"Hobgoblin, Part 4"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mark Bagley (p), Scott Hanna (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Plot: As Harry's mysterious friend shows him the secret lab complex that provides him with all the elements he would need to become the new Green Goblin, this discovery proves to be too much for Harry, as we learn he was on hand when his father transformed himself into the Green Goblin. Meanwhile, Peter finds his personal life crumbling apart, as his decision to push Mary Jane away for her own safety is proving to be rather difficult for him to do, as Mary Jane isn't ready to be shown the door.
Comments: There are times when Brian Michael Bendis needs to flesh out his stories with character moments can become a little irksome, and this issue is very much an example of why I wish he would insert a greater sense of urgency into his stories. The relationship between Peter and Mary Jane is one of the more endearing elements that this title has going for it, and while I find the rocky patch that it's currently going through to be quite engaging, the simple fact of the matter is that this issue spends a third of its page count simply recycling the idea that the two characters are drifting apart thanks to Harry's return. What's more the writing is doing a rather poor job of selling Peter's side of the argument, as while I realize that we're supposed to be well versed in the personal crisis that Peter has about the people that he cares for being endangered due to their relationship with him, this idea is left largely unspoken, and Peter's responses to Mary Jane's reasonable questions feel a bit weak. I did enjoy the final section of this scene where Peter explains that Norman is still alive and Harry is crazy, but given that Mary Jane couldn't have known this, Peter comes across as throwing a childish tantrum. The same holds true for the scene where he reacts to Aunt May's refusal to let him head back out, as once again Peter comes across as a big baby who is making a mess of his life when the situation doesn't really require that he do so. Still, the situation with Harry is building quite nicely as this issue makes it pretty clear that he's not well, and the last page image would seem to suggest that we can expect things are going to be a great deal more conflicted in the next issue. Still, I really shouldn't have taken four issues to get to this point of the story.
Mark Bagley is given a "talking heads" issue, and while this doesn't really play to his strengths, he is able to deliver some pretty solid work on this issue, as there's a lovely little back and forth exchange where Peter and Mary Jane discuss the sorry state of their relationship, and the moment where Peter figures out what she's asking him was extremely well handled, and it makes the scene where his emotions finally get the better of him far easier to buy into. The art also nicely opens the readers' eyes to the truth about Harry's mystery friend during the final scene, and Spider-Man's confusion as Harry goes completely off the rails does sell Harry's madness. The issue also offers up some pretty cute little details, as there's a number of fun background elements to discover on the opening double-page spread that opens the issue. The cover image is also a lovely shot of the character, and it manages to pull off a pretty impressive three-dimensional appearance.
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