Friday, January 18, 2019

A Prolegomena To Any Future Discussion of the Green Goblin

Where were were on the morning Ditko quit?

Spider-Man #9

First appearance of Electro.

The reader is told in flashback that Electro is an electrical engineer named Max Dillon.

When Spider-Man unmasks Electro, he exclaims: "If this was a movie I'd gasp in horror and then I'd say 'Good heavens! The Butler! But this guy I never saw before.'"

Spider-Man #10

First appearance of the Big Man.

Both the reader and Spider-Man are encouraged to believe that the Big Man is J. Jonah Jameson; in a last minute twist, he is revealed to be Bugle reporter Frederick Foswell.

Spider-Man #14:

First appearance of the Green Goblin.

The reader sees the Goblin in his "shadowy, basement laboratory"; but his face is obscured (by a shadow and a piece of machinery) when he takes his mask off.

Spider-Man Annual #1

The Goblin is featured in a portfolio of Spider-Man villains. His anonymity is treated as his Unique Selling Point: "Unlike most of Spidey's other foes, the true identity of the Green Goblin is still unknown." 

Spider-Man #17

Second appearance of the Green Goblin.

The reader once again sees the Green Goblin in his lair, plotting his revenge on Spider-Man. Again, his face his obscured (behind the same piece of hi-tech as before.)

We also get a back view of the Goblin in an ordinary brown suit and purple hat but his hair is blacked out, so we don't know what colour or style it is.

Spider-Man #19 

The reader sees a rich figure in a green dressing grown plotting against Spider-Man. His face is concealed from the reader by a shadow.

Spider-Man #20

The mysterious figure in a dressing gown is revealed to be J. Jonah Jameson.

Spider-Man #23

Third appearance of the Green Goblin (we do not see him with his mask off).

First appearance of The Important Man At J.J.J's club. He wears a purple suit, has distinct reddish curled hair, and doesn't get any lines.
Spider-Man #25

Second appearance of Curly Haired Club Man.

Peter Parker sees him leaving J.J.J's office (having just taken out an advert in the paper). J.J.J says "See you at the club tonight" and Peter Parker identifies him as "someone important."

Spider-Man #26/#27

Final appearance of the Green Goblin during the Ditko era.

The Green Goblin is said to have revealed his secret identity to the Crime Master; but the Crime Master dies before revealing it to anyone else.

At the end of the story the reader sees the Goblin holding his mask in the air, vowing revenge on Spider-Man. His face is obscured by shadow.

A false trail is laid suggesting to both Spider-Man and the reader that the Crime Master is Frederick Foswell. He turns out to be a gangster known to the police and Jameson but not to Peter Parker.

Parker says:

"It's kinda funny: in real life when a villain is unmasked he isn't always the butler or the one you  suspected! Sometimes he's a man you didn't even know." 

Third appearance of Important Curly Haired Club Man.

Spider-Man #31

First appearance of Harry Osborn.

Harry is a minor character who replaced "Seymour" as Flash Thompson's accomplice. He wears a bow tie and has Curly Red Hair.

First appearance of The Master Planner.

The reader hears the Master Planner making masterful plans. The reader does not discover the Master Planner's identity -- we appear to hear his monologues from outside his secret base.

Spider-Man #32

The Master Planner's identity is revealed: he is Doctor Octopus.

Spider-Man #36

First and hopefully only appearance of The Looter.

The reader sees Norman Fester acquiring super strength and taking on the identity of the Looter.

When Spider-Man unmasks the Looter, he has no idea who Fester is, exclaiming "I never saw him before in my life...The police will know how to identify him."

Spider-Man #37

First appearance and death of Prof. Stromm.

Important Red Haired Man From Club identified as Norman Osborn, former business partner of Prof. Stromm.

Important Red Haired Man From Club also identified as Father of Harry Osborn.

Prof. Stromm has a secret which no-one else knows, but is murdered by Norman Osborn before he can reveal it.

Spider-Man #38

Norman Osborn places a bounty on Spider-Man's head. He disguises himself in a green business suit, dark glasses and false beard before doing so.

On the morning Ditko quit, the question of the origin and identity of the Green Goblin stood as follows:
  • No-one knows who the Green Goblin is. The one person who ever knew, the Crime Master, is dead. 
  • The Green Goblin is someone whose face is worth hiding from the reader.
  • The colour of the Green Goblin's hair might give us a clue about who he really his. 
  • Norman Osborn is the father of a minor character, Flash Thompson's wing-man, Harry. 
  • Norman Osborn is a close friend of J. Jonah Jameson.
  • Norman Osborn is Not Very Nice. 
  • Norman Osborn has some means of silently escaping from upper windows without a ladder or rope. 
  • Norman Osborn is strong enough to knock out Spider-Man.
  • Norman Osborn stole unspecificed inventions from Prof. Stromm, and then framed him for an unspecified crime. 
  • Norman Osborn has unspecified "plans" which he feels both Prof. Stromm and Spider-Man could interfere with.
  • Norman Osborn does not mention any previous history with Spider-Man, even in his internal monologues.
  • Norman Osborn has a big secret, one which he was prepared to murder Stromm in order to conceal.

A Close Reading of the First Great Graphic Novel in American Literature
Andrew Rilstone

Andrew Rilstone is a writer and critic from Bristol, England. This essay forms part of his critical study of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's original Spider-Man comic book. 

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Amazing Spider-Man was written and drawn by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and is copyright Marvel Comics. All quotes and illustrations are use for the purpose of criticism under the principle of fair dealing and fair use, and remain the property of the copyright holder.

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1 comment:

  1. You know what? I reckon -- hear me out -- Norman Osborne is the Green Goblin!


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