Sunday, 7 February 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #17. The Green Goblin and the Human Torch

Amazing Spider-Man #17, the return of the Green Goblin and the Human Torch
(Cover from October 1964.)

"The Return of the Green Goblin!"

Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by Steve Ditko.
Inked by Steve Ditko.
Lettered by Sam Rosen.

If a rose is a rose by any other name, Liz Allan must be a very relieved flower to hear it, as Stan Lee still doesn't seem able to make up his mind whether she's Liz Allan or Liz Allen. To make matters even worse, we're then introduced to her father who gets referred to as, "Mr Brant," implying that Smiling Stan now thinks she's called Liz Brant! I can only assume the Mr Brant reference was a mistake and Stan Lee wasn't implying the two rivals for Peter Parker's heart, Liz Allan and Betty Brant, are in fact secretly sisters.

Meanwhile, the world may view Spider-Man with distrust and suspicion but not Flash Thompson - he merely views Peter Parker with distrust and suspicion - and so he forms the Spider-Man Fan Club, as Liz Allan/Allen/Brant gets her rich father to lend the kids his night club for a venue.

Needless to say, nothing goes any more right for Flash Thompson than it always does for Peter Parker as, first, Spider-Man, and then the Green Goblin, and then the Human Torch, crash the meeting. Stan Lee really was keen to play up the rivalry/grudging friendship between Spider-Man and the Torch in the strip's early days. It's only issue #17 and I've already lost count of the number of time's Johnny Storm's turned up. He's here again and, for once, he doesn't get to fight Spider-Man, instead, spotting that the Green Goblin's the real enemy, he rushes to Spider-Man's aid.

Not that Spider-Man seems to need it because it's an odd little outing for the Goblin. Despite being armed to the teeth with new gadgets - and a new "glider" - he seems so much less dangerous than he did last time out, in a tale mostly played for laughs. Even the Goblin's fight with Spider-Man and then the Torch and then Spider-Man has an oddly frivolous feel to it, like they're all fighting mostly for the fun of it.

But fun can't last forever and, as the fight's about to reach its climax, our hero overhears a phone conversation that tells him his Aunt May's in hospital, prompting Spider-Man to flee the scene to rush off to see her. Now all the world thinks Spider-Man's a coward, and the Green Goblin's still on the loose. Shakespeare might have been right and a name might not matter but, right now, Spider-Man's name is mud and he's not at all happy about it.

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