After weeks of waiting, Dan Slott’s final story arc has reached its conclusion, and he and his team go pedal to the metal to make this arc end with a bang. But have they really pulled it off?
The Amazing Spider-Man #800 (Go Down Swinging Part 4)
Writer: Dan Slott
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Pencils/Artists: Nick Bradshaw (Chapter 1), Humberto Ramos (Chapter 2), Giuseppe Camuncoli (Chapter 3, 5 & 6), Stuart Immonen (Chapter 4), Marcos Martin (Chapter 7), Mike Hawthorne, JP Mater, and Jordie Bellaire (After Credits)
Ink: Viktor Olazaba (Chapter 2), Wade von Grawbadger (Chapter 4), Cam Smith (Chapter 5 & 6)
Colors: Edgar Delgago (Chapter 1 & 2), Java Tartaglia (Chapter 3, 5 & 6), Marte Garcia (Chapter 4), Munsta Vicente (Chapter 7)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
What You Need to Know:
Previously in “Go Down Swinging”, the Red Goblin begins pursuit of the Osborn family. Peter’s allies, Anti-Venom, Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Silk, Clash, and The Human Torch, confront the Red Goblin but are all easily defeated. As Spider-Man arrives to tend to his fallen comrades, Norman catches up to his family and captures his grandson, Normie Osborn. Norman then uses the Carnage symbiote to turn Normie into the second Red Goblin.
What You’ll Find Out:
Spider-Man checks on his comrades and instructs Flash Thompson (Anti-Venom) to take them to the hospital, despite Flash’s insistence of joining Peter to hunt down Norman. Silk informs Peter of J. Jonah Jameson wants to help, but Peter scoffs, citing Jonah’s slip-up is what led them to this. Silk, for her part, slips out her tongue by calling Spider-Man ‘Pete’, which Flash overhears and learning that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Peter reaches the Osborns and learns of Normie’s kidnapping. Harry reveals that Norman’s goal is to revive his old company Oscorp, which was absorbed by Alchemax, and Normie is the key player to fulfill this. Peter heads for the former Horizon Labs (now part of Alchemax) to retrieve Anti-Venom serum as his means of stopping the Red Goblin. But Norman has arrived there first and laid a trap for Peter. Learning that Peter broke his ultimatum, Norman begins to go after Mary Jane Watson, while Normie goes for Aunt May.
At the Stark Tower, MJ activates the tower’s defenses upon encountering Eddie Brock (Venom), unaware that J. Jonah Jameson sent him to protect her from the Red Goblin, who arrived minutes later. Spider-Man arrives shortly thereafter, and he, Venom, and MJ team-up to fight Norman. The Red Goblin responds by injuring MJ and flees to rendezvous with Normie at Aunt May’s. With his web-shooters destroyed, Peter reluctantly accepts Brock’s offer of re-bonding with the Venom symbiote and begins his pursuit.
At Aunt May’s apartment, Normie’s attempt to kill Aunt May is halted by Otto Octavius. The Spider-Slayer, remotely controlled by Jonah, arrives and attacks both Otto and Normie, unaware of the former protecting May as well. Red Goblin arrives and incapacitates both, picks up Normie, and flees just as Peter catches up to him. When asked as to why protect May Parker, Otto explains it was his desire to protect her, in part due that he still retains the memories of Peter when he was still the Superior Spider-Man. After a pep talk from Aunt May, Peter forgives Otto and resumes pursuit of the Red Goblin, figuring the latter’s next destination is Alchemax.
Peter was right. At Alchemax, Norman meets with Harry and Liz, demanding that he gains full control of Alchemax in exchange for Normie. Liz retorts that there is no legal way for Norman to take control, but Norman found a beneficiary clause that would make Normie and one surviving legal guardian to take control of Alchemax and proceeds to kill Harry and Liz. Harry rides the Goblin Glider and picks up Normie while sending out robots towards the Red Goblin. Norman destroys them all and sends Liz flying out of the window. Norman taunts Harry and Normie until Spider-Man arrives with Liz safe and sound.
Spider-Man and the Red Goblin duke it out. During the battle, Norman reveals the symbiote shards he used to incapacitate Peter’s inner circle are still under his control, and at will, will burrow deep into the skin and attack the brain. When Norman activates the shards, nothing happens. Flash arrives to reveal that he has removed all of the shards using what’s left of his Anti-Venom. Norman then attacks Flash and mortally shocks him. This enrages Peter, causing the symbiote to assume the Venom form and sends the Red Goblin flying. Peter tends to Flash as he dies in his arms.
Peter then follows Norman to Times Square and the two continue their battle. Knowing Peter’s desire to protect people, Norman begins attacking civilians within the square. Peter is then forced to save as many as he can, letting his guard down for the Red Goblin to strangle him by the neck. Peter then attacks Norman’s pride, saying that his death by the Red Goblin will only be credited to the Carnage symbiote, and not Norman himself. Realizing this, Norman and the Carnage symbiote battle each other for control. Peter proposes he and Norman battle one-on-one without their symbiotes and Norman agrees, releasing the Carnage symbiote from his body.
Spider-Man and the Green Goblin engage in a full melee, with Spider-Man ending up as the victor. In a last desperate attempt to win, Norman calls upon the Carnage symbiote to bond back to him, but Peter stops it by burying the symbiote under a burning car before it explodes – at the very moment the symbiote touched Norman’s finger. This causes Norman to feel the burning sensation from the Carnage symbiote, affecting his mind and incapacitating him. J. Jonah Jameson arrives with a gun, intending to shoot and kill Norman as redemption for his mistake of accidentally revealing Peter’s identity. Peter comes between them and is shot in the shoulder, explaining the wisdom Uncle Ben gave him to Jonah and the latter flees in horror.
In the aftermath, Norman is confined at Ravencroft, his mental state severely compromised after his battle with Spider-Man, thus unable to fully reveal the latter’s identity. At Alchemax, Liz and Harry successfully extract the Carnage symbiote from Normie. Harry reconciles with his mother, Emily and promises to be a better father to his children. As Harry hugs Normie, the latter’s eye reveal a fragment of the Carnage symbiote still within him. Peter attends Flash’s funeral, and after a talk with Aunt May, speaks to Jonah and forgives him for his actions. Before Jonah could reply, sirens were heard from a distance, and Jonah, going back to his old self, yells at Peter to get into action. In the after credits, Max Modell and Anna Marconi meet their new colleague at Horizon University, Elliot Tolivier – who is, in reality, Otto Octavius.
What Just Happened:
In my last review, I said that Dan Slott would have to pull a Hail Mary after the disappointment of the last issue to make everything and the ending to this arc worth it. I have to say he did pulled it off, though with a fumble or two.
The last issue, Flash teased that he gave Peter something to help him combat the Red Goblin, which I would think were his Anti-Venom powers, thus making Peter Anti-Venom, temporarily. Turns out all Flash did was to heal his injured leg and that’s it. At the very least Flash should’ve allowed his Anti-Venom to be mixed with Peter’s web fluid. But no, Peter HAD to do that by getting the actual serum from Alchemax.
And speaking of Flash, yes he dies in this issue, which feels like a cop-out because he had just become Anti-Venom a few months ago back in the Venom Inc. arc. So it seems like a waste of character for Flash Thompson. I get that the idea is to keep him out since he is the only one who could actually hurt the Red Goblin. Slott could’ve simply written down that Flash is so hurt and nearly depleted of Anti-Venom that he is totally benched without having him killed. Instead, Flash’s death is used to re-iterate Uncle Ben’s “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” quote. I hate to compare it to Maximum Carnage, but in that book, that quote still manages to come across even without having anyone in Peter’s circle killed in the process. Those are my only major complaints of this issue (aside from the revelation that Emma is Emily Osborn being a mere footnote throughout the arc’s narrative), as the rest has been all action with a few interruptions, as well as some nostalgia with the brief return of Peter’s black suit, thanks to the Venom symbiote.
As I was reading this issue, my older brother was watching an action film starring Idris Elba. Not sure what that film was, but in any case, somehow the cinematic score synched with each panel of the comic. The result is I get the ambiance of reading this issue as though it was an action film, and it heightened my experience, thus enjoying the action sequences much more. Stuart Immonen put his work into high gear in making the action sequences the best he can ever give. And rightfully so, as this is his final work for Marvel, according to inker Wade von Grawbadger, though he said in an interview with Newsarama that he is open for future projects somewhere down the road.
I actually thought Otto’s reason for protecting Aunt May is in part he may be infatuated with her. Given Humberto Ramos’s art style, it’s not that far-fetched to see why. His version of May Parker makes her look so much younger she is potential ‘waifu’ (attractive female) material. Granted, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Disney’s Ultimate Spider-Man animated series did portray a much younger Aunt May, as is in the Spider-Man: Homecoming film with the character catching the attention of Tony Stark. Marcos Martin’s emulation of Steve Ditko’s art style to end the arc is both a nice callback to Ditko and a fine ending to the arc.
Final Thoughts: The title of Go Down Swinging makes it clear that the arc ends with the passing of a Spider-Man character. It’s just that the said character goes down too soon. Dan Slott and his staff at least made it up for it by keeping the final issue as action-intense as possible and did it well. It’s doubtful Go Down Swinging will no pun intended, ‘go down’ as one of the classic Spider-Man stories, let alone be seen in the same high regard as Maximum Carnage. For Dan Slott’s final Spider-Man story, if you’re willing to set aside its flaws, then this will be quite a fine ride to get in.
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