Writer: J. Michael Stracyznski
Artist: Mike Deodato Jr. (p), Joe Pimentel (i)
Thus far in the “Sins Past” storyline, J Michael Stracyznski has done just about all he can to inflame the many and varied fans of Spider-Man, introducing secret lovechildren between Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy and undercutting a lot of the meaningfulness of Pete’s relationship with the hitherto saintly blonde. Luckily, such a potentially disastrous tale has been salvaged somewhat by the artistic talents of penciller Mike Deodato Jr., who turns what could have been yet another tired and contrived Goblin story into a worthwhile read. I won’t repeat my frequent raves over the quality of his work, but his eye for detail and realism elevates what might have been a forgettable comic into a feast for the eyes, helping to alleviate the feeling of disappointment which persists after reading the conclusion to JMS’ current arc.
Frankly, the world could have done without yet another addition to the canon of Osborn Goblin characters and storylines: JMS has done little to distinguish his vision of another flying ghoul (the Grey Goblin?) from the many which have preceded it, and his attempts to spice up such a predictable tale with revelations about the beloved Gwen Stacy have left a bad taste in many readers’ mouths. However, the quality of the writing – as opposed to the plotting – remains fairly solid, managing to capture a real sense of character in the low-key exchanges between Spidey and MJ and pitting Peter against Norman in a metaphorical fashion which satisfies far more than yet more hollow superhero fisticuffs. It’s a semi-enjoyable approach, as whilst the mechanics and actual story are nothing to write home about, the moment-to-moment scenes feel very genuine and show the personalities of the main characters in a very believable way. Ultimately, though, your enjoyment of the comic may depend on how readily you’ll accept distractingly made-to-measure plot-advancement-moments (Gabe’s acceptance of the Goblin legacy and formula; Spidey’s match with Sarah’s blood; and Gabe’s eventual fate) which underpin some otherwise effective writing.
JMS concludes his controversial “Sins Past” arc with an issue that is anything but, drawing on years of established continuity to rehash a tried and tested plotline with a slight twist, and ending a rollercoaster arc with more of a whimper than a bang. On one hand, the excellent art and solid characterisation and brilliant artwork provide enough thrills to make this comic worth your money if you’re much of a Spidey-fan. However, a nagging feeling persists that the creative team could do a lot better.
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