We’ve nearly reached Halloween, which means Marvel Comics is going to entice you to get into the mood with comic book tales of horror and blood. Case in point, Red Goblin: Red Death #1, which features Norman Osborn when he had the Carnage Symbiote. This is comic is technically a flashback, featuring never before told stories of murder and mayhem. Sounds about right for the Halloween time of year, right?
This issue is told via three stories, each with its own creative team. First up is “Great Responsibility” by Rob Free and Pete Woods. It introduces us to the concept of Norman with Carnage in his head and its desire to literally bathe in blood. The goblin vibe is strong with this one as Woods puts Red Goblin into creepy positions that highlight his nose and head. The story does well to show that if a murderer is on the loose it won’t end with one kill, since one leads to another.
The second story is “Big Mouth” by Sean Ryan and Pete Woods, which shows how the evil in Norman can sprout into murder if the wrong person comes along. It ties into a key moment involving J. Jonah Jameson which helps tuck the book into Dan Slott’s story well. Woods plays with light well in this story, casing shadows where they need to be to ramp up your terror and the fear of a bogeyman being ever-present.
The third and final story is “The Wayside Darkness” by Patrick Gleason and Ray-Anthony Height which focuses on Normie Osborn. Gleason does a good job playing to what would enrage a child and how that might play out if they were given a Symbiote murder machine on their back. Height’s style suits the trick or treating and scenes with little kids as it’s a bit cartoonish in nature. The creative team does a good job reminding us what kind of heart Normie has, ending on a note that shows signs of hope for him, which is good seeing as he’s teaming up with Eddie Brock’s son Dylan in a few months.
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Since this book tells lost tales of the Red Goblin and Normie prior to Absolute Carnage, it doesn’t quite feel necessary. Red Goblin was only around for a brief time so it’s nice to see a little more fleshing out of his murderous path, although the identity seems to be connected to Carnage more than anything else.
This issue serves well as a scary story for Halloween, featuring terrible violence and a scary psychotic on the loose, but it also doesn’t quite feel necessary. Call it dabbling in what we already could have guessed at rather than revealing anything new. Each story is fine and has sparks of terror in them, but it’s hard to grasp why we should care.