Wednesday, May 09, 2007

He Who Laughs Last...! (Marvel comics)
Amazing Spider-man #176 When: January 1978
Why: Len Wein How: Ross Andru

The story so far...
Aunt May is in the hospital after a heated exchange with a police officer during a rights for the elderly march, but Spidey's got more problems than just the wacky adventures of the terminally hospitalized Golden Oldie!

Psychologist supreme, Dr. Hamilton, has been kidnapped with signs of a struggle, and all signs point to a patient who's gone off the deep end -- but isn't Dr. Hamilton treating the amnesia stricken Green Goblin, Harry Osborn?

That's right true believers! The Green Goblin is back in action, and his first stop is his apartment, where he rooms with one Flash Thompson. Uh oh, looks like Flash is about to step in it real good, unless a certain spectacular individual can spider his way over there!

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#1): Victorious over classic foes such as; Kraven, Tombstone, Scorpion, Mysterio & Sandman.
Green Goblin: Harry Osborn has not yet been featured.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Spider-man 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Green Goblin 4 (Arsenal)

I'm once again a week behind updates, but no doubt even had this update come in on time, most of you probably would have seen Spider-man 3 by now.
So, at this point, your general knowledge of characters like Green Goblin are probably going to pretty much be up-to-date. There will be subtle differences, but you've at least got a decent idea about the hypotheticals involved.

What I'm doing here is admitting that straight up in an effort to win you over, but more to the point, I'm padding out this section. I have to admit, this really seemed like a good part of the concept earlier on in the site's life, but I'm sure some of you are finding it more and more tedious each time around.
Although, on the other hand, I know some people are enjoying absorbing the tiny morsels of comic book factoid, so for the good of the team...

Spider-man's strength tends to fluctuate based on interpretation, but generally speaking he's got Harry pretty well covered. The strength gained from the Goblin's serum would be lucky to challenge Captain America, on most days, who also has basic serum-based enhanced strength.

Taking the emotion out of it (featured in Spidey 3), Green Goblin's arsenal is the core of what he's about. The razor bats, pumpkin bombs, glider, finger zap and whatever other nasty things are available. It's nice and gimmicky, but at the end of the day Spider-man's agility and preternatural warning senses go great lengths to nullifying that, and his webbing offers a good defensive/offensive option.

So, what am I saying?...

The Math: Spider-man (Meta Class)
The Pick: Spider-man

What went down...
Discovering his shared apartment totally trashed, Flash Thompson is none too pleased to find the Green Goblin slamming the door behind him, as he makes his startled entrance to investigate the bat-shaped glider in the middle of the room.

Thompson attempts to confront his "melodramatic" friend, who seems to have shifted to a personality unique to the Goblin, but gets a face full of finger-bang for his trouble! With Thompson out cold, the Goblin contemplates his exit, but it seems someone has snuck into the room while he was distracted...

Spidey drops in on his pal, and gets a goblin finger spark for his trouble!
The Goblin keeps Spidey swinging, evading his blasts while he makes for his glider. Too bad for him, Spidey's agility combined with the tight spacing makes for the perfect intercept!

Grappling with his troubled best friend, Spider-man supplies the additional weight to throw the goblin-glider out of whack. Spidey is hurled across the room as the Goblin spirals out of control, colliding with a wall.

Spidey tries to talk his buddy down, but the Goblin's bag of tricks isn't empty yet!

Shaken, Spidey is unable to avoid the Green Goblin hurling a razor bat at him, which packs an added little extra punch -- an electric charge!

Spidey gets fried, but manages to hit a wall, and steady himself enough to shoot a line of webbing at the Goblin! Mustering his proportionate strength of a spider, Spidey yanks the Goblin across the room, directly into his waiting fist!

He smacks the Goblin across the room and yanks him back for some more, swatting him like a green and purple paddle ball! The second punch sends the Goblin careening into the wall in a manner that would surely leave any normal man crippled, had he not enhanced himself with his father's super serum!

Despite the high impact collision, the Green Goblin is still sound enough to make it to his feet!

Spidey tries to talk his friend down, assuring him that his personal losses aren't the end of his world, but this only antagonises the unhinged Goblin!

Desperate to defend his "new life", the Green Goblin snatches up the unconscious Flash Thompson, who has been left like a ragdoll on the floor the entire time.

Thompson let's out a grown as the Goblin lifts him and menacingly retorts, "If you're so concerned about saving your friends, my dear web-slinger -- try saving Flash Thompson!!!

And with that, he hurls his roommate and friend out the window, for a cliff-hanger ending!

The hammer...
So... I guess there's a real argument to go both ways here, so I'm just going to call it down the middle and go with a draw. Green Goblin certainly gets the last laugh, but Spider-man had more than his fair share of licks throughout the encounter.

All in all this is a pretty quaint number. I'm not sure if it was the best feature to go with to represent the Harry Osborn incarnation of the Green Goblin, but it was good enough to make Spider-man Family #1, and I don't have too many more lying around handy, so it's what we've got.

It sounds like a lot of the wackier aspects of Harry's descent into becoming the Goblin have managed to find their way into the latest feature film. Certainly the selective amnesia has made it's way in all it's cornball glory, as has the insanity and ultimate redeeming qualities that remain buried within. The only thing missing is a bad ass look.

I don't want to go ragging on the film before I've even seen it, because I'm sure I'm going to have a lot positive to say too, but they're zero for two on Goblin designs. With all the things that did translate, I'm kinda disappointed we couldn't have had something that resembled the original films costume more, even if it was a little dorky, too. The generic suit and extreme hang-ten glider just don't click with me at all, and I think if you're going to indulge the technicolour silly of amnesia, you've got to try to do something with the costume!

Anyway, not to nitpick too far, but we seem some unfortunate fatalities in the film, something you can't help but feel Raimi should be above, given the hindsight of the Batman films, and general common sense.
I'm not going to dwell on the spoilers, but I will use that as a segue of sorts to bring it back to the comics. Oh yes! I'm good, people!

With the Norman Osborn incarnation of the character dying, Harry endured as the Green Goblin, continuing the legacy with a healthy dose of drugs, goblin serum and soap opera. He was a prominent factor beyond this appearance, into the eighties and nineties of when I was really enjoying Spider-man, eventually being put to rest under the dutiful pencils of SWoIE's favourite, Sal Buscema.

Much like the film version, the character died with some level of redemption, survived by his loving wife Liz, and a creepy, ominous son, Norman Jr.
I can't help but feel this was a really fitting close to a chapter that really encapsulated a lot of the greatest milestones for Spider-man in his first thirty years. That's perfect, fine.

Flash forward half a decade and Norman is revealed to be alive and well, complete with some sort of healing properties produced by his potent dose of serum. Then another half a decade later you get variations on the goblin introduced via the Osborn/Stacy children, but back it up for what I'm going to wrap this 1:26am overdue update with.

The Spider-man movie franchise highlights the perfect concept of an arc to the characters, making way for forward momentum. This kind of reality and progress was something that really helped put the Spider-man character on the map for a lot of readers, I'm sure. So for that, the series, regardless of it's decision in the final installment, probably deserves to be commended.

The comics, as newer readers hitting us up will quickly learn, shall be forevermore shamed for sullying the value and finality of death.
Of course, I'm a huge hypocrite because I kinda liked the Phil Urich Goblin who found Harry's equipment and used it for good. So even though I'm saying it's a shame they didn't keep the cover closed on the Green Goblin, I guess I'm making exceptions.

Norman Osborn has been a bit of a hoot in Thunderbolts lately, and later in the month we'll have some Norman coming special delivery. So, stay tuned for that.
In the mean time, I'm going to go to bed, because I'm almost certain this has wound up being one of the less well considered editions of the discussion based Hammer section. Good night!

The Fight: 2.5 The Issue: 3

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