BY MATT TUCK
Bust out your ASM #798s because the Red Goblin is coming to the Playstation...maybe.
SPIDER-MAN 2 AND VENOM
Sony managed to succeed where even Marvel Studios could not: they knocked the No Way Home trailer out of the top spot on YouTube.
Last week, the company released trailers for three new Marvel games: Guardians of the Galaxy, Wolverine, and Spider-Man 2. While all three trailers blew minds across the globe, the real show-stealer was Venom, who made an impact in only a few seconds of footage.
While Venon appears to be a villain in the upcoming Spider-Man 2, it is hard to imagine the character will stay on the evil side for long. Not only is he a major comic star as an anti-hero, but Sony has an entire film franchise wrapped around him. That makes the odds at least 2:1 that he will turn hero by the end of the game.
Considering Venom’s immense popularity, it would stand to reason that Sony has bigger plans for the symbiote. After the success of the Spider-Man: Miles Morales spinoff game, the next logical step would be to have a Venom game in the works. That could pave the way for much more in the world of the symbiotes.
THE RED GOBLIN CONNECTION
If you played through the Spider-Man games, you no doubt saw the cutscenes with Norman Osborn using the Venom symbiote to cure Harry Osborn of a deadly disease. That clearly leads to Harry becoming Venom for Spider-Man 2. It also could lead to Norman transcending into the Red Goblin perhaps even before he steps onto the glider as the Green Goblin.
The indication from the PS4 Spider-Man is that Oscorp created - or at least modified - the symbiote. Instead of it being of alien origin, this version of the story seems to stick closer to the Ultimate Universe’s Venom, which was created in a lab.
In the gaming-verse, Norman is not the Green Goblin. Instead, he is a businessman turned politician and has been elected the Mayor of New York City. The game’s developers, however, want players to connect Norman to the Goblin, and the end cutscenes literally cast Norman in a green light. The easy assumption is that foreshadows his descent to the madness that is the Green Goblin.
Odds are, we will see Norman become the Green Goblin in some fashion. However, it likely won’t stop there. With Oscorp creating and/or tinkering with the symbiotes, there is a major possibility that the laboratory will give birth to Carnage. Since the Osborns and the symbiotes’ origins will be spliced together for the gaming-verse, the likely scenario would be for Norman to take control of the Carnage symbiote, and the two would form the Red Goblin.
Three years ago, the Red Goblin captured the imaginations of comic readers everywhere. There were ample promotions featuring glimpses of the new symbiotic villain, and the “Go Down Swinging” storyline created sellouts and subsequent printings across the country. As quickly as Red Goblin stole the spotlight, he gave it back just as fast. The Norman/Carnage team was not meant to be, and the Red Goblin’s reign of terror was short lived.
The fallout from that was a downward spiral for all those Red Goblin key issues. On the bright side, that makes them prime candidates for game speculation. With prices this cheap, it is worth taking the gamble on the off chance that Sony will feature the Red Goblin either in Spider-Man 2, a sequel, or a possible Venom spinoff. Here’s more.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #37
There is so much Norman Osborn speculation these days, and it is giving a boost to ASM #37. Well before the rumors of Willem Dafoe being on the set of Spider-Man: No Way Home, there was word that he would be the dapper, corporate villain in the Captain Marvel sequel. That gave rise to theories, including my own, that he could follow his Dark Reign storyline and form H.A.M.M.E.R., the Thunderbolts, and the Dark Avengers.
After that gossip quieted down, values for ASM #37 took a hit, but that just made it an even better investment for savvy speculators. While the rest of the world is scrambling for the high-priced ASM #14 with the Goblin’s first appearance, here you have Norman’s first appearance as himself. With Dafoe’s signature Goblin laugh in the NWH trailer and the new Spider-Man game, it gives collectors a new reason to add this issue to their sets.
This has been a banner year for the graded 9.8. In May, one copy sold for an astounding $35,300. More recently, another brought $31,200 on September 9. Meanwhile, a 7.0 sold for a record-high $666 in July, and the last copy at that grade to trade hands went for $585.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797 ED MCGUINESS DESIGN VARIANT
Although the Red Goblin appeared on the cover of the Clayton Crain variant for ASM #796, the McGuiness design variant for ASM #797 predated Crain’s by a little over three weeks. That makes this issue the first cover appearance of the Red Goblin, beating all those variants and subsequent printings to the punch.
In the age of first cover appearances, this could become a hot issue if Norman bonds with the Carnage symbiote for a PS game. Judging by the number of sales for Red Goblin keys on eBay, the RG speculation is beginning to heat up. Even though Norman bonded with the Carnage symbiote in ASM #795, this is the first issue you will want to pick up. Since the market died down for Red Goblin years ago, the McGuiness variant is selling for cheap.
A 9.8 CGC Signature Series ASM #797 variant signed by McGuiness sold for $88 on September 10, and the last universal graded 9.8 brought $33 on July 31. It is hard to get one graded for that price.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #798
After months of teases, the Red Goblin made his full debut in the pages of ASM #798. While RG is not on the cover, the artwork is a modern classic from the master himself, Alex Ross, depicting a timeless portrait of Spider-Man and Green Goblin having a mid-air battle. That is worth the price alone, but Red Goblin fans will want to add this appearance to their sets.
Like all the issues of “Go Down Swinging,” ASM #798 had plenty of variants to choose from. My personal favorites featured the Gabriele Dell’Otto cover art, and his work on #798 did not disappoint. The raw, ungraded virgin and trade dress generally sell for around $10.
As for the standard cover, the 9.8 has averaged $60 over the past 90 days, and two of the last three sales last week were for $75.
RED GOBLIN: RED DEATH #1
There is not much that makes this issue a key other than it being the first self-titled series for the Norman/Carnage mashup. These stories give a different view of the mayhem and, well, carnage, that Red Goblin unleashed on NYC during his short reign. Of course, in the Marvel Universe, you would think NYC residents would be used to there being some superpowered terrorists on the attack at least once a week.
Besides the nice cover art and Red Goblin’s name on the front, there is no reason for collectors to be on a mission to find this issue. The good part is that keeps the prices low. You can find the ungraded standard covers for $5 or less. The most expensive copies are the Lucio Parrillo variants. While raw copies are still selling for around $5 as well, a graded 9.8 sold for $117 in March.
It feels like 2018 all over again with all this Red Goblin speculation. This is a long-term investment strategy since Spider-Man 2 doesn’t release until 2023 at the earliest. Delays are very common in game development, so it will likely be the end of 2023 at that. Between now and then, we can expect to hear plenty of rumors and see screenshots of other characters featured in the game. Perhaps we’ll get some hints that Norman will bond with Carnage and give players a sinister villain to battle above NYC.
With two years to get ready for Spider-Man 2, maybe by then we’ll actually be able to buy PS5s.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.