This is the final issue of the Danger Zone story arc, which deals with the return of the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, to reclaim his name from current Hobgoblin, Phil Urich. Does this exciting free-for-all go out with an exploding pumpkin bomb or does it fizzle to the ground like a goblin glider low on fuel? Read on to find out!

This issue’s conclusion had a few surprises, as well as a hint of the dire things to come in the next few issues leading up to #700’s grand finale of the entire series. The final pieces are in place for the very last story arc, which doesn’t bode well for the Wall Crawler. As these ominous events are foreshadowed, there’s also plenty of goblin action and some supporting players (Max Modell, especially) get a chance to shine, as well as Spidey himself. Writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage manage to cram lots of action and intrigue into this issue, as well as deliver some unexpected twists and turns, as the two Hobgoblins are forced to team up against their mutual enemy. Will they succeed in taking down Spider-Man once and for all or will Spider-Man prove why he’s so amazing by defeating them both, as well as The Kingpin of Crime? On top of all that, ol’ Webhead has to deal with the device that’s wreaking havoc on his spider-sense and keeping his loved ones and close friends out of harm’s way. Nobody ever said being Spider-Man was easy… and this issue is no exception to the rule. One thing I really appreciated was Spidey’s martial arts training being referenced and, once again, coming in handy in his time of need. Although, it’s in a way you wouldn’t expect. I thought it was a nice touch. Another aspect I loved was the contrast in personalities between the two Hobgoblins. One is a brash young sociopath out to prove himself. The other is an ornery curmudgeon who is confidant that he’s the one and only Hobgoblin. Their resolution to put their differences aside to face Spider-Man together would be almost admirable, if they weren’t bad guys. Even though this series is ending soon, I doubt we’ve seen the last of both. At least, I hope we haven’t.

Artist Guiseppe Camuncoli turns in some of his greatest work yet, as the dark events in this issue perfectly compliment his brooding style. In essence, the quality of Slott and Gage’s story is intensified with Camuncoli’s stark visuals, which builds suspense for the concluding story arc. This may very well be the last pure Spider-Man story as we know him… for a while, anyway. That’s a very bittersweet thought.

Amazing Spider-Man #697 is a fine ending to this particular point in the life of Peter Parker… but it’s the next three issues that will supposedly have everyone talking. As for this issue, I’ll have to give it a 9.5/10. What keeps it from being a perfect 10 is that the ending felt a tad rushed and even a bit unresolved. Still… a good story is a good story. Nicely done, sirs!

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