With this volume, longtime Spider-writer Dan Slott has finally put Peter Parker back in a familiar status quo: Working for the Daily Bugle. Not as a photographer getting sweet shots of Spider-Man, mind you, but as the new editor of its science section. Before that happens, he has to throw down with the new physically fit and Hydra-aligned Doctor Octopus who has come to take back the company that he built up from nothing during his “Superior” days.
Yes, it’s a “Secret Empire” tie-in and the ones that I’ve read so far haven’t been all that great. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Slott use the crossover as the perfect excuse to pull the pin on Parker Industries. It’s the extremely rare kind of crossover tie-in that actually manages to advance the core story and that alone makes it the best one I’ve read in regards to “Secret Empire.” Even better is the fact that colorist Marte Gracia has dialed back the murk factor to his coloring, so it’s a lot easier to appreciate the balls-out action that Stuart Immonen gets to draw as Spidey throws down with one of his greatest villains.
Peter then finds himself in an unusual situation following this arc where he’s hated by the population at large, but Spider-Man is actually liked. It’s a good setup for “The Fall of Parker” as our protagonist is stuck doing the ugly work of letting everyone in his company go and selling off its assets to cover lawsuits. This creates all sorts of friction between his friends and family, including one Johnny Storm who is quite irate about how the Baxter Building is one of the assets to be sold.
Slott effectively mines this transitional period for some quality drama and action between Peter and his supporting cast. These three issues also let us know that even if things are getting back to a kind of normal for “Amazing Spider-Man,” a lot of complications are going to result from it. Along those lines, the volume’s final issue also provides a nice template for how Spidey’s new science editor gig can mix with his superhero activities.
Sandwiched between these arcs is a one-off featuring Norman Osborne with some striking art from Greg Smallwood. Osborne is still trying to figure out how to become the Green Goblin again and his quest to do so has led him to pursue more mystic avenues to make it happen. For the parts of the story that count, it’s an effective swerve as the possibility of Osborne becoming a greater threat than he ever was is quite real and, more importantly, plausible. As for whether or not that actually happens, well, the issue works because of the insight it provides into the villain’s mind as opposed to providing him some actual direction.
This seventh volume of “Worldwide” is essentially more quality superhero storytelling from a writer who has delivered an impressive amount of it with Spidey on his own for these last eight years. As has been the case with the majority of Slott’s run, there isn’t anything convention-defying here. If you’re like me and have been reading it up to this point, you keep tuning in for that consistency -- to see the familiar tropes executed with the care and attention to detail that makes them worth reading regardless. That’s exactly what you can expect to see again with vol. 7 here.