Absolute Carnage has a tension filled event that has delivered on what one would expect from a big comic book event. Spider-Man’s role in Absolute Carnage has been more of supporting character as the focus has been on Venom and Dark Carnage. That is sure to change with upcoming issues of Absolute Carnage but for now we do have a few Amazing Spider-Man tie-in issues. The previous issue heavily focused on the Kindred’s interaction with Norman Osborn, who still has part of the Carnage symbiote and is known as Red Goblin. There were a lot of heavy moments that kept the focus on Peter Parker’s character development and how Norman has affected that. With this spotlight likely to continue let’s find out what happens next with this Absolute Carnage tie-in arc with Amazing Spider-Man #31.
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Sometime in the past Spider-Man overhears a doctor tell Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy about the bad state Harry Osborn is in after all the drugs he has taken.
After quickly changing into his street clothes Peter Parker enters the Osborn home and immediately yelled at by Norman Osborn. Norman blames Peter for Harry’s current state and tells him not to get close to his son.
In the present Carnage Norman Osborn has Spider-Man unconscious and bleeding on the floor while Normie Osborn and Dylan Brock hide.
Back in the past Norman kicks Peter, Gwen and MJ out of his home. Gwen is sad to see Harry in such a state. Peter reflects on how he doesn’t know why Harry got in that state and MJ says the same thing.
Flashing back to a short time ago, Kindred tells a locked up Norman that it must feel good to Norman that he has such a big victory over Peter. Kindred reflects on how he did not understand why Norman hated Peter so much. Kindred goes on to states he has his own reason for wanting revenge on Peter as badly as he does.
Kindred then says he will help Norman regain his former self so that it isn’t just Carnage who is in control when Norman is sent to kill Spider-Man. As a centipede crawls into Norman’s ear Kindred says “Don’t you worry, it’s the least I can do for the man who made me who I am.”
In the present the centipede in Norman’s head causes him to have an unstable connection with his Carnage symbiote. Dark Carnage (Kletus Casady) takes control of Norman’s body through the symbiote to force him to go after Normie and Dylan.
Flashing back to the past as Norman has an angry phone call about his company’s stock plummeting, a sick Harry enters the office. Norman tells Harry to get some rest. Harry says he can take care of himself but is worried about his dad as everything Norman wanted is falling apart. Harry suddenly collapses in Norman’s arms.
In the present Norman-Carnage is breaking down the door to the room where Normie and Dylan are hiding in. Spider-Man regains consciousness and starts remembers the night Green Goblin killed Gwen. As he questions why he was never strong enough to stop Norman, Peter remembers how he turned to the original symbiote to give him additional strength in the past.
Peter continues to psyche himself up and finally gets back up just as Norman-Carnage breaks through the door. Spider-Man starts fighting Norman-Carnage. Using the strength of all his memories of Gwen, Flash Thompson, Harry and MJ to power him through his injuries Spider-Man is able to overpower Norman-Carnage. As the fight goes on Spider-Man eventually knocks out Norman-Carnage.
Back to a short time ago, the Green Goblin side of Norman tells Kindred that ever since Kindred showed back up that the Norman Osborn side of his brain won’t stop talking. Green Goblin delivers Norman message by saying he is suddenly to see Kindred again. He goes on to state that Kindred is his legacy and that Norman is proud of him.
Green Goblin then starts laughing as Kindred walks away with a smirk on his face. End of issue.
The Good: Usually tie-in issues don’t hold much weight to current storylines in ongoing series. That is not the case for Amazing Spider-Man #31. It is actually quite the opposite. With Kindred built up as one of the biggest threats to Peter Parker and those closest to him Amazing Spider-Man #31 could very well be the most important issue in Nick Spencer’s run on this series.
Learning that Kindred not only has a strong tie to Norman Osborn but could very well be a version of Harry Osborn immediately creates interest in the villain. That is a massive development given how poorly Kindred has been developed before this Absolute Carnage tie-in arc. In most of his appearance Kindred has come across as a comical distraction rather than intimidating endgame boss as Spencer has tried to build him to be.
That completely changes with Amazing Spider-Man #31. The flashbacks to when Harry Osborn was suffering from his heavy drug use during his college days. Spencer specifically spotlighted this period to compliment everything that Kindred was saying to a locked up Norman Osborn. This along with how Kindred talked about not previously understanding what drove the rivalry between Green Goblin and Norman Osborn points to Harry being this mysterious villain.
What makes this revelation, if true, even more interesting is if Kindred is actually the current version of Harry Osborn. Because for as far removed we are from the whole One More Day-Brand New Day era of Spider-Man we’ve seen various Spider-Man writers touch on that status quo changing event at times. Going back to that and how Harry was brought back to life because of that event could go to explain Kindred’s current character.
The way Kindred talks in Amazing Spider-Man #31 and how he has called Peter “Pete” at various points may indicate that he is actually the pre-Brand New Day Harry. Given that Kindred has talked about fighting his way to be a top ranked demon in Hell could explain that Mephisto did not bring back the original Harry Osborn. Instead because the pre-Brand New Day Harry became Kindred and a high ranking demon Mephisto created a new version of Harry to reincarnate in this new Brand New Day Marvel continuity.
That is all a theory but given that we haven’t really see Harry play a big part of Spencer’s run thus far Kindred’s appearance could explain disappearance. It would definitely add a new layer of depth to what Kindred represents if this Osborn connection turns out to be true.
Norman’s mind speaking through Green Goblin, who is in control of his body, seems to indicate this. The speech at the end complimented all the flashbacks in Amazing Spider-Man #31. They all spoke to how for how much Norman hid it there is a part of Norman that has seen Harry as his legacy. The father-son connection, no matter how damaged it has been, has been strong. Through this Spencer is able to humanize Norman while still maintaining the villainous aura that makes him someone you always hate.
While Spider-Man played more of a secondary role in Amazing Spider-Man #31 Spencer still delivered quality character work for him as the hero of this story. With how overpowered Spider-Man was in his first confrontation with the Carnage powered Norman Osborn he needed something to make him go past his limits. Remembering all those he loves, including those he lost, is a powerful motivator that has always drive Spider-Man.
What made these callbacks strong was how it related to Peter’s prior method to getting more power as Spider-Man was by merging with the original symbiote. This has become an iconic moment in Marvel’s history. Remembering this moment in his life was a good way to show how Peter has gained a lot more experience since he was merged with the symbiote. Through that experience Peter has gotten a lot stronger as Spider-Man and knows how to overcome his own limits when he needs to. Which was on full display as he pushed passed all the pain he was dealing with to completely incapacitate the Carnage powered Norman in their second fight.
As always Ryan Ottley’s artwork was strong throughout Amazing Spider-Man #31. His version of Gwen Stacy wasn’t the best. But outside of that character design Ottley did a great job with all the details he adds to various scenes. Which was important as we saw a wide range of emotions in this issue. From Norman Osborn’s furiously confronting Peter Parker to the surprisingly emotional scenes with Kindred, Ottley elevated all these scenes with his artwork. Ottley also clearly had fun drawing Spider-Man and Carnage’s battle as he went all out with drawing how crazy the symbiote is in battle.
The Bad: The tie-in to Absolute Carnage was not needed to tell the story in Amazing Spider-Man #31. There was not much that connected this issue to the events in Absolute Carnage. What hurt that connection was how Spencer had Peter forget about Normie and Dylan. There was a missed opportunity to use Peter’s connection to Normie in particular to help in fueling his second fight with the Carnage controlled Norman. Spencer should’ve drawn on that godfather-godson relationship to create a greater emotional connection to the big fight in this issue.
The way Kletus Casady took over Norman’s body through the Carnage symbiote also came across as a time filler. It was a scene that was not needed, at least in the way it was presented. This takeover would’ve been made better if Spencer would’ve delved more into how Kletus was talking through the symbiote. That would’ve added depth to how Spider-Man was able to defeat his nemesis was in part because of the inner battle between Norman and Kletus. Not tapping into that was another missed opportunity in this tie-in to Absolute Carnage.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #31 may very well go down as the most important issue in Nick Spencer’s. This issue turned the story around Kindred’s into one of the most intriguing plotlines that Spider-Man fans will want to see develop even more. The stunning artwork from Ryan Ottley further elevates the importance of the story that Spencer ends up telling throughout Amazing Spider-Man #31.
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