Norman Osborn as Green Goblin. Artwork for the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #797 (March 2018 Marvel Comics). Art by Alex Ross.
|First appearance||The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964)|
|Created by||Stan Lee|
|Alter ego||Norman Osborn|
|Notable aliases||Goblin King, Goblin Knight, Red Goblin|
The Green Goblin is the alias of several fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The first and best known incarnation, Norman Osborn, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, is generally considered to be the archenemy of Spider-Man. Originally a manifestation of Osborn's chemically-induced insanity, others such as Osborn's son Harry would take on the persona. The Green Goblin is a Halloween-themed supervillain whose weapons resemble bats, ghosts and jack-o'-lanterns. Comics journalist and historian Mike Conroy writes of the character: "Of all the costumed villains who've plagued Spider-Man over the years, the most flat-out unhinged and terrifying of them all is the Green Goblin." The Green Goblin has appeared in several films including 2002's Spider-Man as Norman Osborn, and 2004's Spider-Man 2, 2007's Spider-Man 3 and 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as Harry Osborn.
According to Steve Ditko:
Stan's synopsis for the Green Goblin had a movie crew, on location, finding an Egyptian-like sarcophagus. Inside was an ancient, mythological demon, the Green Goblin. He naturally came to life. On my own, I changed Stan's mythological demon into a human villain.
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. According to both Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr., who replaced Ditko as the title's artist, Lee always wanted the Green Goblin to be someone Peter Parker knew, while Ditko wanted his civilian identity to be someone who hadn't yet been introduced. Lee elaborated:
Steve wanted him to turn out to be just some character that we had never seen before. Because, he said, in real life, very often a villain turns out to be somebody that you never knew. And I felt that that would be wrong. I felt, in a sense, it would be like cheating the reader. ... if it's somebody you didn't know and had never seen, then what was the point of following all the clues? I think that frustrates the reader.
However, Lee prefaced this statement by admitting that, due to his self-professed poor memory, he may have been confusing the Green Goblin with a different character.[a] Moreover, in an earlier essay he had said that he could not remember whether Norman Osborn being the Green Goblin was his idea or Ditko's. Ditko has maintained that it was his idea, even claiming that he had decided on it before the first Green Goblin story was finished, and that a character he drew in the background of a single panel of Amazing Spider-Man #23 was meant to be Norman Osborn (who is not introduced until issue #37).
Ditko left the series with issue #38, just one issue after Norman Osborn was introduced as the father of Harry Osborn. The first issue without Ditko saw the Green Goblin unmasked. John Romita, Sr., who replaced Ditko as the title's artist, recalled:
Stan wouldn't have been able to stand it if Ditko did the story and didn't reveal that the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn. I didn't know there was any doubt about Osborn being the Goblin. I didn't know that Ditko had just been setting Osborn up as a straw dog. I just accepted the fact that it was going to be Norman Osborn when we plotted it. I had been following the last couple of issues and didn't think there was really much mystery about it. Looking back, I doubt the Goblin's identity would have been revealed in Amazing #39 if Ditko had stayed on.
In the landmark story, "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" (The Amazing Spider-Man #121–122), the Green Goblin kills Gwen Stacy and later perishes in a fight against Spider-Man. However, the story's writer, Gerry Conway, had Harry Osborn adopt the Green Goblin identity in that story's aftermath, later remarking that "I never had any intention of getting rid of the Green Goblin as a concept". Harry Osborn's becoming the Green Goblin was mostly well-received, with fans remarking that Harry was more menacing than his father had ever been.
Several other characters would take on 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 #122 and had been playing a behind-the-scenes role in Spider-Man's adventures since then.
Fictional character biography
Norman Osborn is the first and most-known character connected with the Green Goblin alias who developed the equipment used by the others ever since he was exposed to the Goblin formula.
Harold "Harry" Osborn is Norman Osborn's son and the second character who used the Green Goblin alias.
Dr. Barton "Bart" Hamilton was a psychologist born in Scarsdale, New York and the third character to use the Green Goblin alias. When Harry was put under medical care, Dr. Hamilton managed to make Harry bury the vendetta and identity as the Goblin identity from Harry's subconscious via hypnosis. Dr. Hamilton uses Harry's secrets to be the third Goblin. But since Harry has no knowledge of where Norman's strength-enhancing Goblin formula is, Hamilton is unable to locate it. He hatches an elaborate plot to kill Silvermane, but Harry resumes the Goblin identity to stop him. They battle and Hamilton is accidentally killed by a bomb with which he meant to kill Spider-Man.
A Goblin that was presumably Hamilton appears as a member of the second incarnation of the Legion of the Unliving, created by the Grandmaster. After being pitted against the Avengers, the group and their master are vanquished by Death.
Norman begins trying to convince the public after returning from the dead of never being the infamous supervillain, and conspired with associate Doctor Angst genetically engineer a new Green Goblin, one slavishly devoted to help this case. Norman uses the Goblin as a bodyguard, to torment Spider-Man, and in ploys designed to draw public sympathy (such as kidnapping Normie Osborn for ransom). After Norman is incapacitated by the Gathering of Five, the Goblin is left alone, and begins to degenerate due to no longer having access to the Goblin formula required to keep him stable. The Goblin goes after Liz Allan in a desperate bid to find a cure for his condition, but is driven off by Spider-Man. During a second attempt to capture Liz, the Goblin unmasks himself in front of Spider-Man (shuffling through a variety of faces with the most prominent being Harry Osborn after doing so) and melts into a pile of goo as he claims Norman would return.
Powers and abilities
In his first appearances, the Green Goblin seems to be a normal man (albeit very nimble and athletic) who gets his powers from his many gadgets. In later appearances, it is established that due to the "Goblin Formula", Norman and most successors to the Goblin persona possesses superhuman strength (lifting 9 tons under optimal conditions), increased speed, reflexes, endurance, and healing rate. Though much slower than the likes of Wolverine, he can regenerate damaged tissue and organs. However, if seriously wounded, it would leave scars on his body. His intelligence has been enhanced to gifted levels, though at the price of his sanity. His involvement with the Gathering of the Five loosened his grip on reality, though he is able to maintain some semblance of his sanity via chemically treated dermal patches. When not impaired by mental illness, Osborn is a cunning businessman, masterful strategist, and highly skilled in electronics, mechanics, engineering and chemistry. The Green Goblin is armed with a variety of bizarre devices. He travels on his bat-shaped "Goblin Glider", an incredibly fast and maneuverable rocket glider equipped with various armaments. Other weapons the Goblin uses include incendiary Pumpkin Bombs, smoke- and gas-emitting grenades resembling ghosts and jack-'o'-lanterns, razor-edged boomerang-like throwing weapons called razor bats and gloves woven with micro-circuited filaments which channel pulsed discharges of electricity at nearly 10,000 volts. He wears a green costume underneath bulletproof chainmail with an overlapping purple tunic. His mask has a built-in gas filter to keep him safe from his own gasses.
In the Green Goblin's first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #14, he rides a steel, rocket powered wingless broomstick (not a glider). In his second appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #17, he changes to the familiar bat-shaped glider. The Goblin Glider's controls and microprocessor are located behind the head of the glider. The pilot is attached to the glider via electromagnetic clasps on the wings of the glider. It has great maneuverability and is steered mostly by leaning, but manual controls are available behind the head of the glider. The Goblin later added radio-linked voice controls to his mask. Its top speed is 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), and it can support about 400 lb (180 kg), though it could lift far more for brief periods. Flying at top speed with a full load and a full fuel tank would deplete its fuel supply in about an hour.
In the Goblin's later appearances, the glider possesses a wide array of armaments, including heat-seeking and smart missiles, machine guns, extending blades, a flamethrower and a pumpkin bomb dispenser/launcher.
Pumpkin Bombs, Ghost Bombs, and the "Bag of Tricks"
A grenade used by the Green Goblin, the Pumpkin Bomb resembles a miniature Jack-o'-lantern and, when thrown, ignites almost soundlessly and produces enough heat to melt through a 3-inch (76 mm) thick sheet of steel. The Goblin carries these and a variety of other weapons, such as razor bats (akin to bladed boomerangs) and miniature "Ghost Bombs" in an over-the-shoulder satchel he calls his "Bag Of Tricks". The Green Goblin has a range of other "Pumpkin Bombs" and "Ghost Bombs" at his disposal, including smoke-and gas-emitting bombs. Some release hallucinogenic gases, while others emit a specially-created mixture that neutralizes Spider-Man's spider-sense for a limited period of time. Still others emit a flame-retarding gas, which the Goblin uses against the Human Torch. All of these are covered in a light plastic coating.
Some time after Norman's death, Harry is abducted by a trio of mysterious female Goblins. With the aid of Ben Urich and Molten Man, Spider-Man discovers that these "Goblinettes" are robots created by Harry, and controlled by a supercomputer containing copies of Harry and Norman's minds. The Goblinettes are destroyed along with the computer, which had been programmed to expose Normie Osborn to the same version of Goblin serum that killed Harry, in attempt to create a new Green Goblin.
Order of the Goblin
An offshoot of the Scriers cult founded by Norman, consisting of only his most loyal followers.
Following Norman's rise and fall from power, a number of Goblin Gangs sprang up across America. Composed mostly of white supremacists who agreed with his plans to remove the Asgardians from the country, they wear purple clothes, green face makeup and have goblin-based tattoos. Vin Gonzales was revealed to have received one of these tattoos while in prison passing a message from Norman to Harry about Stanley Osborn.
In the eight month ellipsis that occurred subsequent to the events of Secret Wars, a heavily bandaged arms dealer claiming to be Norman Osborn began selling Goblin-based costumes and equipment on the black market, establishing private armies of "War Goblins".
As a fictional character, the Green Goblin has appeared in a number of media, from comic books to films and television series. Each version of the character is typically established within its own continuity within parallel universes, to the point where distinct differences in the portrayal of the character can be identified. Various versions of the Goblin are depicted in works such as Marvel's Ultimate line and Earth X.
In other media
- It is possible that Lee was thinking of The Big Man. The Big Man was a mob villain who, like the Green Goblin, was created by Lee/Ditko and had the mystery of his identity played up before being unmasked as someone Spider-Man knew from his civilian life. Moreover, later in the interview Lee suggests that he had the Green Goblin confused with "a gangster".
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Spider-Man's arch nemesis, the Green Goblin, as introduced to readers as the 'most dangerous foe Spidey's ever fought.' Writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko had no way of knowing how true that statement would prove to be in the coming years.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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- The Amazing Spider-Man #174
- The Amazing Spider-Man #176
- The Amazing Spider-Man #180
- Hobgoblin Lives #1–3
- Avengers Annual #16
- Clone Conspiracy #2
- Peter Parker: Spider Man vol. 2, #18
- The Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 2, #259–261
- Peter Parker: Spider-Man #88
- The Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 2, #255
- The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2, #18
- "The Amazing Spider-Man", issue #17.
- Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil
- The Amazing Spider-Man #649
- The Amazing Spider-Man #647
- Superior Spider-Man #10 (July 2013)
- Dan Slott (w), Giuseppe Camuncoli (p), Cam Smith (i), Marte Gracia (col), VC's Joe Caramagna (let), Nick Lowe (ed). "High Priority" The Amazing Spider-Man #4 (December 9, 2015), United States: Marvel Comics