Review: Amazing Spider-Man #696 – Battle of the Hobgoblins!

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Amazing Spider-Man #696
Writers:  Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Art:  Giuseppe Camuncoli [Pencils], Dan Green [Inks], and Antonio Fabela [Colors]

When the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, was shown alive and well in South America, it was inevitable that he would eventually return to the scene to take on his successor/impostor Phil Urich–especially once Kingsley was shown arriving back in New York City.

At the end of the last issue, Philgoblin had kidnapped Peter Parker, who was distracted by the spider sense jammers placed around the city by Urich’s employer, the Kingpin, and the fat guy’s mole at Horizon Labs, Tiberius Stone.  Meanwhile, Julia Carpenter, the current Madame Web, went into convulsions in the port authority bus terminal and tried to warn Peter about her psychic visions one last time before going into a coma, which is where we catch up with her at the beginning of this issue before things pan over to Kingpin’s headquarters in Shadowland/Hell’s Kitchen.

Kingpin and Philgoblin make an ultimatum with Parker–he lives if Spider-Man delivers the briefcase he took from Philgoblin at the beginning of the previous issue.  Peter tells the two that he has no way of contacting Spider-Man because he does so via Spider-Man’s spider sense, and the spider sense jammers are currently blocking that.  Philgoblin then decides they’d be better off e-mailing a hostage video to Max Modell, owner of Horizon Labs and Peter’s boss, who then delivers the briefcase himself–which we find out holds the key that unlocks Norman Osborn’s largest cache, containing everything from his Goblin tech to the secrets he amassed as the Iron Patriot when he was in charge of the H.A.M.M.E.R. national security agency and the Dark Avengers.

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While this is going on, we find out that the real Hobgoblin is doing his research on Philgoblin and knows that he’s obsessed with Daily Bugle reporter Norah Winters and that his uncle is reporter and longtime Spider-Man supporting cast member Ben Urich.  He shows up and conveniently distracts Kingpin, Philgoblin, and the dozens of Kingpin’s Hand ninja henchmen, allowing Peter and Max a window of opportunity to escape, but not before Peter finds a way to destroy the central transmitter for the spider sense jammers and snatches the “Goblin Key” from Kingpin’s possession.

Overall, this was a great second part to the “Danger Zone” story arc.  The Hobgoblin battle was a given from the moment Kinglsey returned, and it was played out very well. Dan Slott and Christos Gage also do a great job here of once again hammering home the idea that Phil Urich is a “dark reflection” of Peter Parker by drawing parallels to his “Uncle Ben” Urich and Norah Winters’ potential Gwen Stacy-esque fate.  There’s a lot stuffed in this issue, and a lot of questions are raised–particularly as to whether or not various people are connecting the dots when it comes to Pete’s secret identity.  The art here is also fantastic, though there are a couple of weird panels on the third page that have a lot of random black dots (all over the background on the second panel, and all over Philgoblin on the fifth).

Regardless, this issue maintains a fast, action-packed pace and ends on yet another cliffhanger.  I can’t wait to see what happens next, and isn’t that the way all comics in the superhero genre should be?

RATING: EXCELSIOR!

Roger Riddell
Essentially Peter Parker with all the charm of Wolverine, he's a DC-based B2B journalist who occasionally writes about music and pop culture in his free time. His love for comics, metal, and videogames has also landed him gigs writing for the A.V. Club, Comic Book Resources, and Louisville Magazine. Keep him away from the whiskey, and don't ask him how much he hates the Spider-Man movies unless you're ready to hear about his overarching plot for a six-film series that would put the Dark Knight trilogy to shame.

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