Green Goblin Reborn!
|"Green Goblin Reborn!"|
|Publication date||May – July 1971|
|Title(s)||The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May–July 1971)|
|Main character(s)||Spider-Man; Green Goblin; Harry Osborn|
|Inker(s)||John Romita Sr.|
"Green Goblin Reborn!" is a 1971 Marvel Comics story arc which features Spider-Man fighting against his arch enemy Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. This arc was published in The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May–July 1971) and was plotted and written by Stan Lee, with art by penciler Gil Kane and inker John Romita Sr. It is recognized as the first mainstream comic publication which portrayed and condemned drug abuse since the formation of the Comics Code Authority, and in time led to the revision of the Code's rigidity.
In previous issues, Stan Lee had established that Spider-Man's / Peter Parker's arch enemy Norman Osborn (Green Goblin) had amnesia, and thus forgotten his double identity. After changing into Spider-Man, he saves a man dancing on a rooftop, realizes he is high on drugs, and finally says "I would rather face a hundred super-villains than throw my life away on hard drugs, because it is a battle you cannot win!" In issue 97, Osborn Sr. regains his memory, turns into the Green Goblin and attacks Spider-Man, then disappears mysteriously. At home Peter is shocked to find Harry popping pills, partly because his love interest Mary Jane Watson turned him down. In issue 98, Lee concluded the saga by having the Green Goblin locate and fight Spider-Man, and Peter vanquishes his arch enemy by showing him his sick son. Osborn Sr. faints, and in the end Peter and his estranged girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, rekindle their relationship.
This was the first story arc in mainstream comics that portrayed and condemned the abuse of drugs. This effectively led to the revision of the Comics Code. Previously, the Code forbade the depiction of the use of illegal drugs, even negatively. However, in 1970 the Nixon administration's Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asked Stan Lee to publish an anti-drug message in one of Marvel's top-selling titles. Lee chose the top-selling The Amazing Spider-Man; issues #96–98 (May–July 1971) feature a story arc depicting the negative effects of drug use. While the story had a clear anti-drug message, the Comics Code Authority refused to issue its seal of approval. Marvel nevertheless published the three issues without the Comics Code Authority's approval or seal. The issues sold so well that the industry's self-censorship was undercut and the Code was subsequently revised. Weeks later, DC Comics published a two-issue story in the series Green Lantern in which Green Arrow's teen-aged ward, Speedy, starts using heroin when his mentor leaves him to travel across America with Green Lantern.
Lee recalled in a 1998 interview:
I could understand them; they were like lawyers, people who take things literally and technically. The Code mentioned that you mustn't mention drugs and, according to their rules, they were right. So I didn't even get mad at them then. I said, 'Screw it' and just took the Code seal off for those three issues. Then we went back to the Code again. I never thought about the Code when I was writing a story, because basically I never wanted to do anything that was to my mind too violent or too sexy. I was aware that young people were reading these books, and had there not been a Code, I don't think that I would have done the stories any differently.
Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada called it the one Spider-Man comic that made him a lifelong fan, saying his father "encouraged [me] to read these issues and... I really got hooked... What my father didn't realize was that he was starting a whole other addiction [to comic books]"
- "Snowbirds Don't Fly" — the first DC Comics anti-drug arc, featuring Green Arrow sidekick Speedy as a junkie. It also was published in 1971, weeks after the "Green Goblin Reborn" arc.
- Wright, p. 239
- Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, Marvel by Les Daniels, Page 152
- "Stan the Man & Roy the Boy: A Conversation Between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas", Comic Book Artist #2 (Summer 1998). WebCitation archive.
- Sanderson, Peter."Comics in Context" #168, 2007