To paraphrase Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, eventually you do plan to have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?
This sums up what many collectors are feeling at the moment: when are we going to see the Red Goblin? True, we’ve seen Norman Osborn wear the Carnage symbiote, but it was more or less just Carnage on Norman Osborn. We have yet to see the Red Goblin in all his monstrous glory.
I understand what Dan Slott is doing from a storyteller’s perspective. He’s building suspense and teasing us with a slow build up to the first appearance of his monster. Horror movies have been doing this for decades, giving the audience mere glimpses of the creature before showing off the full portrait at the height of the tension. Let’s not ignore the fact that this is the 30th anniversary of Venom, who was teased in Amazing Spider-Man #299 before having his full reveal in the ever-popular Amazing Spider-Man #300. It would make sense that Marvel would want their new/rehashed creation to make his first full appearance in ASM #800. But at this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to when we finally get to see the Red Goblin. This creates a conundrum for collectors.
Marvel is milking the “Go Down Swinging” story for every last drop. They teased us with Osborn getting the symbiote and having it cover half his body in the final panel of ASM #795. In issue 796, we got a peek at Osborn as Carnage for a couple of pages. That left many readers, myself included, thinking ASM #797 would give us our first official appearance of the Red Goblin. But that’s not what happened.
With every issue of “Threat Level: Red” and “Go Down Swinging,” Marvel has ramped up their variant covers. ASM #795 was the modest one of the bunch with only a regular Alex Ross cover and a Dale Keown variant. Beginning with issue #796, there are a plethora of variants all the way through ASM #800. But the sore spot at the moment is with ASM #797 and all those who clamored for the more pricey variants.
In anticipation of Red Goblin’s first appearance in full costume, eBay was exploding with pre-orders for the numerous variant covers. While there were covers by Ed McGuiness, Humberto Ramos, Clayton Crain, and Gabriele Dell’Otto, the one that was hauling in the serious money was the ASM #238 Hobgoblin tribute cover drawn by Mike Mayhew. It was limited to a print run of 600, which automatically drove up the price. On eBay, this particular variant was listed for anywhere from $250-$450 for a raw copy.
Then the issue was released, and we found out that the Red Goblin was not actually in the story. While the limited print run for the ASM 797 Mayhew variant will help make it collectible, in the grand scheme of things, this issue had virtually no significance. If you bought one of these for $250 or more, you will be hard pressed to recover that money for that simple reason: nothing really happened.
In my head, I’m imagining Mickey Mouse’s voice saying, “The joke’s on you, comic collectors.”