Norman Osborn Has No Friends. (But a Cool Purse, Bro!)

In her defense...we all know that our hero doesn't have a purse that nice.

In her defense…we all know that our hero doesn’t have a purse that nice.

I was never all that big a fan of Spider-Man. Some runs of the book, like in the 70’s, when Peter has an ensemble cast and is struggling through college (the Gwen Stacy years and a bit after). The Black Cat romance run, after the alien uniform had been gotten rid of, but before Venom. The JMS stuff, after the Clone Saga had run its ugly course. The cartoon version, with Firestar and Iceman. Still…it was always an impulse to grab Spider-Man, not a commitment.

The Green Goblin, his pre-eminent bad guy…never really did to for me, despite his complex history. The Green Goblin debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #14. At this time his identity was unknown, but he proved popular and reappeared in later issues, which made a point of his secret identity. Apparently, Lee and Ditko disagreed on who he should be. According to one theory, Lee always wanted him to be someone Peter Parker knew, while Ditko wanted him to be a stranger, feeling this was closer to real life.

Ditko left the series with issue #38, before he could reveal the Goblin’s identity, and Lee unmasked him in the next issue as Norman Osborn, a character who had been introduced two issues earlier as the father of Harry Osborn.

In the landmark story “The Night Gwen Stacy Died” (The Amazing Spider-Man No. 121-122), the Green Goblin kills Gwen Stacy and later dies impaled on his own incredibly hazardous flying machine in a fight against Spider-Man. Others, such as Harry Osborn, later adopted the Green Goblin identity, and writer Roger Stern later introduced the Hobgoblin to replace the Green Goblin as Spider-Man’s archenemy. In addition, a retcon during the “Clone Saga” determined that the original Green Goblin survived the events of The Amazing Spider-Man No. 122 and had been playing a behind-the-scenes role in Spider-Man’s adventures since then.

So….do you have that all so far? A bunch of Green Goblins…Norman Osborn, Harry Obsorn, Bart Hamilton (Harry’s shrink), Phil Urich, and a Nameless Clone. The Hobgoblin, another, very similar guy, was created by writer Roger Stern and artist John Romita, Jr. for The Amazing Spider-Man No. 238. Like other writers Stern found himself under pressure to have Spider-Man fight the Green Goblin again, but did not wish to bring Norman Osborn or Bart Hamilton back from the dead, have Harry Osborn become the Green Goblin again, or create yet another Green Goblin. Instead he created a new character as heir to the Goblin’s legacy and developed the Hobgoblin.

In other words, a guy finds the Goblin stuff, and becomes a knockoff. Check. There have been like seven Hobgoblins…its a completely generic identity, apparently. The first guy was Roderick Kingsley, but at one point Kingley’s butler was the Hobgoblin, as well as Phil Urich taking over the identity, downgrading himself, since he was the Green Goblin.

Still following?

Here’s a visual aid, which will be useful soon:

Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, famously abusing and preparing to kill Gwen Stacy.  Class act, that guy.  Dan Brereton's art.

Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, famously abusing and preparing to kill Gwen Stacy. Class act, that guy. Dan Brereton’s art.

Any one of seven Hobgoblins.  Although, to answer our hero's question, he does have a stylin' purse.

Any one of seven Hobgoblins. Although, to answer our hero’s question, he does have a stylin’ purse.

So….what the @#$% is this post about? Yeah…I really buried the lead. It turns out, in the upcoming “Axis” crossover from Marvel, they seem to have ditched Norman, the Green Goblin, in favor of the Hobgoblin. Seriously. Lets look:

This was the cover of Previews...the distribution catalog.  Clearly the Green Goblin.

This was the cover of Previews…the distribution catalog. Clearly the Green Goblin.

Followed by this promo art to USA Today. Granted, USA Today isn’t the New York Times, but…

This isn't all that obvious...notice, this image is hero side up.

This isn’t all that obvious…notice, this image is hero side up.

So let’s crop and flip, for the big reveal, True Believers:

Oh snap!  It's the Hobgoblin now!

Oh snap! It’s the Hobgoblin now!

So…forget that eleven different people have shared both identities. How generic are you when a dude can just go in on a digital file using Photoshop, digitally recolor you, and make you into ANOTHER GUY? Even Spider-Man’s clones were less generic…they had legitimately different uniforms.

I can hear you, on the other side of the screen saying…”Hey…aren’t you just being picky?” The article accompanying the USA Today article said this: “The large ensemble cast also includes Cap, Thor, Luke Cage, Storm, Deadpool, the Inhumans’ Medusa, Havok, Kid Apocalypse and Quentin Quire on the Avengers/X-Men side. Doctor Doom, Enchantress, Absorbing Man, Carnage, Hobgoblin and Sabretooth come to the fore among the antagonists.”

Wow. Looks like a major Marvel villain, who has been in two (three if you count Harry Osborn) Spider-Man films, has been shown the door in favor of his more generic knock off substitute. I would be mad too, Norman, even if I did have a stylin’ purse. Which apparently, the Hobgoblin has a knock off version of too, probably for twenty bucks in Times Square.

Gentle Reader, you may notice that without teaching, the content is long winded and picky. This happens when you have the summer off.

Next Issue: Valiant Comics Sketch Cover Madness! And…El Vigilante Gigante! Be there!


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