March 30, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #40 (September, 1966)

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin battle it out for the last time for the very first time!

Alright, here we go.  Spider-Man vs the Green Goblin while Aunt May’s life may be on the line in a completely different part of town!

I feel like I’ve seen this scenario before.

Issue:  The Amazing Spider-Man #40, September 1966

Writer:  Stan Lee

Artist:  John Romita Sr

The Plot:  Spider-Man takes on the Green Goblin for the last time (not really)!

Commentary:  So, there’s a good chunk of this issue where Norman Osborn relates his backstory to a tied up Peter Parker, and it takes a few pages, recounting all the Goblin’s previous appearances and why Norman is the way he is, even the point where it looks like he set up his old business partner to go to jail so Norman could have more control over the company.  About all I can say for certain is Norman wasn’t much of a good man before the explosion that triggered the Green Goblin persona.

That’s a far cry from, say, Sam Raimi’s movie where Norman is a genuinely good man who’s just trying to save his company.  Yes, I am sure there are oodles of ways we can ask if anyone with Norman’s resources are “good” or not, but that’s how Willem Defoe plays him in those movies:  Norman is good, and the Goblin is bad.

But here, no, Norman was already something of a neglectful father to poor Harry and his main concern seems to be making as much money as possible.  Harry in the flashbacks is just asking for his father’s time, but Norman meanwhile is inspiring Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”.

Huh, Harry did end up just like his dad.

But that’s for later.  For now, it’s Peter vs Norman!

Or not.  Sure, there are other bits of drama.  Aunt May worries so much that Peter hasn’t come home on time that Anna Watson needs to call a doctor.  Betty Brant is thinking she needs to go back to New York and make some decisions.  I don’t much care what happens to Betty, and Aunt May will live if for no other reason than Peter needs someone he has to worry about.

Instead, Peter doesn’t quite get loose in time because Norman lets him loose (the Goblin ain’t that bright if ya ask me), and the fight ends when…Norman hits his head and forgets the past few years.  Peter has to change his clothes for him, burn the Goblin costume, and then tell the cops Norman helped defeat the Goblin even as the cops think Peter did it because J Jonah Jameson is that influential I guess.

And I can’t help but wonder how different Spider-Man’s adventures would have been if Norman kept that amnesia going.  Yeah, I know that’s not how it works in comics.  Norman has to come back.  He’s already Spider-Man’s archenemy just by virtue of the fact he was the only one who seemed to escape every confrontation before now.  Arguably, Peter still hasn’t really defeated the Green Goblin, and as near as I can make out, he’s mostly just a guy with some weapons.  Does he have the Goblin’s superstrength, or is he just good with a newspaper deliver boy’s satchel?

Eh, never mind.  I praised a lot of Ditko’s villain design.  The next issue has Romita’s first.  And this one, he has superpowers for sure.

Grade:  A

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