What is Marvel's fascination with Norman Osborn, formerly the Green Goblin and the Iron Patriot? This resurrected villain has become the face of evil in the Marvel Universe some forty years after dying! From his first appearance, his identity revealed which led to Steve Ditko leaving the book, the drug issues that plagued his son Harry to finally his murder of Gwen Stacy and his own death, Norman has been Spider-Man's most relentless foe and his most tragic during the Silver Age because he had this split personality where Norman forgot that he was the Goblin. But in times of stress, the evil that dwelt within would emerge and his hatred for the Wall-Crawler took over.
Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 should have been the crescendo to Norman's career. He murdered Gwen Stacy only to accidently spear himself with his own glider. Kirk G writes about that here and I added this about his legacy. Mortality had taken Spider-Man's mortal foe and that should have been the end of him. But in the 90s, Marvel brought back the Green Goblin, citing unknown healing powers. No one except the writers was happy about this. Then they had to have Gwen Stacy have an affair with Norman in the past! This was done to justify another Gwen-look-alike in the MU and bolster Mary Jane as Peter's true love. It is beyond the scope of this article to fully explain how wrong that was! And it was never mentioned again!
But Norman was on the brink of madness when he made his big mistake and foolishly revealed himself to be the Green Goblin. This got him arrested for the first time and placed him in Tony Stark's custody who put him in charge of the Thunderbolts, an easily controllable man doing the dirty work.
As an aside, I would rather believe that this Norman was some alternate reality version trapped in the 616 MU and that the true Norman indeed died. It makes me feel better.
After the events ofCivil War, World War HulkandSecret Invasion!, Norman becomes a national hero, put in charge of HAMMER, creates his own Dark Avengers and pushes through his own agenda. He re-christians himself the Iron Patriot and hunts down the real heroes, now outlaws. But he goes too far (naturally) and it all falls apart during theSiegewhere he is captured and discredited. He should have been locked away and forgotten. But he was not!
There was theOsbornmini-series that shows us how Norman escaped the custody of the US government and why he surrendered. That he learned about a cult that sees him as a messiah. That introduced both Ai Apaec, the South American spider-god and June Covington, the Toxic Doxie who are part of his new Dark Avengers. He now commands HYDRA and AIM and truly believes himself to be the destined leader of the country, if not the world.
No longer costumed, Norman is a charismatic evil. People simply believe that he will win. He has no shame and feels he has been wrong and that history will champion him.
I feel that the current Avengers creators have morphed Osborn into a nightmare version of George W. Bush. A totally corrupt version preying on the liberal fears that such a man may return to power, completely disregarding the will of the populus and ran rampant over the world. Certainly in this year of election, the term "Republican Conservative" brings up bad memories and worse possibilities. Again I stress this is an amped up take on Bush, not a commentary of the actual man. But the boldness of Osborn is frightening. He is not hiding. He is demanding that he be restored to power. Was there not a movement to legally allow Bush to run for a third term? The criminals serving Norman gained authority, much like those in the Bush admonistration quoting over and over again: "I serve at the pleasure of the President." They are not responsible and the President is beyond accountability. This is Norman Osborn's dream and an American nightmare!
What do you think?