AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 sets the final pieces in place for the highly anticipated “Go Down Swinging” event. Peter Parker’s world is about to take a huge turn for the worse, and he doesn’t even know it. Dan Slott and Christos Gage have done another fine job of keeping readers on their toes as we patiently await the return of the Green Goblin.

Flash Thompson makes a successful comeback as the new (Agent) Anti-Venom. And he’s not the only familiar face to pop up. Mary Jane and Phil Urich (the Goblin King) also make guest appearances. This issue pushes the envelope even further towards a reunion between Peter Parker and MJ as more than just friends (which I’m silently praying for).

Mike Hawthorne returns on artistic duty for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796. Though he does bring an energetic, emotive style to Spider-Man, I’m eager to have Stuart Immonen back next issue. Ultimately, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 reads out in a familiar pattern as the previous two issues have. While some slightly interesting things happen to Peter in the spotlight, the buildup in the background is far more noteworthy.

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More Tasty Filler

The problem with leading up to a big event, in some cases, is that a bit of the buildup tends to just be pointless filler. That was definitely the case with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #794. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #795 and #796 both included more filler for Peter Parker, but it was much more intriguing than in #794 because the reader can see where it is heading.

The main Plot of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 features Peter, his Bugle coworkers, Flash, and MJ attending a demonstration from Alchemax. Of course, with a company like Alchemax involved, you know something terrible is bound to happen. And it does. During the demonstration, danger arrives in the form of Phil Urich, leading a gang of goblins. This prompts another team-up between Spider-Man and Anti-Venom.

Seeing these two characters bounce off each other is interesting. They work well together, but you can’t help but feel bad for Peter. He still has a secret to keep from Flash, but he knows almost everything about him, as well. The remaining plot points all seem to allude to “Go Down Swinging” possibly making Peter’s identity public again or at least known to people close to him.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 page 5. Jameson learned about Spidey’s identity in PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #6 (2017). Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Phil Urich is, frankly, a passable threat. To be fair, it was interesting to see him have the upper hand on Spidey again, now that Peter doesn’t have his tech to repel that sonic laugh. It doesn’t hold him back for long, though, as Spidey and Anti-Venom are ultimately able to push back the goblins. This then leads to an ambiguous meeting between Peter and MJ by the end of the issue.

When all is said and done, the main plot is definitely filler, but it’s enjoyable to read, nonetheless.

Interestingly enough, this issue seriously hypes up Anti-Venom’s healing capabilities. It’s a bit obnoxious, but hey, he reattached a dude’s arm, so that’s cool.

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Seeing Lots of Red in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796

If AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 were to have a favorite color, it’d probably be red. In more ways than one, iconic red-themed characters steal the show this issue. Spider-Man, of course, sports his red and blue costume. That’s obvious. What’s more interesting are his co-stars.

Everyone’s favorite red, maniacal symbiote made a shocking return in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #794. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #795, Osborn was crazy enough to actually bond to the damn thing. Now… well, the result isn’t pretty. At least, not at first.

Again, as with the last two issues, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 finds its greatest strengths in its subplot. Seeing Osborn work out his relationship (feels weird calling it that) with the Carnage symbiote is nuts, because you know that if it actually works, it will spell total doom for Spider-Man.

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Mary Jane Watson also makes a fantastic return to the pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Last time we saw MJ was during the “Power Play” arc. It’s been enjoyable seeing her alongside Tony Stark and Riri Williams this past year, but having her in the company of Peter and Flash is a surprising breath of fresh air for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. She’s always been important to Peter Parker. I hope she sticks around in more than just the capacity of a cameo every once in a while.

It Looks Good (For the Most Part)

Mike Hawthorne’s style is very befitting of a Spider-Man title. He includes flashy action sequences and detailed character expressions. It’s all mapped out fairly simply, too. It’s not abundantly in your face, so you’re never questioning what’s happening on the page.

That being said, some pages of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 feel overly simplistic. The Goblin King’s design is very blocky for some reason. He looks more like an action figure on some pages. And I could have sworn his sword was longer. Some of the other goblin designs are a bit simple, as well. I get that they’re henchmen, but they could have had better-defining properties. Maybe their gliders could have been more distinct, or their clothes all colored differently.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 page 16. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

However, Hawthorne draws Spider-Man exceptionally well. As in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #795, there’s a constant tone of seriousness to Spider-Man that Hawthorne captures, which is appropriate given the things that are about to come to light in “Go Down Swinging.” The new Anti-Venom sports a great design, too. It’s smooth and heroic, which definitely fits the character.

Hawthorne also draws a mean-looking Carnage. And the last page of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 is to die for. It’s a beautiful summary of the hell that’s about to be unleashed on Peter Parker’s world.

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Brace Yourselves for What Comes Next

The wait is almost over, boys and girls. “Go Down Swinging” is right around the corner. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 places the final pieces for what promises to be one of the most explosive Spider-Man events to date. What comes next is going to be insane.

Dan Slott and Christos Gage have done an amazing job of building up to this event with the “Threat Level: Red” arc. The day to day troubles of Peter Parker and Spider-Man have served as an excellent distraction from the darker things lurking behind the curtain. Those things are about to come out into the light, and it’s exciting as hell.

It’s sad to think that these are the final issues of Dan Slott’s AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. But, let it be known that there was never a dull moment to be had with Slott at the wheel. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 keeps the momentum flowing and leads us right into a story years in the making. Let’s just pray that Slott lets Peter Parker make it out alive.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot, and Erick Arciniega
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Summary
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #796 gives you mostly more of the same as the previous two issues. But that's okay, because the payoff is going to be so worth it once "Go Down Swinging" begins.
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