Red Goblin: Spider-Man's Ultimate Villain Mash-Up, Explained

Red Goblin Alex Ross

By any measure, Carnage is one of Marvel's most terrifying villains, simply for how much chaos and destruction he's caused Spider-Man. After the offspring symbiote of Venom bonded to the mass murderer Cletus Kasady, Carnage threw Spidey's life into disarray, as most famously evidenced by the epic '90s event known as Maximum Carnage.

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Now, with Absolute Carnage on the way, it's worth looking at the symbiote's most recent adventures, which revolves around a sinister partnership with Norman Osborn, Spider-Man's nemesis and Marvel's most famous Green Goblin. Together, those two Spidey foes formed the Red Goblin, who quickly became one of the wall-crawler's most challenging opponents. Top cap off  years writing Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott and his artistic partners, Stuart Immonen and Mike Hawthorne, exited the title by bringing this monstrous villain to Spidey's doorsteps. Now, CBR is breaking down how this hybrid Goblin left Peter Parker worse for the wear.



In The Amazing Spider-Man #794, Red Goblin's origin story began as Spider-Man fought off Scorpio for the Zodiac Key. While this feud ensued, Norman used his agents to infiltrate the Lockbox facility that's deep in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean to steal the Carnage symbiote. He had it brought to him and bonded with it, offering it the genius intellect Cletus never had so as to make the perfect killer.

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The symbiote destroyed the nanites in Norman's body which stopped him from turning into the Green Goblin. When he attacked Spidey at the Daily Bugle as the Green Goblin, he evolved and transformed into the Red Goblin, all as part of a big spectacle to get Pete to retire his suit. Norman had earlier discovered the secret of Pete's double-life and vowed to out him if he didn't end his stint as Spidey. Shockingly, this was just one part of Osborn's grand scheme, since Norman wanted to take back Alchemax from Liz Allan (his son Harry's ex-wife) after it absorbed his Oscorp Industries.


The Red Goblin boasted all of the strengths of the Green Goblin and Carnage but possesed none of their weaknesses. He retrofitted the Goblin's entire arsenal with gizmos like Spidey-seeking Carnage Bombs, and without Norman's mental instability, he became a near super-soldier whose killing spree knew no bounds. As for the Carnage persona, Norman perfected his powers and was resistant to fire and sonic blasts, which Team Spidey tried to use to no avail.

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The one thing that harmed Red Goblin, though, was Flash Thompson's Anti-Venom powers. Norman manifested a new ability where he could inject shards into unsuspecting victims and then will them to die when he saw fit. However, Flash cured the intended victims, including Mary Jane and Aunt May, which led to a climactic battle that saw the Red Goblin shocking and choking a fatigued Flash to death in a maddening fit of revenge.


Pete had no choice but to borrow Eddie Brock's Venom symbiote to become the black-suited Spidey again, but still, that wasn't enough to take down the Red Goblin. The blades the villain made from his body, coupled with Norman's strategies, were all too much, and so Pete made a last-ditch attempt, capitalizing on Norman's true flaw: his ego.

RELATED: Amazing Spider-Man #800 Delivered Its Big Death, And It Hurt More Than We Expected

He goaded him into discarding the symbiote so that the Green Goblin could garner all the praise. Carnage didn't want to go but Norman overpowered him, tossing him away, allowing Pete to defeat his nemesis just like the old days -- with his wits and a barrage of fists in Amazing Spider-Man #800. The Red Goblin did leave one loose thread, however, as he had infected Harry's son, Normie, and turned him into the Goblin Child. At the end of the issue, despite Alchemax's scientists looking over the boy, it looks like Normie still has the Red Goblin imprinted on him, which could pave the way for the villain's return at some point in the future.

Absolute Carnage #1 will be released in August, with the lead-up to the event starting in Spider-Man/Venom #1, which is set to be released as a Free Comic Book Day special on May 4.

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