Superior Spider-Man #26 Review

Superior Spider-man #25 made a lot of promises. Peter Parker is back (in his own head at least)! The Goblin War is beginning! The Avengers are done with Spider-man! The Marvel solicits promised an answer, at least, to the question of Peter Parker. Unfortunately, Superior Spider-man #26 spins more wheels than it does hand out answers. The Goblin War has begun, sure. Except Otto is still completely unaware of it. Green Goblin halts the fighting to challenge Hobgoblin to a one-on-one, during which we learn that this Green Goblin is definitely Norman Osborn. Or do we? We see a scar from Osborn's original death-by-goblin glider, but we still don't see his face. Greeny kills Hobby and takes control of his men. Except it turns out Kingsley is now using brain washed impersonators to stand in for him and he's still out there. Wheels spinning furiously, but no traction on this story. Okay, Peter Parker is back! Except he's still buried in Otto's mind and Otto still doesn't know he's there. We see Peter walking through the landscape of his shattered mind and find out that Otto has purged most of Peter's memories. He doesn't know a lot of things about himself. We see him piecing back together the most important memories and, yet again, he vows to return. Which he did last issue. And also the first issue. Again, no movement forward, just more running in place.
This is hardly the answer to the question that we were promised. The answer to how Peter is back is essentially that he reasserted his will, which is what we were already told last issue. Marvel has announced a digital miniseries that will show Peter as an amnesiac following his return, and this issue does lay the groundwork for why his memories may not be in the best state when he returns, but it doesn't move us any closer to his return than the last issue did. How about those Avengers though, right? They had certainly had enough at the end of the last issue after discovering Spidey had deleted files from their computers. This issue sees them bring Spidey in (again) and yell at him (again). They tell him that they are kicking him out but Spidey-Ock promptly quits before they can finish. So Otto is still rogue as far as they are concerned, and they are still angry at him. But again, this plot stagnates like the others. We haven't gained any ground, we've just rehashed what we've already seen before.
Let's look at where we are versus where we were last issue. We're still awaiting the big (and real) Green Goblin vs Hobgoblin showdown. We're still waiting to see how Peter truly reasserts himself and regains control of his body. We're still waiting to see what the Avengers are actually going to do about Spider-man, if they even do anything. What about Carlie? She doesn't even garner a mention this issue, so we're still left wondering about her new Goblin transformation. This issue is little more than a placeholder between the Darkest Hours story arc that we wrapped up last issue and the Goblin Nation arc that really actually definitely (cross your fingers) does start with the next issue, #27. I want to find something nice to say about this issue, but I'm struggling. The art is certainly solid, and the pieces inside Peter/Otto's mindscape have some beautifully drawn callbacks to classic Spider-man stories, including the Master Planner, trapped under the rubble shot that I'm convinced Spider-man writers are contractually obligated to reference a certain number of times a year.
And the end of it all though, I was left with the feeling that I could have skipped this issue entirely without missing anything. I could have picked up Superior Spider-man #27 and not even realized that I had missed an issue. At this point we know that Superior Spider-man is nearing it's end. The solicit on Marvel's website for the next issue says as much. "Whatever you do, don't miss the first chapter of the biggest event in the entire Superior Spider-Man Saga! The End starts here." The last issue had beautifully set all of that up and this issue kills that momentum. Series always have an issue or two that lags a bit, but right before the climax of the entire series is an irritating spot to fall off the horse. There's so little plot movement that I don't even feel compelled to include a spoiler warning anywhere in this review. Does that mean Dan Slot has to work that much harder to reinvest the readers next issue? Probably not. Everyone who already cares enough about the ending is already on board and this close to the finish line, it would be hard to shake them off, but it's a disservice to the people who have been sticking with the book to charge them $3.99 for something that masquerades as plot advancement but is really just a glorified "Previously, On Superior Spider-man" in disguise. The story continues (hopefully for real this time) when Superior Spider-man #27 hits shelves on February 12th.
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I'm very proudly a nerd, which is the quality you'll see most on display here. Star Wars, Doctor Who, and Spider-man are my biggest nerdy obsessions, but I don't like to exclude anything. I'm also an avid sports fan. My teams are the Detroit Red Wings, Notre Dame, and Detroit Lions. I love playing and watching hockey, but don't get to do the former often enough. I play some guitar, and love music. That's me, concisely speaking.