Undeniably packing plenty of web-swinging bang for its buck, Dan Slott’s script for “The Ties That Bind” was arguably just the sort of action-fest its 192,609-readers were anticipating, considering its plot builds upon the premise that a badly-wounded Spider-Man has previously been overwhelmed by “the Red Goblin’s terrifying power” and resultantly needs “the help of friend and foe alike if he hopes to stop” Norman Osborn. But whilst this third instalment to the Berkeley-born author’s “Go Down Swinging” storyline pays plenty of attention to the likes of Johnny Storm, Silk, Agent Anti-Venom, Miles Morales and even Clayton Cole’s criminal alter-ego Clash, the motivation behind just why Peter Parker has assembled his own ‘Bat-Family’ may well have proved somewhat disconcertingly contrived for the odd perusing bibliophile.
True, as the former “amoral industrialist Head of Oscorp”, Harry’s father is far from the most trustworthy of people, especially now he is wholly merged with the homicidal Carnage Symbiote, so it’s perfectly understandable that the wall-crawler might be a bit dubious as to whether the super-villain will stick “to our bargain” not to harm everyone he cares about, like “the Mary Janes and Aunt Mays of the world”, “as long as you don’t show your pwetty widdle webbed head.” However, the Red Goblin has already disconcertingly lived up to their agreement by allowing the badly beaten Spider-Man to survive their opening encounter, so just why Parker suddenly believes that their deal will be broken and resultantly sends Morales to guard his elderly aunt, the Human Torch to protect Mary Jane, and Cindy Moon to look after “what used to be the Daily Bugle” is perhaps a bit perplexing..?
Equally as annoying is how the Eisner Award-winner deals with the symbiote’s well-known weakness to “fire and sound” so as to enable Osborn’s latest criminal incarnation to survive a withering attack from the combined forces of Storm and Cole. Not unsurprisingly, the assault fails, but rather than provide any sort of explanation as to why it — it did absolutely nothing” Slott lazily just writes that Norman is now “the ultimate hybrid” with “all of the strengths” and “none of the weaknesses! Ha Ha Ha!”
Fortunately, what this twenty-page periodical is good at demonstrating is Stuart Immonen’s terrific artwork and ability to imbue his figures with precisely the sort of dynamic energy fans of the Canadian penciller have come to expect. Indeed, the illustrator’s double-splash of the Red Goblin defeating Silk and an overly cocky Miles is superbly drawn, as are his later panels depicting Flash Thompson’s ill-fated decision to save the lives of his badly-wounded friends rather than ‘take-out’ this comic’s main antagonist first; “Too easy! Like taking candy from a dead baby.”