Monday, 29 March 2010

Amazing Spider-Man #40. The Green Goblin's origin

Amazing Spider-Man #40, Spidey stands over the defeated Green Goblin, flames all around them, the origin of the Green Goblin, John Romita  cover(Not that they want to give away the ending or anything. Cover from September 1966.)

"Spidey Saves The Day!"

Written by Stan Lee.
Drawn by John Romita.
Inked by Mickey Demeo.
Lettered by Sam Rosen

Parenthood, it can be a tricky art to master. On the one hand you can be too lenient with your children, leaving them spoiled and complacent. On the other, you can become a crazed, homicidal maniac, out to kill Spider-Man and to become boss of all New York's criminal underworld. Happily for comic readers, Norman Osborn chose the latter.

In fairness it wasn't all his own fault. he'd been driven mad by the explosion of a mysterious green chemical whose formula he'd found lying around. Then again, he came across the formula by framing his business partner Professor Stromm. So, on the side of the angels he never was.

But this is the big one, the final and decisive showdown between the Green Goblin and the Amazing Spider-Man.

In fact, as the above summary suggests, we have to wait quite a while for it as the Goblin, unmasked, gives the captive Peter Parker the rundown on his entire history.

Actually, this really impresses me. Stan Lee's notorious for his poor memory and, so, to get a potted history of all of Spider-Man's meetings with the Goblin's quite a feat. I suspect he may have dug out the old back-issues for this one. Then again, given the nature of the Marvel Method, maybe it was John Romita who did the digging out.

John Romita always reckons that, when he first started drawing the strip, for the first few issues he was trying to ape Steve Ditko's style. I have to say I can't see any great signs of it here. The difference between his and Ditko's approach leaps out at you, with Romita's style being far more dynamic, dramatic and urgent. For the first time since he was introduced, the Goblin comes across as being genuinely dangerous and genuinely psychotic, as Norman Osborn sweats his way through his delusional self-justifications and tells of a sequence of events that he sees as having been a release for his true potential although it's clear to the rest of us that it was merely a descent into madness.

Needless, to say, despite this "potential" Spider-Man comes out on top as, kicked across the room by our hero, Osborn finds himself crashing into a mixture of chemicals and electricity that robs him of all memory of his notorious alter-ego. On one hand, the sudden amnesia's clearly a cop-out way of dealing with the problem that Spider-Man's arch enemy knows his secret identity. On the other, it leaves the way open for the future return of the Goblin and would later enable the strip's artists and writers to add to the sense of him as a menace that never quite goes away.

And so, the threat of the Green Goblin gone for now, the tale concludes with Peter Parker back at home, being mollycoddled by Aunt May, and Harry and Norman Osborn getting the chance to start all over again with each other. Who says the Amazing Spider-Man always has to have an unhappy ending?


JalRod said...

As far as I'm concerned #39 & #40 is the true beginning of ASM. Ditko is way overrated.

The Cryptic Critic said...

Hi, JalRod. I must admit I prefer Romita too, although Ditko had his moments.


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