The Amazing Spider-Man returns to its main story this week after two tie-in issues sidetracked the main story a bit. Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. have heavily changed the status quo for the character who now works for Norman Osborn alongside Ms. Marvel, is not on speaking terms with Mary Jane, and might be exploring a romantic relationship with Black Cat. To make matters worse, Hobgoblin returns this week, but the question is, which one is it?
The Amazing Spider-Man opens with Betty Brant talking to Peter Parker on the phone. In a few short panels, we can gather Peter will always be a mess, Betty doesn’t judge Peter for that, and Peter cares about his friends dearly. Wells has a great handle on classic Spider-Man characters, which helps ease any worry we might be getting something subpar regarding characterization. Cut to Hobgoblin clutching Betty’s baby, and we’ve got an electric opening to kick things off.
Much of this issue dances around Norman and his recent irritable behavior. Is he turning into the Green Goblin once again? It’s fair to wonder since he’s become good and evil more than once. New wrinkles involving Hobgoblin characters further complicate what Norman could be doing, yet Peter sides with Norman. Longtime readers will likely be shouting at Peter not to trust him, but it’s very much a Peter attribute to trust those close to him and those he determines good.
Outside of goblins, this issue also tackles the Black Cat question and whether Spider-Man and Black Cat are dating. We saw them smooch in Amazing Spider-Man #900, but we haven’t heard a peep on the matter until this issue. If Marvel is going for a younger, single Peter Parker, Wells captures that element well in a critical scene. On a rooftop, we witness Spider-Man ask out Black Cat. Given his nervousness — which is hard to believe given he’s been married in the past, even if that was negated — one can see younger readers connecting with the moment. Heck, asking someone out can be nerve-racking for anybody, but it’s cute to see it affect Spider-Man as it does here.
Plot progression continues to be minimal at best with this series, though. This issue has roughly six scenes, making for slower storytelling. If you’re not interested in Hobgoblins of the past and the melodrama between them, there isn’t much to sink your teeth into here.
John Romita Jr. continues to draw the series in his now-classic style. Hobgoblin is an excellent example of how his style is simple — it’s not hyper-detailed with millions of pencil strokes — yet dynamic. His style adds volume to faces and characters’ bodies that go the extra mile to look interesting. It can sometimes look awkward and strange — like a face shaped from clay — but it’s still an endearing style we all grew up with. Spider-Man isn’t suited up much in this issue, but when he does pop up, it’s unmistakable that Romita Jr.’s style is one of the best.
Smartly, when Hobgoblin maims a few characters, the limbs flying off are primarily rendered in silhouette with some nice color by Marcio Menyz. That way, it’s not too graphic. There are also some good choices using motion blur in that scene, and Menyz adds little touches to Hobgoblin, like shadow and light, that raise the bar. In another scene with Spider-Man diving alongside Black Cat, the creators decide to go with a white background, and Menyz adds excellent dynamic lighting on Spider-Man’s costume to spruce up the scene that’d typically uses a background.
If you like goblins in Spider-Man comics, you’ll enjoy the complex melodrama between them in The Amazing Spider-Man #11. Spider-Man is just beginning to trust Norman Osborn, but it’s clear he’s still warry he could turn at any moment. Throw in some romance with Black Cat, and you have an issue with Spider-Man that juggles superhero stuff and day-to-day nerves well.
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