WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #796 by Dan Slott, Christos Gage, Mike Hawthorne, Terry Pallot, Cam Smith, Erick Arciniega and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Norman Osborn is already considered one of Spider-Man's greatest opponents, but toss in the Carnage symbiote, and you have all the makings of one of the most feared villains in the Marvel Universe.
But before he makes a splash in Spider-Man's life, one thing has to be determined: When Osborn and Carnage combine to form the Red Goblin, who will be in the pilot seat giving the orders? Will it be Osborn, who is used to being in charge, or the mass murdering alien symbiote, who is, well, prone to not take orders from anyone?
Amazing Spider-Man #795 saw Osborn finally bond with Carnage, as the former Green Goblin realized he may have underestimated the depths of Carnage's insanity. Whereas Osborn wants a world to rule, Carnage wants to rip apart the planet. As the issue came to a close, it appeared that Carnage would wind up calling the shots. However, the newly bonded couple killing of a pair of mercenaries appears to have shifted power back over to Osborn, all thanks to his unparalleled imagination for destruction.
Osborn used his promise of more "carnage" as leverage over the symbiote, on the condition that he be placed in the driver's seat. His first act is to use Carnage's shape-shifting abilities to return his face back to its original state, a big move considering he's undergone several plastic surgeries in order to hide his identity. Next, Carnage expelled the nanites in Osborn's body that prevented him from turning back into the Green Goblin -- another obstacle now removed from his goal of destroying Spider-Man once and for all.
For a moment, Osborn considered drinking his goblin serum to complete his transformation back into his previous alter ego, but hesitated. Becoming merely the Green Goblin again would certainly cause problems for Spider-Man, but that's small-time thinking. Besides, how many times has Spider-Man defeated the Green Goblin? No, if Osborn is to finally win, it will take the combined efforts of the Green Goblin and Carnage, or as Osborn calls it, "A goblin and symbiote hybrid," which we now know will be called the Red Goblin.
"Going Down Swinging" is the end of writer Dan Slott's 10-year run on Amazing Spider-Man, and he's going out in style, pitting the web-slinger against a foe that while familiar as separate entities, is still brand-new. The story promises to redefine the Peter Parker/Norman Osborn relationship, and the outcome will more than likely not be for the better.