Superior Spider-Man Annual #2

Background

Otto Octavius is Spider-Man and the Green Goblin’s Goblin Nation campaign has set NYC ablaze...so things are going pretty darn well in the Spiderverse. Sarcasm aside, not everyone has given up the good fight and right on the front line (pun intended) is journalist Ben Urich. After his nephew Phil Urich (aka Green Goblin IV and Hobgoblin VI) was exposed publicly as the Hobgoblin by the Superior Spider-Man, Ben felt a familial obligation to help his ‘lost’ nephew. The steadfast journalist has a long history in dealing with Goblins, he was integral to the events that led to Norman Osborn's arrest back in The Pulse #5. Urich was now prepared to confront the Goblin in his family.

Story Details

The story begins with Ben Urich working in his dim-lit, Goblin-news-article-filled room listening to a TV interview featuring Norah Winters and her new book “Goblin in my Bed”. Her book is an expose on her relationship with Ben’s nephew, Phil, who had just been recently outted as the Hobgoblin (back in Superior Spider-Man #15). Norah took responsibility for not recognizing Phil’s bizarre tendencies and her confession prompted Ben to question himself as well. Out of obligation to his nephew, he then embarks on a mission to salvage the villainous Goblin Knight.

Soon after, as Ben is walking through the alleys of NYC, he’s approached by Phil, who’s in his Goblin Knight costume. Phil tells his uncle not to worry, that he will keep him safe and simply suggests that Ben remain indoors because things were about to get a lot worse. As quickly as Phil arrived he disappeared, but his words to his uncle suggested that Phil could still be saved, so Ben was ready to take action. Ben’s first stop was to the Daily Bugle, where he warned Joe Robertson about the Goblin’s plan (to get anyone close to Spider-Man). Robbie suggests that Ben warn Norah, since there may be retaliation for her history with Phil. Ben agrees, but first he makes a stop at Parker Industries.

Sajani Jaffrey informs Ben that Peter was killed, to which Ben replies, "Yeah, I saw your press conference. It's my job to know when people are lying." He then insists that Sajani pass all the notes Ben has on the Goblin Formula with the hope that Peter could develop a cure. Sajani was one step ahead of Ben because she was already in the process of doing so herself (along with some help from Otto) in order to cure Carlie Cooper (aka the goblinized Monster). She admits that the cure may not be ready yet though and that she did not want to try the experimental cure on Carlie. Ben volunteers to give the cure a shot (he’s willing to risk it on Phil). As Ben prepares to leave, Carlie warns him that Phil has changed and that there is no redeeming him at this point. He decides to try anyway and before he leaves Sajani reminds him that if he wants Spider-Man’s help, he should use the Spider-Bots as a conduit to him.

Urich then decides to set a trap for Phil using Norah as the bait, more specifically Ben uses his informants to get the word out that Norah was at an apartment in Gramercy Park. However, when the Goblin Knight comes crashing in through the window he doesn't find Norah, instead he sees his uncle. Ben tries to reason with his nephew saying, "Family doesn't stand by while a lunatic like Norman Osborn drags someone they love down." Phil appears to absorb Ben's remark and even sits down to ponder just how 'in over his head' he is, this left him vulnerable for Ben to dose him with the experimental cure. Unfortunately just as Ben is about to deliver the cure, some Goblin Goons arrive with a hostage…Joe Robertson! Ben missed his opportunity and Robbie (who had been tracking Ben) was in a whole heap of trouble!

Robbie’s presence convinced Phil that Ben set him up in a sting, and he lost control. Ben tried to reign Phil back in, claiming that he could get him legal help and even give him a cure. He then showed Phil the syringe. Phil wanted nothing to do with it, he slapped the syringe from Ben’s hand and attacked Robbie with his fire sword. Phil’s aggressive move prompted Ben to call for Spider-Man via the Spider-bots and within moments Spidey was on the scene. As Spidey and the Goblin Knight battled, Phil’s mask was removed and Ben was able to look his nephew in the eyes. Ben could see that his nephew was not conflicted at all…he really enjoyed what he was doing. Spidey quickly defeated the Goblin Knight but was forced to let him escape in order to rush Joe Robertson to the hospital.

The story ends with Ben Urich once again working in his dim-lit apartment, he had drawn the conclusion that his ‘good’ nephew was dead and only the villain remained. His sole comfort was in the fact that he is a journalist who’s responsibility it is to report the truth despite the difficulty. The insinuation was that he may also write an article exposing his nephew.

General Comments

After reading this I'm not quite sure what to think of Ben Urich. Remember that Ben is almost directly responsible for Phil being Goblinized (way back in Green Goblin #1), so you'd think he'd carry a great deal of guilt if Phil were to turn bad. Moreover, Ben seems to regret his neglectful behavior toward Phil, but then he makes some really odd decisions in regards to helping his nephew. For one, when Sajani mentions that the cure could potentially kill Carlie (thus the reason for not using it), Ben really doesn't hesitate to risk it on Phil. What if it killed Phil? Ben seemed willing to take on that risk.

Later when Ben witnesses the joyful look on Phil's face while he battles Spider-Man, he quickly gives up the quest to save his nephew. You'd think there would be a little more fight and tenacity on Ben's part to help bring Phil back to the good side. To me, it would be similar to how someone would deal with a family member who is a drug addict. You can't give up after one try, you have to keep at it if you really want to help them...because it isn't going to be easy. Ben appeared to give up too easily on Phil and given Ben's history with Goblins and how tenaciously he's battled them, you'd think he would try a bit harder here.

Ben begins the story alone and focused on his work, and the story ends in the same manner...so his remorse regarding his neglect toward Phil amounts to nothing. And since Phil did show signs of coming around (before the Goblin Goons arrived with Robbie), you'd think Ben would give a second attempt to help Phil. But we got nothing and I found myself as emotionally involved in this story as Ben was.

Overall Rating

While I'm glad that Ben Urich was not completely ignored during the Goblin Nation event, there really wasn't much meat to this one.