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Comic Book / Sins Rising

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Sins will be Cleansed

Sins Rising is a 2020 Spider-Man storyline. It is the second major storyline event for Nick Spencer's Spider-Man. It starts in issue #45 of The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 5 and ends in issue #49, with a prelude recapping the story of Sin-Eater and a one-shot called The Sins of Norman Osborn being released as a part of the story.

Kindred, the enigmatic villain that has been working behind the scenes for the entirety of Spencer's run, has revived the Sin-Eater and provided him new, demonic powers. Now, the resurrected serial killer is becoming more powerful with every villain he eliminates, and he takes it upon himself to start a crusade against New York's costumed villains. Dead-set on proving his seemingly deranged set of morals superior to those of Spider-Man, Spidey himself also starts questioning his own code- not only does the Sin-Eater quickly gain public approval, but the fate he subjects his victims to reminds Spider-Man of his own actions, long ago. After taking his message public, and promising power to anyone who will help him in his quest to rid the world of sin, Sin-Eater gains a large following and sets his sights on Norman Osborn, forcing Spider-Man to go and save his own worst foe. The story starts in issue #45


The Spiritual Successor to the infamous The Death of Jean DeWolff storyline, Sins Rising serves as the opening chapter of the direct confrontation between Kindred and Spider-Man after the former has spent nearly all his previous appearances lurking in the shadows. It directly leads into the next major Spider-Man storyline, Last Remains.

Sins Rising showcases examples of these tropes:

  • The Assimilator: Sin-Eater gets the powers of any villain he shoots. Things get ugly when he manages to absorb the Juggernaut. However...
  • Assimilation Backfire: Sin-Eater draining a villain's sins mean that they end up in his head instead. When he absorbs the powers and sins of Norman Osborn, they take physical form, and literally eat him alive.
  • Berserk Button: After seemingly escaping the Sin-Eater, Norman quickly resolves to press as many of Peter's in as quick a succession as possible. When he makes a pun about how Gwen Stacy's neck snapped, Peter finally just throws him out of their escape vessel and leaves him for the Sin-Eater.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Somewhere in between this and No Ending, as while Peter finally loosens his Thou Shalt Not Kill principle to at least not bothering with saving Norman's psychotic ass, both the Sin-Eater and Kindred are still at large by the story's end.
  • Both Sides Have a Point:
    • The Sin-Eater tracks down Nora Winters and, even though her "sins are plenty", he spares her in exchange for an opportunity to deliver his message to the people by way of her website. When Jameson has the very legitimate complaint that a known serial killer shouldn't be given a platform to spout his messages, Nora replies that the media shouldn't be deciding who is and isn't heard and that the people deserve the opportunity to judge what they are presented on their own terms.
    • Spider-Man wants to save Norman Osborn, on the grounds that whatever Sin-Eater is up to, it can't possibly be good. The other Spider-powered heroes feel that Norman Osborn will in the long term just take many more victims, and set out to stop him.
  • Broken Pedestal: Carlie Cooper’s father being a corrupt cop permanently broke her ability to accept others at face value, which is further compounded when some of her colleagues try to kill Overdrive behind her back since the villain had already been declared dead. She tells Peter that he shouldn't be surprised others have begun joining the Sin-Eater in his crusade since people simply have a natural inclination to give in to their worst instincts.
  • Call-Back: Norman and Peter have several to the time Norman first unmasked to Peter, years ago. Norman notes that in Peter he saw a kindred soul and that Peter rejecting him deeply hurt.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Subverted. Overdrive is complaining Spider-Man is rescuing him, but mainly because he feels he doesn't deserve to be saved by Spider-Man as opposed to taking issue with the way Spidey is saving him.
  • C-List Fodder: Although they aren't permanently killed, most villains the Sin-Eater "cleanses" by way of temporary murder are fairly minor. Other than Overdrive- a member of Spidey's rogues gallery who has gotten some focus in recent years- and Count Nefaria- a B-list Avengers villain- all of his victims are unimportant no-names like Whirlwind, Living Laser, and Grey Gargoyle. Sins of Norman Osborn adds two much bigger names to the list: Mister Negative and the Juggernaut.
  • The Corrupter: The Sin-Eater is initially NOT this, and the fact that so many people willingly join his crusade is a large part of what gets under Peter's skin. After cleansing Martin Li, however, he does gain this power and promptly uses it to invade Ravencroft and make his way to the Juggernaut's vault.
  • Downer Ending: Peter ultimately gives in to his base desires and throws Norman out of the escape craft after Norman makes a pass at Spider-Gwen to get under his skin. This leaves Norman at the mercy of Sin-Eater who proceeds to cleanse Norman of his sins and give Kindred the victory he wanted.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: All Spider-powered heroes (Spider-Woman, Ghost Spider, Spider-Girl, Miles Morales, and Madame Web) had dreams of Norman Osborn becoming the Green Goblin again and killing Spider-Man, the only difference in their dreams being where Spider-Man died. They resolve that the only way to save Peter is to keep him from saving Norman Osborn.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: The Sin-Eater was a regular serial killer in his first life, albeit one who was enhanced (but not to superhuman levels) by experimental drugs and had the benefit of military training. Now that Kindred has revived him, he possesses an assortment of demonic powers, including teleportation, limitless stamina, the ability to induce moral shifts in individuals he "kills", and the ability to steal the powers of supervillains he subjects to such a fate.
  • Enemy Mine: Spider-Man and Norman resolve to work together, against their will, because both know that Kindred is working behind the scenes. After initially fumbling and getting in each other's way, they talk through some of their issues and and work together much more effectively during the second fight against the Juggernaut-powered Sin-Eater. Spider-Man actually regrets that Norman and him could have been so much more, had things been different.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: Any villain the Sin-Eater kills will come back from death (an orderly even notes that while that is the usual fare for costumed types, it happened extraordinarily fast with the Lethal Legion), but they are reduced to stuttering, limping shells of their former selves who feel very strong guilt at their previous misdeeds- as Spider-Man himself notes, they are strongly reminiscent of Stan Carter himself after Spidey beat the stuffing out of him, way back.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: After Overdrive woke up in the morgue, some cops tried to kill him again behind Carlie Cooper’s back. Spider-Man can't believe this when she tells him, but Carlie points out you don't have to be a supervillain to commit horrible acts. She then goes on to say that the reason Sin-Eaters message is reaching out to otherwise normal people is not because they are misled by some charismatic force or because of some type of mind control, but simply because people aren't innately good. Spider-Man bitterly notes Sin-Eater is giving people a promise of power, a chance to hurt others, and plenty of people will line up for that.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: The story teases the idea of Norman deep down maybe having an honor code when he rescues Peter to repay an old debt. But then Issue #49 reinforces that at the end of the day he is a self-centered monster who gets off on tormenting Peter.
  • Kick the Dog: Perhaps to make Spider-Man seem more justified in wanting to stop the Sin-Eater, since the latter's actions can be easy to get behind if you haven't read his previous stories, the serial killers first victim is Overdrive, a relatively harmless and good-natured supervillain who actually aspired to be a hero and adores Spider-Man. And unlike the other "killed" villains, he actually remains in a coma, although that is eventually revealed to have nothing to do with the Sin-Eater.
    Overdrive: I never wanted to be a bad guy, you know that? Wanted to be- wanted to be like you.
  • Noodle Incident: Over the course of their attempted escape from Sin-Eater, Peter discovers several hints as to Norman's latest scheme in the works, which apparently involved an EMP and the Empire State Building. Norman doesn't elaborate, but it ultimately factors in to Spidey's decision to leave Norman to his fate.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Sin-Eater becomes a grotesque monstrosity after absorbing Juggernaut's powers.
  • Powers as Programs: Sin-Eater can absorb the powers of any cleansed individual regardless of their origins- be it the Darkforce Dimension, magic, nanobacteria, or otherwise.
  • Power Parasite: The Sin-Eater gains the powers of any supervillain he purifies of their sins, meaning he gets more powerful as the story carries on.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After Norman sleazily hits on Ghost Spider and unsubtly threatens to kill her like he did the original, Peter tosses him to the Sin-Eater's thugs.
  • The Reveal:
    • A fairly minor one, but after going unnamed for almost a decade Overdrive's real name is revealed to be James Beverly.
    • In the second issue, a facially-obscured sinner volunteers to let Sin-Eater cleanse him before Spider-Man interrupts the meeting. In the next issue, it's revealed to be Martin Li.
    • In Issue 50, Norman Osborn reveals Kindred's identity, Kindred is his son, Harry Osborn.
  • Save the Villain: The Sin-Eater eventually sets his sights on Norman Osborn, on the direct orders of Kindred, forcing Spider-Man to go and save him. Jessica Drew — who had a premonition of Osborn becoming the Green Goblin again — unites the other spider-heroes of Earth-616 to try to stop him. Notably, the other Spider-powered heroes actually disagree with this course of action and set out to prevent Peter from doing this- if only because they all had premonitions of the Green Goblin killing Spider-Man. The end of the story ultimately averts it, however, as despite his moral code and unwillingness to kill Norman Peter ultimately chooses to leave him to his fate after being egged on one too many times.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: The other Spider-powered heroes do not actually interfere with Peter and Norman's struggle until after Spidey apparently makes up his mind, since Madame Web claims this to be the will of the Web of Life and Destiny.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Discussed; the Sin-Eater actually wins a lot of support when he brutally murders the Lethal Legion in broad daylight, largely because the villains had previously killed numerous innocent bystanders and seemingly got their deserved comeuppance. Spider-Man is actually shocked when the onlookers start applauding the Sin-Eater, noting he was expecting them to be terrified after witnessing such brutality first hand.
    • At the end Peter almost kills Norman Osborn after he consistently eggs him on, but ultimately he just tosses him out of the boat they were in leaving him trapped along with Sin-Eater.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Sin-Eater quickly gets public support after his public murder of the Lethal Legion, with the immediate onlookers actually applauding him. One such onlooker claims that her friend got killed before her eyes by Whirlwind, so of course she was happy to see him get his comeuppance, while another describes Sin-Eater as being "Like the Punisher, except he has powers, so he can get the job done." This eventually reaches the point where many people are willing to join him in his quest to cleanse the world of sin after he releases an online video where he requests their assistance.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • When Spider-Man calls Sin-Eater out on being a psychotic murderer, the Sin-Eater tactfully points out that Spider-Man already knows he isn't killing anyone this time around, but cleansing them of their sin instead. This coming right after Spider-Man stops him from cleansing someone who voluntarily came to him.
    • Although Sin-Eater's long-term plans are undoubtedly nefarious, he is not completely wrong when he calls out Spider-Man for believing his own morals to be superior, stating that Spider-Man looks down on people who give in to desperation and fear and respond with bloodlust yet have to live in a world filled with supervillians, while he himself has the powers (and "luxury") to fight back.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The second issue is one towards A Christmas Carol, with Peter having conversations with Ghost Spider (reflecting on Gwen Stacy's death, the past), Miles Morales (reflecting on not only Ultimate Peter's death but also the risks they take every day, the present) and Madame Web (who has had visions of the future) as Peter doesn't know what to do with Norman. When he, against all their advice (except from Gwen), resolves to Save the Villain, Miles even lampshades it and says that the three christmas ghosts couldn't talk Peter out of it.


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