Dan Slott had a plan.
That’s what I always thought whenever I read his long run on Amazing Spider-Man. From Brand New Day to Superior Spider-Man to Spider-Verse, the man was telling great, large stories that always seemed to matter to the saga of Peter Parker. Slott was a great chronicler of our favourite web-head, maybe the best I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a lot.
However, like a great Star Trek: The Next Generation episode once said, all good thing…and in the case of Dan Slott’s Spider-Man run, it came to an end with a fantastic storyline that recently made its way into a must-read softcover.
Amazing Spider-Man: Red Goblin
Writer: Dan Slott
In this collection, that groups together issues #794-801 along with Annual #42. In it, Spidey’s greatest villain, Norman Osborn, has the insane idea to merge with the Carnage symbiote, thus becoming the Red Goblin. He sets out to take down Spider-Man one last time, and while you can likely guess the outcome, the delivery of the story is a page-turner that reads like another great Dan Slott story. Much of it is resonating today in Donny Cates’ excellent Absolute Carnage mini-series.
Slott’s greatest ability in my mind has been his uncanny talent and melding comedy and tragedy in his work. He always had Peter’s voice down pat, and could always give us moments of levity before laying the hammer down on either Peter or a member of his impressive and always-expanding cast of characters. Names like Max Modell and Anna Maria Marconi are now familiar and essential pieces of Spider-Man’s world, and they came from the pen of Dan Slott. But throughout his tenure, including the Red Goblin collection, Slott demonstrated his handling of the familiar faces as well. In this collection, he makes you want to see Peter and Mary-Jane together again; he wants Peter to make that dinner with Aunt May.
Of course, what’s a classic Spider-Man tale without some tragedy, and in the case of Red Goblin, it befalls a longtime supporting character. I won’t spoil it for you here, in case you don’t know, but I promise you it works well.
In fact, that’s what I would say about Dan Slott’s now-legendary run on Amazing Spider-Man. It worked well. Even when some thought it wouldn’t (Superior Spider-Man could have been a disaster, but it was the exact opposite). Even if you haven’t read every single issue in Slott’s run, you can pick up Red Goblin and get right into it and feel engaged. That’s the sign of a superior writer (see what I did there).