WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Red Goblin: Red Death #1 by Patrick Gleason, Ray-Anthony Height, Marc Deering, and Dono Sanchez-Almara, on sale now.
The Halloween-centric Red Goblin: Red Death #1 reveals that Norman Osborn purged the last remaining remnants of Venom from the Carnage symbiote he embraced. However, the symbiote soon finds itself a new, much younger host.
The issue is an anthology composed of three separate stories giving more information about Norman Osborn's first bout with the Carnage symbiote before the events of The Amazing Spider-Man #800. In the third story, Norman ruthlessly forces Venom out of his body in an attempt to stop the parent symbiote's cries to spare the innocent. In this way, he hopes to give Carnage more control over his actions so they can unleash mayhem together without remorse.
Meanwhile, Norman's grandson, Normie, who reluctantly carries the Carnage symbiote as the Goblin Childe, menacingly sulks in the back of a school bus filled with trick or treaters. We are also introduced to Eduardo, the son of a pastor whose religious upbringing makes him the target of the school bus bullies. When the other children make fun of Eduardo for listening to his father's sermons, a corrupted Normie takes advantage of the toxic situation and breaks Eduardo's headphones.
To make matters worse, the bus driver reprimands Normie for bullying Eduardo and thus incites the symbiote's rage brewing inside. Carnage violently attacks the driver, unfortunately grabbing the attention of nearby Eduardo and kidnapping both to bring to his grandfather. What follows is a dark yet somewhat tender character moment for Normie, whose conscience must contend with the Red Goblin's thirst for violence and pain.
At first, the Red Goblin is disappointed in Normie's decision to bring back his victims alive. He yells in a rage that the Goblin Childe must spill innocent blood in order to grow stronger and murders the bus driver in cold blood. Normie, despite the corrupting influence of the Carnage symbiote, still has enough humanity to spare lives. The same cannot be said for the Red Goblin, especially now that he is free of Venom's moral compass.
In a sadistic attempt to hone his grandson's ruthlessness, Norman Osborn makes Normie chase and hunt Eduardo through his lair. Normie stalks Eduardo like a serial slasher in a suspenseful moment that reflects the issue's Halloween themes. Eduardo hides, terrified, but Normie encourages him to fight for his life, to wear his mask of strength and make the Goblin Childe pay for his sins. Eduardo lunges at Normie with a pair of scissors in a last-ditch effort to save himself, but Normie spares his life and allows him to escape, claiming that he showed the strength Norman wanted from him and thus deserves mercy.
Safely back home, Eduardo tells his dad that his broken headphones got fixed when they fused with some "sort of smart goo." As it turns out, the Venom symbiote latched itself onto Eduardo's headphones and bonded with its new host.
At this point, we still know little about Eduardo, and thus the future of this relationship is unknown. It is comforting to think, however, that Eduardo gets to continue wearing his mask of strength, even if it bears a striking -- and terrifying -- resemblance to Normie's.
KEEP READING: PREVIEW: Red Goblin: Red Death #1