“Go Down Swinging” had a very good start in Amazing Spider-Man #797. After everything that has happened Slott has now settle Peter back into a life that readers are more used to seeing. But as Peter is settling back down to what his life is going to be moving forward at the Daily Bugle and his own place Norman Osborn plans have been finalized. Norman as the Green Goblin has always been one of Spider-Man’s better villains. Slott has done a good job at writing Norman as the controlled business man with the psychopathic Green Goblin that always takes over. The one thing that hasn’t been as well executed in this story has been how the Carnage symbiote has been integrated. Now since we are only at the beginning of “Go Down Swinging” Slott can still turn this Carnage-Green Goblin merger into something great. Let’s find out if that is the case with Amazing Spider-Man #798.
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade Von Grawdger
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Daily Bugle Peter Parker and the tech division are trying to track down the Tritium that Goblin King (Phil Ulrich) took in order to find Ben Ulrich’s nephew. As they conduct their investigation the tracker they are using suddenly starts going off.
Just then Green Goblin breaks in and immediately demands Peter to find and bring Spider-Man to him. Though Peter hesitates to leave his co-workers Robbie tells him to go get Spider-Man.
At the Norman Osborn’s lair J. Jonah Jameson tries his best to break free. As he does so he starts breaking down thinking about how he is not strong enough to protect those close to him.
Back at the Daily Bugle while they wait for Spider-Man Betty tries to trick Green Goblin to publish a story that announces to Spider-Man he is there. Green Goblin does not fall for it. Instead he hands Ben a bag with a bomb that will explode in ten minutes.
Spider-Man suddenly shows up and he starts fighting the Green Goblin.
At the Financial District, Agent Anti-Venom finds the location where the Tritium is being stored. When he investigates the underground facility he finds the body of Phil Ulrich on the ground. He suddenly hears something and when he checks out the noise he finds Jameson. As Agent Anti-Venom unties him, Jameson reveals that the Green Goblin is back.
At Liz Allan’s apartment Harry, Liz and Mark are spending time with the kids. Liz gets a call where she learns Norman is back in the city. Suddenly Liz’s hired nanny knocks out Harry, Liz and Mark with tranquilizer darts. She then takes Harry and Liz’s kids.
Back at the Daily Bugle Robbie leads the staff out the emergency exit as Spider-Man and Green Goblin fight. As they fight Green Goblin shows a clear lack of concern for the bomb going off with them still inside the building. Spider-Man acts quickly by creating a web bubble around him right as the bomb goes off.
The bomb suddenly explodes and destroys the top floor of the Daily Bugle building.
While slightly injured, Spider-Man is able to stand after the explosion and finds Green Goblin skewered through a pillar. Green Goblin thanks Peter for being a good enemy. Spider-Man says he wishes he could’ve saved Norman.
Norman granting that wish he uses the Carnage symbiote to transform into the Red Goblin. They then start fighting again, with Spider-Man planting a tracer on Red Goblin.
Red Goblin throws symbiote-enhanced pumpkin bombs that end up chasing Spider-Man as he tries to swing away. One of the symbiote pumpkin bombs bites Spider-Man in the leg and explodes, sending Spider-Man flying through a nearby building.
Red Goblin enters the building and reveals he knows Spider-Man put a tracer on him. Red Goblin goes on to say that he never cared about Peter since Spider-Man is the one that always gets in his way. Red Goblin then offers Peter a bargain: he gives up being Spider-Man he will stop going after Peter and everyone close to him.
Peter, still in hiding, takes off his Spider-Man top and webs it to a nearby pole. He then lights it on fire to signal he will do as Red Goblin says.
While Red Goblin laughs about his victory Peter hides in the shadows confident he can defeat Norman as “Peter Parker.” End of issue.
The Good: With this being his last big arc on Amazing Spider-Man it is clear Dan Slott is not holding back anything. This is an all or nothing story involving Norman Osborn’s latest attempt to destroy Peter Parker and Spider-Man. That mentality permeates throughout the story, getting the reader more hyped after for how things will end up once all is said between Spider-Man and Green Goblin after their first clash in Amazing Spider-Man #798.
The best thing about Amazing Spider-Man #798 is that there is no wasting time. Right away Slott uses what he previously established in the Amazing Spider-Man #797 with Ben Ulrich concern about his nephew to transition into the big fight. While the Goblin King sub-plot isn’t as interesting as other things it is great to see how Slott makes the previous arc important as the Tritium added tension to what was going on in the first few pages. Peter sensing that there was something wrong with his team’s investigation while his spider-sense did not go off before Green Goblin’s attack.
After all the build-up in “Threat Level: Red” it was great to see that Norman as the Green Goblin took action against Spider-Man in the second issue. Even though the build-up to Norman Osborn’s plot in “Threat Level: Red” did not deliver the way it should have it is given weight because he does not waste time in acting in “Go Down Swinging.” Seeing Green Goblin just blast his way into the Daily Bugle had a horrific aura to it because we know how unhinged Norman is. And with how long it has been since we saw Norman back in his full Green Goblin costume it was easy to forget how creepy the villains sadistic way of smiling and talking is.
The Green Goblin demanding to see Spider-Man also further pushed the narrative that this is all about Norman taking out the Spider-Man part of Peter’s life. Even though he is going directly to were Peter now works the only threat Norman sees is Spider-Man, especially with how their last fight went down. That being his goal shows us where Norman’s current state of mind is at as his knowledge of Peter being Spider-Man is being used to take down the superhero part of Peter’s character.
Adding to how terrifying Norman currently is was how he decided to announce his transformation into the Red Goblin by blowing up the Daily Bugle building. Even though he clearly did not care if anyone died in the explosion the intent was clearly to play with Spider-Man’s emotions. That only showed how far gone the character is and that the Red Goblin is who he is. Though the Red Goblin had a lot of similarities to Carnage, Slott did a good job showing how Norman integrated his new symbiote powers to make his methods as Green Goblin even more deadly with his new pumpkin bombs.
That display of power does a good job at putting Peter completely against the wall as Red Goblin forced him into giving up being Spider-Man. That act of surrender played nicely into showing how even though we may not see him as Spider-Man, Peter is not done fighting. Instead all of Red Goblin’s actions just motivated Peter even more to finish things once and for all on his end. Seeing the look in Peter’s eyes made his inner monologue during the final scene of Amazing Spider-Man #798 work even better as his head is clearly plotting out the best course of actions moving forward.
Slott did a good job with using the supporting cast of this series to make the fight between Spider-Man and Red Goblin even more personal. There was an added level of fear that with the Green Goblin’s attack someone would at least get seriously hurt. At the same time, it was good to see characters like Ben Ulrich and Betty Brant get time to show their bravery and wit to try to buy Peter time to change into Spider-Man. Their involvement further drove home why in this story it will be even more satisfying for Peter to take Norman down as himself rather than as Spider-Man as his friends and family continue to be threaten by this maniacal villain.
On top of that, Slott was able to give Harry Osborn and his family a quick scene that added even more layers to his story with the Red Goblin. Even though Norman’s plot centers around taking out Spider-Man there is still part of the character that also has major plans for his family. What those plans are for his two grandsons will be very interesting to find out. It also further drives home how sympathetic a character Harry is since he just wants to live a normal life with his sons. Unfortunately that is taken away by his father continued presence that won’t let him escape the Osborn legacy that Norman has created.
Stuart Immonen was at the top of his game with his work on Amazing Spider-Man #798. This was some of Immonen’s best work as he got across how scary of a villain Green Goblin is. The fear inside the Daily Bugle was noticeable, adding to how worried you were for everyone. It made for a better moment for Spider-Man to appear and give all his co-workers a chance to escape. The entire fight from Spider-Man fighting the Green Goblin to Red Goblin had a great transition as the sense of danger continued to increase. It all made the final moment when Peter surrendered as Spider-Man even better as we see how determined he is not to give up on fighting against Red Goblin.
The Bad: As with the last few issues of this series Agent Anti-Venom is the weakest part of Amazing Spider-Man #798. Agent Anti-Venom’s story continues to feel disconnected from the conflict between Spider-Man and Red Goblin, even with his connection to the symbiotes. Everything he does just comes across as a way to hurry the story along instead of adding something important to the story. That is the case with Agent Anti-Venom being given the role of saving J. Jonah Jameson. That role in Amazing Spider-Man #798 takes away an important moment for Peter to be the one to save Jameson and give them a setting that their reunion is even more emotional. This all just further paints Agent Anti-Venom as the deus ex-machina for this story to help Peter takedown Red Goblin rather than a compelling character on his own.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #798 is one of the strongest issues to date in Dan Slott’s run on the series. Slott is clearly not holding back with “Go Down Swinging” as Green Goblin makes a direct attack to Peter Parker’s life that forces Spider-Man to fight him. That fight made the debut of Red Goblin had greater impact as Norman Osborn became an even more terrifying villain. With what Red Goblin forces Peter Parker to do at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #798 there is a greater sense of wonder in how “Go Down Swinging” will end.