Peter and Osborn battle their way through Ravencroft, swamped by Sin Eater's cult. Stan in the meantime, having cleansed the Juggernaut, absorbs his power and his body is transformed. The Order of the Web watch on as Peter works with Norman, Gwen persuades them to let Peter make his own decisions and not to try to force one on him. Norman tells Peter a sub veichle awaits them beneath the institute.
After a few skirmishes with the 'Sinnernaut' (my own pet name for Carter's new form), Peter finds himself trapped under rubble, but Norman lifts it up and saves him, saying this was him paying back a debt from one of their earliest encounters (when Norman was caught in an explosion which robbed him of his memories the first time and Peter saved him from the fire), Peter discovers Norman has been working on an electro-magnetic pulsar, with which he could knock out half of Manhattan. Recalling how he defeated the Juggernaut years ago, Peter and Norman decide to use the pulsar to set off a minor tremor that can incapacitate Carter as the ground would liquify and submerge him. In a struggle, they are able to succeed, but Peter, trying to buy Osborn more time, attempts to submerge Carter in the liquefying concrete. Osborn attempts to let Peter drown, but is thwarted by the order of the web. Gwen stops Norman and Peter calls her out by her name in full eartshot of the Goblin. Uh oh.
Attempting to flee Ravencroft in the sub, the Order of the Web talk with Peter, but the perverse Norman begins creeping on Gwen, taunting her with the 'history' he and 616 Gwen share, he makes note of their 'happier times' which sets Peter off, he opens the sub's main hatch and knocks Norman out of it. As Norman is left behind and Sin Eater breaks free of the liquified concrete, we cut to Kindred at a graveyard as he comments on Peter's choice...saying no matter how much we try to lay the sins to rest, they never stay buried. To be continued in "Last Remains"
A strong middle and appetiser to an epic game of two halves from Nick Spencer. Sandwiched in between Sins Rising and Last Remains, the three-act Return of the Goblin rises above it's unimaginative title to weave a fine tale of two age old enemies finding themselves cornered and forced to team together, Spencer does a good job of finding new things to say about Peter and Norman, as hard as that can be for some writers, as evident by the last ten years worth of setbacks and gimmickery.
This is the most Norman has felt like Norman in a while, utterly unhinged yet occasionally calm and calculating, picking his moments to be manic and choosing when to make a target out of Peter on two occasions, one where Peter is at his mercy, and another where he shows Peter no mercy.
I'm glad Spencer also alluded to Sins Past, and that it was what motivated Peter to make his choice at the end. This story happened and everyone knows it, and acknowledging a Marvel misfire to inform a stronger, and better, story, was much welcome. Don't pretend stories like this don't exist just because it offends a certain contingent of fans who seem to think Gwen is little ms. perfect, we have a new Gwen now, one that won't be just another victim.
So no Kindred reveal again...frustrating, I think we're out exhausted now by the waiting game, so hopefully his major strike against the order of the web is impactful, it needs to be to keep the investment in his identity and purpose up. Spencer can't afford to lose us at this crucial stage.