Sins of the (grand)father rebound in Red Goblin #1, and Normie Osborn is in for one rude, bloody awakening.
Spinning of the current run of Venom and the just-concluded Dark Web, Red Goblin #1 puts a spotlight on Normie Osborn, grandson of Norman and son of Harry. He also happens to be the current host of the Anti-Carnage symbiote, and —as of this series— the new Red Goblin. Sure, it sounds like a lot for a character who’s maybe twelve years old at most, but that’s comics for you! What about this series in particular, though?
Red Goblin #1 picks up shortly after Normie bonded with the Anti-Carnage symbiote (whom he calls “Rascal”) and as we see in the opening scene, their union isn’t a completely harmonious one. And if struggling with a wily, blood-thirsty symbiote isn’t enough pressure, his strained relationship with “pop-pop” Norman is arguably just as difficult, if not more so. Throw in a culty gang of Green Goblin wannabes for added pressure, and you’ve got yourself an origin story. But for Normie, will it be a heroic one, or villainous…?
Positioning Normie and the Red Goblin as anti-Shazam, or sorts, is definitely an interesting hook for a character. The Marvel universe isn’t exactly wanting for characters adjacent to Spider-Man, or even Goblins for that matter, so it’s important that each new piece of the puzzle has their own “thing” that sets them apart. It takes the idea of a Carnage-ified Goblin from a few years ago posited by Norman and puts an extra spin on it. Because of Normie’s young age, there’s a sense of danger that this series may lack if he were an adult. (Artist Jan Bazaldua certainly draws him to look young as well, visually emphasizing the distinction.)
The complexity of Red Goblin #1, though, may also make this series a bit impenetrable to the casual Spider-Man reader like myself. I’m vaguely aware of the circumstances around Normie’s current deal, but that’s arguably a requirement of someone like myself who reviews comics, so I have to wonder how this lands for someone who barely knows who Carnage even is, let alone spinoff characters. Writer Alex Paknadel does his best to provide the reader context, as does the ever-stalwart recap page, but it’s a lot of knowledge to have going in that it could be alienating for non-completists.