|Via Comic Book Database|
artist: Javier Rodriguez
This prelude to the last arc in the whole Doctor Spider-Man saga, "Goblin Nation," comes from the pen of Christos Gage, who happens to have been Mike Costa's original co-writer in the Cobra cycle over at IDW. So it's interesting that both Gage and Costa have ended up contributing to Doctor Spider-Man.
As you will know, Doctor Spider-Man is my nickname for the Superior Spider-Man, who is technically still Peter Parker, except the consciousness belongs to Otto Octavius, the erstwhile Doctor Octopus (thus...). This is to date very easily Dan Slott's most ambitious and more than likely defining arc in his ongoing Spider-Man run, and he's written most of the stories. Every now and again someone else gets to play in the sandbox, and for this annual, it's Gage's turn.
The story is simple enough, as all the Doctor Spider-Man stories have been. How much can Otto conform to the heroic standards of Peter Parker? As often as he expresses remorse for his previous villainous career, Otto also sees his new position as a means to improve not just on Peter's life (which is something he has liberally done) but his own as well (given that he was defeated by said Mr. Parker on countless occasions, no matter how awesome he thought he was, and in fact still believes himself to be).
Like the Jean-Paul Valley version of Batman, Doctor Spider-Man has developed a reputation for being a little more ruthless than the more traditional one (i.e. the original, actual version). This annual is all about that. In fact, it's not very imaginative about it, and it's a little surprising that it's Gage and Slott who reaches the point where Otto finally crosses the line. "Azbats" (Valley's Batman, given that he was once and again known as Azrael) killed a man, or rather allowed him to die, and that was the signal moment in that version of this story. Otto tortures and kills someone. Very deliberately. Cocksure. Thinks he can get away with it.
Well, Slott's endgame with Otto's Freaky Friday turns in the same direction as seemingly every other Spider-Man story. The Green Goblin. If you particularly like the Goblin, this probably sends your own tingling through you. If you have Peter Parker's version, you probably see it as, well, a weak ending. (Like I do.)
I was never a Norman Osborn guy. Not even in the movies. Especially not the movies. As much as I love Willem Defoe, he could not redeem that ridiculous character design. It helped torpedo the infamous Broadway musical, too, as far as I'm concerned. The Green Goblin is no Joker. Heath Ledger by all rights should have put the final nail in that coffin.
And this just isn't that imaginative. I like Doctor Spider-Man a lot more when he's struggling to better himself, not giving in to his ego. I like a redemptive arc. I don't know how the story ends. Ended. Superior Spider-Man #30 was released a few weeks ago, and the next and final issue drops this Wednesday, with the all-new Amazing Spider-Man #1 coming up on 4/30 (a few days before Free Comic Book Day!). There are probably spoilers somewhere.
Bottom line is, if you want to experience any of this for yourself, I don't particularly suggest this issue. I mean, if you must see the pivotal turning point, sure. But it's just disappointing, is all. So, spare yourself.