Comics : Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin #2

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: Aug 2010.

Background...

Even the ‘gift of madness’ cannot stop Norman Osborn from his relentless attacks on Peter Parker. In Revenge of the Green Goblin #1, Norman Osborn’s mental recuperation is in full swing, thanks to Dr. Albert Bendix who had seemingly developed a cure for Norman’s insanity. But that was not even the best thing that Bendix did for Norman, Norman has fallen for the Swedish nurse that Bendix had hired named Kolina Frederickson.

Disguised as a mailman, Norman delivered Peter a sample of toothpaste laced with hallucinogens. This is the first stage of Norman's latest attack on the web-slinger.

In Detail...

"Lives in the Balance!"
Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin #2
Nov 2000 : SM Title
Summary: Norman slowly drugs and brainwashes Peter
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Roger Stern
Pencils:  Ron Frenz
Inker:  George Roderick, Jr., Pat Olliffe
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man: Revenge of The Green Goblin (TPB)
Articles: Osborn, Amberson (FB), Aunt May Parker, Menken, Donald, Dr. Albert Bendix, Emily Osborn (FB), Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Kolina Frederickson

The second installment in the Revenge of the Green Goblin mini series begins with Norman addressing his loyal followers. During his speech, Norman dissolves his relationship with the Scriers and creates a new cult, The Order of the Goblin. Norman dons a new Goblin costume and commands his followers to demonstrate their loyalty. Norman then tosses Spider-Man out into the crowd and tells them to ‘Kill the Spider’. The followers do so blindly, but it is not Peter Parker in the Spider-Man costume, rather Dr. Albert Bendix. Bendix pleads with Norman to spare his life but Osborn declines. After the ceremonial murder (really no other way to describe it), Osborn and Menken return to the command center of Osborn’s hideout. Norman tells Menken that he is concerned about his mortality and he alludes to the fact that he currently has no worthy heir. This is the first hint that Norman’s next plot against Peter is going to be a bit unique.

Meanwhile, Peter begins experiencing intense Goblin-related delusions. During these delusions, Peter unmasks the Green Goblin only to reveal Spider-Man underneath. Peter wakes from his dream very unsettled but he remains unaware of Norman's plot against him.

Back at the Osborn estate, Kolina and Norman begin to bond a bit more after she interrupts him in his study. Norman proceeds to tell her some of the details around his family history as he continues to open up to Kolina. He explains to her that his great grandfather, Alton Osborn (who has the infamous Osborn cornrows as well!), is the man responsible for building the Osborn family fortune. He goes on to explain that it was Norman's father who was responsible for losing that family fortune (that statement is supported by the events of Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #14). Norman’s demeanor becomes increasingly intense when he discusses his efforts to reclaim that lost fortune and Kolina tries to console him. Kolina’s care and passion once again reminds Norman of his deceased wife Emily, as a result his connection to Kolina is strengthened.

Returning to Peter, we find that he’s beginning to notice some deficiencies with his Spider-sense as he nearly smacks into a crane from a construction site. Soon after, Peter visits his Aunt May and the two share a heart-to-heart as they discuss the mutual losses of their significant others. While out on the porch, she tells him that his Uncle Ben was once part of musical trio and that the grandson of one of the members sent her a CD with some of their music. Peter tells May that he'll copy the music onto a tape for her, but before he does that he listens to the CD himself. The music induces another delusion for Peter, and it turns out that Osborn had mailed that CD to May as part of his plan. It contains subliminal messages aimed at getting Peter to begin doing Osborn’s bidding.

The second chapter in this arc ends when Kolina inadvertently surprises Norman in his underground lair while in his Goblin attire. Norman, who is completely caught off guard, hurls a pumpkin bomb at the intruder, not realizing it was Kolina. A distraught Osborn holds his private nurse in his arms as he weeps at the possibility of having killed her.

While Norman laments over the potential loss of Kolina, his seige on Peter's life is working flawlessly. In Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #23 and Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #24 Peter is exhausted as he claims that he 'can't get enough sleep' while having dreams involving both the Green Goblin and Gwen Stacy. Unbeknownst to Peter (and the reader to at this point), when he falls asleep he begins sleepwalking (goblin-walking may be a better term) and he performs Osborn's bidding while in the guise of the Green Goblin. The next morning Peter would awake feeling worse than when he had gone to sleep, he remains very confused as to what is going on. This subplot is ultimately explained as the Goblin Heir story arc progresses.

In General...

Couple of things here…

First, I find it strange that Norman has allowed the entire Order of the Goblin in on his secret that he’s the villainous Green Goblin. Prior to that, Norman had gone to great lengths to keep his alter ego secret, even fooling his former ally the Crime Master into thinking the Goblin was J. Jonah Jameson. It seems risky and a little outside of the typical clandestine Osborn operating strategy. Since this group is really a branch of his loyal followers from the Scriers, it begs the question of whether or not the Scriers knew Norman was the Green Goblin. I’m not entirely sure if the Scriers knew, especially since he was in hiding while in Europe and he probably worked with a variety of aliases. So this development was a bit odd and foolish on Osborn’s part in my opinion. Given Osborn’s current status in the Marvel Universe it would be interesting to see if one of these members of the Order would ever try to blackmail Norman with this information. Of course it probably wouldn’t end well for said individual, but it may be worth a shot. I guess if all else fails we could always blame Norman's medication for causing him to be foolish enough to tell the entire Order that he’s the Green Goblin.

I love the idea that Norman would want Peter Parker to become his heir apparent, however, knowing what we know from Brand New Day problems arise. Norman tells Menken that he has no worthy heir, but we know from Amazing Spider-Man #581 that Norman aided in the cover up of Harry’s death. Clearly Norman is aware that Harry is not dead, which is the complete opposite of what Norman tells Menken. There’s a couple different explanations for this. The first (and probably the most legitimate) being that Stern clearly had no idea that they would eventually resurrect Harry, so at the time of this story Harry was as dead as a door nail. Second, Norman could be flat out lying to Menken (and Peter in a roundabout way) in an attempt to keep him out of the loop regarding Harry. The third reason could be that even if Norman knew Harry was alive, he may still view him as a sniveling little dweeb who is unworthy of the Goblin legacy. Therefore, despite the fact that he knew Harry was alive, Norman could still prefer Peter over Harry as his heir.

You gotta love Norman and just how thorough he can be. The research to find out Uncle Ben was in a musical group, that's priceless! I'm just confused as to who was supposed to listen to the CD, May or Peter? Did Norman know she would eventually pass that off to Peter? If so, when did he think she would? That was one plot point I was scratching my head over...

Lastly, just a quick comment on the plot up to this point. Norman loves to plan his revenge on Peter and the irony of his method is commendable. Remember that Norman had the 'gift' of insanity and couldn’t tell real from fake when Peter busted him last time. He’s doing that exact same thing to Peter now, such sweet revenge! From the delusions Peter’s experiencing to the sleep-walking Goblin escapades he’s sending Peter on, and all the while Peter is unaware of it all. So fact and fiction for Peter right now are becoming blurred, the same way they had for Norman. That’s an interesting facet to this story.

Overall Rating...

5 webs. Despite Brand New Day’s pollution of this tale, it’s still an excellent read and a must have for any Goblin fan. Hopefully my review justifies that claim.