The Triumph of the Goblin! The Final Chapter Part 3
Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Luke Ross (penciler), Al Milgrom (inks), Mike Rockwitz (colors), Comicraft (letters)
The Plot: The Green Goblin knocks Aunt May unconscious, then abruptly decides to let Spider-Man escape with her. Spider-Man takes May to Reed Richards to determine if she is truly his aunt. While examining her body, Reed discovers a tiny implant in May’s brain. Spider-Man charges into Norman Osborn’s office and demands he reveal what he’s done to May. This leads to a Spider-Man/Green Goblin battle over the streets of Manhattan. The Goblin boasts that he implanted a trigger in May’s brain that will set off DNA bombs around the globe if removed. Eventually, the Goblin crashes Spider-Man into the Daily Bugle building. He assaults the building with pumpkin bombs before unmasking, and killing, Spider-Man in front of the Bugle staff.
The Subplots: MJ is having a celebrity-filled party at the Parkers’ home to celebrate her return to modeling.
Web of Continuity:
- Spider-Man’s dialogue reveals that Alison Mongrain actually did die in Amazing Spider-Man #441.
- During the fight scene, the Green Goblin details how he faked Aunt May’s death. He used Miles Warren’s technology to insert May’s “genetic matrix into that of another woman...an elderly actress who believed this to be her greatest role.” She played the part of May for weeks while the real May recovered from her stroke in Osborn’s custody.
- According to the Chronology Project, Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 2) #29 has a flashback that must fit in-between the pages of 18 and 19 this issue. Those are two pages in the final fight scene with no obvious significance that I can see.
Forever Young: The Invisible Woman refers to Spider-Man as a “young man” when he arrives at the Fantastic Four’s headquarters.
“Huh?” Moment: “When your aunt had her stroke, and before I realized that I was alive, I decided to seize upon the opportunity to add to your troubles.” Before I realized that I was alive…what is Norman Osborn talking about?!
Miscellaneous Note: The Statement of Ownership lists average sales for the year at 99,059 copies, with the most recent issue selling 93,061. Spectacular Spider-Man seems to be the lowest selling of the monthly titles, at around 10,000 copies less than the other books.
Review: Unlike Amazing and Peter Parker, this really is the final issue of Spectacular Spider-Man. The book will be replaced in a few months by Webspinners, a monthly in the vein of Legends of the Dark Knight, telling stories from different eras of Spider-Man’s past. Traditionally, anthology books don’t sell, and neither do books set in the past, so I’m not quite sure what Marvel was thinking with this move. Webspinners was a critical hit in its early months, however, until the book turned into a showcase for seemingly random creators, and eventually, just another Spidey comic written by Howard Mackie.
Howard Mackie has never been associated with Spectacular Spider-Man before, but there’s no pretense that this issue is a true farewell to the series, is it? It’s the penultimate chapter of a crossover designed to bring this era of Spider-Man to a close, and apparently having Mackie write 3/4th of the storyline was the easiest option for everyone involved. And, not surprisingly, it’s just as garbled and nonsensical as you would expect after reading his work in the previous issues of “The Gathering of Five” and “The Final Chapter.” This issue is particularly insane since it’s tasked with justifying the resurrection of Aunt May. I defy anyone to tell me that the “genetically altered actress” solution was a good idea. I’m not debating whether or not Aunt May should return, I’m talking the specific choice made this issue. An actress was somehow convinced to alter her DNA and play the part of Spider-Man’s elderly aunt, play that part so perfectly that Peter never suspected she was a fraud, and then die on cue? This is essentially the height of “eh, whatever” storytelling, isn’t it? Marvel wants Aunt May back, so screw it, here’s a few lines of dialogue to justify it. (This absurdity doesn’t even merit its own flashback; it’s just a series of overwritten word balloons shoved into a fight scene.) If you’re going to be this lazy, why not just say it was a clone that died? Yeah, Marvel was petrified of associating the titles with clones again during this period, but what’s the point of introducing Miles Warren into the plot and then copping out with a genetically altered actress? If you’re going for a copout, at least go for a less painful one.
When the story isn’t trying to justify the most idiotic resurrection in the history of superhero comics, or having Osborn elucidate even more ridiculous schemes, it’s killing time with another Spider-Man/Goblin fight scene. Luke Ross might’ve been able to do something with the action, but unfortunately the pacing of the issue reduces the fight scene to a series of sterile, tiny panels. For the majority of the issue, the pages are crammed with 6-8 panels, and just packed with utterly wretched Norman Osborn dialogue. I swear, if there’s an affectation more annoying that Osborn calling any male in his vicinity “m’boy” I’ve yet to read it. Osborn’s verbal diarrhea is so bad this issue that there’s an entire drawing of Spider-Man that’s literally covered up with an overwritten balloon filled with banal Norman Osborn dialogue. I initially thought that the issue was unusually compressed because Mackie has so many plot points that need to be shoved in, which is partially true. However, the story also has to make room for a giant two-page spread on the final pages, dedicated to selling the laughable cliffhanger that Osborn’s killed the unmasked Spider-Man. Those two pages are of course a cheap fake-out, but they look pretty darn impressive. It’s amazing that no one seems to have realized at this point that Ross excels at large figures…he is drawing upon McFarlane, of course. Why was he given an issue filled with postage stamp-sized images to draw? And why were the readers saddled with such wretched content in the first place?