For my Comic Review Special this week, I chose the Amazing Spider-Man #800! Let’s see what we find!
Amazing Spider-Man #800
Writer: Dan Slott.
Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Humberto Ramos and Victor Olazaba, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith, Stuart Immonen and Wade von Grawbadger, and Marcos Martin.
Spider-man reaches another milestone with issue 800 arriving this week. This comic is an 80 page beast of a book, focusing on one story: the conclusion of ‘Go Down Swinging.’
The story picks up as Norman Osborn, aka Red Goblin, right after infecting his grandson, Normie, with part of the Carnage symbiont. This transforms the poor child into a murderous “Goblin Childe.” The murderous tendencies of Carnage take root fast, with Norman speaking casually about murder. He also relates how much he enjoys murdering with the same delight as eating ice cream.
Slott’s Red Goblin retains the same sense of malice, and the threat is present throughout the book as Osborn seeks to fulfill his “part of the bargain” and kill Parker’s loved ones.
There’s a lot going on in this issue. This isn’t surprising to me. Given its massive page count, and almost all of Amazing’s supporting characters have a part to play. JJ Jameson seeks redemption for his role in revealing Spider-Man’s identity to Red Goblin, by trying to help Parker somehow. JJJ deduces where Venom is hiding, and blackmails him into assisting with his redemptive efforts.
Doctor Octopus makes a reappearance here to defend Aunt May from the newly infected Goblin Childe, whom May chides saying she ‘made cookies for him in the past,’ and this moment offers one of my favorite lines from little Normie: “THEY HAD RAISINS IN THEM. YOU DESERVE TO DIE!”
JJ Jameson shows up in a classic Spider-Slayer robot to help. During the fight, granddad Norman shows up to finish off May once and for all. Otto tries to fight him off, but Osborn overwhelms him and disables JJJ’s Slayer robot. As he leaves, he runs into Parker who he taunts saying the “damage is already done.”
However, we discover that Otto had enough in him to jump in from of May, shielding her from the symbiont’s shrapnel attack. Dumbfounded, Peter asks him why he would do this when he cost Otto everything, Otto respond telling him his “simpleton sensibilities of right and wrong are still in his head and he couldn’t let any harm befall this “sweet lady.” This act allows Peter to give Octavious forgiveness, or a “clean slate” with him, telling him what he does with that is up to him.
I was a big fan of the Superior Spider-Man run, and what it did to develop Otto from being the same villain he’s been for years, into a strange type of anti-hero. I’m glad that is still evidently present in the character. I can’t help but be curious as to what Doc Oc does with that.
Peter takes off after Osborn to save Mary Jane, but discovers that Venom has already been there, and is still actively fighting Red Goblin. Using a Starktech repulsor glove, Mary Jane joins the fight. Running out of time, Norman departs to deal with Aunt May. Brock, exhausted from the battle, pressed Parker to take the symbiont to give Spidey an edge. Peter does so with Mary Jane’s approval.
This made for an interesting shift for Venom who played the main villain way back in Amazing #300 when he terrorized Mary Jane. a trauma that had lingered with her to this day. With the Venom symbiont giving him a much needed power boost, Spider-Man heads off to a final showdown with Osborn. I really liked the nod to #300 here and it was cool to see Peter in the black suit again (even if I didn’t much like the redesign)
The rest of the issue is filled with so many references to Spider-Man’s long history: Harry flying a glider into his father’s chest, reminiscent of Green Goblin’s first “death” back in Amazing #131. Also, Norman tossing Liz Allen out a window while taunting Peter about how he killed Gwen Stacy in a similar fashion. None of these references felt heavy handed, which could have easily turned this anniversary issue into little more than nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. The stakes are high, and the actions taken by all the supporting characters contribute to the overarching narrative.
The theme which resonated with me is probably the same theme that hit all the readers: Flash Thompson’s sacrifice to foil Osborn’s back up plan to eliminate everyone via shrapnel. Flash reveals he’s finally figured out that Peter is Spider-Man. Osborn strikes a fatal blow to a weakened Thompson with this electrical blast. This causes Peter to “hulk-out” the Venom symbiont yelling the famous line “I’m gonna eat your brain!” Flash calms him, but also telling him there’s no time left. Dying Flash gives a touching send off “People need you. They need Peter Parker the amazing Spider-Man. My hero. My friend.” (I have something in my eye, one moment…)
Peter find Osborn and struggles to fight him knowing he has no weakness…except his pride. Spider-Man tells him people will think that Carnage beat him. Osborn, knowing this agrees to shed the carnage symbiont as Peter removes Venom from his body for a true final battle.
Spider-Man draws strength from the courage and sacrifice of his family and friends to defeat Osborn. But, in Osborn’s desperation he tries to reunite with the Carnage symbiont. Spider-Man uses fire from a burning car to kill the creature.
During the chaos of the fight J Jonah Jameson has shown up with a gun to finish Osborn off once and for all. Peter blocks the bullet with his shoulder, reminding his step-brother and us all that with great power comes great responsibility. Even for the worst of people.
In the epilogue we discover that madness has truly taken Osborn over, as he believes himself to be Cletus Cassidy. He appears to not know Spider-Man’s identity, calling him Norman Osborn before falling into a fit of insane laughter. Peter later attends Flash Thompson’s funeral, forgiving JJ Jameson because that is what family does. We finish the story with Peter eulogizing Flash, saying that he was Flash’s number one fan.
And while I REALLY didn’t want to say goodbye to Flash (BEST VENOM EVER. FIGHT ME!) this is probably the best way for him to exit. Finally knowing his long time hero’s true identity, and going out saving so many lives, and even calming Peter down from a Venom-like rage telling him the Venom symbiont is good inside. And yes, I know this is a comic book, so we’ll possibly see Flash again. Though, I’m sure it may be years before that happens. I mean Jean Grey was dead for 14 years!
Slott did an awesome job of keeping this narrative engaging. This task isn’t simple given the hefty size of the issue. And while multiple artists in one issue can be jarring, this didn’t appear to diminish the flow at all. I never felt distracted by the shifts in style.
I have to say I wasn’t really a fan of the new black Spider-Man costume with the raised eye pieces. This left me a bit distracted. I will study costumes closely in every issue I read. The costumes will make or break a comic for me sometimes.
It’s clear Marvel’s intention for this to be a milestone issue. And I believe they delivered on this intention. With so many paradigm changes for the supporting cast, and Peter himself, I felt connected to their story. And I’m eager to read more.
Are you a fan of the Amazing Spider-Man? Are you reading the series too? Do you have a series you’d like to see me review? Let us know in the comments!