The big news for this series in the post-”Clone Conspiracy” world is that Stuart Immonen is now its regular artist and --
OH DEAR GOD WHAT DID THEY DO TO HIS ART!?!?!?
If you’ve ever wondered how important good coloring is to art these days, you’re going to want to check out this volume. Immonen’s linework is colored in a style best described as “low-light murk” by Marte Gracia with Andres Mossa pitching in for the final issue. (Both are credited as “inkers” in this volume but that appears to be a misprint as a quick internet search reveals otherwise.) Their coloring makes it incredibly hard to appreciate the art here as it mutes a lot of the detail and energy usually present in Immonen’s work. Would it have been too much trouble to get someone like Dave McCaig or Justin Ponsor -- colorists who have both worked with Immonen to great effect in the past -- on this arc? At least secure one of them -- or another talented colorist like Dave Stewart or Jordie Bellaire -- to color this series going forward.
As for the actual story in this volume, it’s pretty solid. After getting a lead on Norman Osborn’s whereabouts Spider-Man teams up with S.H.I.E.L.D. to hunt him down. The chase leads all over the globe (hence the pun-tastic title of this arc, “The Osborn Identity”) and has Spider-Man burning a couple bridges and making a questionable team-up or two in order to bring down his archenemy. There aren’t a lot of surprises here, but writer Dan Slott keeps the pace entertainingly frantic throughout the story and keeps the Osborn/Parker rivalry fresh as the two keep finding new ways to get under each others’ skin. It’s also worth noting that this arc shows Slott to be working towards putting all of his toys back in the box with regards to Parker Industries. “The Adventures of Peter Parker: Worldwide Superhero CEO” have been fun, but we all knew it wasn’t going to last. Parker is just too nice and self-sacrificing a guy to last long as head of a major corporation. That, and if Slott didn’t do it himself then some other writer (likely rumored new writer Nick Spencer) would’ve done it instead.