Nick Spencer has kept Spider-Man busy with a wide variety of villains since “Hunted” ended in the summer of 2019. While Kindred has been the big bad Spencer has placed a big part of his run the mysterious villain has taken a back seat as of late. Getting away from that story Spencer has instead focused on other villain characters like Boomerang. Though since taking over Amazing Spider-Man Spencer has been playing Boomerang as a much more comedic buddy that gets both Peter Parker and Spider-Man in trouble. Their latest team-up to find the Lifeline Tablet before Mayor Wilson Fisk is just another example of that. Now that the rarely seen Gog has suddenly appeared to be after the Lifeline Tablet what will happen next in Spider-Man and Boomerang’s adventure together? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #42.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While dodging Gog’s attacks Spider-Man explains to Boomerang the Gog has never been that bad of a guy, just loyal to whoever he is following. Spider-Man questions why Gog is returned since the last time he saw him years ago Reed Richards shrunk him to a normal size using Pym Particles and sent him back to his home dimension. Spider-Man then thinks about why Gog is not only back in his original form but also looking angrier than ever.
Years ago Gog was gifted a boy whose mother was the queen of an unknown planet. Gog grew up happy being a pet and friend to the young boy and his family.
One night the city Gog and his family lived was attacked by several warships. The guards quickly get the queen and boy to safety. Due to overcrowding on escape ships Gog is placed in his own pod that was set up to follow them.
As they leave the planet Gog’s ship is attacked and sent in a completely different direction from the queen and boy’s.
Eventually Gog wakes up in the Savage Lands on Earth where he is discovered by Kraven the Hunter. Kraven raises Gog to be his partner. That was until one day when Kraven fought Spider-Man and Ka-Zar (Amazing Spider-Man #103). When Spider-Man defeated Kraven, Gog was left trapped in a patch of quicksand.
At a new planet Gog’s owner is shown leaving “Missing” signs of him and his mom giving him a Gog toy to cheer him up.
Back on Earth Gog ends up working with the Plunderer and then the Sinister Six to take on Spider-Man. Eventually Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four work together to shrink Gog back to his original size. They then figure out where his original home dimension is located and build a ship so he can return.
Gog makes it back to where his owners are and is stunned to find the queen leading an army against an opposing force in an all-out war. After landing Gog is able to find the boy is a member of the queen’s army and defends him from an attacker.
Gog and the boy rush at each other in happiness. But before they can fully reunite a large explosion ends up killing the boy. Gog curls up next to the boy’s body and cries as the war continues around him.
Eventually the queen’s army wins. The queen finds Gog with her dead son. The queen reveals that she somehow was able to find the Lifeline Tablet and was trying to use it to take back the planet for her people. Seeing that it only brought about death the queen breaks the Lifeline Tablet into several pieces. She then tasks Gog with scattering the fragments of the Lifeline Tablet so they are never used by the wrong hands.
Back in the present Gog continues to attack Spider-Man and Boomerang in order to protect the Lifeline Tablet from falling into the wrong hands. End of issue.
The Good: With Amazing Spider-Man #42 Nick Spencer takes a detour to give us the origin story of the rarely seen misunderstood villain Gog. In the process Spencer is able to build a backstory that gets the reader to understand who Gog is and his actions in previous appearance. But while Spencer finds success in that you are left questioning if this issue will play any sort of importance to his greater Amazing Spider-Man run.
Even in his rare appearances in various Marvel comics Gog has never been anything more of a secondary antagonist who was used by the villain that Spider-Man or other heroes were fighting. That left Gog’s character open to the opportunity to be explored in any direction for the writer that wanted to go into his backstory. Spencer taps into that opportunity and is able flesh out a character that most readers did not really care about before Amazing Spider-Man #42.
What works particularly well is that Gog’s backstory is completely told through his perspective. This allows the reader to get invested in Gog’s life from the time he became a pet and best friend to the young boy from another planet. Even if we don’t know which planet this is or know the name of the kid you do grow to care for Gog’s life quickly. Spencer gives you the full picture of how much Gog and boy loved each other.
That made it so when things turned tragic that took place when Gog was forced to be separated from the boy and him resonate more. It got you to understand why he would end up doing the villainous actions he did when teaming with Kraven the Hunter or the Sinister Six. Gog was just looking to connect with someone so he doesn’t have to be alone again. This made you hopeful that he would reunite with the boy again.
That hope you have as a reader made the time Gog was able to reunite with the boy when he got back to what then became a war-torn planet both happy and then sad. You really felt for Gog in the moment when his reunion with the boy was taken from him as the kid died from an explosion. Seeing Gog curl up to the boy’s dead body really is both a beautiful and sad moment as your heart breaks for how things turn out.
Tying this all back to the Lifeline Tablet was a good way to explain why Gog would attack Spider-Man and Boomerang. Gog isn’t doing this with any sort of malicious intent. He is just doing what the last request of the boy’s mother made. This at least builds interest in how things will turn out for Gog in this story about the Lifeline Tablet that Spencer is telling.
What really made Gog’s backstory work so well is Ryan Ottley’s artwork. With Spencer doing limited amount of dialogue to get into Gog’s perspective of things Ottley really carried Amazing Spider-Man #42. Ottley did a fantastic job getting you in Gog’s mind with how the character reacted to everything that was going on around him. From the happiness Gog felt when playing and living with the boy to when he got stuck in the quicksand, you got a great sense of his emotions during each scene. It all played in well to explain why Gog acted the way he did in all his appearances.
The Bad: As engaging as Gog’s backstory was there is still the big question why this had to happen in Amazing Spider-Man. At no point did it feel like the story Spencer was weaving for Gog would play an important part in his run moving forward. This was purely filler content that never came across as a bigger part of the narrative.
It would have been much better if we would’ve seen Gog at least at some point in Spencer’s run before Amazing Spider-Man #42. It would’ve given more of a reason why we would have gotten this backstory as the reader would’ve seen him earlier, maybe in the “Hunted” arc. But since we didn’t see him earlier there could be a lot of readers who may think Gog is a new character.
Because the fact is Gog is an extremely minor character in the Marvel Universe. His appearance have largely been as a secondary antagonist at best. So before Amazing Spider-Man #42 there was never a big desire to find more about Gog since he is rarely seen. So unless you are familiar with Gog in the very few appearance he has had there a lot of his history with Spider-Man could come across as forced.
Similarly, the tie-in with the Lifeline Tablet does seem to be a convenient way to get Gog involved in Spider-Man and Boomerang’s team-up story. Especially since we never actually know who invaded the planet that Gog was from we don’t know why suddenly the Lifeline Tablet would be seen as a key to victory. Being an unknown planet really hurt this tie-in to the Lifeline Tablet since Spencer doesn’t give us any details of the war or why the invasion actually happened in the first place.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #42 takes a break from the main stories going on in this series to spotlight the rarely seen Gog. To Nick Spencer’s credit he does a solid job with getting the reader invested in Gog’s backstory. With the direction Spencer took, it was really Ryan Ottley’s incredible artwork that elevated Gog’s backstory to be as successful as it was. The only thing that hurt the story in Amazing Spider-Man #42 is that it never escaped coming across as filler content.
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