REVIEW: Amazing Spider-Man #797 – “Goblin Madness”

Amazing Spider-Man #797
Writer: Dan Slott
Penciller: Stuart Immonen
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Price: $3.99
Release Date: 03/07/18
Rating: T

Amazing Spider-Man

Plot: Norman Osborn prepares for his deadliest attack on his arch foe, Spider-Man. However, Norman’s missing the greatest weapon he had against the wall crawler. In order to re-obtain it, Norman’s captures one of Spidey’s allies to get what he wants by any means necessary.

Story: The first issue of the Go Down Swinging arc quickly establishes Norman Osborn’s new level of insanity. Previously the only factor of Norman’s insanity was the goblin serum. Now he has both the serum and the Carnage symbiote in his system. This issue has some examples of how far Norman’s gone off the deep end. First off he just eats a rat in this issue. While interrogating his prisoner, Norman notices the rat then grabs it and bites its head off. In my opinion, that’s some messed up stuff. Also Norman straight up murders Phil Urich when the latter attempts to steal goblin gear. While Norman killing people is not new, the way he just stabs Phil right through his chest doesn’t really suit Osborn’s style. Usually Norman takes lives if it’s an obstacle or part of his plan but Phil’s murder is just carnage (no pun intended).

A big development occurs this issue when Norman rediscovers Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Previously everyone forgot Spidey’s secret identity but it became discoverable again during Dan Slott’s run (see One More Day and Spider-Island). Honestly, I forgot Norman didn’t know until this issue. I just assumed he rediscovered it off panel during Superior Spider-Man. However I’m glad Slott decided to show the moment in this issue. When we see Norman’s face as he figures it out and yells “Peter Parker is Spider-Man” it gives the reader a sense of the danger Spider-Man faces. Plus we find out Norman got this information from J. Jonah Jameson. Honestly who didn’t see this coming when Jonah found out Spidey’s secret identity. Fortunately Jonah didn’t give this info up willingly, it was just a slip of his tongue which definitely feels in line with his loudmouth characteristics.

This issue also had a great structure of Norman following Spider-Man in his daily routine. This lead to a hilarious scene of Spider-Man catching a mugger he regularly sees. There’s a great dialogue exchange where the mugger asks Spidey to shoot for his back instead of his arms next time. Spidey agrees before correcting himself and saying there shouldn’t be a next time. This shows how Dan Slott doesn’t just deliver thrilling plots but some entertaining side moments away from the main storyline.
Unfortunately this issue has a major drawback. Last issue teased us with a Peter/MJ reconciliation, but within the opening pages the two decide they shouldn’t get back together again. Alright, this needs to stop. Either the Amazing Spider-Man creative team needs to just get Peter and MJ together again or stop jerking the fans around. While this teasing could be a way for Slott to set Peter and MJ up after Peter’s upcoming battle with Osborn, it ultimately just feels like he’s trolling the fans.

Art: The artwork in Amazing Spider-Man has been spectacular these past few issues. First off the setting of Norman’s new layer is a perfect visual metaphor for the villain’s state of mind. Norman sets up shop in his old gentleman’s club. The building’s interior is run down, creepy, and has a number of cobwebs and Jack-O-Lanterns Norman added to the room. The cobwebs perfectly represent Norman’s obsession with Spider-Man and the Jack-O-Lanterns his newly reclaimed Green Goblin powers.

Stuart Immonen did an impressive job with the facial expressions. The way Immonen drew Norman doesn’t just show that he’s insane but his madness is still growing. Also Norman’s expression when he finds out Spidey’s identity is just chilling. As stated earlier, this scene quickly tells the reader how bad this development will be for Spider-Man. Plus the way Immonen drew a captive J. Jonah Jameson is notable. When the reader looks at Jonah one can really feel Jonah’s sorrow and regret. In the past Jonah would be happy of Spider-Man’s imminent demise but this time Jonah knows who’s under the mask and who’s life would be destroyed.

Verdict: Amazing Spider-Man #797 is a fantastic opening issue. It quickly shows how deadly Norman Osborn is with his growing insanity. Also we immediately see the drawback of J. Jonah Jameson knowing Spider-Man’s secret identity. The only thing that keeps this issue from getting a perfect score is the Peter/MJ tease.

Rating: 4 out of 5