Comic Book Pick of the Day: Amazing Spider-Man #649

I’ll admit it; I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Spider-Man the last several years. I hated what Joe Quesada did to the character with Brand New Day and One Moment In Time, but I loved Amazing Spider-Man #649 specifically because it harkened back to the the type of Spider-Man story I miss most: the type I used to read about way back in middle-school. There’s definitely a lot of 90s nostalgia in this issue–and the good variety of 90s nostalgia, not Lady Gaga or the return of Kid Rock.

It’s penciled by Humberto Ramos, an artist I followed in the 90s from his work with Dv8 to his short-lived vampire series Crimson. I’d lost track of Ramos in recent years, and was pleased as could be to see him in fine form here.

Amazing Spider-Man #649, writer Dan Slott made an unusual choice and brought back  a character I haven’t seen in the past decade: Phil Urich, the “good” Green Goblin. A lot of younger fans will be scratching their heads at the thought of a heroic Green Goblin. He had a short tenure at Marvel when he stole some of Norman Osborn‘s equipment, costume and all, and used it for crime-fighting. I didn’t grow to like his character until he shined most during his defeat. He was one of the lost unsung heroes of the Onslaught epic. When dozens of sentinels were going bonkers attacking New York City, the good Green Goblin, who was used to garden variety threats, had to put everything he had into taking down a single sentinel, and by the end, he’d ruined his stolen equipment, and, as far as I know, he ended his career in tights.

Until now. After Norman Osborn is incarcerated at the end of Siege, Hobgoblin goes to raid his stash of weapons, and he finds someone has beaten him to it: Phil Urich of course! Unfortunately, something’s gone wrong with Urich. He’s no longer superhero material at all, which is dramatically proven when he beheads Hobgoblin, and goes from being the good Green Goblin to the more hardcore Hobgoblin. It was a pretty unexpected reversal, and it was upsetting as well to see a former underdog hero turn into a villain, reminiscent of when the former Batgirl Cassandra Cain–the mute martial artist, not to be confused with Kathy Kane, Batwoman, or the Barbara Gordon Batgirl–left the Bat-family and became an assassin.

When good characters go bad, there’s almost always hope for recovery. Sometimes a character is more interesting after they have a little blood on their hands, like Damien Wayne, the new Robin, who has killed people before being straightened out by Dick Grayson. I’d be interested to see what the future holds for Phil Urich–if anything. He may just vanish into anonymity again, like so many people from the 90s.

——Make sure to check out my book The Madness of Art: Short Stories! Available on Amazon in paperback and as a cheaply priced ebook!

If you liked this article on Amazing Spider-Man #649, check out my review of Spider-Man’s adventures during Dark Reign.

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