Dan Slott’s run on Amazing Spider-Man is starting to come to a close. Before his run is over Slott has done everything to try to present Norman Osborn as the ultimate Spider-Man villain. To that end we recently saw Norman merge his Green Goblin powers with the Carnage symbiote to create the Red Goblin. We’ve already seen the Red Goblin take Spider-Man off the table as he threatened everyone Peter Parker knows if he doesn’t give up being a superhero. Now with Peter unable to be Spider-Man without further threats from the Red Goblin what exactly will our hero do? Let’s find out with Amazing Spider-Man #799.
Writer: Dan Abnott
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Around New York City, Peter Parker has recruited Human Torch, Spider-Man (Miles Morales) and Silk to watch over his Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson and his co-workers at the Daily Bugle.
Elsewhere in New York, Agent Anti-Venom has helped J. Jonah Jameson outside Norman Osborn’s apartment. Peter contacts Agent Anti-Venom and learns that Jonah was just rescued but has left before he could be put in a safe place.
Peter then contacts Clayton Cole and recruits him to keep an eye on Harry Osborn and his family as Clash.
At Liz Allen’s apartment Harry and Mark wake up Liz and they quickly head to the streets to track Emma, who took their kids, down.
At Jameson’s apartment Jonah calls Peter and apologizes for letting his secret slip. Peter hangs up on Jonah when he learns this. Jonah then promises to make this up to Peter.
At the Port Authority of New York, Emma tells Normie to stop crying. Liz, Harry and Mark find Emma and demand the kids back. Emma says she is trying to get the kids to a safe location Norman can’t get to them.
Norman suddenly shows up, transforms into Red Goblin and takes out all of the guards that were protecting Liz and the others. Red Goblin reveals to Harry that Emma is his ex-wife and formerly lost mother of Harry. Red Goblin then asks Emma if he has changed.
Both Clash and Human Torch show up and team-up to fight Red Goblin. There attacks do nothing and Red Goblin takes out Human Torch and Clash with several symbiote needles.
Silk and Spider-Man (Miles) then arrive on the scene and the former tells Peter that Human Torch and Clash have been taken out. Silk and Spider-Man (Miles) try to fight Red Goblin but they are also quickly taken out by the villain.
Agent Anti-Venom appears and is able to use his abilities to nullify Red Goblin’s Carnage symbiote. Red Goblin asks Agent Anti-Venom if he is going allow Spider-Man’s allies to die from their injuries to defeat him. Agent Anti-Venom decides to start healing all the other heroes, which Red Goblin uses as an opportunity to continuously to attack him during the process.
When the last of the heroes is healed Agent Anti-Venom passes out from all of Red Goblin’s attacks. Red Goblin then goes after Harry and his family.
Spider-Man (Peter), still dealing with his leg injury, arrives to find all of his allies knocked out. Agent Anti-Venom recovers enough to use the last of his powers to heal Spider-Man’s (Peter) leg injury because he feels he is the only one that can defeat Red Goblin.
Red Goblin finds Harry’s family in the streets of New York and quickly grabs Normie. Harry and Liz plead with Red Goblin to let Normie go. Red Goblin doesn’t listen and uses the Carnage symbiote to transform Normie into a mini-Red Goblin. End of issue.
The Good: Building off what happened in the last issue Dan Slott goes all in on how terrifying Norman Osborn is as Red Goblin. For the most part that is successful in Amazing Spider-Man #799. Throughout the issue Slott is able to build on the suspense of Red Goblin possibly killing Spider-Man and his supporting cast with multiple things going on at the same time.
The strength of Amazing Spider-Man #799 is the fact that Slott never gives the characters or the reader time to breathe. Just as some of Spider-Man’s supporting cast looks to be safe something is going on in another part of New York to be concerned about. Slott establish that sense of concern with the opening where we see Peter Parker recruiting his supehero friends to keep his family and friends safe. Peter working quickly to get Miles Morales, Silk, Human Torch, Agent Anti-Venom and Clash together to help showed how there wasn’t time to waste. Slott packed in just the right amount of dialogue to keep the issue going without making the heroes Peter recruits feel forced into the story.
Throughout this opening Slott did a good job shifting Peter between being himself and Spider-Man depending on who he was talking to. This is a small thing but shows how experience Peter is at this point in his career as the shift between identities was seamless. That helped make even Clash’s inclusion make sense as it was Spider-Man who recruited him. This leaves the conflict between Peter and Clash still open after the Parker Industries debacle. At the same time it does give Clash the opportunity to continue how he is trying to turn over a new leaf while still holding on to his personal grudge.
While Jonah’s personal character arc in “Go Down Swinging” is still questionable his quick scene with Peter was strong. Peter being silent and then hanging up when he learned Jonah was the one that helped Norman learn his secret identity again was powerful. Peter’s stoic face spoke a million words as the trust the two have developed since Jonah learned Peter’s secret was broken. At the same time the the threat of the Red Goblin was to large for Peter to be worried about how bad Jonah feels. It once again emphasize how Peter’s experience as Spider-Man has allowed him to stay focus on what is most important, in this case, stopping Red Goblin.
On the Osborn side of “Go Down Swinging” Slott delivered a nice twist of Emma turning out to be Harry’s long lost mother. That was unexpected since it did look like Emma was working with Norman when she first took Harry and Liz’s kids in the previous Amazing Spider-Man issue. Learning that Emma is actually Harry’s mom added a greater sense of things being more personal as everything going on is a family matter for the Osborns. This discovery does make you wonder what Emma has been doing since she has been away and how she knows so much about Norman.
Emma’s role pushed Harry even more front and center as his parents continue to cause chaos in his life. On top of his father never allowing him to have a normal life with his children now he has his mother not telling him anything about what she was planning. It made Harry an even more sympathetic character as he really is trying hard to live a normal life. Unfortunately life just isn’t supposed to be good for Harry as he now had to watch in horror as his dad turned his son, Normie, into a mini-Red Goblin.
All of this made Norman as Red Goblin a villain that you just want to see get his comeuppance. There is absolutely nothing that is redeemable about Norman Osborn. This guy has completely given himself over to the dark side and wants to bring everyone else down with him. To that point Slott made sure we saw Norman as Red Goblin in a Terminator-esque light as demolished all of Spider-Man’s allies. Red Goblin even finding a way to take out Agent Anti-Venom from the equation showed how deadly he is in his fused form. How exactly Spider-Man can even defeat is a good question for Slott to answer as we approach the end of “Go Down Swinging.”
And while I have not been a fan of Agent Anti-Venom in previous issue I’ll give Slott credit for giving him a solid role in the story. Slott showed how much of a hero Agent Anti-Venom is by saving his hero friends. It is something that made Red Goblin come off as even more dastardly as Agent Anti-Venom ignored the pain to save his friends. It also showed how strong willed Flash has become to fight through so many deadly attacks.
While Slott’s story was strong the star of the show was Stuart Immonen’s artwork. Immonen’s art is at its best in Amazing Spider-Man #799 as he nails how fast paced the action is. Even with multiple heroes fighting Red Goblin he never made things to cluttered. It all hit the impact that it needed to. At the same time Immonen delivered on the smaller moments like Harry desperately looking for and trying to get his family away from his father that added to the tension of the story in this issue.
The Bad: While Agent Anti-Venom had his best performance in Amazing Spider-Man #799 his role was still a deus ex machina to heal Spider-Man up from his serious injury. The quick heal Spider-Man got did come off as a cheap way to take away one of the big things that Red Goblin did just so their next fight can be “fair.” It would have been much better if we saw Spider-Man having to be even more creative with how he fights Red Goblin while his leg was still injured. Because as we saw in Amazing Spider-Man #799, the injury actually forced Peter to think things out more methodically than before. Now that element is sort of taken away since his injury was done away with so quickly.
As I previously mentioned Jonah’s character arc in “Go Down Swinging” has not been particular good for him. Given that Slott wasn’t the one that had Jonah learn Peter and Spider-Man are the same person, that honor goes to Chip Zdarsky in Spectacular Spider-Man, this sub-plot has felt forced into this story. And since this is the first story that we’ve seen Jonah and Peter interact after the former learned the secret he looks extremely weak for being the one to help Norman learn the secret again. The way it was executed still feels like it could’ve been done a different way so Norman didn’t need Jonah since he has been spying on Spider-Man for so long he could’ve learned the secret in other ways that would’ve been more effective for this story.
Overall: Amazing Spider-Man #799 is the strongest chapter of “Go Down Swinging.” Dan Slott did a great job building Red Goblin as an unstable threat to the entire Marvel Universe. The personal revelations for the Osborn family made the story around Red Goblin stronger. And with the cliffhanger ending Slott has set the stage for an exciting final battle between Spider-Man and Norman Osborn’s Red Goblin.