After two years of following the Superior Spider-Man's heroics, it's a grand thing to see Marvel's favorite son back in the swing of things, and in his right mind. Regardless– the finale is one of the finest comics released this year. [Spoilers below.]

At the end of the previous issue, Peter Parker finally reclaimed his own body from the clutches of Otto Octavius, dead at last. (His grave was robbed, and that plot thread has remained loose.) Octavius deleted himself, realizing he wasn't up to the task of rescuing his beloved Anna Maria. This was a job for the genuine Spider-Man.

And Spidey's got his work cut out for him. On top of dealing with an army of goblins all working for the original GG, Spider-Man faces the daunting task of salvaging his reputation.

But on to the matter at hand! Spidey wages a two-man assault (with his counterpart from 2099) on the Goblin forces. It is amazing to behold. The comic manages to finely balance the plot, characterization, setting, and long-term consequences with incredibly satisfying action.

It's even pretty to look at. Giuseppe Camuncoli's pencils and Antonio Fabela's colors are lush, vibrant, and rich. The lines are clean and distinct, thanks to John Dell & Terry Pallot. It's gorgeous.

Spider-Man faces off w/ the Green Goblin, and delivers tactics I'm amazed he never tried before: to wit, he cures Osborn of the Goblin Formula. Kiss that strength and stamina (and incredibly convenient healing factor) goodbye. There's an added 'bonus', however. Spidey's cure also removes Osborn's madness.

Osborn– who's moved on to a new face– will be back. Gulp.

And yet, no amount of heroics can undo the damage done to Pete's life in his 'absence'. There's blood on his hands from Otto's months-long tenure. He quit the Avengers. He's alienated Peter's family, friends, and colleagues– all by being a truly spectacular butt-hole. This issue gives the strong impression that, outside the people who know Peter's double-identity, no-one will ever know the truth. Pete's just going to shrug and apologize for things he didn't do, and would never do. Which is riotously unfair, but also par for the course of "Typical Parker luck."

And then there's Anna Maria, who's in love with a man who no longer exists. She's been lied to from day one, seduced under false pretenses, and she doesn't have a clue what's going to happen. I can't picture a scenario in which Peter pretends to have feelings for her. It'd be dishonest, manipulative, and wrong. It wouldn't be Peter Parker.

Anyway. The 2nd half of the comic– written by Christos Gage– begins the next chapter in Pete's life by wrapping up his present one. He takes steps to mend things with Aunt May. In other areas… he's not so lucky.

Mary Jane is essentially done with him. She cares about him… but it's not clear if she wants to see him anymore in any capacity. I can't really fault her. She deserves a full life– not one overshadowed or jeopardized by Spider-Man's. And… the same goes for Carlie Cooper. Carlie's mostly cured of the Goblin formula, and is leaving town for a while to re-Cooper-ate. Will she be back? Only time will tell.

Jonah Jameson's officially resigned as Mayor, after the disastrous misuse of the Spider-Slayers built on his watch. He's never screwed up this big before, and he cops to his mistakes when he's made them. But he's out. For good.

*whew* A lot happened this issue– and all of it great. Great artwork, great storytelling, great big consequences, and some wonderful characterization from Spidey and the Goblin. Go out, buy a copy. Frame it. The finale of The Superior Spider-Man is nothing short of magnificent.

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