Amazing Spider-Man #796
Writers: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Penciller: Mike Hawthorne
Colorist: Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 02/21/18
Plot: Previously Flash Thompson became the new Anti-Venom (see Venom Inc.). Now Spider-Man teams up with Agent Anti-Venom again so they can stop the Goblin King (Phil Urich) from robbing Alchemex. Meanwhile Norman Osborn discovers new ways to use the Carnage symbiote.
Story: The main plot was very dull and generic. First off Anti-Venom’s inclusion is just to show what happened to Flash after Venom Inc. Also there really isn’t any new developments between Spider-Man and Flash Thompson’s relationship. While there is a nice reference to the characters’ history in high school, nothing really changes between them At this point the only thing that would make Flash’s next appearance worth wild is if he finally learned Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Next let’s talk about the issue’s villain Phil Urich, a.k.a. the Goblin King. When Dan Slott took over Amazing Spider-Man he gave Urich an entertaining arc as the new Hobgoblin. However the character’s defeat in Superior Spider-Man turned him into the Goblin Knight and this issue proves that Urich has devolved into a simple mustache twirling villain. Overall I found Spider-Man’s interactions with other characters more interesting than the issue’s villain and supporting hero.
Despite my complaints about the issue’s main plot, there were some interesting interactions with some supporting characters. The one that really stands out is the reunion between Peter Parker and his ex, Mary Jane Watson. There’s a scene where Peter visits MJ at her apartment and it implies a possible reconciliation for the couple. First off, this could be Dan Slott’s way of returning Mary Jane to Spidey’s support cast before he leaves the title and takes over Invincible Iron Man. Plus if the next writer on this title wants to bring back Peter and MJ’s relationship, then Slott is laying the groundwork to make it easier for his successor. Also there’s a significant amount of Spidey fans who want the story arc, One More Day, reversed and this looks like they may get their wish.
This issue gives us another Norman Osborn teaser. This time Norman gets more control of the Carnage symbiote. Next Norman uses the symbiote to destroy the nanobots in his system that prevented him from using the Goblin serum. Originally everyone believed Norman was just going to have the Carnage symbiote now he’s using both to become a Goblin/symbiote hybrid. This scene was so good that I forgot about the nanobots until Norman destroyed them. Also this scene leaves the impression that Norman just wanted Carnage for it’s bonding abilities rather than its own power. Nevertheless, this ending builds up hype for the next arc, Go Down Swinging.
Art: Alex Ross has been doing the covers for Amazing Spider-Man since 2015 but this one is probably my favorite. Just looking at this cover gives the impression that Spidey is looking back at you. Also I enjoy the cover’s simplicity and how it doesn’t give anything away about the issue’s content.
Mike Hawthorne does an excellent job with the internal artwork. Despite the lackluster plot, Hawthorne manages to draw some stunning action sequences. One sequence that stood out for me was Spider-Man landing a throat kick to stop the Goblin King’s sonic scream. This sequence had some build up and when Spidey finally lands that lucky kick, it really pays off. Plus there’s a great interjection when J. Jonah Jameson calls Spidey in the middle of the fight.
Verdict: This issue has some excellent artwork. There are some great scenes that set up some fantastic things to come. Unfortunately the actual plot of the story is very dull. Also the idea that it’s just a filler story is clear since this is the last issue before Slott’s final Amazing Spider-Man arc begins. Overall this was a barely average read.
Rating: 3 out of 5