Dan Slott’s run on the Spider-Man franchise is quickly coming to a close. Before Slott ends his run he has one last big story to wrap up involving the rivalry between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. And what better way to wrap up one of Marvel’s biggest rivalries with an anniversary the size of Amazing Spider-Man #800. So far I’ve been mixed on this Red Goblin story arc that has involved Norman Osborn taking control of the Carnage symbiote. Some of the character specific stuff around Peter Parker and Harry Osborn has been solid. The problem with this story arc so far has involved some of Slott’s choice with how the supporting cast has been used as part of Norman’s plot. Let’s see now if Slott can wrap things up in a satisfying fashion with Amazing Spider-Man #800.
Writer: Dan Slott
Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stuart Immonen, Marcos Martin and Mike Hawthorne
Inkers: Victor Olazaba, Cam Smith, Wade Von Grawdger and JP Mayer
Colorists: Edgar Delgado, Java Tartaglia, Marte Garcia, Muntsa Vicente and Jordie Bellaire
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Spider-Man (Peter Parker) checks on Human Torch, Silk and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) to see how they are healing up. Spider-Man (Peter) thanks Agent Anti-Venom for saving everyone and tells him to rest up.
Before Spider-Man (Peter) leaves Silk tells him that J. Jonah Jameson wants help him and that he needs to after what he did. Spider-Man says Jameson already did enough. Before taking off to facing Red Goblin, Spider-Man tells Agent Anti-Venom to watch after everyone.
Spider-Man finds Harry Osborn’s family who tell him about Norman infecting Normie with the Carnage symbiote and that he is now heading over to Alchemax. Harry wants to help but Spider-Man promises to save Normie on his own.
After Spider-Man leaves Liz wonders what they should do. Harry tells Emma (his supposed long-lost mother) to watch after Stanley while they go get Normie back.
At Jameson’s apartment, Jonah looks through all his files to try to find a way to help Spider-Man out. He digs up Eddie Brock’s contact info and gives him a call. Jameson says he needs Eddie’s Venom half to do something for a good cause.
At South Street Seaport, Spider-Man makes it inside Alchemax where Red Goblin and Normie have already killed several guards. Red Goblin attacks Spider-Man with his Symbiote Pumpkin Bombs, causing Spider-Man to be buried under a bunch of rubble.
At Stark Tower Venom surprises MJ, who launches a fire defensive against the Symbiote user. Red Goblin shows up and makes fun of Venom. While fighting Red Goblin, Venom tells MJ to turn the flames down as he is there to protect her. MJ sees this and deactivates Stark Towers defenses.
At Aunt May’s Normie shows up and Aunt May lets him in. When Aunt May goes to contact his family Normie jumps to attack Aunt May.
Suddenly Doctor Octopus shows up and pins Normie. Normie transform into what he calls Goblin Childe and starts overpowering Doctor Octopus.
At Stark Tower Spider-Man shows up to find Red Goblin and Venom fighting. Spider-Man checks up on MJ to make sure she is okay. He then joins Venom in fighting off Red Goblin. Along with MJ, Spider-Man and Venom are able to overpower and force Red Goblin to run away.
Venom tells Spider-Man that he’ll need a Symbiote to fight Red Goblin correctly so he gives him his. Spider-Man is reluctant but agrees. After getting the Venom Symbiote he swings off to save Aunt May.
At Columbia University Hospital Agent Anti-Venom drops off all the injured heroes to be treated and ends up running into his ex-girlfriend Sha Shan.
While swinging through the city Spider-Man is contacted by Jameson, who says he got Spider-Man some back-up. Spider-Man doesn’t want to hear anything Jameson says and hangs up on him.
Back at Aunt May’s apartment, Doctor Octopus continues to struggle against Goblin Childe. When Aunt May gets cornered by Goblin Childe, Jameson, using Doc Ock’s old mech, comes in trying to stop Goblin Childe.
Red Goblin suddenly shows up and severely injures Doctor Octopus and destroys Jameson’s mech. Aunt May does not back down but Red Goblin decides to leave with Goblin Childe.
Spider-Man finally arrives and checks in on things. He smashes Jameson’s mech before Jonah can talk to him.
Aunt May tells Spider-Man about what happened and how Doctor Octopus saved her. Spider-Man asks Doc Ock why would he help against Red Goblin. Doc Ock says he could never let anyone harm Aunt May. Spider-Man says Doc Ock just earned himself a clean slate with him and to get himself and Aunt May to safety.
At another Alchemax building Red Goblin and Goblin Childe turn back to Norman and Normie when they are confronted by Liz. Liz tells Norman that she can give him Alchemax but it will take a while to legally do it. Norman, revealing he worked for the company as Mason Banks, knows that Liz put paper work together to make Normie the next heir of the company. Norman says that he, as Normie guardian, will take the company by killing Liz and her brother.
Liz quickly opens a secret door and out comes Harry on a Goblin Glider and mechs to aid him. Harry tries to grab his son but Normie just transforms into Goblin Childe and takes him down. Red Goblin then grabs Liz and throws her out the window.
Spider-Man shows up and catches Liz. Seeing this, Normie realizes that Red Goblin, who tried to kill his mom, is the bad guy, not Spider-Man. Normie as Goblin Childe tries to fight Red Goblin but is easily overpowered. Harry suddenly uses his glider to fly Red Goblin out of Normie’s side. Harry then hugs Normie and tells him everything will be okay in order to calm his son down.
Red Goblin blames Spider-Man and says he is going to finish things. The two start fighting, which quickly ends up outside.
Spider-Man decides to lead Red Goblin away from everyone. As they are fighting Red Goblin reveals that he left specific parts of the Carnage symbiote on MJ, Aunt May, Harry, Silk and Clash that he could use to instantly kill each of them. Spider-Man can’t believe Norman would do that to his own son. Red Goblin says it is to show Spider-Man to stop messing with his plans.
Agent Anti-Venom appears from the shadows and reveals that he already healed all the people that Red Goblin infected with the special Carnage symbiote darts. Spider-Man thanks Agent Anti-Venom but it is cut short by Red Goblin capturing and flying Spider-Man away on his Carnage glider.
Red Goblin then attacks a weaken Agent Anti-Venom. Red Goblin then reveals he is still wearing his Green Goblin costume under the symbiote and uses his shock gloves to hit Agent Anti-Venom with a big electric attack.
Spider-Man freaks out over this and is taken over by the Venom symbiote. As Venom, Spider-Man throws Red Goblin through several buildings and threatens to eat the villains brains.
Flash, no longer wearing his Agent Anti-Venom costume, tells Spider-Man to calm down. Flash ends up calling Spider-Man “Parker,” which turns him back into his black suit costume. Spider-Man apologizes to Flash and says he could give Flash the Venom symbiote to save his life. Flash says the Venom symbiote can’t save him and Peter must use it to be the hero and friend he looked up to.
In Time Square, Red Goblin lands in the middle of a giant crowd. Spotting a random guy in a Spider-Man costume Red Goblin instantly kills him.
The real Spider-Man shows up so Red Goblin decides everyone must die and launches Carnage Pumpkin Bombs into the crowd of people. Spider-Man does his best to save as many people as possible and tells the police to let him handle Red Goblin.
Red Goblin tackles and pins Spider-Man down. Red Goblin mocks Spider-Man that today he will die because he does not have a killer instinct unlike himself. Thinking quickly Spider-Man says that the public will actually credit Carnage not Green Goblin for killing Spider-Man.
Suddenly the Cletus Kasaday part of the Carnage symbiote starts taking credit inside Norman’s mind. Norman freaks out and loses control.
Spider-Man uses this as an opportunity to take of the Venom symbiote. He then teases Norman to fight him as the Green Goblin so they can see who actually would win between them. Norman does so and takes off the Carnage symbiote to fight as the Green Goblin.
Spider-Man is able to take the fight to Green Goblin but is knocked back by the explosion of a nearby car. Green Goblin takes this opportunity to start beating Spider-Man up.
Out in the crowd that is running away Jameson makes his way towards the fight.
Back at the fight, Spider-Man starts getting the upper hand. Spider-Man uses his past to motivate himself as the reason he defeats Green Goblin.
Barely able to move on the ground, Green Goblin calls out for the Carnage symbiote to help him. Spider-Man acts quickly and grabs a gas tank to burn the Carnage symbiote up.
As Spider-Man reflects on how this can’t be called a win even though it is over Jameson shows up. Jameson says this is all his fault and he must end it. When he fires a shot from a gun at Green Goblin, Spider-Man actually gets in the way and gets shot in the shoulder. When Jameson questions him on why he blocked the bullet Spider-Man tells Jameson that no matter what they have to take responsibility for their actions.
Sometime later at Ravencroft, John Jameson escorts Spider-Man to Norman’s cell. Norman mocks Spider-Man that he knows who is under the mask. Spider-Man asks who that is. Norman says Spider-Man is Norman Osborn. Norman then says he is Cletus Kasady. Spider-Man walks away wondering if Norman is just playing in him.
At Alchemax R&D Labs, Alchemax’s scientist finish taking out what remains of the Carnage symbiote from inside Normie. Harry tells his mom that he understands why she ran away but he won’t do that anymore as he will start going by “Harry Osborn” again. When Harry hugs Normie, it is shown that Normie still has a little bit of the Carnage symbiote in his left eye.
Sometime later Betty Brant gives the eulogy at Flash’s funeral. Betty talks about the different roles Flash had and how he will always be with everyone. Betty then tells Peter that Flash told her that he was his best friend and Peter should say a few words.
Peter talks about how Flash was originally his bully but learned later on why Flash was that way when they were teens and things changed when he learned that. Peter reflects on all the great things Flash did as a military man who protected others and that he became Flash’s #1 fan and his hero.
After the funeral Aunt May tells Peter that was a good speech. She then mentions that Peter should say something to Jonah.
Peter approaches Jonah. He tells Jonah that Jonah did make a mistake but everyone he loves, including Peter, forgives him. When Jonah is about to thank Peter they both hear police syrens. Jonah tells Peter to go. Peter changes into his Spider-Man costume and Jonah takes his suit so it doesn’t get wrinkled.
On his way to the city to save the day Spider-Man reflects on how he will always keep fighting the good fight.
Over in San Franscisco, Max Modell welcomes Horizon University’s new hire to the campus. Max introduces the guy to the other employees as Dr. Elliot Tover. Anna feels like she knows the guy. Dr. Tover says he always strives to be superior and we learn that he is actually Dr. Ock when an image of Superior Spider-Man appears from inside his mind. End of issue.
The Good: From a pure story view celebratory comic book Amazing Spider-Man #800 is a good character study in what makes Peter Parker and Spider-Man’s world one of the best around. As has been the case during the course of most of his run, Dan Slott showed how well he understands how to write Peter and Spider-Man’s character. Unfortunately some odd story choices with Amazing Spider-Man #800 story structure and choices made by supporting cast members keep this from being a strong end to this story arc.
Where it mattered most, the rivalry between Spider-Man and Green Goblin, Dan Slott absolutely nailed the direction of their story in Amazing Spider-Man #800. The hatred between the two was strongly felt throughout the issue. That hatred made every page feel tense whenever either character was on the page. Thankfully Slott decided to make sure Spider-Man and Green Goblin were dominant throughout in Amazing Spider-Man #800 because if they weren’t things could of fallen apart.
The structure of Amazing Spider-Man #800 was made to build up to the big fight between Spider-Man and Green Goblin. That build, while overly long, did have a great payoff as the battle was as massive as you expect from one of Marvel’s greatest hero vs villain rivalries. Slott made sure there was nothing held back from either side. What made this final battle work even more was the fact that it was built around how different Spider-Man and Green Goblin are. This especially worked to highlight how much of a psycho that Green Goblin is.
The psychotic Green Goblin is the best version of the character. Everything from his dialogue to what he revealed his true plan to takeover Alchemax and take down Spider-Man showed just how unhinged the Norman Osborn is now. Slott understood this and used how crazy of a character Norman Osborn to make him someone that as a reader you wanted see defeated once and for all by our hero. His plot to take away all of Spider-Man’s motivation by killing most of his supporting cast was one that spotlighted just how far he will go to take down Spider-Man this time around.
This all made the way Peter as Spider-Man hero-upped even stronger. Because while he did get a power boost thanks to the Venom symbiote in the end it was not the deciding factor in his victory over the Green Goblin. Instead it was Spider-Man outthinking Green Goblin by playing into how egotistical the character is. Understanding that the Green Goblin wanted to make sure everyone knew he defeated Spider-Man was a great way to get the Carnage symbiote out of the equation. This also further showed how over the course of his run Slott has grown Spider-Man to be a hero that just doesn’t “punch harder” to win. Instead, Peter has grown to be more of an adult hero.
The brawl between Spider-Man and Green Goblin was appropriately brutal. There were no punches pulled in this. Spider-Man coming out on top without any help was great to see after how much Slott tried to bring in other allies to help against the Green Goblin. This had to be Spider-Man’s win, not Agent Anti-Venom or another character. It also made Spider-Man’s decision to not allow Norman to be killed to show that he is a hero at heart.
What made Spider-Man’s decision at the end stand out more was the death of Flash Thompson that preceded the final fight with the Green Goblin. Up until now I have not been a fan of the role that Agent Anti-Venom has played in “Go Down Swinging.” Up until now he didn’t add much to what was going on. While that is still the case with the previous chapters, Slott did a good job making Flash a character you cared about during the course of Amazing Spider-Man #800. Slott appropriately used how Flash saw Spider-Man as an inspiration for being a hero to give his help against Green Goblin a sense of importance. The friendship between the two, especially with Flash revealing he knows Peter is Spider-Man, made his death even more meaningful as it brought back everything the two have been through over the course of their history as they became good friends.
With how massive Amazing Spider-Man #800 was at 80 pages it was not surprising that we had multiple artist working on this issue. While Nick Bradshaw, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Stuart Immonen have different art styles they, along with their inking and coloring team, made the issue’s action flow well together. Given that Amazing Spider-Man #800 was heavy on the action it was easier to handle the different artist working on the issue as Slott did not give you a moment to breath with the pacing of the story.
Marcos Martin being given the funeral scene to close out the main story was a great choice. Martin does a good job capturing the classic Spider-Man look for all the characters. He made sure to pack plenty of emotion into the characters faces.
The Bad: Though Slott nailed it when it came to capturing the intensity of the rivalry between Spider-Man and Green Goblin everything around it that held Amazing Spider-Man #800 back. The big thing that was an eye opener of the problems with “Go Down Swinging” was the fact that Slott needed 80 pages to close out the story. With such a large page count it makes you wonder how much time was wasted in the previous four issues centered around developing Norman Osborns’s plot.
That time wasted just highlighted how unnecessary the last minute introduction of the Symbiotes were to Dan Slotts run. Up until now the Symbiotes played an extremely small part of Slott’s run. Given that fact, throughout “Go Down Swinging” Green Goblin turning into Carnage felt like a waste of time. That waste of time was proven to be true as the Carnage symbiote was taken off during the final battle between Spider-Man and Green Goblin. The Carnage symbiote being thrown to made it clearer that everything Green Goblin did up to this point could’ve been accomplished without the symbiote.
And in using the Carnage symbiote Slott ended up throwing away the character work he did for Norman Osborn’s character, who before was presented as a brilliant strategist along with being a complete psychopath. That character work was all thrown away just to tap into the popularity of Venom, which is what this looked like to be. This entire decision also made Green Goblin look like an even weaker villain since he was absolutely demolished by Spider-Man once he didn’t have the symbiote anymore.
This is only made worse given that Slott creates a big cliffhanger around the Osborn Family drama by still having some of the Carnage symbiote still inside of Normie. Given that Slott is ending his run with the next issue he should’ve made things a lot cleaner to give Harry’s family a much needed fresh start for the next creative team. By not giving Harry and his family a fresh start Slott took away from the big moment with Harry reclaiming the Osborn name. Instead of that being a big moment Slott took away any momentum by making it so the Carnage symbiote will linger over Harry’s family.
On top of that, given story Slott was trying to tell, seeing so many characters involved took away all the personal stakes in this story. Seeing Doctor Octopus, in particular, spotlighted how out of control this story got because Slott wanted to go out with a big splash. This is a character that Slott has overused in his run that we needed to take a break from him. Even with Slott trying to give him a big character moment by saving Aunt May it did not feel earned. That is all because we’ve seen so much of Doctor Octopus that this felt more like Slott’s attempt to reset the rivalry between Spider-Man and Doc Ock. Forcing that moment into a Green Goblin arc just felt unnecessary after how much time Slott already had to possibly do this in past story arcs.
On a greater level of unearned character development was the role Slott had J. Jonah Jameson played in “Go Down Swinging.” Since Slott was not the writer who wrote Jonah learning Peter’s identity as Spider-Man, seeing him use this story angle felt like a last minute story addition. That feeling was only furthered by the fact that Jonah did not do anything that helped progress the story in Amazing Spider-Man #800 forward until the final pages dedicated to the funeral. Outside of that Jonah’s role could’ve easily been taken out of “Go Down Swinging” and things would’ve still gone down largely the same, save for Spider-Man getting shot.
The supporting cast did not fare any better since there was no big payoff with MJ, Aunt May and Spider-Man’s allies who got involved in this story. For as much as Slott tried to make them the motivation Spider-Man needed to defeat the Green Goblin it would’ve been great to see Peter get a moment with them. And given that Amazing Spider-Man #800 was 80-pages it is unacceptable that Slott did not find a way to give Peter a moment with his supporting cast. It just further highlights how much fat could’ve been cut out with the symbiote nonsense to give weight to the involvement of Spider-Man’s supporting cast.
Because of all of that it is crazy to justify the $9.99 price point of Amazing Spider-Man #800. While this is a big milestone, as artificial as it is because of the relaunches, that is a price point that will turn off any reader who has not been reading Slott’s run. Even with being 80-pages the fact that for $9.99 you get the ending of a long-term storyline, rather than a full story told from page one to page eighty, hard to justify. At that price point there is no way to recommend Amazing Spider-Man #800 over a trade paperback that tells a full story from beginning to end at a similar cover price.
Overall: When it focused on the battle between Spider-Man and Green Goblin, Amazing Spider-Man #800 was at its best. Unfortunately everything around that involving those outside our main stars, particularly J. Jonah Jameson, Doctor Octopus and the Symbiotes, dragged “Go Down Swinging” down. It does not help that Amazing Spider-Man #800 was priced at $9.99. That cover price just guaranteed that, rather than being a celebratory milestone, this was a comic book that should only be picked up by those who have read the entirety of Dan Slott’s Spider-Man run. And even then Amazing Spider-Man #800 is hard to recommend given all the problems with the story of “Go Down Swinging.”