February 8 marks the birth of a new Marvel legacy as Normie Osborn, grandson of Norman Osborn/Green Goblin (or as he's known currently, the Gold Goblin) and his symbiote, itself the offspring of the villain Carnage, kick off their own solo title as Red Goblin.
With two villainous legacies on their shoulders, Normie Osborn and his symbiote, which is nicknamed 'Rascal,' have a lot to overcome to make a positive mark on the Marvel Universe. But to guide their conscience, Normie and Rascal have writer Alex Paknadel and artist Jan Bazaldua behind the wheel to bring Red Goblin through the horrors of both symbiosis and puberty.(opens in new tab)
Newsarama spoke with Paknadel who opens up about how Normie and Rascal will navigate the dark legacies that birthed them while attempting to stay on a path of heroism, alongside some brand new pages from Jan Bazaldua and colorist David Curiel that tap right into the Goblin aspect of Normie's history alongside some hardcore symbiote action.
Newsarama: Alex, this is the first starring role for Normie Osborn/Red Goblin. He's had some questionable influences in the past - so what's his deal here? Are we looking at a hero? A villain? Something in between?
Alex Paknadel: Definitely something in-between, but the desire is there to do and be good. Normie is well aware of his toxic family legacy, and he sees the symbiote as a means of escaping it – of banking enough good deeds to get out from under what he considers to be a family curse.(opens in new tab)
However, you can never outrun the legs that carry you, so Normie's going to discover that being a hero when you're bonded to an alien engine of chaos is not so easy.
Nrama: One of the things that really sets Normie Osborn apart from most other symbiotes is that, like Dylan Brock, he's just a kid. How does his youth factor into his role as Red Goblin and his relationship with other symbiotes?
Paknadel: Well, strictly speaking, both Normie and his symbiote, Rascal, are both kids. Rascal is effectively a newborn. He has no memory of Knull or the Hive or anything like that, so he's a clean slate – as innocent and potentially lethal as a Rottweiler puppy.(opens in new tab)
So, unlike Dylan Brock, our Normie doesn’t have counsel from ancient symbiotes to guide him on his path. He's a kid, sure, but in many ways, he's being forced to be the grownup because Rascal just wants to eat everything and play. We're going to see Normie grapple with that role as he tries to be an older head on young shoulders.
Nrama: On that note, what's Normie getting himself into in this title? What's he up against?
Paknadel: This is a book about legacy, so it would be a huge mistake not to confront that early on, right? Accordingly, you can expect Normie to be immediately confronted with some particularly malodorous Osborn family sins from the jump.
Nrama: On that note, from the looks of the cover of Red Goblin #1, you're not shying away from the horror aspect that often comes with the Goblin legacy, to say nothing of the symbiotes. How do you split the difference with that kind of creepiness when you have a younger protagonist?(opens in new tab)
Paknadel: Honestly, I don't split the difference. Kids are a horror staple precisely because placing kids in creepy or perilous scenarios automatically generates enough audience empathy to power a small city. Normie's an intensely vulnerable kid with a vicious dog that just happens to be an unstoppable alien exosymbiont, so – at least in my head – the dynamic you have is effectively Lassie as a messed-up horror movie. I'd watch the heck out of that and I'm pretty confident I'm not alone.
Nrama: Speaking of 'not alone,' you're working on Red Goblin with artist Jan Bazaldua. What's that been like?
Paknadel: I knew Marvel believed in this book when they paired me with Jan - a Stormbreaker no less. Jan's professionalism and dedication to craft is peerless, but for m,e it's the commitment to great storytelling that really shines through. I'm incredibly lucky to be working with this team on this book, and I sincerely believe that passion is all on the page.
Nrama: Normie Osborn/Red Goblin is a relatively unknown character at this point, despite being the heir to two huge Spider-Man spin-off legacies in the Green Goblin and Carnage. What makes him a leading man? What sets him apart from the villains that made him who he is?(opens in new tab)
Paknadel: I think you nailed part of it in the question. Although the symbiote side of things is run out of the Spider-Man office and it's all very neatly interconnected, the Venom and Carnage stuff is definitely off in its own corner dealing with some pretty weighty themes under the dazzling stewardship of Al Ewing and Ram V.
This book – our book – has a foot in both camps, so the symbiote of it all is very Venom whereas the Osborn of it all is very Spider-Man. Consequently, we're a little freer to treat Normie as a confluence of both. Spider-Man's godson is also the offspring of his two greatest foes.
He has in his possession a weapon that could well unleash the sadism and depravity his family name makes him heir to, but he's choosing to go the other way. In brief, I want people to root for this poor kid and his weird murderous pal because although the path they're walking is crooked and perilous, the end goal is truly noble.
That’s an epic theme, and very much worth exploring.
Red Goblin is heir to the legacies of some of the best Spider-Man villains ever.