This rave contains spoilers for Superior Spider-Man #31…you’ve been warned.
If anyone ever asks, you can tell them that the beginning of the 21st century was the Golden Age of the cornrow hair style…but don’t be surprised if nobody asks. The reason for that borderline-absurd comment is that for the first time in the 60+ year history of the Spiderverse, there is not one living Osborn family member sporting the cornrow hairdo.
To refresh everyone’s memory regarding the Osborn family and their hair in the late 90’s and early 00’s, let's start with Mr. Norman Osborn. He had returned from the dead circa 1996 and he brought the cornrows back with him!
There was also his son Harry, who we observed in either flashbacks or as holographs.
Third on the list was Norman’s grandson, Normie, who was a living testimony of just how dominate the cornrow gene (and mental instability) was in the Osborn lineage.
And lastly, Alton Osborn, Norman’s great-grandfather, who proved just how far back the ancestral cornrow gene could be traced. Alton was spotlighted in Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin #2 and we haven’t seen anything from him since then so we'll assume his cornrows haven’t gone anywhere. But he’s dead (we think), so he doesn’t count anyway.
Slowly, over the last 5 years or so, the cornrow roster has dwindled down to 0.
Harry returned from the ‘dead’ around the time of Brand New Day and in his return he, of course, rocked the cornrows. But Harry later disappeared into obscurity after the events of Origin of the Species in order to protect his newborn son Stanley. To better hide himself from his past, he traded in his cornrows for a fresh baldy.
The desire to disappear didn’t remove his son Normie’s cornrows though, an inconsistent continuity handled that. Normie’s depiction in both Amazing Spider-Man #582 and the recent Goblin Nation story arc feature a normal looking kid with straight brownish-red hair.
In full disclosure, Normie's hair style has always been in flux. Spectacular Spider-Man #200 featured a curly-haired Normie and even my personal favorite artist, JRJR, went away from the cornrows briefly in Peter Parker Spider-Man #95. So it might be a wash for Normie's cornrow disappearance...
This left Norman Osborn as the one, living, breathing, cornrow-having Osborn populating the Spiderverse…but Norman’s cornrows aren’t going anywhere, right? They comprise one of the pillars of the Spiderverse, like Aunt May’s wheatcakes, don’t they?
Well, not any more thanks to the Green Goblin unmasking featured in Superior Spider-Man #31. To quickly recap, Norman Osborn, operating under the guise of 'Mason Banks', underwent a face-altering surgery (somehow) so that he could stealthily manipulate the events of Goblin Nation.
You changed your face? Really? Because it looks to me like you only changed your hairstyle (and not even your hair color!)? His square-shaped jaw, reddish hair and piercing eyes are all still intact. Here’s a panel from Dark Wolverine #76 for comparison (both done by artist Guiseppe Camuncoli) to show that his face really didn’t change much…he just straightened the cornrows and grew a handle-bar mustache.
Don’t get me wrong I actually liked the plot twist at the conclusion of Superior Spider-Man #31. Goblin Nation made no sense unless it was Norman Osborn pulling the strings…yet somehow I was anxiously anticipating the Goblin-reveal along with everyone else. However, it appears that going forward Norman will never go back to his old face (and hair!) again…he’s basically the new Chameleon. And thus, no more cornrows!
So is there a conspiracy to rid the Spiderverse of cornrows? Was this whole Goblin Nation-face lift thing a covert plan by Marvel to remove Norman's cornrows? We’ll never know, why would anyone do such a silly thing? Perhaps it’s due to the same thing that governs much of what happens in Marvel comics…synergy with Marvel movies.
Till next time...Keep on Goblin!