The all-out brawl between Spider-Man and a Carnage-infused Norman Osborn continues on multiple fronts. They are fighting it out in the physical space, but there’s a mental battle that’s been going on for years, not to mention the strings Kindred is pulling to destroy both men. This is a rivalry that’s gone on for so long that any confrontation can only end in bloodshed.
I knew Norman Osborn was a bad guy, but artist Ryan Ottley takes him to a new level of evil. There is pure menace in Norman’s face. Hatred pulses through his veins, powering his cold, dead heart. We see this in the shots from the past and the present in his normal form and this Carnage version.
Amazing Spider-Man #31 really gives you a sense as to how deep the hatred between these two men goes. The pacing is beautiful as it bounces back and forth between the past and the present, often within the same row of panels. These shots serve as quick flashes to remind you of all the horrible things Norman has done as he prepares to do something even more heinous.
This would have been great on its own, even without the Absolute Carnage tie-in. Writer Nick Spencer elevates the entire experience by digging deep within Peter Parker as he feels this entire situation is his fault. If he never brought the symbiote to Earth, none of this would have happened and he only did that because he wasn’t strong enough. That hits so hard. Here you have this hero that has done so much for so many and he still feels like he’s let everyone down. This gets added to all of the guilt and heartbreak with his history with Norman to make for a powerful scene where Spider-Man does what he does best: gets up again.
Colorist Nathan Fairbairn deftly adjusts the mood throughout Amazing Spider-Man #31, bringing Peter down to his lowest with dark, foreboding tones, then rising him up with a brighter palette. This shift coincides with Peter’s determination to get up and continue the fight, even though he’s battered and bruised.
Fairbairn also adds to the ominous nature of Kindred, who’s seen in the very beginning and very end of this issue. The more I see of this character, the more unsettling he becomes. He looks like just came out of a grave. Inker Cliff Rathburn emphasizes the shadows in this showdown between Kindred and Norman in the Ravencroft Institute. Letterer Joe Caramagna puts the finishing touch on this new villain with scratchy word balloons that convey a dark, gravely voice.
There are some more hints dropped as to Kindred’s connection to Norman. My mind is racing to connect the dots. Who could hate both Norman and Peter with such venom? These few pages add so much to both the overall narrative of Amazing Spider-Man as well as its link to Absolute Carnage. Tie-ins like this usually take the momentum out of an ongoing series to try and glob onto whatever the big event is. This does the opposite, raising them both up in a way that’s rarely seen.