Warning: SPOILERS for The Amazing Spider-Man #800
Thanos killed half the universe with a snap of his fingers, but Norman Osborn's version is only going to kill half a dozen of Spider-Man's loved ones. The Avengers: Infinity War movie may have introduced that unforgettable hand gesture to a brand new audience, but for decades, the Thanos "SNAP" has remained one of Marvel's most shocking moments.
So it's only right that it should be recreated in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #800, as Peter Parker faces the most horrifying version of Norman Osborn yet: the Red Goblin. He may not have the powers of Thanos (just the combination of Green Goblin and Carnage) but that doesn't mean he can't show the villain's most infamous moment some love.
With a snap of his fingers, Norman Osborn just killed Spider-Man's family... or, that was the plan, at least. But let's be honest: Goblin is no Thanos.
The devious callback to Thanos's original snap in the Infinity Gauntlet comic arrives in Amazing Spider-Man #800, the final entry in writer Dan Slott's historic Spider-Man run. In an issue filled with memorable moments - and even the death of an awesome Spider-Man ally, the most satisfying comes when the Red Goblin reveals his master plan, taking the lives of Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May, Harry Osborn, Silk, and Clash with a snap of his... well, you get the idea.
The moment comes as an unexpected blow to Spider-Man, having already saved those targets from Osborn's symbiotic scheming... or so he thought. As the villain can't help but explain in great detail (the Carnage Symbiote hasn't changed Norman Osborn's knack for pageantry), he only let Spider-Man think he had gotten them out of harm's way. While most of the symbiote shards he fired at those targets lodged into their skin, one burrowed deep into each of their bodies, awaiting his killing command.
The command, revealed to be a Thanos-emulating "snap," amounts to Norman's most shameless attempt at supervillany, intended to send those shards directly into the nerve center of the brain. Not only will Peter's friends and loved ones die, but they will die in agony. A twisted plan, so give credit where it's due.
Unfortunately, Norman didn't build in a failsafe in the event that his scheme was foiled. Because if he went for the dramatic snap and nothing actually happened, the embarrassment alone would be enough to defeat him (Spider-Man knocking him unconscious merely a formality at that point).
Yes, the credit for Red Goblin's murder plot may be shared by both Norman Osborn and Carnage, but the accolades for foiling it lie completely with Eugene "Flash" Thompson, formerly known as Agent Venom (and Peter Parker's high school bully), currently operating as the symbiote-counteracting Anti-Venom. Peter didn't even realize that Flash had already discovered Goblin's plan and saved the say. He didn't realize it, because he didn't realize Flash had uncovered his secret identity. In Peter's defense, reuniting with the Venom symbiote probably had him a little distracted.
In hindsight, Silk calling Spider-Man "Pete" in the presence of strangers was a major slip, but one all involved will be happy was made. After Flash deduced that Spidey was Peter Parker - and that Goblin had left sleeper-cell symbiote shards in his loved ones - removing them from the targets was precisely what Flash's powers were designed to do. The bad news? It used up the powers he had left, meaning preventing the deaths of Peter Parker's whole world wasn't just the greatest thing Flash Thompson did... it was also the LAST.
If you're going to go out, doing it while making Norman Osborn's greatest villain moment turn into his most humiliating is probably the best possible option. Thanos himself would be proud.
The Amazing Spider-Man #800 is available now from Marvel Comics.