For those of us born after 1966, or at least reading Amazing Spider-Man after issue #40, when Jazzy John Romita Senior showed us the identity of the Green Goblin, we have always accepted the fact that the original Green Goblin was Norman Osborn.


But to those fans of Ditko's Spider-Man run, #1-38, there was quite a different story being planned.

For example, since Harry's father Norman wasn't introduced until very  late in this run, it suggests that he wasn't the original target for the identity of the Goblin.

 

Many sources have claimed that Steve Ditko was plotting Spider-man and that he was intending the goblin to be an unknown, someone never seen or ID'd in the strip before.

But others claim that Ditko was aiming at another villian in the Daily Bugle, under JJJameson's nose.

 

Stan Lee objected, saying they already had the Big Man revealed as Fredrick Foswell, and that another criminal would be unbelievable. (HA! after all, it's a comic book...)

And Lee wanted it to be someone already introduced for great dramatic tension, reveal...

 

Since Lee was editor, he won. Ditko walked.  But that's a tale for another day.

 

I originally learned of the theory that NedLeads was going to be the Green Goblin back in a Fantaco publication that preceded the Official Marvel Comics Guides...  The Chronicle suggested that the most obvious clue was when Parker beats up a manequin in an alleyway, because the grinning dummy reminded him of Ned Leeds, who was in the process of taking Betty Brant away from Petey.

But sharp-eyed fans also got the visual reference to the grin of the Green Goblin... a not so subtle message that Ned was the Goblin due to the identical grins...and if Petey had just calmed down, he would have seen the connection also.

 

One can only imagine how different the world of Spider-Man would have evolved, had Ditko not walked out or if Ned WAS the Green Goblin...

 

But I'm more interested in the Normal Osborn resolution.  Over the next two years or so, it was frequently a subplot that Norman Osborn was having flashbacks and returning memory that he was linked to the Green Goblin and Spider-Man.  In fact, he DOES remember he was the green goblin  (what issued was this, guys?) and hides from Harry while in costume in his factory.  The story thread leads to a two issue pilot for the Spectacular Spider-Man...where the goblin returns in issue #2...but suffers another convenient memory loss at the hands of his own Psyco-pumpkin bomb....(read, drugs).

What I want to know is when did this story take place?  That is, between what issues of the main title, ASM, did Spectacular Spidey #2 take place.   I know the subplot was being teased and developed for quite a while, but just where does it blossom?   Also, was the full-color story ever reprinted or broken up into two parts and reprinted?  I have a vague memory of it being run as an annual or as a two-parter fill-in or flashback.

 

Can anyone confirm this?

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SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #2 clearly takes place (mostly) in between ASM #67 and ASM #68.  The 2-part Vulture story led directly into the prison-break story and that led directly into the 2-part Mysterio story.  (Funny enough, those 3 issues were all adapted for the cartoon show, the prison-break as the last episode of Season 2 and the Mysterio story compressed into a 10-min. episode of the 3rd season, although, I suspect the dialogue was recorded much earlier, before GL went bankrupt, both for the 10-min. format and the fact that Spidey calls Mysterio "bowl-head" despite a complete re-design in the finished cartoon.)

The fact that Norman was shown slowly getting his memory back during the 2 or 3 previous episodes suggests that the opening sequence in SSM #2 actually takes place earlier, and threads itself back-and-forth between those scenes.  But for ease of reading, it's best to just read the Goblin story in between the Mysterio story and the Kingpin story, especially since the Kingpin story was the opening section of the "stone tablet" storyline that ran on and on for 10 straight months.

Someone suggested that "THE GOBLIN LIVES!", by rights, should have been the "last" Goblin story, and I wholeheartedly agree.  The suspense about whether Norman would regain his memory or not was built up to for a couple of years before it finally happened, the story was treated as an epic, and by the end, it seemed to have agenuinely "happy" ending (especially with Pete walking off with BOTH Gwen AND Mary Jane on his arms).  The 2 later stories where Norman got his memory back AGAIN, both done with Gil Kane, just seem completely uncalled-for, needlessly downbeat and nasty, and are evidence of near-complete creative bankruptcy (they ran out of ideas).

"THE GOBLIN LIVES!" was reprinted in ASM ANNUAL #9 (1973), but it had a LOT of pages cut from it. I've never read the complete version.

 

 

Believe it or not, this is somehow the first time I've seen it suggested that Ned Leeds may have been intended as The Green Goblin.  And you know what?  It MAKES SENSE.  He smiled too much, he was breaking up Pete & Betty, he normally wore GREEN suits, and-- he worked at the Daily Bugle!!  WHAT possible reason or connection was there initially for The Goblin to deliberately target Spider-Man for destruction, BEFORE they ever met the first time?? Has anyone ever looked into that? (Perhaps the hint was that JJJ had a secret identity...)

 

Something that slowly came to my attention in recent years was the fact that Stan, as a "writer" who wasn't really writing the stories, just the dialogue, apparently RE-USED Doc Ock's origin for The Goblin, without realizing it, while FORGETTING it had been used before. Since Romita wasn't around earlier, he might have just taken it for granted that Stan knew what he was doing.

 

Norman was shown to be an unscrupulous businessman, who, due to some "accident", gained super-strength and went totally nuts in the process.  But Ock was originally shown to be a decent man and research scientist, who, due to an accident, went COMPLETELY insane, and became one of the most dangerous criminals on the face of the Earth.  And NOBODY every seemed to show any sympathy for him or the fact that this was NOT his fault!!  Yet from the moment they revealed Norman was the Goblin, we were supposed to feel sympathy for the guy. Anyone else have a problem with this?

 

The parallel between the 2 villain origins probably became much more blatently obvious when they were used in the 1st and 2nd SPIDER-MAN feature films, back-to-back. There were some changes in the films, however. The movie Norman was shown to be a decent man BEFORE the accident, while he really WASN'T in the comics.  That amnesia made him a better person than he really was! Ock, on the other hand, had NO discearnable personality before the accident, but became a raving madman afterwards.  In the movie, they made him a well-rounded 3-dimensional personality, and a very likeable one-- which made the accident EVEN MORE tragic, as he went from 3 dimensions to 2 when he went insane (instead of going from 1 to 2 in the comics).

 

I can picture an alternate version of events in the comics, where The Goblin was revealed as a devious, ambitious criminal not deserving any kind of sympathy... while Ock's case should have been looked into.  Didn't anybody try to "cure" that poor guy?  Or at least, put him out of everyone's misery?

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #2 clearly takes place (mostly) in between ASM #67 and ASM #68.

Yes, the key word being "mostly." I once broke it down by pages (given such clues as Mary Jane's short curly haircut), but that post is lost on "Ye Olde Boarde." Regarding Ditko's original intention behind the idenity of the Green Goblin, I heard it like this: Ditko liked the randomness that it could have been anybody, and really should have been someone unknown to Peter. Lee didn't like because they had recently used that same device regarding the revelation of the Looter's identity in #36. Based on Ditko's idea that it could have been anyone, however, Stan picked an unnamed background character from JJJ's men's club and developed him into Norman Osborn. If one were to look at earlier issues, one would find drawnings of a guy with short curly red hair hanging around in thhe background of certain scenes.

Oh really.  I guess I had heard this, but hadn't gone to look for them.  Now I'll have to go look for Norman in places other than behind the octagon screen... (boy, that was the biggest mystery for a young boy of nine...WHO was behind that dressing mirror/partician.

Didn't the Goblin walk right past Peter Parker on the street one time, and Spidey's sense went off, and he couldn't figure out who or why? What issue was that?  Probably either 14, 18, 28 or some other Goblin appearance...

The Looter?  (I'm drawing a complete blank...)

 

I've read the objection was (or also was) because The Crime-Master turned out to be nobody anyone knew when he got killed.

 

It amazes me there continues to be conflicting stories coming to light, even this many years after-the-fact. For example, when Gwen got killed, Gerry Conway caught hell for it, even though, it came out over the years, he may have had NOTHING to do with plotting the book until John Romita finally left (after the Man-Wolf 2-parter). The letters page at the time tried to divert readers' wrath away from Gerry and toward a "group of editors" who discussed the situation and decided on it (while Stan was out of town-- heh). But many years later, John Romita, in multiple interviews, claimed it was ALL his idea, as he wanted to do a tribute to Milton Caniff, who'd bumped off Steve Canyon's girlfriend in the papers and had people talking about it for months.  And yet, MORE recently, I've heard that Gerry Conway has actually started trying to take credit for it!!  WTF????

I think that Reed Richards came the closest to trying to "treat" Doc Oct in the classic FF issue (circa 267) "Arms of the Octopus" when he desperately need Oct's radiation expertise to treat Sue as she is about to have her second child, conceived in the negative zone.

I have that issue framed on my wall since it was such a powerful gut punch. and a great cover to boot!


There was also some form of "treatment" when they removed Dr. Oct's arms from him, but having them move independantly was always a mistake, in my book.

Look for "the Looter" about the time that they ran "Just a Guy Named Joe" with that iconic cover.

Henry R. Kujawa said:

The Looter?  (I'm drawing a complete blank...)

 

I've read the objection was (or also was) because The Crime-Master turned out to be nobody anyone knew when he got killed.

 

It amazes me there continues to be conflicting stories coming to light, even this many years after-the-fact. For example, when Gwen got killed, Gerry Conway caught hell for it, even though, it came out over the years, he may have had NOTHING to do with plotting the book until John Romita finally left (after the Man-Wolf 2-parter). The letters page at the time tried to divert readers' wrath away from Gerry and toward a "group of editors" who discussed the situation and decided on it (while Stan was out of town-- heh). But many years later, John Romita, in multiple interviews, claimed it was ALL his idea, as he wanted to do a tribute to Milton Caniff, who'd bumped off Steve Canyon's girlfriend in the papers and had people talking about it for months.  And yet, MORE recently, I've heard that Gerry Conway has actually started trying to take credit for it!!  WTF????

Henry R. Kujawa said:

The Looter?  (I'm drawing a complete blank...)


This guy:



Regarding Gwen Stacy, in Gerry Conway's introduction to MMW Spider-Man Vol. 13, he said John Romita wanted to kill off Aunt May and that he, Conway, offered Gwen as a substitute: "The general reaction around the office was the editorial equivalent of a shrug; sure, sounds fine, let's do it."

See, that just sounds so wrong.  He's been trying to avoid responsibility for it for decades, while Romita has spent the last 15 years BRAGGING about it. WHY suddenly claim, no, HE did it, not Romita? Ego? Failing memory?

 

Aside from the Milton Canniff thing, I've also gotten the feeling that Romita always preferred MJ to Gwen, was frustrated by Stan spending years shoving Gwen down readers' throats, and now, with Stan out of the way (no longer "writing" the book), this was his chance to FINALLY have Pete & MJ become a couple.  Which, they did... about 2 years later. Just before Len Wein screwed it over... and then Marv Wolfman put the final nails in the coffin 3 years after that. (What was WRONG with all those guys?)

 

 

Conway's RECENT statement just sounds like retroactive history to me.  The same way George Lucas kept changing his story of how he came up with ideas for STAR WARS, or how each time Stan Lee describes his relationship with Jack Kirby, Kirby's actual contributions keep SHRINKING.

The way I heard the story--from Stan Lee, no less--was that Ditko wanted the Green Goblin to be someone completely unknown to Spidey, because that's the way real-life works. He thought it was too unbelievable that the handful of people Peter knew just happened to be such a big part of Spidey's life, especially after Foswell AND Dr. Octopus had been revealed as being behind other identities. Stan didn't think that had any drama, especially after they'd been building suspense around the person, implying the readers would know him.

But Stan also said he didn't think that was the specific reason Ditko quit, although it may have been the final straw. Clearly, they were not on the same page about what should be going on in the comic, and Stan had the final word.

Speaking of Aunt May, Stan also told me (this was many years ago when I was interviewing him for Wizard stories) that Ditko wanted to kill Aunt May by having her hit by a hit-and-run driver. Another part of the notion that life happens and you can't control it. He wasn't completely sure that was the idea these many years later, and with Stan's ever-faulty memory, I didn't use it in the article.

The general reaction around the office was the editorial equivalent of a shrug; sure, sounds fine, let's do it.

I find that hard to believe. If it's true, they were pretty clueless about the impact it would have. They were all busy and rushing around like their hair was on fire back then, but surely they had to know that killing Gwen was going to be a huge shock. It just wasn't done. Aunt May, yes; Gwen, no.

-- MSA

Frankly, though I wasn't paying attention to comics at the time, when I saw the big cliff-hanger surprise ending (of the death of Gwen Stacy) on the comic shop shelf that day, I didn't think much of it. In fact, the cover blurb the next month didn't move me either, cause I knew this was a comic book, and that Marvel was doing anything for a buck. But it sure was a dramatic cover scene. I just didn't care any more, especially because they kept bringing the Goblin back again and again.


I was convinced that this was a ploy, and would be reversed somehow in a few months. It always was, after a change in writers...

Yawn...

"The way I heard the story--from Stan Lee, no less--was that Ditko wanted the Green Goblin to be someone completely unknown to Spidey, because that's the way real-life works."

 

They had already done that a year before, when the Crime-Master was unmasked as a nobody, It would have been repetitious to pull the same trick again with the Goblin.

It should be pointed out that for at least the last year before Ditko left, he and Stan weren't on speaking terms. At all. Now, some people say this was Steve being difficult, BUT IT WASN'T.  It was STAN. Why? "Simple".  Steve had INSISTED on CREDIT AND PAYMENT for plotting the stories. AND HE GOT IT. Now, since Stan was regularly in the habit by then of getting CREDIT AND PAY for plots other people were doing, this meant, that money was coming out of Stan's pocket. So he took it as a personal affront that Steve was getting paid for work Steve was actually doing, INSTEAD OF STAN. So Stan refused to talk to Steve from that point on.  Steve described once going into the office, and having to turn his pages over to Sol Brodsky (production manager), without seeing Stan, because Stan refused to talk to Steve.

 

Meanwhile, Martin Goodman had made a verbal promise that if the new characters Kirby & Ditko were coming up with took off, they would share in licensing royalties. Then, HE BALKED on his promise.  Goodman LIED, and as a matter of principle, Steve began planning to leave Marvel right then and there. His leaving, apparently, had very little to do with who the hell The Green Goblin would turn out to be, or not.  Saying that was the reason was Stan's way of making Steve seem small and petty, instead of highly principled.

 

Gee, what a nice place to work...

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