Norman Osborn is known as Spider-Man's greatest enemy, thanks to his history as the Green Goblin. But recently, Osborn has also become one of the most tragic figures in Peter Parker's life thanks to his honest attempts to reform from villainy and become a hero as the Gold Goblin.
Now, August 23's Amazing Spider-Man #32 from writer Zeb Wells, artist Patrick Gleason, colorist Marcio Menyz, and letterer Joe Caramagna flips the tragedy of Norman Osborn on its head by bringing none other than Kraven the Hunter into the mix, who has his own lamentable history with Spider-Man.
And the consequences for both Osborn and Spider-Man could turn out disastrous.
Spoilers ahead for Amazing Spider-Man #32
A few years ago, Norman Osborn had his metaphysical 'sins' wiped away by the villainous Sin-Eater, which purged Osborn of his dark side, the Green Goblin. But the psychic weight of all Osborn's misdeeds didn't simply dissipate, it infected psychiatrist Ashley Kafka, turning her into Queen Goblin (along with a dose of Osborn's very own Goblin Serum).
Now, after several battles between Queen Goblin and Spider-Man, the villainess has partnered with Kraven the Hunter (in this case the son of the original, who has grown into his father's former role), both romantically and in their revenge plans, to hunt not Peter Parker, but Norman Osborn. However, it's not simply Osborn that Kraven wants to hunt - it's the Green Goblin.
To turn Osborn back into the Goblin (which Doctor Octopus also recently tried and failed to do), Kraven and Queen Goblin conduct a magical ritual which transfers the evil of Osborn's sins into a spear, which will transfer the essence of Osborn's dark side back into him when he's stabbed with it.
Back at OsCorp, where Peter Parker works alongside the reformed Norman Osborn, the pair share a surprisingly tender moment. Osborn asks Peter if he's been working so closely with him because he's worried about the return of the Green Goblin. But Peter confesses it's the opposite - Norman is reminding him more and more of the man he once knew as a mentor and surrogate father before he became the Green Goblin.
"I'm beginning to think that might be the real you," Peter says.
But Peter and Norman's heart-to-heart is interrupted by Kraven, who has managed to sneak into OsCorp and dismantle Osborn's Gold Goblin armor before making himself known. As Peter scrambles to put on his Spider-Man gear, Kraven declares Osborn as his prey - and Osborn responds by attempting to seal himself off with Kraven to protect Peter.
True to form, however, Peter manages to break into the room where Osborn and Kraven are fighting, which fills with steam thanks to the OsCorp sprinkler system. In the melee, Kraven takes the spear and thrusts it directly into the chest of… Peter Parker.
Peter begins laughing maniacally as all of Osborn's sins are imbued into his being, and Kraven realizes he is no longer the hunter, he is the hunted, fleeing OsCorp in a panic.
So what's next for Peter and Norman Osborn? We've seen covers for future issues that hint at a clash between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. But with Peter now playing host to his greatest enemy's dark side, that conflict could be twisted around into something totally different from what we've seen before, with a more heroic Goblin taking on a decidedly more brutal Spidey.
To that end, it looks like Peter will be reverting back to his classic black costume to hunt Kraven, just like in the classic Spider-Man story 'Kraven's Last Hunt'. Spider-Man will also don his black costume (but the original symbiote version) to fight Kraven in the video game Marvel's Spider-Man 2, which releases in October.
Amazing Spider-Man #33 goes on sale September 6.
Green Goblin and Kraven the Hunter are two of the best Spider-Man villains of all time.