With little fanfare, we reach the final issue of The Prowler, an ongoing that turned into little more than an event tie-in mini. Had The Prowler continued as ongoing, presumably issue six would have been the issue that began the arc following up “Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy”. Instead, it acts as the epilogue for a character who, technically, sat out of the event while his now-deceased clone ran around in his place. Now with this series ending and the future of the character in doubt, Prowler #6 reflects that uncertainty by exploring the possibilities of the character’s future but, in the end, offering few answers.
It is unfortunate that the series’ first issue focusing solely on the original Hobie is also its last issue. There does not seem to be many narrative threads to wrap up and writer Sean Ryan doesn’t have much room to start any new ones. The creators must do what the can with what they have, so they build the issue around a conversation between Hobie and Peter. Hobie’s reasoning within that conversation makes sense for the character. He was presumed to have been killed by Electro in the prelude to “Dead No More” and now questions his future with the company and as the Prowler.
Narratively, this seems like a natural conclusion to the arc as it has played out going back to the beginning of the current volume of Amazing Spider-Man. Hobie’s one real plot thread in need of resolution was his ties to Parker Industries. Hobie’s reticence to continue his position in Parker Industries is the most sensible reaction one could have when his last mission involved getting electrocuted and replaced by a clone. Unfortunately, the character feels even more rudderless than when the series begins. The story offers no solutions to Hobie’s plight and offers readers no way to find out what his answer might be. Perhaps, for now, it works for the story to end with a question mark, but I’m not sure enough intrigue has built around the Prowler to make readers do much more than shrug their shoulders at the conclusion of this comic. It just feels abrupt.
Ryan intersperses scenes that imagine the ultimate outcome of Hobie’s possible paths (one including a very movie-inspired Vulture), and none of the scenarios seem terribly satisfying. The series ends with Hobie’s future up in the air, and I’m not sure this series got readers invested enough to care what Prowler decides in regards to his future. In his conversation with Peter, Hobie imagines how his caped career might unfold if he continued in it, or if he reverted back to crime. His imagined scenarios do not seem appealing and the creative team does a good job capturing a sense of melancholy and of untapped potential in some of the scenarios. Ultimately, the only scenario Hobie imagines might give him the happiness he desires is the one, the comic implies, not afforded by his current lifestyle. So, in one of the comic’s more interesting creative choices, Hobie’s fantasy family is replaced by the various elements of his costume strewn about his living room.
Fortunately, issue six still boasts the same artwork that has elevated the whole series thus far. And, judging from the editor’s note at the end of the book, we should hope to see more of Jamal Campbell’s art in the future. One positive with the structure of the story allows the writer to center the story around a conversation that prevents Campbell from having to stay too static with his art. Prowler’s daydream confrontation with Vulture highlights the strength of the art team: it is fairly detailed and gives an interesting glow to the engines of Vulture’s propulsion system that appears to light up the page.
So closes this volume of The Prowler. The series never really found a compelling angle on its protagonist, but it never really even got a chance to do so. Now, the series ends with the character even less defined in many ways than he was before the series began – an underdeveloped hero with an uncertain future whose place in the Marvel Universe is unclear. In six issues of a solo series, the most we can say happened to our protagonist is that he returned from the dead and eventually quit Parker Industries, all of which could have been accomplished in a few panels of Amazing Spider-Man. Like the man himself, The Prowler remains untapped potential. Hopefully, if and when Marvel decides it’s time for Hobie to come out of retirement, he will get a chance to tell his own story.