reflections (2)

Reflections #2--Why Norman Osborn?

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!12134123875?profile=original 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?


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This is my first Blog attempt and I've been thinking about it for a while now. I picked the title "Reflections" because you can see reflections in Gold, Silver, Bronze and the Brand New. Comics have always reflected pop culture, politics, social issues, current events and the world that they were created in. These are my opinions, my views and my conclusions. And I welcome comments and corrections.

With the relevation of the New Ultimate Spider-Man being half-Latino, half African American, several of us (myself included) observed the lack of original minority/non-White heroes. I'm focusing on Marvel now but DC is equally lax on it. There are notable examples of black characters taking the names/personas of established white heroes: Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Goliath/Giant-Man, even Ultimate Nick Fury. To be fair, Marvel created all-new minority non-White heroes in their Silver Age but there were always problems.

The Black Panther is a real African king from the super sci-fi nation of Wakanda so it was difficult for readers to identify with him. He was a guest star for his first years, joining the Avengers. Then the term "Black Panther" took on a whole new meaning with the rise of the militant group, thus robbing him of a marketable, "safe" name. He was addressed as The Panther, the Black Leopard and his true name, T'Challa but this denied him any solo series until the regretably named Jungle Action. There have been many attempts to make the Black Panther a star; five different series, numerous minis, married to the X-Men's Storm and lately being treated as a major player in the MU. It may work yet though his lack of real powers and a dull costume are definite disadvantages.

The Falcon was always featured prominently but always as the second part of Captain America And... This sidekick label never left him and then there is his convoluted origin and constant attempts of upgrading him. Powers, no powers and the same falcon, Redwing, for over forty years! Maybe he has the super-powers!

The Prowler added some variety to Amazing Spider-Man but he's a very minor character, especially compared to Daily Bugle editor Joe Robertson.

But Marvel's best bet for a non-White superstar was:


Created by Roy Thomas, John Romita and Archie Goodwin, Luke Cage debuted in Hero For Hire #1 (Ju'72). His origin was definitely from the headlines. He was a black prisoner, wrongly convicted, mistreated by racist guards, who undergoes an experimental process to gain parole. But one of those guards tried to kill him but the overloaded treatment gives him "steel-hard skin and muscles to match!" He quickly escapes and starts a new life as a super-hero that the public can employ.

Luke had a hard life which he does not sugarcoat. He has committed crimes and done acts of violence but he was trying to better himself when he got framed. He is wary of the law and authority and rightfully so. But he wants to be a force of good, he just wants to be paid for it. This does has some precedence in the Marvel books. Both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers get stipends and the public believes that Iron Man works for Tony Stark.

Many complain about his outfit but it is appropiate. The metal handband shows his strength and nobility. The much-mocked yellow shirt works with his dark skin and makes him stand out. He does not hide in the shadows. He is in your face and proud. The chain belt reminds him of his wrongful imprisonment and gives him resolve to aid the helpless. He looks like a hero, an individual and a warrior.

Also worth mentioning is that not all whites are bad and not all blacks are good. Cage fought black foes (Diamondback, Black Mariah, Senor Muerte, Chemistro, Shades and Comanche) and white foes (Mace, the Christmas Bomber, Stilletto, not to mention Doctor Doom). The latter smacked in the middle of the Marvel Universe. The Doom issues of Hero For Hire #8-9 also have him meeting the Fantastic Four, which would pay dividends in the future. HFH #12 refer to Amazing Spider-Man #124 where he was hired by Jolly J. Jonah Jameson to capture the Wall-Crawler.

But in what would have been HFH #17, the big change comes as the title becomes Power Man, a strong and memorable name. He also battles Iron Man and holds his own.

Power Man had all the potential to be a super-star. Compelling origin, real powers, an interesting supporting cast but sales were never strong. He may have been Shaft Among the Super-Heroes but he never really fitted in. Too strong for urban crime and too urban for super-hero fare. He was even part of the Fantastic Four for three issues, replacing the Thing briefly. He was paired with fellow fad hero Iron Fist and for a time, Power Man & Iron Fist was one of Marvel's best comics.

Luke had several problems for success. His strength was seemingly purposely left vague. He battled Spidey, Iron Man and the Thing but no one knew how strong he really was. He was part of the Defenders for a time but was never asked to be an Avenger even though he had his own title. Simply put, he was never treated like a headliner. Flavor but not the main course! 

He could have been a contender. He really could have!

"Sweet Christmas!"

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