Fresh off the latest iteration of the Clone Saga (aka The Clone Conspiracy), Peter Parker finds himself in desperate need of a win. His company, Parker Industries, is in serious trouble due to the recent malfunction of their signature Webware product (the malfunction was a result of Peter hacking into the software to stop The Jackal). Now Spidey has focused his efforts on bringing Norman Osborn to justice (to get that 'win') since the original Green Goblin has turned himself into an international arms dealer. Spider-Man and Mockingbird have tracked Osborn to Hong Kong, which is where they plan to nab the ol' Goblin.
Unbeknownst to Peter, he's not the only person actively pursuing Osborn, and Peter comes face to face with this other vigilante at the conclusion of the last issue. With her rifle's crosshairs set on Norman's head, Peter stops the assumed-dead Silver Sable from killing Osborn!
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Associate Editor:||Devin Lewis|
|Assistant Editor:||Allison Stock|
|Inker:||Wade von Grawbadger|
|Cover Art:||Alex Ross|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
This story picks up right where the last issue concluded, with Silver Sable's misfired shot alarming the crowd attending the Uncle Ben Foundation Gala sending all the party-goers into a panic. Norman Osborn, in a disguise eerily similar to Tony Stark, attempts to cover his son and protect him from the attack. What appeared to be an altruistic act was nothing more than Norman using the opportunity to let his son know he's there and that he (Harry) will always be an Osborn.
Norman is then scooped up from the rooftop by a crew of militants flying green and purple motorcycles (which Osborn refers to as Glide-cycles); he then announces to his soldiers that "we're starting the show ahead of schedule." Spidey, Silver Sable and Mockingbird head out in pursuit of Osborn.
Back on the rooftop Harry Osborn, now aware of his father's presence at the gala, tracks down one of the attendees that his father had been conversing with, convinced that he was working in collusion with Norman. It turns out that Osborn had planned to use the gala as a cover for inviting a select few to preview his latest in weapons technology. The man handed Harry a business card with the Goblin insignia that contained a url, presumably a link to a live demo.
Whilst in pursuit of Osborn, Mockingbird is forced to disengage from the effort after her boss, Nick Fury, orders her to return home. Fury cites that she is 'out of her jurisdiction' and working with an international terrorist (Silver Sable). S.H.I.E.L.D. cannot be associated with this type of espionage...especially since the Chinese authorities were unaware that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents had been operating in Hong Kong. Which leaves only Spidey and Silver Sable to follow Osborn.
The duo eventually track Osborn to what appears to be a residential high-rise building, they both suggest that this is a trap...and they're both right! Osborn is waiting with a crowd of potential buyers as he boasts that the viewers this evening will witness his weapons eliminate Silver Sable and Spider-Man. Harry, Aunt May and Min-Wei watch the demo from the link that was listed on the business card. Sable and Spidey's initial presumption was that they would be battling the Glide-cycles, which they dismantle with ease.
However, Osborn and is latest lady-friend (who we find out to be Countess Katarina Karkov) announce that the Glide-cycles were just the warm-up act as they unveil The Kingslayer Mark 1. Suddenly a giant robotic killing machine, which is basically the demon-spawn of an AT-ST walker and the ED-209 robot from the first Robocop movie, makes its way to the stage...
Osborn's pitch to the crowd is that the Kingslayer will defeat two superhumans (Sable and Spidey), one of whom is equipped with Parker Industries technology. The involvement of PI technology goes viral and the local branch leaders (Phillip Chang, Max Modell, Anna Maria Marconi, etc) report to Harry that the company's apparent involvement in weapons testing is not a good thing (no duh!). Even the newly minted Superior Octopus (aka Otto Octavius) is following the developments as he remarks to himself that Parker is destroying the company that he built!
Spider-Man and Silver Sable are able to hold their own against the Kingslayer, Peter even manages to get under Osborn's skin suggesting that the Goblin isn't man enough to go face-to-face with the webslinger...prompting Osborn to cut the feed. A quick-thinking Spidey grabs one of the power cells from the Glider-cycles and uses it to blow up the Kingslayer, ending the live demo.
It is not clear what happened to the crowd of people but the destruction of the Kingslayer gave Sable and Spidey a quiet moment to recap. Spider-Man is interested in two details regarding his mercenary ally: how she was able to evade death and why she's after Osborn. She dismisses the first question saying "it doesn't matter." To the second question she reveals that all of Osborn's weapons are being made in Symkaria (her homeland) and that they (Osborn and the countess) have turned her country into a war machine, enslaving the citizens in the process. Spidey's answer: If you're going to bring Osborn to justice, I'll bankroll the whole thing...
Three developments wrap up the second installment of this arc. One, Peter and Harry discuss the use of Parker Industries equipment to invade Symkaria and take down a terrorist...which is a risky venture to say the least. But Peter is 100% committed to doing so in order to stop Norman. Second, Otto Octavius apparently has hacked Harry's Webware device so the Superior Octopus has a direct line to listen in on everything said between Harry and other PI company leaders. Otto then feeds that info directly over to S.H.I.E.L.D., which leads to our third and last point. Mockingbird, now back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, listens as Nick Fury announces to his organization that Parker Industries is now a threat at the level of Hydra and A.I.M....and that S.H.I.E.L.D. is severing all ties with the company. Mockingbird is forced to comply.
I liked this story, it certainly wasn't perfect, but it helped the The Osborn Identity arc start trending in the right direction.
For starters, Slott went back to the basics with Norman, emphasizing Osborn's penchant for making things personal with the Spiderverse regulars. Norman's not-so-subtle reminder to Harry that he will "always be...an Osborn" is one example. It was a cool scene and it could serve as the kind of shot-in-the-arm that Harry needs to become a little more relevant in this story, this Goblin arc needs Harry at the forefront. The Harry/Norman dynamic is critical here because Norman still doesn't know that Peter is Spider-Man....which dampens the impact of any Osborn/Spider-Man tension.
Despite that lack of a personal connection, you can tell Osborn still really hates Spider-Man. When Spidey called Osborn a coward for not fighting him face-to-face, Osborn's ego/temper got the best of him so much so that he cut the feed. A depowered Osborn's worse nightmare has to be the realization that he simply can't trade blows with his greatest antagonist the way he used to. These personal battles between Osborn/Harry/Spider-Man helped add a little weight to this story...so they were a welcomed addition!
It was also great to see that the Goblin Cult has not completely disappeared and the idea that Osborn without his Goblin powers would be leading a Goblin Army and selling weapons actually works pretty well in my opinion. It's details like that which can help propel this story back on course. It was also good to see that Norman hasn't lost his taste for Northern/Eastern European women (I mentioned Kolina Frederickson in the last review) because his newest partner/apparent love interest is the Countess Katarina Karkov. So Norman is showing some consistency on that front as well!
Peter using his wits to defeat Osborn's Kingslayer was another story aspect worth crediting. Too often Spidey is all jokes, no smarts. Slott consistently bucks that trend and when Peter is squared up against Osborn he uses brainpower to defeat the Goblin. That's the way it should be!
One thing that has become clearer to me over the last few years reading Slott's run on Spider-Man is that he really loves Otto Octavius. Since Ends of the Earth (about 5 years ago) one could make the argument that Otto has been a bigger part of the Spiderverse than Peter (and that wasn't necessarily a horrible thing)! But as a huge fan of the original Green Goblin/Norman Osborn, I have to admit that I'm a little jealous. Forget about the fact the he has restored Otto to perfect health and now he has a connection to Hydra...Otto appeared in two panels in this whole story and both of them stole the show. This arc is called The Osborn Identity and Norman is not even the most compelling villain on the page! Don't get me wrong I'm glad that Otto is back in business, but Osborn needs similar treatment because I'm not sure there's enough room in this story arc for both Norman and Otto to operate. I find myself looking past this arc already and Slott (and the creative team) deserve some credit for keeping the momentum going in the Spiderverse!
Otto had fed information over to Nick Fury and that brings me to another point. It was a little odd how quickly Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. turned their back on Parker Industries without even first discussing anything with Spider-Man (or Peter Parker) directly? Parker Industries had given tech to S.H.I.E.L.D., they're supposed to be allies. And Spider-Man is an Avenger/longtime superhero, I think he deserves a little more leeway than that. Not to mention that Fury appears unaware that Osborn is running around dealing crazy weapons to crazy people, wouldn't Fury at least see Osborn as a threat as well? I know the point of this development is to create tension/drama between Mockingbird and Spider-Man. But it's not a particularly smooth story detail since Osborn has been a tremendous threat to S.H.I.E.L.D. over their recent history...
Moreover, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s characterization of Silver Sable as an "international terrorist" was a little harsh as well, she has a fairly solid history of being on the right side of the law. Not to mention that when she 'died', she was working with Spider-Man and a fellow Avenger, Black Widow, fighting the Sinister Six. It was not clear to me why Sable's presence outweighed Osborn's actions in Fury's eyes. One last thing on Sable, I don't think it was necessary to explain in this story how she evaded death (back in Ends of the Earth, but I did make a note that Slott punted on the issue because Sable say's "it doesn't matter [how she evaded death]." Well...it would be nice to know that Slott has a plan will eventually address that issue...
One of my big gripes from the prior issue was that Peter's rationale for attacking Osborn was that he "needed a win." I won't get back into that mess but I want to make a few comments to that point. First, Silver Sable is a woman on a mission throughout this story. She takes the anger and ferocity that Peter had last issue and raises it three-fold. Given Peter's personal history with Norman you would think that is impossible, but it again points to the fact that there is really no reason for him to be attacking Norman (now). His internal motivation for detaining Osborn is arbitrary at best. This needs to get personal and it needs to happen quickly because the story could suffer. Don't get me wrong, this has helped Sable's character, she has a really compelling case and it makes you wonder how this will end. But as far as Peter is concerned...its a little weak.
The second point I wanted to make about Peter's (arbitrary) attack on Osborn can be highlighted with its description at the story's intro page (ie, the first page of the book). Here's snipette of the intro:
I had to read that sentence a few times because I thought I was misreading it. Why would "taking down" Norman Osborn not involve "entering Osborn's orbit"?? How else would that happen?? I know I'm over-analyzing the story's intro but it just irks me that this Osborn/Parker encounter is so flimsy.
One final silly note, during last issue's review I mentioned the Game of Thrones reference of the Many Faced God, its funny that this book featured "The Kingslayer"...I'm really starting to wonder if this is intentional...
Lots of plot threads that are all moving in the right direction. Let's hope this momentum keeps up!