To coincide with Halloween this week I decided to push out this post about my all time favourite Spider-Man villain, the Green Goblin. He has been Spider-Man’s arch nemesis since he was first introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 in July 1964. To date, he has received two different big screen adaptations, one portrayed by Willem Dafoe in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man from 2002 and the other portrayed by Daniel DeHaan in Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 from 2014.
The Green Goblin is a title that has been held by a handful of people in the entirety of Marvel comics’ history, but the most well known version of the character is that of Norman Osborn.
Norman Osborn/Green Goblin was created in 1964 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Norman Osborn was born Norman Virgil Osborn to a failed inventor of a father. His father claimed he was swindled out of his inventions and compensations by business partners and took out his anger and frustration on Norman. Norman realized from an early age that the only person you can depend on for financial and critical success is yourself. He began working after school and into college to amass himself a substantial amount of money to invest in his own company upon graduation. He partnered with one of his former professors and fellow scientist, Mendel Stromm to form what would become known as Oscorp.
Having studied electrical and chemical engineering at Empire State University, he had only taken a few classes in Business Administration which allowed for Stromm to embezzle from the company for years before Norman caught on. Stromm was arrested and Norman became the sole owner of the company. He married Emily Lyman and together they had a son, Harry. While Norman was extremely devoted to his wife, he distanced Harry throughout his childhood. Emily saw Norman for the monster he was and faked her own death to get away from him. This caused Norman to throw himself into his work and further distance himself from his only son.
One night, while he was going through Stromm’s notes, Norman discovered a secret formula that Stromm had been working on. The formula was meant to give an ordinary person super powers and make them a superhero. Norman resolved to complete the formula and test it on himself. Before he could test it, Harry switched some of the chemicals in the serum due to his anger towards his father for always being ignored for work. The chemical mixture blew up in Osborn’s face and landed him in a coma in the hospital.
Norman awoke from his coma thinking clearer than he ever had before and told his son that he was alright despite the formula beginning to slowly unravel his mind. With his newfound strength and power from the formula, Norman wanted to become the greatest gang-lord in New York City. He was going to unite all of the gangs of the city under one person (himself) and become one of the most powerful men on the planet. In order to prove his power and establish himself as one of the most powerful men on the planet, he decided to kill Spider-Man to show the extent of his abilities.
This marked the beginning of his long time battle with the Wall Crawler and some of the more despicable things he’s done to Peter throughout his life.
Spider-Man’s greatest defeat and one of his greatest losses comes at not only his own hands, but those of the Green Goblin as well. Prior to her death, Gwen was involved in an affair with Norman Osborn while she was dating Peter. The affair resulted in two children who were taken by Norman and raised in Europe to hate Spider-Man. Due to the goblin serum in his genes, the children were born with enhanced strength and speed like their father and rapidly aged to full adulthood in a few years. Setting aside the obvious creep factor here (Gwen would’ve been a high school student when all this happened), this is still not the worst thing he did to her.
One night, he decided to kidnap her to get Spider-Man out in the open so that he could kill him. He brought her to a bridge and when Spider-Man showed up he threw her off the bridge. As she fell towards the water, Peter dove to catch her. He caught her with a web line around her legs and pulled hard to bring her to a stop. When Peter pulled her back up to the top of the bridge she was dead from a broken neck. Peter believed that his pull to stop her had caused it, but there are many who believe she was dead before she even fell and that Norman had snapped her neck before Spider-Man even got there. The panels from the original comic do show that Gwen was not conscious at all through the ordeal and that lends credence to the theory that Norman had murdered her already before tossing her off the bridge.
The one thing that Norman didn’t account on, was Spider-Man’s rage and anger at Gwen’s death. Spider-Man tracked him down and began to savagely beat him. Peter began punching him again and again and beat Norman nearly to death before he regained his senses and stopped. Norman decided to use this opportunity to try and kill Spider-Man once and for all by remote piloting his glider to impale Peter from behind. Spider-Man jumped out of the way when his spider senses alerted him to the danger. The glider then impaled Norman through the chest and nailed him to the way killing him.
Unbeknownst to most, the Goblin serum in Norman’s blood had given him a rather robust healing factor as a side effect. As a result, he survived the ordeal in secret for many years.
THE CLONE SAGA
Not only did Osborn kill one of the greatest loves in Peter’s life but he also orchestrated the ENTIRE CLONE SAGA. I already wrote a post about it so I’m not going to go into much detail but bottom line, he was the man behind the curtain pulling the Jackal’s strings and making Ben Reilly and Peter question who was the real Peter.
For the full breakdown of the Clone Saga, check out my post on it : https://multiverse9812.blog/2019/07/04/the-clone-saga-the-worst-spider-man-event-from-the-90s/
Following the Clone Saga and him reverting back to Goblin and then “beating his illness”, Osborn was named as the director of the Thunderbolts, which is one of my favourite superhero teams. The Thunderbolts were a team of Supervillains that were under the purview of the United States Government and S.H.I.E.L.D. They were basically a hit squad commissioned by the Pro-Registration forces during the Civil War to hunt down fugitive heroes who refused to register with the authorities. Osborn led the most well known version of the team which consisted of mainstays like Songbird, Venom (Mac Gargan), Swordsman and Bullseye. Osborn was provided with medication that was meant to keep his mental state in check and it did work for quite some time though he would succumb to laughing fits in secret. The first time that anyone noticed he was beginning to revert back to his insane mental state was when he saw the profile on Steel Spider who needed to be apprehended. Osborn immediately fell into a fit of cackling laughter claiming “he was going to teach Spider-Man a lesson”. He actually donned his Green Goblin costume and began terrorizing and murdering the staff at the Thunderbolts HQ during an incursion into the facility. He was eventually apprehended and he reverted back to his normal persona with no memory of the time he spent as the Goblin. Several of the staff actually believed that the Goblin had broken into the facility just to cause all the trouble.
During the Secret invasion event that took over Marvel comics when the Skrulls we revealed to have abducted and replaced various heroes, Osborn and his team were responsible for defending Washington. He and his team were decked out with Oscorp weapons and tech which allowed them to function and defend the Capital. The Skrulls had infiltrated Stark Industries and disabled Stark Tech worldwide to make their invasion easier; but they didn’t account for other large manufacturers such as Oscorp. After they successfully repelled the invasion of Washington, Osborn and his Thunderbolts team traveled to New York to assist in the large final battle of the Skrulls vs. the Heroes. Osborn was responsible for firing the killing shot that took out the Skrull Queen, Veranke and ending the battle. Osborn used his skills and status as hero of the world to manipulate the media and governments of the world who disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. and provided Osborn with control of S.H.R.A (Superhuman Registration Act) and the Avengers Initiative.
HAMMER & DARK REIGN
Osborn was named as the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. which he changed to H.A.M.M.E.R. and he created his own team of “Avengers”. All of his Avengers were Supervillains that were masquerading as their various hero nemeses: Venom as Spider-Man, Daken as Wolverine, Bullseye as Hawkeye, etc. Norman also went as far as re-purposing an Iron Man suit and re-branding himself as the Iron Patriot. When he received the blessing of the president after saving him from a staged attack, Osborn renamed the 50 State Initiative to the Thunderbolts Initiative and brought several new villains in on the team while shutting down Thunderbolts Mountain in Colorado. When Swordsman (Andreas Von Strucker) confronted Osborn about his actions, Osborn quickly disarmed him and took his sword which he used to savagely murdering him.
Osborn remained in power for quite some time before he was finally ousted from his position and his actions exposed to the world during the Siege event.
Osborn underwent facial reconstruction surgery to make himself appear as Alchemex’s executive Mason Banks and began to build and empire for his grandson to inherit. He orchestrated a takeover of nearly all the organized crime in New York under the guise of the Goblin King and went largely unnoticed by the Superior Spider-Man. He launched a full scale attack on New York City and took over most of it before he was confronted by Spider-Man. This was not the Superior Spider-Man he had been dealing with though, Otto had let Peter resume control of his body so he could do what Otto knew he couldn’t, save the City. During their fight when Norman revealed himself and he once more donned his Green Goblin costume, Peter was able to inject him with a Goblin Serum antidote. This serum de-powered Norman and for the first time in a very long time, cured his insanity.
Norman began dealing and partnering with various terrorists and dictators around the globe and growing his “Goblin Army”. When he was defeated once again by Spider-Man with the help of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Silver Sable, Norman realized the only times he was able to come close to beating Peter was as the Goblin. So, Norman set out to regain his insanity and goblin powers.
After several attempts through both science and sorcery to regain his goblin powers with no results, Norman became desperate. He ordered two of his henchmen to steal the Carnage Symbiote which he rapidly bonded with becoming the new Carnage. The Symbiote assisted him in removing the nanites in his blood which was stopping him from being able to use the Goblin formula, and it also undid the surgery he had done on his face so he once again resembled himself. He injected himself with the goblin formula and became a Goblin/Symbiote hybrid aka. Red Goblin. Phil Urich (nephew of Ben Urich) had taken over the Goblin King persona in Osborn’s absence from the City and when he arrived at a weapons cache to get some more supplies Osborn ambushed him. He killed Phil Urich without hesitation and once again donned his Green Goblin costume and attacked the Daily Bugle. After a fight with Spider-Man in which he was “defeated” Osborn pretended to die and get Peter to admit he was Spider-Man. Osborn then cloaked himself in the Symbiote he had been hiding and forced Peter to either give up as Spider-Man and live peacefully or watch all of his friends and family die. Peter agreed to give up as Spider-Man and Osborn left cackling in triumph.
Obviously he couldn’t win because… you know… comics. He did however give Spider-Man a run for his money.
Currently, Osborn is part of the Absolute Carnage event and is the lieutenant to Cletus Kasady.
Those are just some very brief descriptions of things he has done to not only Spider-Man but the world as a whole.
Osborn is by far one of the best comic book villains to ever be printed. His drive to become the most powerful man in the world is a real goal that many people share as are his failings. He consumes himself with his work, he suffers from a mental illness (Dissociative Identity Disorder or D.I.D) and he constantly pushes himself to become better than he currently is. Granted he caused his own mental illness but he still works through it every day and there were long periods of time where he seemed to have beaten it before devolving once again into his Goblin persona.
At the core of it all Norman Osborn is a man who wants to be the best version of himself. That version doesn’t always air on the side of legality or.. you know… morally and ethically conscious decisions, but it’s the best version of himself never the less. He is also a world class inventor and very prominent business mogul with deep links to governmental offices, links he has exploited for his own advancement on more than one occasion.
With the exception of perhaps only, Doc Ock, no single Spider-Man villain has caused as much grief and heart ache as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin has. He is a maniacal super powered insane hitman with a target set solely on destroying Spider-Man. Not to mention, some of the artwork of him in his goblin suit is just creepy as hell.
There you have it, why I think that the OG Green Goblin is the best Spider-Man villain.
See you next week!