This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on February 5, 2016.
Speculating about what’s to come is a time honored tradition amongst comics fans. Parsing through solicits, foreshadowing, and minor details to unveil the machinations behind these monthly stories can be a lot of fun. Half of that fun lies in sharing your theories with friends and we here at ComicBook.Com have something we think is well worth sharing. There’s nothing more hyped in superhero comics today than Marvel’s “Dead No More”, and we might have cracked its mystery.
The solution begins from two pieces of evidence found outside of comics. First Marvel updated their “Dead No More” ads to include a spider-web and red curtain, indicating a certain webhead would somehow be involved. Now the publisher has released details on their Free Comic Book Day offerings, specifically FCBD Captain America. The story focuses on Captain America being written by Nick Spencer, but there is a second writers name besides Spencers on the solicit: Dan Slott. If there is one thing Slott is synonymous with, it’s Spider-Man. The announcement also mentions that this comic will also “offer new information on Marvel’s mysterious ‘Dead No More’ story.” If there was any doubt that this plot will focus on Spider-Man, that should be abolished.
Knowing that a Marvel story features Spider-Man doesn’t mean too much considering he is their most popular character worldwide. However, Slott is also well known for plotting stories years in advance. The seeds for his Superior Spider-Man became all too obvious in retrospect, a structure of carefully laid groundwork leading to the replacement of Spider-Man with is arch-nemesis Doctor Octopus. So we decided to look at what Slott has been doing recently on Amazing Spider-Man to see what he might be up to, and there have been some significant clues since the relaunch of the series.
At the end of Amazing Spider-Man #2, the story jumps to a depressed Rhino lying on the beach who is approached by a mysterious stranger in a red suit. Just as Rhino appears ready to beat the stranger, he reveals his dead wife Oksana (killed in Amazing Spider-Man #617). The Rhino is overcome by gratitude and agrees to do whatever the stranger asks. This isn’t the only instance of a villain’s loved ones being made “dead no more” recently though.
Later at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #4, The Lizard is approached by the same stranger who reveals his wife and son (thought to be killed by cancer and his own hand, respectively) are alive and well. Again, the stranger has earned the loyalty of a classic Spidey villain by returning their loved ones to life.
This means two important things. One, a villain is collecting Spider-Man’s greatest foes for some nefarious or, dare I say, sinister purpose. Two, that villain has the ability to return the dead to life in some capacity. So far these resurrections have only affected supporting characters, but there are several big names that have been brought up recently in Slott’s run.
The most obvious name is that of Otto Octavius who was revealed to still be alive in the body of The Living Brain at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #1. If someone is looking for Spider-villains and has the ability to bring back the dead, there’s no way they could skip the wall crawler’s greatest deceased foe. If it weren’t for Otto’s mechanical state, it wouldn’t be difficult to believe that he’s behind it all. Instead, it looks like his return is just part of a much larger scheme.
There’s one Spider-villain turned ally who has been waiting to make a return as well. Ever since Silver Sable was killed by The Rhino in “Ends of the Earth”, Slott has focused on how guilty Peter feels about her death. He has obsessed over his own inability to save her and what he would do to save everyone. With both her killer and the ability to return the dead to life in the mix, is it possible that Silver Sable won’t feature in “Dead No More”? What her role will be is unclear. Will she return as a villain (look at how souless the Connors family’s eyes are when The Lizard looks at them)? Or will she become yet another deal with the devil that Peter cannot turn down?
What’s clear is that someone with the ability to bring the dead back to life is plotting against Peter and collecting some of his greatest foes to help. “Dead No More” is bound to feature The Lizard, The Rhino, Doctor Octopus, and Silver Sable all in some capacity based on their roles in Slott’s previous Spider-Man events. The only major question left is who is behind all of this?
That’s the only piece of the puzzle that hasn’t quite clicked into place yet, but we have two great theories. The first of which is that this is the return of Norman Osborne as the Green Goblin. He resurfaced at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #3 as an arms dealer whose face was wrapped in bandages. This would explain why neither The Lizard nor The Rhino recognized him, and would put Spidey’s other greatest arch-nemesis at the forefront of this story.
The other option is Mr. Jacobs, a major investor in Parker Industries, who was just revealed to be the ringleader behind Zodiac who destroyed much of the gang in order to cover his own tracks. The color is certainly right considering the red suit of the stranger and red cape of Zodiac match. Zodiac also has some mystical abilities that might explain how he is resurrecting people.
Of course, the real answer might actually be it is both of these men. While Mr. Jacobs clearly alludes to Jacob Fury, the original Zodiac (currently deceased, for whatever it’s worth), no one knows what Norman Osborne currently looks like. He’s a well known multi-tasker and certainly up to the challenge of running a gang, an arms manufacturing operation, and investing on Wall Street. In fact, all three of these operations could benefit one another and fit right into the Green Goblin’s wheelhouse. He’s also one of the few living villains aware of Spider-Man’s secret identity.
That’s why we think “Dead No More” will be the start of the greatest Green Goblin scheme yet. The man in the red suit isn’t wearing his true colors. Instead, he’s wearing a variety of disguises in order to attach Spider-Man from all sides using his new power of life over death. With that power at his disposal, who knows what else might happen? Even Spider-Man’s most dearly deceased like Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben won’t be safe from the Goblin’s wrath.
So what do you think? Does this sound plausible or is there a better theory? Share your thoughts in the comments below.