Peter Parker is at the lowest he's been - he's lost his company and his money, he's mocked by the world at large, forced to live in a pathetic apartment and crawled back to the Daily Bugle for work. Conversely, Norman Osborn is at the top of his game. Thanks to obtaining the Carnage symbiote, his Green Goblin powers are active once again and he's stronger than ever. Now he's ready to crush Spider-Man once and for all. No one is safe as the deadly Red Goblin is born, gunning for Spidey and all of his friends and loved ones. Spider-Man must meet him head on and, if he has to, he will Go Down Swinging.
This story serves as Dan Slott's swan song for the Amazing title before moving over to Tony Stark: Iron Man for the Marvel: A Fresh Start initiative.
The arc starts in The Amazing Spider-Man #797 and ends with the issue #800 Milestone Celebration. One more issue was published, as an epilogue to Slott's run, before the series was cancelled and relaunched.
Go Down Swinging provides these tropes:
- Art Shift: Multiple artists handle the final issue, meaning the style of the comic as a whole changes with each successive act.
- Badass Fingersnap: Norman Osborn uses one to activate the shards of the Carnage symbiote he left in the victims of his previous attacks, killing them all in unbearable agony all at the same time. It fails due to Flash Thompson running interference with his Agent Anti-Venom powers.
- Bait-and-Switch: Played for Drama. Spider-Man thinks Norman somehow gained his Goblin powers back and is dying after blowing up the Daily Bugle. Until he notices the Carnage symbiote bonding to him...
- Big Bad: Norman Osborn, becoming the deadly Red Goblin.
- Big Damn Heroes: Agent Anti-Venom drops in to help rescue J. Jonah Jameson. The final part ends up bringing back classic Venom, who saves Mary Jane, and Superior Octopus, who saves Aunt May.
- Bittersweet Ending: The threat of the Red Goblin is at an end and it seems that Osborn's brain is hopelessly scrambled and Peter has seemingly buried the hatchet with Jameson, Venom and Octavius. However, Flash Thompson dies protecting Spidey from Osborn's rampage and it seems that Normie still has a portion of the Carnage symbiote in his system.
- Book Ends: Norman Osborn murders Phil Urich and fully reclaims his Goblin identities the same way Phil murdered Hobgoblin at the start of Slott's run.
- Broken Pedestal: Normie finally gets over his Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad mentality regarding his grandfather and Spider-Man, after seeing what lengths the man will go to get what he wants. He now sees him for the creep he is.Normie: You—You woulda killed mom. All this time I thought Spider-Man was a bad guy. That he deserved everything that was coming to him. But it was YOU! You're a monster! And you've made me one, too!
- Call-Back: Cruelly invoked by the Red Goblin as he throws Liz Allen through an Alchemax tower window, while musing about what it is with "[him] and blondes in high places".
- This is quickly followed by Harry ramming a Goblin Glider through Norman's chest. Sadly, it doesn't end up doing much to hurt him this time.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- WAAAAAAAAAY back before Slott took over, Peter aided Loki, who offered to give him a favor at any time. Slott takes that off the table at the end of the prequel storyline "Threat Code: Red" by having Loki trick Spider-Man into rewinding time to save a life Loki manipulated Spider-Man into endangering. Peter does get one simple night with Bobbi Morse and his Aunt May as part of this. Loki cheekily mentions to himself that Peter should have used it a lot more wisely, and he's about to be in a place where he could really use a favor from a Norse god who's also Sorcerer Supreme.
- Similarly, Alchemax's artificial Anti-Venom material from the "Venom, Inc." storyline is brought up as a potential weapon against the Red Goblin. The Red Goblin destroys it before Spidey can get to it.
- Those shards the Red Goblin shot into his targets were more than just the initial damage, which is why he left as soon as he'd barely hurt Mary Jane. He retained control of them over a distance and intended to use them to cause the agonizing simultaneous deaths of everyone in Peter's life.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Spidey's first fight against the Red Goblin goes horribly, forcing Peter to give up round one.
- Equally, Red Goblin battles a gathering of heroes Spidey's called in and they're all struck down. They end up surviving thanks to Agent Anti-Venom.
- Deal with the Devil: Osborn gives Peter another one of these (with an earlier issue referring to Mephisto) — stop being Spidey or I'll murder everyone as slowly as possible.
- Death by Secret Identity: Invoked, defied, and played with. Jonah brings a gun and intends to execute the Green Goblin, reasoning that his knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity left him too dangerous to leave alive. Spider-Man takes the bullet himself rather than let that happen. However, the destruction of the Carnage symbiote at the moment of fusion with Osborn causes a Split-Personality Takeover that makes Osborn unaware of Spider-Man's identity and believing himself to be Cletus Kasady, essentially killing his identity.
- Deus Exit Machina: The Avengers are noted to be off in space during the storyline, preventing them from helping.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Normie turns against Norman after the latter attempts to kill Liz.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: When Goblin attacks the Bugle, Betty Brant tries to stall him, only for him to call her out and then gloat that "I have a bridge I can sell to you" which Robbie Robertson immediately sneers at for its cruelty and tastelessness.
- Godzilla Threshold: To deal with the threat of The Red Goblin, Eddie Brock willingly offered to let Spider-Man borrow the Venom symbiote, and Spider-Man accepted it (if reluctantly).
- Heroic BSoD: Upon seeing the Red Goblin, Spidey is so terrified, the only thing he can do is sputter "%#$& me.".
- Heroic Sacrifice: Agent Anti-Venom surrenders what's left of his power to put Spidey back in the game, ultimately sacrificing his life to give Peter a few extra seconds.
- Hope Crusher: Norman Osborn can't stand the fact that no matter how many people close to Peter he hurts, he never breaks his spirit. In the finale, Norman sees Peter save random bystanders and realizes that Peter actually really does care for these bystanders, and notes that if he had known that all along he would have killed as many innocent people as he could. He then proceeds to bomb the hell out of Time's Square killing countless civilians while Peter, as Norman gloats, only saves five people.
- Hulking Out: When Flash reveals he used up almost all of the Anti-Venom symbiote to foil Osborn's ultimate plans, the Red Goblin sics his Carnage Glider on Symbiote Spider-Man to get him out of the way and then proceeds to murder Flash. Spider-Man Venomizes, rips the Carnage Glider to shreds, and punches Red Goblin across the city while roaring that he's going to eat his brains. Flash uses his dying moments to calm down Peter and the symbiote.
- Internal Reveal: Flash discovers Spider-Man's secret identity, overhearing Silk refer to him as "Pete", and uses that information to reason out who Red Goblin's targets are. It's short lived, unfortunately, as his revealing this to Peter is immediately followed by the Red Goblin murdering him.
- Ironic Echo: When Spider-Man Depowered Green Goblin, he slunk away stating that Spidey had only dealt with the Ax-Crazy Goblin, never the sane Norman Osborn. When Osborn returns as the Red Goblin and forces him to give up being Spider-Man, Peter muses that Spider-Man has tapped out, but Peter Parker is still standing.
- Irony: Norman spent his appearances leading up to this event trying to find some way to restore his insanity, and once that's been done, to remember Spider-Man's Secret Identity. Being linked to the Carnage symbiote as it's incinerated leaves him a babbling, giggling mess who can't even remember who he is, let alone who Spider-Man is.
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- The first issue has Osborn interrogating someone about Spider-Man. It turns out he kidnapped J. Jonah Jameson, who accidentally allows Osborn to remember that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Jolly Jonah mentions the trope name in horror.
- Little Normie realizes his grandfather is evil and he made a mistake when he attempts to kill his parents.
- Never My Fault: Osborn blames Harry and Spider-Man for Normie betraying him, not once considering that he tried to kill his mother.
- No-Sell: Miles Morales' Venom Strike, Clash's sonic waves, and even the Human Torch's flames do not affect Red Goblin at all. The only thing that hurts him is Anti-Venom's purifying touch, and he exploits Flash's morality to prevent him from using that against him.
- Oh, Crap!: Spider-Man's reaction when he discovers Norman has bonded with the Carnage Symbiote; his brain almost shuts down from sheer terror, and he flees without a single word besides "#$%& me."
- Oh, No... Not Again!: The Red Goblin says this verbatim after Harry impales him with one of his Goblin Gliders.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Liz Allen engages in this after Norman blackmails her into signing over Alchemax's ownership to him, showing him the documents and outlines that he legally can't own it, ever. Unfortunately, Norman reminds her that he worked for the company in his Mason Banks disguise and knows a workaround: the entire company was made with a beneficiary clause that would eventually see the company in Normie's hands, along with his legal guardian... or surviving legal guardian. (And, since murdering someone to take control of their company is illegal... Liz is still technically right.)
- Precision F-Strike: Censored of course, but Spider-Man when he sees Osborn turn into the Red Goblin for the first time tries to think of something to say in his usual vein, but can only mutter "#$%& me."
- Pride: This is how Spidey ends up defeating Osborn, by making him realize that if he kills him, he won't get the kill, the Carnage symbiote — and thus Cletus Kasady — will. This causes Osborn to dump the symbiote and fight on even footing.
- The Reveal: Emily Osborn didn't really die giving birth to Harry; she'd faked her death upon realizing what a monster Norman was, and in fact "Emma" was really Emily.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Clash, in so many words, when the combined assault of his sonics and Johnny Storm's fire has zero effect on Red Goblin.
- Ship Tease: Since Slott is ending his run, he does his best to seed a potential reconciliation between Peter and MJ for Nick Spencer to pick up the baton (Spencer already worked on his script for his first issues when Go Down Swinging was hitting the stands, and made it clear that he wanted them back together) while still maintaining his status-quo (so as not to steal Spencer's thunder). Peter and MJ experience their romantic tension again, but MJ once again expresses fears about Keep the Home Fires Burning and worries for his life. She also confirms that she needs Peter and loves him, and the story has Peter state that Aunt May and MJ are his family. MJ does insist that Peter leave her apartment in his costume (because in MJ's current occuptation, having a hero leave is less awkward to explain than your former lover) but says, "Sorry Tiger". By the time she, Venom, and Spidey stave off the Red Goblin, they are warmer towards each other for the first time since before Superior Spider-Man and MJ gets miffed when Peter says that Goblin will go after MJ because she's near the top of the list of the people he cares about:Mary Jane: Near?
- Significant Wardrobe Shift: Spidey bonds to the Venom symbiote, borrowing it from Eddie Brock, in order to even the odds between himself and the Carnage symbiote-augmented Red Goblin.
- Split-Personality Takeover: Double Subverted during Norman Osborn's fusion with the Carnage symbiote. The two fight back and forth to dominate the other, the symbiote takes control of him and murders his two loyal operatives despite his protests, but when it notes that it enjoyed that more than normal, Osborn suggests it has grown bored with random slaughter and desires the creativity he can provide, persuading it into giving him full control. Played Straight after the symbiote is destroyed mid-fusion with Osborn. Cletus Kasady's personality appears to have overwritten Osborn's.
- The Stinger: Horizon Labs is seemingly reestablished and Max Modell accepts a new colleague, a disguised Octavius, who Anna-Maria seems to recognize.
- Taking the Bullet:
- Otto Octavius dives in the path of Red Goblin's blade shards to save Aunt May.
- Spider-Man jumps in the way of Jonah's attempt to shoot Osborn in cold blood for the danger he posed.
- Underestimating Badassery: Peter accepts Osborn's Deal with the Devil because he's realized that Osborn doesn't care about Peter Parker at all, he just wants to be rid of Spider-Man. So Peter's going to fight him on his own terms, putting the "Genius" in Genius Bruiser.
- Unwanted Assistance: Spidey's opinion of JJJ's assistance.Spidey: You sent Venom to help?! Venom?! Are you insane?!
JJJ: Well, did it work?
Spidey: (beat) That's not the point, Jonah! You've done enough. Stop helping!