Agent Anti-Venom is becoming a beloved hero across New York City, and Liz Allen of Alchemax hires/vaguely threatens Flash Thompson into working security at a demonstration for the company. Meanwhile, Peter Parker convinces the Daily Bugle to report on the demonstration after receiving an invite from Liz Allen as well. Mary Jane Watson also arrives on behalf of Stark Industries.
As one could expect, the demonstration also receives some uninvited guests, the Goblin Nation.
Three weeks. Sweet Christmas.
As opposed to most recent two issues of Amazing Spider-Man, the plotting in #796 isn't terrible. The story isn't especially contrived or outright idiotic. In fact, it flows smoothly. The fact that it directly follows up on Annual #42 doesn't bother me.
On top of that, the story has a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn't wrap up the Goblin Nation story, the Red Goblin story, nor does it reveal what Alchemax may be up too. However, this feels like a complete episode as opposed to a snapshot of some wider nonsense.
Unfortunately, I hate Spider-Man as written by Dan Slott, and the endless in-jokes, pop culture references, and downright awful dialogue prevents this comic from approaching passable.
Do you remember Hugo, the random security guard from Venom Inc? He comes back for some reason, and (spoilers in name only) he loses an arm to the Goblin King. The next five pages are absolutely filled with hand and arm puns and dialogue about how awful it is to make these puns after a man has been maimed. It borders on the death of comedy.
Also, Spider-Man is jealous of Agent Anti-Venom's good publicity, because Peter Parker is a preteen in this comic.
The biggest saving grace is that J. Jonah Jameson rings up Spider-Man from time to time and tell him how much of an ass he is. I had no flaming idea that J.J even knew Spider-Man's secret identity, but I'm actually really glad he does. He is the cigar-smoking and mustachioed hero this comic deserves.
I feel the compulsion drop this one in periodically, but I don't hate Peter Parker. In fact, I like him. He's not a favorite, but I like him. It's just that this series has been of dubious quality at best in recent years.
Mike Hawthorne's artwork is still a good fit for the book. There is a satisfying sleekness and sheen to Spider-Man and Anti-Venom's costumes. It's visually contrasted by the craggily and rough outfit of the Goblin King. The inking by Terry Pallot and Cam Smith keep the art neat and tidy. Erick Arciniega's color art is bright, appealing, and also fitting of a Spider-Man comic.
All told, this issue is significantly better than the last two. It's still not good, but it's not hilariously awful or outright bewildering. Its plot flows smoothly, and the main problems go back to character and dialogue. I don't recommend it, but if you're dying to see true hero Agent Anti-Venom, aka Flash Thompson, then this seems to be the only option right now.