Thursday, 14 May 2009

Amazing Spider-man #96. Green Goblin drug issue

Amazing Spider-Man #96, drugs issue, Green Goblin
(With not a Comics Code Approval notice in sight. Cover from May 1971.)

"...AND NOW, THE GOBLIN!"

Written by Stan Lee
Art by Gil Kane and John Romita
Lettering by Artie Simek


What happens:
Peter Parker's back in New York and it's Mary Jane's big break, her first starring role in an off-Broadway musical.

But, before that, Spider-Man has to deal with a youth who's so high he leaps off a roof, thinking he can fly.

That dealt with, he joins the gang and they, along with Norman Osborn, go along to see the show. Mary Jane wows the audience but, as the group are leaving, Osborn seems fascinated by a locked door in the theatre. Fearing the worst, Spider-Man later returns to the building - only to find those fears confirmed. The locked door led to one of the Green Goblin's old bolt-holes, and now, his memory restored by the reminder, the Goblin's back.

The Verdict:
Wow! Everything but the kitchen sink thrown into this one. First, we get the anti-drugs message that forced Marvel to publish the issue without the Comics Code seal of approval, then we get to see MJ finally get something to do and, at the climax, we get the return of the Green Goblin. I couldn't claim to know enough about drugs to comment on the accuracy of the story's dealing with the issue, and Lee does seem to be laying it on with a trowel when it comes to Randy Robertson's argument with Norman Osborn but there's no denying the courage it would've taken to do it. Nor would it be right to fail to credit Lee with sticking to his recent policy of letting real-life issues intrude on the previously cosy world of the super-hero.

Mary Jane really does start to become a total cow with this issue, treating Harry like something she's just stepped in. At least that's what I thought when I first read these stories then someone pointed out to me that I'd completely missed the point of her behaviour - as has Pete - and I'll be going into my thoughts on that in a later review.

It is a bit startling to discover the Goblin stored his spare costume and equipment in a theatre - especially one he didn't even own - which you would have thought would've made the task of maintaining his secret identity somewhat more difficult. Still, he is a madman, so I suppose anything's possible.

Peter Parker's personal life.
Joe Robertson seems to be onto Peter. Surely he knows by now that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same. It certainly seems to be the case.

Aunt May goes to see Hair.

Taking advantage of Gwen Stacy's absence, Mary Jane keeps coming onto Peter, right in front of her boyfriend Harry. Is she trying to make Harry jealous? Or is there something else behind it all?

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