The identity of Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis is debatable, but it usually comes down to a toss up between Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin.

But it’s been a long time since Spider-Man and the Goblin have had a traditional battle, and in the past few decades, the Goblin has been elevated to an Avengers-level threat. So what happens when big bad Norman Osborn brings his new resources and henchmen back to tackle his former foe Spider-Man?

Published by: Marvel
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: John Romita Jr.
Year: 2008

Collects: Amazing Spider-Man #568 – 573

PLOT: Years ago, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, and gained incredible powers. After a tough lesson in responsibility, Peter decided to use his powers to become the costumed superhero known as Spider-Man. Over the years, Spider-Man battled many foes, but few were more dangerous than Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. 

Now, in the fallout of the superhero Civil War, Spider-Man has become one of the most wanted men in America, while in a weird turn of fate, Norman Osborn has found himself on the side of the law, and now leads the Thunderbolts – a squad of ‘reformed’ supervillains who hunt down rogue heroes.

And after a serial killer begins leaving Spider-Man’s signature ‘Spider-Tracers’ on his victims, framing Spider-Man for the crimes, Norman has all the reason he needs to bring the Thunderbolts – Songbird, Radioactive Man, Bullseye and Venom – to New York to teach Spider-Man some New Ways to Die!

REVIEW: The Brand New Day era of Spider-Man comics was a weird one for our webbed hero. Post-Civil War, the Marvel Universe as a whole had been changed, with Spider-Man in particular having some rather substantial changes to his section of the universe. However, with Brand New Day giving the Amazing Spider-Man a back to basics vibe, New Days to Die sort of stradles the line of tackling the massive changes to Marvel and the more ‘classic’ take on Spider-Man storytelling. 

This is particularly evident in the way New Ways To Die gives us Spider-Man facing off with some of his classic foes like Venom and the Green Goblin, and interacting with classic Spider-Man characters like Aunt May, Harry Osborn and the journalists from the Daily Bugle, but through a new lens – one that sees Spider-Man as a fugitive from the government, and Norman Osborn in command of multiple other government-sanctioned supervillains and law-enforcement agents. 

It’s also one of the earlier Spider-Man stories from Dan Slott, before he spent ten years as one of the primary architects of the characters life. Subsequently, while Slott, in my opinion, maintained a certain quality in his Spider-Man writing for many years, this story does lack some of the flaws that come from sticking with one property for too long (as opposed to, say, Spider-Verse). 

As such, this story is fun and exciting. Seeing Spider-Man and Green Goblin face off in this new (although now kind of old) status-quo, where Osborn has forgotten Spider-Man’s secret identity, but retains his obsession with the wall-crawler and now stands on the side of the law, makes for a fascinating read, and throwing in extra characters like Venom and Bullseye only amplifies that excitement. 

Each issue stands strong as its own, featuring some great little stories such as Spider-Man having to come between Venom and the newly-debuted Anti-Venom, or Spider-Man being hunted by Daredevil’s sharp-shooting archnemesis Bullseye. It makes for some great Spider-Man storytelling, and is complimented by some equally entertaining, down-to-Earth civilian storytelling; part of what makes Spider-Man such a great character. 

The art is also stellar, although I do have some reservations about it. Maybe it’s down to when I started reading Spider-Man comics, but John Romita Jr. is one of my favourite Spider-Man artists. I think, when he’s working on other, higher concept titles like Avengers (particularly Bendis’ Avengers) his art doesn’t quite fit, but his Spider-Man art is just fantastic. It’s got a certain, familiar feel to it, one that isn’t necessarily the highest quality art, but simultaneously just screams ‘this is Spider-Man!‘. 

There are some glitches in this run in particular, like Harry and Norman Osborn’s hair style’s changing rather frequently (full head of hair to shaved sides and then back again), but while it is a bit annoying to look at, the rest of the art makes up for it. It’s not his best Spider-Man work, but even ‘not his best’ is still pretty good. 

Overall, even though a knowledge of the events leading up to this story (Brand New Day volumes 1 – 3 and Kraven’s First Hunt) would help, I’d say this is a decent Spider-Man starter comic. It gives you a feel for Slott’s writing, which is important due to that aforementioned ten-year stint, and also, conveniently, has a flashback to Spider-Man’s early days at the start of the story. Add to that a new take on not one, but two age-old rivalries, and this is makes for a very enjoyable Spider-Man story (although, admittedly, the final confrontation between Spider-Man and the Goblin could be better, but there are loads of those throughout Spider-Man’s history).

All-in-all, I give New Ways to Die a…

Thanks for reading! Who’s your favourite Spider-Man foe? Let me know in the comments below! 

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