It all comes down to this issue as “Dark Reign: The List” culminates in a confrontation between Norman Osborn and Spider-Man. A head-on fight between the two has been teased a few times before but, with “Dark Reign” winding down and the series of “List” one-shots meant to signify the first step in Osborn’s fall, this issue looked to be big. And, in some ways, it is a big issue, but the impact of it is a little too low key, which is fitting since “The Siege” is coming up as the true finale and this issue acts as a teaser well.
As Norman Osborn reaches the last item on his list, ‘Kill Spider-Man,’ Peter Parker and the staff of Frontline try and come up with ways to bring down Osborn, many of them having firsthand knowledge of who he really is. The plan centers around finding a way to prove that Osborn was personally responsible for inhumane scientific procedures on unwitting human subjects and has Spider-Man breaking into Avengers Tower to get the security tapes necessary. Osborn’s discovery of Spider-Man in his private sanctuary is handled with humor and leads to a big fight.
The fight itself is done well as Spider-Man uses his brains to out-think Osborn as much as possible, including pointing out a flaw in his Iron Patriot armor. Things get a little goofy when bystanders decide to beat up on Spider-Man in a few spots, but regular humans charging into a fight between superhumans always looks silly and ill-conceived since only the insane or the stupid would get in the middle of that conflict.
Slott and Kubert also give this Spider-Man/Osborn fight a different feeling because of Osborn’s armor and new public support. They really play into that as Spider-Man isn’t as sure of how to fight against Osborn when he’s the Iron Patriot. Hopefully, that new dynamic is kept in future encounters since it eliminates the standard advantage Spider-Man usually has.
Kubert’s art is exactly what you expect it to be as he continues to experiment with more two-page layouts and really delivers on the fight scenes. His Spider-Man is agile and quick, while his Iron Patriot is imposing, almost frightening in how strong he looks much of the time. He also crams a lot of panels into many pages, making the issue both dense and a quick read at the same time. It works to keep a heightened pace for the fight up. His return to Marvel has shown him confident and still as good as ever and, hopefully, he continues to pop up for special issues like this where his talents are put to good use.
The end of the issue is a little hokey, but still satisfying as Slott manages to keep things from getting too out of hand. Also included is a reprint of “The Pulse” #5, which featured Norman Osborn’s public outing as the Green Goblin in a confrontation between Spider-Man and Luke Cage. The juxtaposition of Osborn then and now is fun to see as it’s only been a few years since then. Overall, this is a strong conclusion to the “Dark Reign: The List” one-shots and teases Osborn’s downfall in “Siege” well, showing the first big chink in his armor since “Dark Reign” began a year ago.