"How Green Was My Goblin!"
Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by John Romita.
Inked by Mickey Demeo.
Lettered by Artie Simek.
I feel like Alexander the Great getting back to Babylon after trekking through the desert.
I know I shouldn't feel like that, Steve Ditko was, after all, the artist who did most to define what Spider-Man was about and there's no denying the elegance and beauty of much of his work but, somehow, I've always been grabbed more by John Romita's more dynamic, simpler and more conventional story-telling, and he makes a bang and a half in his debut tale, with the unmasking of Spider-Man and the revelation of the Green Goblin's true identity.
And, when it arrives, in that last panel, what a shock it is.
Well, alright, I admit, it's not much of a shock, There are only two people in this issue who he could realistically be; either Dr Bromwell or Norman Osborn. As The Goblin doesn't recognise Peter Parker when he sees him without his mask, it clearly can't be Bromwell, therefore, unless Lee and Romita really were going to pull something from out on our blind-side, it has to be Norman Osborn - you know, the man who's spent the last few issues trying to get rid of Spider-Man? In hindsight, the decision could never have been much of a surprise to readers but, given how things developed over the next few years, it was clearly the right one.
As for the tale itself, it's great. Following the long established pattern of mixing Peter Parker's domestic life with his super-hero one, we get a trip to ESU, a trip to the Daily Bugle, a trip to Peter Parker's house, complete with brief appearance from Aunt May who we're told earlier in the tale is a sick woman and must have no sudden shocks in her life. It's almost as though, fearing there might be resistance to the arrival of a new artist from out of the blue, John Romita and Stan Lee had decided to pack as many familiar elements in as they could, to reassure readers that it'd continue to still be the same old comic they'd always loved.
That's not to say there're no changes at all though. Clearly, with Ditko no longer on plotting duties, Lee was happy to start to make things the way he thought they should be and so, leaving aside that fact that everyone's suddenly better looking than they used to be, the major change is a distinct thawing in the relationship between Peter Parker and his classmates Flash Thompson and Harry Osborn.
It's no bad thing. Frankly, the, "Peter Parker's unfairly ostracized by his classmates," routine had grown tired long ago and should have been ditched when he first started going to university.
So, all in all, it's the start of a new era and it kicks off in style.