Amazing Spider-Man #696: Hobgoblin vs. Hobgoblin

We are drawing ever closer to the end of Peter Parker’s Spider-Man run. Like it or not, want it or not, by issue #700 of Amazing Spider-Man, writer Dan Slott is going to drop something on Peter Parker that is so big, he either stops being Spider-Man or simply can’t be Spider-Man any longer. What that “thing” is we don’t know, but Slott seems to feel it will bring the rage of Spidey fans down on him like no other.

Until this D-Day for Peter Parker, life appears to be as normal as ever. A scientist working at Horizon Labs has betrayed everyone and sold his spider-sense-dampening machine to the Kingpin. Kingpin, who is after a key to Norman Osborn’s treasure trove of information and weapons, is gunning for Spider-Man because he stole the case containing the key. Cue the new Hobgoblin. Hired to find Spider-Man, the new Gobby goes after Peter Parker because, as now everyone knows, Parker is the man who designs Spider-Man’s tech. The former Horizon Labs scientist flips on his machine driving Peter’s spider-sense into overdrive. Barely able to function, Parker is easy prey for Hobgoblin who kidnaps him and takes him to Kingpin. 

The plan to barter Peter’s life for they key (remember, they all think Parker only builds Spider-Man’s tech) is going along swimmingly until the OG Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, steps into the situation. Seems he wants to lay a thick coat of whoop ass on the new Gobby. They fight and Peter manages to escape. Seeing this, the two Goblins put their personal differences aside and go after Peter. This is where Amazing Spider-Man #696 ends.

Slott gets some help for this issue in Christos Gage, and the two do a fine job of creating multiple story lines within one issue and never losing track of them. In #696 alone, we have two Hobgoblins, a goblin key, Madame Web in a coma, the sudden appearance of a Doc Ock probe, plus the Kingpin and Horizon Labs. Slott’s seamless storytelling ability keeps all the parts in balance and his pacing makes the issue exciting. Oddly, nothing here feels like a Christos Gage story, so I’m curious how much of a contribution he really made.

Outside the issue, what seems to be going on here can be traced back to Brand New Day. The world knew who Spider-Man really was and so Doctor Strange cast a spell that wiped that from humanity’s mind. Trouble is, if people look too closely, they will remember who Peter Parker really is. At this point, with people think Peter Parker and Spider-Man are buddies, we’re only a stones throw away from people regaining the idea that they are the same person. I think that will have some bearing on how Peter is forced to walk away from being Spider-Man.

Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artwork is really fun. I don’t love it the way I do Humberto Ramos or John Romita Jr., but it shares that same affinity for making comic books bigger than life. Camuncoli’s Hobgoblins are awesome because he draws into their masks a reflection of their personalities. The Phil Urich Hobgoblin mask looks like a snapshot of insanity, much like Urich himself. Roderick Kingsley’s Goblin mask is old and evil, like him. Camuncoli also has a way with action and movement, plus he has a knack for detail no matter how close up or far away a character is.

I hope Dan Slott doesn’t shit the bed with Amazing Spider-Man #700. I love Dan Slott and I want to keep on loving him.

(4 Story, 4 Art)