stupid?” he says. “Relax,” says the Punisher, “you won this battle.” “But I might have just lost the war,” Spidey says.
There has been some discussion amongst the Spiderfansters as to how all of this Goblin stuff fits together chronologically. Apparently, if this story fits in where it appears to fit in, Otto should already know the Goblin is his enemy. But I’m not going to worry about that. It’s enough for me that we have an actual team-up that has some relevance to the main Superior Spider-Man story. It’s not often that a secondary book like this gets to present a significant event…and this one does, with the trashing of Spider-Island. That, in itself, makes it worth reading. Also well done is Spidey’s loss of faith, his lack of trust of Daredevil and the Punisher, perfectly in keeping with his super-villain past and going back to the childhood betrayal shown in flashback. Also in true super-villain tradition, Spidey gets rattled when things go against him and starts thinking like a loser, especially when he learns that the Goblin is his enemy. Want to know why Doc Ock was a villain and not a hero? (Besides being crazy, that is.) Check out the way his mind works in this issue. Nice work, Kevin.
So, the SpOck characterization is great here. But DD and the Punisher are pretty two-dimensional. And the action seems almost incidental. I mean, here are three heroes battling an entire army of bad guys, some of whom have super-villain weaponry and a giant mechanical spider and you’d hardly even know it. Which is too bad because that’s pretty much the entire plot.
It’s not Marco’s fault. He’s drawing an action-packed extravaganza with all sorts of cool angles and violent events but somehow they all get subsumed into the writing, which is busy making the point about Otto’s lack of trust. It’s a fine point, one of the better parts of the issue, but it is also one of the worse parts of the issue for the way it detracts from the action and the action artwork.
It’s a true team-up, it’s got good SpOck characterization, it’s got solid Marco artwork and a cool Goblin-included cover by Paolo but somehow the elements seem to get in each other’s way. A solid effort but not exceptional. Three webs.