Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #14. The Green Goblin, Enforcers and the Hulk

Amazing Spider-Man #14, the Green Goblin makes his debut, aided and abetted by the Enforcers, with a guest appearance in a cave by the Incredible Hulk, Steve Ditko cover
(Cover from July 1964.)

The Green Goblin"

Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Steve Ditko.
Inked by Steve Ditko.
Lettered by Art Simek.

Value for money. Sometimes you have to check what's behind it.

Seeing how much is crammed into this issue, I assumed the price must have gone up and Marvel Comics were making an effort to cram as much in as they could to justify it.

But not at all. A quick look at the cover tells us the price is still 12 cents. But, even if it had gone up, we can hardly be accused of being short changed this month. Not only do we get the debut of the Green Goblin. we get the return of the Enforcers and Spider-Man's first meeting with the Incredible Hulk.

It's the debut of the Green Goblin that is of course the main event in this tale - although, at the time, it must have seemed to readers that the Hulk's guest slot was the bigger deal. We, however, have the benefit of hindsight and the readers of 1964 didn't.

It's an odd plan the Goblin concocts, tricking Spider-Man into agreeing to appear in a movie so he and the Enforcers, posing as fellow cast members, can attack him. There's really no need for any of this charade, they could have attacked him easily enough anywhere and at any time and it's a plan that does rely on Spider-Man being unbelievably stupid. He's stood in a room with the Enforcers and doesn't recognise them as the real thing, convinced they're just actors pretending. It's a scenario worthy of the old Adam West Batman series in its unlikelihood.

But you suspect that Steve Ditko's clear love of having battles take place in not previously seen locations, like sculptor's studios and film sets, was coming into play here. It gives him an excuse to stick Spider-Man in a desert and then in cave, neither of which he was likely to encounter in Manhattan. It was also a convenient way to bring the Hulk into the story.

So, how does the Goblin fare on his debut?

He comes out of it pretty well. This being his first appearance, he's not yet developed the out-and-out psychotic nature of later years. Here he's merely an ambitious novice criminal out to get himself some power by defeating Spider-Man. But the fact that Spider-Man fails to defeat him and that, at the end of the tale, the Goblin still has his secret identity intact marks him out, even at this point, as a major villain of the future.

Sadly, not major villains of the future are the Enforcers, as out of their depth against Spider-Man as Spider-Man is against the Hulk. Despite their boast that they take orders from no one, they're never going to be anything more than lackeys for more important criminals. It has to be said that even if you hired the Enforcers for nothing, value for money is one thing you would never claim to be getting.

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