SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #797 by Dan Slott, Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, Marte Gracia and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
We’re in the final stretch of writer Dan Slott’s epic, decade-long run on Amazing Spider-Man as this week kicks off the appropriately titled final arc “Go Down Swinging/” Norman Osborn has the Carnage symbiote and big plans to get revenge on Spidey once and for all, and the arc has promised to have a significant body count by the time it’s done.
In fact, one long-time supporting character from Slott’s run is offed this week, as the arc's first chapter sees Osborn seeking to destroy all pretenders to his throne ahead of his triumphant return to super-villainy.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
While the biggest threat to Spider-Man right now might be Norman Osborn, he’s not the only Goblin on the loose causing trouble for New York City. Spidey’s still reeling from a recent attack by The Goblin King, aka Phil Urich.
Urich has gone through many Goblin-related identities since his debut in 1995’s Web of Spider-Man #125 by Terry Kavanagh and Steven Butler. Nephew to The Daily Bugle’s Ben Urich, he was exposed to Goblin Formula on an assignment and became the heroic Green Goblin of the '90s, even starring in his own ongoing series during "The Clone Saga."
He later moved out west, where he attended a support group for former teen superheroes along with the likes of Julie Power, Darkhawk and Ricochet, eventually becoming the outreach team The Loners. However, Phil succumbed to the madness inherent in the Goblin Formula and betrayed the team before heading back to New York. There, he “killed” Roderick Kingsley and became the new Hobgoblin, but soon learned that Kingsley was still alive when the original Hobgoblin forced him to do jobs to keep the right to use the name. He joined The Daily Bugle as a cameraman, getting by on capturing footage of the latest Hobgoblin attacks in an inversion of the classic Spider-Man trope.
War of Kings
After his identity was revealed to the public, Phil Urich was forced into hiding where he joined up with The Goblin Nation as the Goblin Knight to Norman Osborn’s Goblin King. After the downfall of Osborn thanks to the return of Peter Parker, Urich took the mantle of Goblin King for himself, along with the remaining Goblin Nation members and staked his place in Manhattan’s organised crime community, clashing often with Black Cat — who was Kingpin at the time — as well as Silk, a SHIELD double agent within Black Cat’s organization.
In this week’s Amazing Spider-Man, Urich attempts to raid an old Green Goblin cache left by Osborn, unaware that Osborn himself is hiding out there. Confronted by his former mentor, Urich brags that Norman Osborn is powerless now since Spider-Man shut-off the Goblin Formula in his system. Of course, he’s unaware that Osborn now possesses the Carnage Symbiote, which Osborn utilizes to easily block Urich’s flaming sword (although symbiotes are usually vulnerable to fire) and skewers him with his Carnage tendrils. The implication is clear: he has ripped out Phil’s heart.
While much of the violence is off-panel or in shadow (and that usually means the deceased isn’t actually as dead as the killer might think), don’t expect Phil to show back up any time soon. He’s been a mainstay of Slott’s run since taking over the reins from the Spidey Brain Trust. and his death signifies the stakes of “Go Down Swinging.” People are going to die as Slott and Immonen wrap up this volume of Amazing Spider-Man, and Phil Urich is just the first casualty. Considering other events of this issue (which we won’t get into here), he’s likely to be far from the last as the climactic Osborn v Parker clash ramps up.