The last we saw Peter Parker, things were looking pretty dire for him. Having his spider-sense amped up to a thousand and stressed over the public finding out about his special connection to Spider-Man, he’s caught dead center in the middle of a war between the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, and the current version, Phil Urich. It’s Hobgoblin against Hobgoblin, with the secret identity of Peter Parker on the verge of being exposed! Nope, things aren’t looking good for ol’ Webhead or his loved ones.
The story picks up not long after Urich kidnaps Peter and brings him to the Kingpin’s Shadowland HQ. Little do they know, he’s in extreme agony as the device is wreaking havoc with his spider-sense and giving him a massive migraine. Despite making it look like everyone might be piecing together that Peter is Spider-Man last issue, instead Phil is going with the false pretense that Peter is, in fact, the man who designs Spidey’s tech for him. In fact, when it comes to putting two and two together, it seems everyone is lacking basic logical deduction skills. Particularly Max Modell, who appears to almost have an epiphany about the Spidey/Peter connection, but instead offhandedly dismisses the notion. You would think that, after unlocking a whole locker full of serious Spidey gear and seeing Peter in action with the web-shooters he brings him, he’d figure out the truth. Nope. He still doesn’t put the pieces together. Or does he? This could be a Captain Stacy sort of situation. Or maybe Doctor Strange’s spell has something to do with it. We’ll see.
The best part of this issue is the face off between Kingsley and Urich. Particularly Kingsley’s critique of Urich’s worthiness of the Hobgoblin name and utter dismissiveness towards him as an actual threat. While reading this part of the story, it’s hard not to see Kingsley as the one true Hobgoblin. As much as Norman Osborn is the one true Green Goblin. Maybe even more so, since Osborn has been shifting away from that persona in recent years. With things not looking so well for Doctor Octopus and seeing neither hide nor hair of Osborn since his final showdown with the Avengers, it certainly looks like Kingsley is well on his way to becoming Spider-Man’s greatest enemy. Fine with me, too, since he’s one of my favorite Spidey villains.
Last we saw Julia Carpenter, a.k.a. Madame Web, she had collapsed into convulsions on the streets of New York. Now, it appears she’s in a coma, but not before communicating a dire warning about the end of someone. I have to say, I have a bad feeling about where this is all headed. The issue alludes to this impending end being the work of a dying and desperate Doc Ock, who knows Peter is Spider-Man. With the end of the series near and Superior Spider-Man on the horizon, I couldn’t help but being stressed out while reading the rest of this issue. For the first time in a long time, I’m truly worried for Peter Parker and what Doc Ock has planned. That being said, I do still trust Dan Slott writing Spider-Man. He hasn’t led us astray yet and I don’t think he will with the end of this series and the new Superior Spider-Man title. In fact, I’m willing to bet that we’re all way off about what we think we know about that upcoming series and that Slott and co-writer, Christos Gage, have a HUGE surprise up their sleeves that will catch everyone off guard. Whatever happens, it’s damned enjoyable reading this series. It doesn’t hurt that Giuseppe Camuncoli’s art is pretty brilliant, as well. Both of his two Hobgoblins are beyond cool and he’s perfect for this rather dark story arc.
This issue raises a lot of questions. Chiefly, Julia Carpenter’s family. We know she has a young daughter somewhere. Why has Julia gone to such extreme measures to hide her identity? What would happen if she passes away in the hospital? How would her daughter find out what happened to her? You’d think someone who has such knowledge of the future would have better prepared for this situation. Also, we finally get to see what’s inside the briefcase, at the expense of one of Kingpin’s Hand ninjas. I won’t ruin it here, but it’s something to do with Julia’s premonitions. If this issue doesn’t have you anticipating and worrying about what’s going to happen by the time #700 arrives, then you just aren’t invested in Spider-Man as a character. It’s that heavy. At any rate, if you aren’t reading this comic, then I feel sorry for you. You’re missing out on the best title currently being published. 10/10