Comics : AIM Toothpaste: Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: A Word From Our Sponsor

This review was first published on: 2000.

Background...

Beginning with an origin recap that eliminates the entire "murder of Uncle Ben" subplot (no need to bum people out when they buy your toothpaste, after all), this promo, given away free with a purchase of Aim, was written by Marv Wolfman, Spidey's scribe at the time, and features the dental villainy of the Green Goblin.

In Detail...

AIM Toothpaste: Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin
Year 1980 : SM Title
Writer:  Marv Wolfman
Pencils:  Alex Saviuk
Inker:  Mike Esposito
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Monday morning, and Spider-Man is hurrying to get to the Daily Bugle building. J. Jonah Jameson has contacted Peter Parker and told him to rush to work. Peter hopes there's a raise in all this somewhere. He changes into his civvies and enters Jonah's office. The publisher is tousling the blonde hair of a young boy. He tells Parker he has a job for him... "one I wouldn't entrust to anyone else". Then he introduces Peter to his nephew, Randy. Jonah is in charge of the boy for the day but has no intention of taking Randy to his scheduled dental appointment. That's what he wants Peter to do. Pete protests that Jonah could hire a baby sitter but JJ doesn't want to spend money. "Besides", he says, "Randy wants to be a photographer. I thought a few hours with you would cure him of that folly." And Pete was chosen because Jonah considers his other photogs too important to waste with such trivialities. When Peter refuses to do it, Jonah threatens to fire him. Peter does it. Young Randy is thrilled; excited and wide-eyed. "I'm gonna love this!" he declares. Peter gives Jonah a glare as he exits the room.

Across the town, the Green Goblin, flying on his glider, arrives at his hideout in an abandoned subway station. He has the latest Daily Bugle in hand and has seen something therein that will not only allow him to steal millions but to wipe out his enemy, Spider-Man. What has the Goblin so worked up? It appears to be a front-page article with the headline, "Scientist to Give Lecture on Dental Lasers!"

And at the dental offices of Dr. Raymond Sadetsky, Randy's examination reveals "quite a few cavities", with "one or two...touching the nerve". Peter asks how long it will take to fill them. Dr. Sadetsky replies that it wouldn't take any time at all if he had access to his dental laser. Unfortunately, though, the laser is on display at the "Coliseum Exhibit" where the doctor is supposed to give a lecture next week. (What do you know? It's the same dentist from the newspaper! What a heck of a coincidence!)

Just then, the Green Goblin smashes a window and glides in. He shoves Peter aside and goes after Dr. Sadetsky (who he calls "My chubby little friend" even though the dentist doesn't look overweight to me). Peter leaps at the Goblin but the villain floors him with a kick. Pete decides to fake injury lest the Goblin "realize that Peter Parker is really Spider-Man".

(Confused? Well, don't worry about it. It's all set up to make the easiest reading possible. Just like the elimination of Uncle Ben from the origin, the whole "Osborn/Parker-know-each-other's-identities" business only complicates matters. In fact, the Goblin appears to not have a secret identity at all in this story. He's just the Goblin.)

With Randy imploring Peter to do something (maybe he knows Pete is Spider-Man), the Goblin kidnaps Dr. Sadetsky and flies away with him. Pete gets up, tells Randy to call the police, and claims he is going to get some pics for Jonah Jameson. But what he's really doing, of course, is tailing the Goblin as Spider-Man.

Spidey catches up to the Goblin and gives him a kick from behind. (Fortunately, the Goblin was just above a rooftop so that, Dr. Sadetsky lands safely when he is dropped.) The Goblin brandishes a pumpkin bomb and, in the Aim Toothpaste-iverse, Spidey must really be naive because he scoffs at the device until it covers him in smoke and gas. Weakened, the web-spinner falls. But even the Goblin doesn't believe this fall will kill Spidey. The green one taunts the webhead, telling him he will commit "crime after crime". Once he finishes his work, though, "Spider-Man shall surely perish". As Spidey constructs a "web-trampoline" between buildings to break his fall, the Goblin tosses him a clue. "I've stolen a dentist", he says, "but my next crime will really have some bite!" Then, he flies off with the dentist, leaving Spidey powerless to stop him.

Later, Peter returns with Randy to the Bugle. JJJ is so miffed at Peter for not getting photos, even though he was right there when the Goblin attacked, that he issues an ultimatum. Get something printable for tomorrow's paper or get fired. "Peter", Randy says, "something tells me Uncle Jonah isn't too happy with you right now."

Chapter 2: Goblins and Gems!

Back at the abandoned subway hideout, the Goblin has set Dr. Sadetsky up with some equipment and ordered him to "build what I demand". At first Sadetsky resists until the Goblin fires a shot of his sparkle ray just over his head. Nervously, he agrees to help but promises himself that he will do it "in such a way that Spider-Man will be able to track [the Goblin] down". The dentist is apparently the uncertain type, however, because the instant the Goblin gloats over the agreement, Sadetsky wonders if he has "doomed Spider-Man".

As for Peter and Randy... they are at the zoo. Peter is showing Randy how to use a camera and Randy is snapping shots of the lions. Later, back on the streets, the two shutterbugs overhear a radio report from a police car. There is a "robbery in progress at Jewelry Building, Robert A. Bite, Gem Specialist" (the next crime will have "bite", get it?) and the Green Goblin is reported to be the perpetrator. Randy is ready to join Peter at the scene but our hero tells the boy that it's too dangerous, then ditches him by running into an alley and climbing up a wall. (So, it's too dangerous to take Randy along but not too dangerous to leave him behind in some New York alley? Makes sense to me!)

Spider-Man makes his way to the scene of the robbery. (You can't miss it. It's a building with a big sign on it that reads, "Gem".) Inside, the Goblin has all the employees stretched out on the floor except for the one who is presenting him with a tray of rubies. Spidey swings in through a skylight and promises the Goblin he will be going "right back to prison" (further emphasizing that, in this story, the Goblin is just some average crook). Greeny tells Spidey, as he shoots his sparkle ray at him, that he's surprised the webster figured out his "vague clue" and it is only then that the wall-crawler understands the whole "bite" pun. (But he doesn't tell the Goblin that.) The Goblin flings another pumpkin and Spidey, a bit slow on the uptake, assumes that it will contain gas that he can thwart by holding his breath. But this pumpkin is a grenade and it explodes right by Spidey, knocking him off the wall. The Goblin starts to escape with his rubies but Spidey has the wherewithal to shoot his webbing and snag the Goblin's glider. At that moment, a winded Randy shows up and the Goblin threatens to kill the boy and the other people in the room with another Goblin bomb unless Spider-Man releases him. Having no choice, Spidey detaches his webbing by yanking on it. (Let me say that again. He detaches his webbing from the glider by yanking on it.) The Goblin departs through the skylight, telling Spidey "soon it will all be water under the bridgework" and he drops a pumpkin bomb as he goes.

Spidey has only seconds to act. He snags the bomb with his webbing and swings it like a bolo, then releases it, smashing through a window. (And he did it "just by the skin of my spider-teeth!") The bomb sends a stream of glass shards into the room but Spidey is on top of that as well, putting up a web-shield to protect everyone. But do you think everyone is happy? No. Robert Bite, Gem Specialist enters the scene. He is very upset about the theft of his rubies and he thinks Spidey and the Goblin planned the robbery together. Spidey takes off, telling Bite that the thought of the Goblin being his partner is "the funniest thing I've heard since last week's Laverne and Shirley". While web-slinging home (and ditching Randy again, you'll note), he ponders the latest Goblin clue. Everything has been dental related and Spidey can't figure out why. All he knows is if he doesn't stop the Goblin it may be "time to hang up my Spider-Man suit forever!"

Chapter 3: The End of a Spider-Man!

The next morning, hoping for a clue, Peter drags Randy to the Dental Exhibit. Randy thinks it will be boring until he steps inside and sees the "awesome sight of the giant models of teeth and bridgework which hang on heavy steel cables above them", as well as immense molars behind plexiglass, huge toothbrushes and drills, (and spit sinks!), with oral hygiene displays on the walls. Now Randy thinks everything is "real neat" and he quickly stumbles on Dr. Sadetsky's experimental laser drill. But Peter still doesn't understand why the Goblin committed the kidnapping.

At the subway hideout, the Goblin has Sadetsky chained to a table. The dentist tells the villain that he doesn't have all the parts he needs. The Goblin tells Sadetsky that he will have them soon. He needs the device by tomorrow night.

At the exhibit, Randy is mesmerized by a lecture about "collecting gold and silver from all the nations of the free world" in order to provide proper tooth care to the "poor people of the world", but Pete is preoccupied by the Goblin's "bridgwork" clue. Then, it clicks for him. Randy doesn't want to leave but Peter just grabs him by the collar and yanks him right out of there.

First stop is the Daily Bugle to drop Randy off but Jonah is in a meeting with the printer's union. Glory Grant tells Peter that Randy must stay with him.

Second stop is Aunt May's home in Forest Hills. May agrees to watch Randy while Peter goes out on a "heavy date". Randy is happy to stay with Aunt May since she has given him a delicious snack of a banana and milk. (Well, what did you expect in a comic sponsored by toothpaste?)

So, playing a hunch, Spidey arrives at the Bridgework Metal shop, located by the East River. Sure enough, the Goblin is inside attacking the workers with his sleep-gas. Spidey breaks the skylight with his entrance but Gobby is waiting for him. He unleashes six spare Goblin Gliders, each attuned to Spidey's body heat, "each designed to fly until they strike you" and each designed to explode when they strike. The Goblin grabs a lead pipe about a meter in length and flies off, but not before Spidey manages to slap a spider-tracer on the unwary villain.

Spidey, meanwhile, leaps all about trying to evade the gliders but they stay on his tail. Spying a porthole-sized window in a door, he crashes through it, hoping that the space is too narrow for the gliders. But, instead, the first glider sacrifices itself by striking the door and blowing a hole in the wall big enough for the others to follow. This makes Spidey realize, though, that the gliders will explode on contact with any surface. He lifts up a large green turbine of some sort and throws it at the front-running glider, causing an explosion that leaves only three gliders left. Although he is "bone-weary", Spidey sets up another trap. He clings to a wall, then swings away at the last instant. Two gliders cannot stop. They explode against the wall, leaving one glider left. Unfortunately, Spidey has now swung into a room filled with huge steel piping... a room with no exit. No problem. He grabs one of the pipes with his webbing, then making "like Reggie Jackson", he swings it at the glider. Contact! And a final explosion. But this blast dislodges all the stacked-up pipes and they tumble down, burying the web-slinger.

The Goblin arrives at his hideout only to find that the dentist has escaped. (How did he do it? Who knows?) Fortunately for the bad guy, Sadetsky has not gotten far. Gobby drags him back to the table, gives him the metal tube he stole and tells him that the last piece of equipment will be there soon. He also tells Sadetsky that Spidey is dead. "I finally destroyed him!"

But back at the Bridgework Metal shop, Spidey has protected himself from the steel pipes by whipping up a web dome. The webbing is, apparently, tough enough to resist the pressure of the fallen tubes but will only last an hour before it evaporates. The web-slinger's only chance to survive is to push through the web dome and shove all the steel pipes away from him. He braces himself and begins. His back feels like it's breaking. Sweat drops bead on the outside of his mask. But, finally, through all the pain and anguish, Spidey simultaneously shreds his web dome and shoves all the tubing away.

Outside, the webhead knows he can't stop now. He follows his spider-tracer to the abandoned subway station. But, inside, the Goblin is already back from his last robbery and the "unholy machine is complete". The wall-crawler swings in, kicking and punching the Goblin with a "Thok!" and a "Thwak". But Gobby recovers and starts throwing pumpkin bombs. Spidey realizes that there's not enough room in the hideout to maneuver. To make matters worse, one of the bombs weakens the ceiling and a big chunk of rock drops right on Dr. Sadetsky's head. Spidey rushes to the dentist's aid. Again he must let the Goblin escape. ("Tonight I shall be filling my coffers", is Greeny's "final clue".) He breaks the chain holding the dentist captive, slings him over his shoulder and takes him to the nearest hospital. Once there, a doctor tells him that he brought Sadetsky in just in time. The dentist is going to pull through.

Later at the Daily Bugle, Jonah Jameson tells Peter Parker he's fired. Peter protests that no one has gotten photos of the Goblin but JJJ tells him the Daily Globe got one "when he raided that electrical supply company". Jonah gets so peeved that he bites down wrong and loses a filling. Now, he's in pain and in need of a dentist. But all this talk of fillings and money gives Peter an idea. He tells Jonah to not fire him just yet, then runs off to follow up on his idea. And Randy has figured things out as well. He tells Jonah to come with him... he knows where the Goblin will strike next.

Spidey heads for the Dental Exhibit. He has figured out that the Goblin forced Sadetsky to build a duplicate dental laser. The Goblin has mounted that newly-built laser onto his glider. "I can steal millions", he thinks as he arrives at the exhibit and flies inside.

Chapter 4: The Final Fury!

The Goblin is inside the Dental Exhibit before the guards can do anything about it. He unleashes a sleep gas that puts all the uniformed men out of commission. Then, he trains his new laser on one of the giant molars behind the plexiglass shield. It turns out that these huge teeth are actually "adamantium steel safes" designed to hold all the gold and silver that was donated for the fillings of the poor people of the world. The only thing that will crack the safes is a high intensity laser just like the one the Goblin has. But even while Gobby goes to work, Spidey swings in and boots him in the back of the head. He tells Greeny that he figured it all out when he recalled the bad guy's clue about "filling" his coffers and then remembered that "gold and silver are the major parts of the alloys used in dental fillings".

Spidey knocks the Goblin off his glider. Gobby responds with his sparkle ray, which Spidey avoids. The wall-crawler shoots webbing onto Gobby's right hand (this must be the quick-evaporating formula since the web is gone only two panels later) and the villain counters with a jack o'lantern equipped with an acetylene torch (what purpose this would serve is beyond me). Spidey easily snatches the torch away but allows Greeny to regain his glider. The Goblin takes to the air. Spidey pursues and grabs for the back of the glider but he is kicked in the head by the villain... which sends a jolt through the web-slinger since the Goblin's slippers are electrified.

The Goblin turns and fights, firing his new laser at Spider-Man. But the webster counters by attaching a stream of webbing to each wing of the glider and then pulling the flying machine apart! The Goblin and the laser hit the ground hard. Gobby gets up but Spidey leaps at him, disturbing the aim of his sparkle ray. With one solid punch, Spidey knocks the Goblin inside one of the giant denture displays. The force of the blow snaps the props that hold the mouth open and the teeth bite down on the Green Goblin.

At that instant, J. Jonah Jameson runs in followed by Randy. He demands to know what is going on and Spidey tells him the Goblin has been defeated "by the teeth on his skin". When Jonah accuses Spidey of being involved in the scheme, the webhead attaches webbing to JJJ's backside and boosts him up into the air. "Don't you laugh at me, you little pipsqueak!", Jameson tells his nephew.

Later, back at the Bugle, Jonah is in a better mood. Spider-Man made a fool of him but he has the exclusive story of the Goblin's defeat. Then, he remembers that he doesn't have any photos. But, Peter shows up with a roll of shots of the Spidey-Goblin battle (since he set up his camera beforehand, don'tcha know). Jonah lunges for the roll but Peter holds him off. "You fired me, remember?", Pete tells Jameson. "That was only a joke", JJJ replies. But Pete wants more. He wants a raise. Jonah offers five dollars a photo. Pete wants twenty ("You complain and I'll make it twenty-five".) Jonah agrees, thinking "They're worth twice that... but why tell Parker?"

Next day, Pete takes Randy back to Dr. Sadetsky to finish his appointment. Randy tells Pete he's decided to be an astronaut rather than a photographer. "It's probably a safer job", he says. Pete leaves him in Dr. Sadetsky's hands where the dentist badgers Randy about having six cavities and not brushing properly or eating the right foods. Randy promises to do better in the future then points out the window. Spidey is out there, just checking to see that everyone is all right. "We're both fine, Spider-Man", says Dr. Sadetsky. (Except for the poor sap of a kid who needs to have six cavities filled.) "Then I gotta get going", says Spidey. He swings away, saying, "Seeya in the funny papers!"

Spidey follows the story with one page of tips on good dental care, finishing with a plug to brush with Aim toothpaste. And the back cover advertises the Aim Spider-Man Birthday Sweepstakes... "If you win, Spider-Man will appear in person at your birthday party!" Not only that but "he'll bring 20 special mystery gifts for you and your friends". Sorry, everyone, but "Entries must be postmarked by November 30, 1980". Did anyone actually win this thing? If anybody knows, if anybody has details, write in and tell the rest of us!