A few months ago, Adam Kubert drew half an issue of Wolverine in which the titular character teamed up with Spider-Man. At the time, even as I was raving about how great it was to see Kubert drawing Wolvey again, I couldn’t help but notice that he did a brilliant Spider-Man as well. “If anyone at Marvel has any sense,” I said, “They’ll get Kubert to draw a Spider-Man issue as soon as possible.”
Well, evidently they do have sense. Here, Kubert teams up with Dan Slott, the man who was born to write Spider-Man, and the results are nothing short of fantastically entertaining. The thing that pleases me most is that for the first time since the Avengers “List” special, the plot actually deals, directly, with the Dark Reign meta-arc rather than the ongoing plot of the star’s book. We know Osborn can’t stay where he is forever – and this issue actually sows a fairly convincing seed towards his downfall.
Better yet, editorial seem to have remembered that despite the suit Osborn is wearing, he’s not actually Iron Man’s arch-enemy- he’s Spider-Man’s. Here, the two square off physically and mentally, offering the most satisfying Spider-Man/Osborn meeting in months after the overwrought, Bond-villain theatrics of American Son. As ever, Slott’s dialogue is immediately at home with Spider-Man’s wisecracks, but the rest of the issue is cleverly constructed too, from the brilliantly executed twist as to who actually scores the point against Osborn at the end, to the perfectly constructed plot mechanics, all of which prove that just because a comic is about superheroes, it doesn’t have to be dumb as well.
To round the issue out, there’s a reprint The Pulse #5, where comic where Osborn was finally outed as the Green Goblin and arrested. With Bendis writing and Bagley pencilling, it’s a fun issue in its own right, though its presentation here undoubtedly suffers from being part 5 of a multi-part arc without the previous 4 issues included. Yet another annoying side-effect of trade-focussed decompression. Even so, it’s nigh-impossible not to enjoy a Bendis & Bagley comic, and the Osborn-focussed story makes an enjoyable companion piece to the lead tale. It’s just a pity that I come away from it thinking not about how good that issue was, but about how much potential was wasted when The Pulse got canned 14 issues in, before the concepts had truly taken root. Still – its inclusion makes this a remarkably high-quality comic that’s astonishing value for the cover price – and it’s increasingly rare you can say that about a comic these days.