No I am not here to talk about how this issue has a metric TON of different covers.
I’ve also decided I’m not gonna talk about how out of that myriad of covers, half seem to think this issue is some sort of milestone, “this changes Spider-Man comics forever” kinda issue and the other half seems to think “let’s just focus on this Red Goblin guy.” Seriously though, the amount of Gwen Stacy on these covers is just a big ol’ bait and switch. I guess it’s because Norman is the focal point? I don’t really get it, just seems like weird covers that are unrelated to the action of the book.
Anywho, I wanna talk just about the main cover:
Damn cool cover. Alex Ross is the absolute man with some epic painted covers, and considering issue #800 IS a cool milestone to reach, it’s great that this book gets just a badass cover.
For those of you not in the know, that big red dude in the back is Red Goblin. Recently in the books, Norman Osborne (the murderer formerly known as Green Goblin) has teamed up with the Carnage symbiote. By team up, of course, I mean he somehow got his hands on a jar containing the alien goo and then proceeded to rub it all over his naked body. NOTE: naked Norman meets alien goo scene not featured in the comics, but come on….. it totally happened….
This issue is the culmination of this Go Down Swinging story-arch that features Red Gobbo and promises terror, suspense and possibly DEATH! Well, I won’t tell you whether it delivers (you’ll have to hit your local shop to find out) but it is definitely a thick book with a lot going on and the Goblin does have his share of fun throughout. And to be fair, Goblin mixed with Carnage is a REALLY intense combo. Never before has the Carnage symbiote really been used in this way: enhancing an already incredibly deadly bad guy to new and terrifying heights. Er, uh…. never in the comics….
While I love this cover, a few of the faces caught my eye. Now, when you are a regular in the life of Spider-Man, whether you are aware of it or not, it’s reasonable that you’ve just kinda seen some shit. Massive, sweaty russians in Rhino pajamas. I dude wearing a yellow mattress and blowing up walls. Literal jelly monsters with big licky tongues. Like, I feel like the people in Parker’s life are like hanging out in New York and they see a homeless man doing a handstand while defecating straight into the air Pharrell’s “Happy” and they’re like “Man, New York is so blasé today…”
But this is TWO of villains in the SAME BODY (which is totally not something Marvel has ever done before), so it’s reasonable that everyone is scared out of their minds, what with
Mac Gargan Venom Red Goblin hanging out up there. Even Spider-Man looks a bit receded, like an animal backing into a corner, but more in the like sad Sarah McLachlan commercial style, not like the ravenous Honey Badger kinda way. So if you look at the cover, everyone is very aware of Cosmic Ghostrider Red Goblin looming over them and they all look reasonably terrified, except for maybe Human Torch, who has beaten the snot out of his fair share of baddies, so he has that heroic chutzpah. Also, if you look closely, three individuals that are quite close to Peter also seem a little…. less than terrified.
May, Miles and Mary Jane (woah) don’t seem to be joining everyone else in the mouth-agape-disbelief-and-panic party.
For May, her face is reminiscent of the face my wife gets when she sees a roach on a wall. She definitely doesn’t want to go hug the roach, but she is just as likely to chuck a shoe at it. Miles, honestly, just looks freakin’ exhausted, which is just a great representation of how I think Miles would actually feel here. Just like “dammit, Peter…. welp, gonna lose another one…. I wonder what person of color will replace this universe’s Spider-Man… I hope it’s a she…” and then he like drifts off into thinking about a hot alternate universe version of himself before remembering that Bendis no longer works for Marvel (side note: Miles’s face is also probably a good representation of Bendis’s face every time he had an editorial meeting with Dan Slott present). As for Mary Jane, you can almost feel the eye roll: just judging the hell out of Norman for his stupid villainy antics and also Red was such a last year thing.
This is probably strictly a personal interpretation and possibly just an accident in the art, but I really dig this interpretation and hope it’s intentional. These three characters have been through so much with Peter in their lives. From left to right we have died and brought back to life by the devil, literally ripped from his own universe which was promptly “destroyed” in the process, and Kirsten Dunst. It’s been a rough ride for these folks, so it’s reasonable that they might see the
Red Onsluaght Red Goblin as just another step in the long, exhausting train of villain stunts in a world of psychopaths in colorful garb. At some point, you become callused to this stuff, right?
All in all, the cover is beautiful and I think the characters are represented incredibly well. I hope it’s a good read and leaves some of the interesting changes that have been introduced in the arch so far. Not holding my breath, though….