This was a very difficult Spidey Super Stories for me to review. It features the first SSS appearance of the Green Goblin, which should make it great. The problem is, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but - It's not all-bad. I mean, sure the dialogue is hokey, the characters have no motivations and if you think too hard, you realize it makes no frickin' sense at all. But they stole the last half of the plot right from Stan Lee and Gerry Conway, and that stuff is pretty good. The fight scenes are a whole lot better than usual. Thankfully, they did tweak it a bit to give it that special Spidey Super Stories feeling we all know and love, so I have something to work with. But overall, this was a toughie.
We open with the Green Goblin flying away from the scene of his latest dastardly robbery.
Mr. Caption: A new crime wave has hit the city.
A bunch of New Yorkers are standing around, staring at the skies, terrified, muttering to each other. No one is going to work, everyone looks frantic. The entire city has shut down from what we can see in this panel. Then we find out what kind of crime wave has paralyzed everyone.
Mr. Caption: No toy store is safe from: THE GREEDY GREEN GOBLIN.
Ah yes, The Green Goblin. Spidey's arch-nemesis. Killed his first love, destroyed his best friend's family, etc. Also wears scaly Goblin skin over his real skin and flies around on a giant metal manta ray. Wears a purple sock on his head. And in this story he robs lots and lots of toy stores, holding the city in a tight grip of diabolical fear, or something. The whole city is terrified that their children might not have all the toys they want right now today. Man, if a toy-store crime wave can shut down New York City, I wonder what would happen during a video-rental store crime wave. Within a week we'd be back to living in caves and using animal bones as hairpins again.
So at this first toy store, the Green Goblin steals a hockey stick, a dartboard and a pair of roller skates. The reason we can see exactly what he's stolen is that he's clutching his stolen goods in his arms like a first-born child as he flies away. Apparently he hasn't mastered complicated BAG technology just yet. He does have a bag over his shoulder to keep his Pumpkin Bombs and other goodies in, he's cool with that. But he seems to think it's just fine to hold all his stolen toys (all 3 of them!) in his hands. He does this for the entire flight back to his lair. He doesn't seem to realize that maybe he could steal, say 12 times as much if he used a bag. If he just asked the terrified clerks at the toy store for a bag, I'm sure they'd give him one. It doesn't seem to bother him that if (when) Spider-Man shows up and kicks him, he's going to have to drop all his toys on the ground from a hundred feet up. Not to mention it's hard to... oh forget it. You get the idea. Does anybody out there go shopping and bring like 17 friends so each person can hold two of your items? No, it's stupid.
So Peter is sitting at home, and reads the morning's Daily Bugle. The headline (about eight inches high, of course) is "GREEN GOBLIN ROBS TOY STORE" This accompanies a full-page picture of the Green Goblin smiling at the camera. I don't think any 20th American presidents have rated the front page of every newspaper devoted solely to their larger-than life-size head.
Mr. Caption: Peter is really the secret super-hero, Spider-man!
Peter: Only I can stop the Green Goblin!
Well, if it's such a damn secret, maybe you should stop revealing your identity every chance you get. Mr. Donald L. Stamp of Newport, Rhode Island has a better secret identity than you. Do I know if that's his real name? No. I don't even know if he exists, since I just made him up. He's way more mysterious than you are, Peter. I mean everybody - people reading the comic, people in the comic, people in other comics that happen to be placed near this comic on the spinner rack, everybody knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Peter: But first I'd better leave a note.
Note: Dear Aunt May, I've gone out. Don't wait up. Love - Peter.
Well, I'm sure your heart-attack-prone worrywart Aunt May will be very reassured by the fact that high-school Peter Parker is going out SOMEWHERE, for SOME amount of time, maybe with SOME people wearing pajamas who are trying to kill him, and he'll be back real late. Yeah, if only back in high school my parents had accepted such flimsy excuses when I'd sneak out late. Not that I didn't try the old, "Super-villain attacking my girlfriend's house. Justice demands my presence. Don't wait up. Love -Eric" once or twice...
So Spider-Man sets a clever trap. Much in the same way as fisherman using worms set a "clever trap" for fish. "Well, gee Mr. Fish, here's an unappetizing, usually drowned dead and bloated creature that doesn't actually live in the water at all, unless he's got a giant hook through him". That's the kind of cleverness I'm talking about here.
Get ready for the plan: Spidey decides the best way to catch the Goblin is to find a toy store that has a Spider-Man billboard on top, which loudly proclaims "Get your Spider-Man toys here!" It also has to have a life-size picture of Spider-Man on the billboard. (See where this is going yet? Think stupid.) Then cut-out the paper Spider-Man photo, and then stand inside the cut-out, as part of the billboard, for hours and hours until maybe the Goblin shows up. If he does show up, then be sure to wait there, in the sign, listening to him terrorizing the store below you, breaking all the windows, destroying whatever property he wants and stealing the leftovers. When the Goblin's leaving, then and only then, it's time to jump out of the sign.
I just don't see how this is more of a 'trap' than waiting on the next block or in some shadows nearby. Except you don't have to destroy anyone's advertising billboards, especially ones that are selling your toys and that you would get royalties from, dumbass Spidey. Also, by doing something else, you'll save yourself a few hours picking cardboard splinters out of your armpits and trip to the podiatrist. Maybe next time you could even try hiding in the store, maybe preventing some crimes rather than listening to them.
Ok, so as the Goblin flies away desperately clutching his booty to his chest (a toy boat, a baseball bat, a top, a teddy bear, and a toy car), Spider-Man pops out of the sign and starts following him. Spidey catches up with him, and then does that usual thingy where he swings over to the Goblin and ends up sitting on the Goblin's back while he's flying like some game of leapfrog gone horribly, horribly awry.
Spider-Man: How about giving me a lift?
*Spidey crashes into him, wraps legs around his belly*
Green Goblin: *OOF* Get off, you fool, or we'll both fall.
*Goblin starts dropping his toys, cause like I said before, it's hard to fight a super-hero when your arms are filled with stolen Pokemon crap, you idiot*
Spider-Man: I've got news for you, Goblin. That's just how I planned it.
So now Spidey's plan is an essentially sound one, the same one he always uses against Goblin-people. He jumped on the Goblin's back and was going to force both of them to crash into something. Well, except for the bit about crashing, but hey, I'll cut him some slack. But then Spidey shows the resolve of a French Army faced with an invasion by German cabinetmakers when it comes to actually sticking with the plan.
*Spidey jumps off the Goblin's back twenty feet in the air, not about to crash into anything except more air molecules.*
Spider-Man: Oh, okay, I'll hop off, so we won't crash.
ARGH! Let's hear it for another great plan from Spidey and its flawless execution! I swear, I think the worms on the hooks could come up with better plans than this. And I bet they wouldn't chicken out at the last moment, either. I mean, the Goblin said, "We'll fall" and Spidey was like, "Okay-then. Thanks for informing me. I'll get off". Next thing we know, Spidey's gonna be the Goblin's laundry monkey.
So then the Goblin shoots a big shock out of one of his shock gloves, (Mr. Sound Effect: ZAP!), creating a ball of shock around Spidey's cranium bigger than his shockin' head. Shock shock. While this should fry all his synaptic relays, or at least start his hair in fire, instead the Goblin tells us that this will blind Spidey temporarily. So Spidey sees little floating stars for one panel while the Goblin hurries to make his getaway. Then in the next panel, Spidey's fine and chasing after the Goblin again, who's flown about four feet away at top speed. Spidey must have been "blinded" for all of half-a-second. I just have this to say to you, Mr. Goblin: IF YOU INVENT A DAMN BLINDING SHOCK GAUNTLET, IT HAD BETTER DAMN WELL BLIND PEOPLE.
Then Spidey tails the Goblin to his Goblin-lair. And get ready for the shock of your life --
Spider-Man: Wait! This isn't just any house. This is the house of my best friend, Harry Osborn!
But that's not the shocking part. Pretty much everybody already knows that Harry is the Green Goblin. The shocking part is, and it really, really, pains me to admit this, but the Spidey Super Stories writers were right, and I was wrong. Remember two issues ago, (Issue 8, Story 3) when I was making fun of them because they had Harry running off to do mysterious things that in no way remotely involved anything in that story? And then in the final story last issue, when Harry said, "I love the color Green"? Ack. Well, it was just the Spidey Super Stories writer's sad and pathetic attempt at introducing some continuity, so sad and mutated I couldn't recognize it for what it was. I don't know, I guess they were building the suspense or something about who was the Green Goblin, except they forgot to introduce him and his city-crippling crime wave until this issue. So it wasn't much of a mystery, since we didn't even know about it. But all the same, I have to give them some credit, it makes that scene two issues ago make marginally more sense. So they get a point. Current score: Eric 327, Writers -8 (but they used to have -7).
So Spider-Man decides "he can't just break in, he must ring the bell" because it's Harry's house or something. Like that ever stopped you from breaking and entering before. So in full Spider-Man costume, he rings the bell and Harry answers.
Spidey: Excuse me, but did you see a Green Goblin?
Yeah, good one, arm-chair psychologist Spidey. (That'd be a great action figure name, incidentally.) I'm sure exactly what Harry needs is to be confronted by you, his hated enemy still in costume, and your knowledge of his secret villainous identity all at once in his foyer. Yeah, he's not gonna crack and go insane or anything.
But he holds off the insane super-villain rampage for a page or two, and invites Spidey in.
Harry: Uh, sorry Spider-Man, I sure didn't. But you can look around if you like.
So he invites Spidey in, and we get a look at Harry's apartment. Harry, I'll remind you, is a 16 year old junior in high school. He has his own house all to himself. We only see his bedroom, and uh, it's what you might politely call an 'eclectic mix of interior decorating styles'. In one corner of the room, there's a gold-plated nightstand and a fancy gold leaf mirror. In another corner, there's a full scientific lab with about a hundred chemicals in brightly colored bottles and lots of chemistry textbooks both in a bookshelf, next to a table where's he running three or four experiments. Then in another corner he has his bed and a yellow dresser. Then in another corner (do we have enough corners? I think so) he's got a matched orange table and chair set with a cast iron lamp, a throw rug and a chandelier hanging over it all. This is what happens when you let a rich 16 year old live by themselves. I'm just surprised he didn't have a pinball machine or a sit-down Pac-Man in one corner.
Anyway, while's he's there, Spidey sees some green clothes carelessly hanging half-out of Harry's drawers, and so of course he then figures out Harry must be the Goblin. (Not that anyone else lives there anyway, duh.) So Harry shows him the door, Spidey waits outside, and a minute later the Green Goblin comes zooming back out of Harry's bedroom window. He sees Spidey, throws a pumpkin bomb at him, misses, throws another, misses again, throws a third one - misses.
Spidey: My Spider-Speed will save me! Besides, your aim is lousy.
Ouch, that had to hurt, Gobby. My dead grandmother could toss a pumpkin bomb better than that. From her coffin.
So Spidey tries webbing up the Goblin. The Goblin grabs a strand of web in each hand, leaps off his glider, and does something totally kick-ass awesome. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it rocks. The Goblin starts spinning his arms around or something, and Spider-Man falls to the ground and gets wrapped up like a human burrito in his own webbing. I don't think any other villain has been able to yank on webbing Spidey shot at them with such force that Spidey gets hopelessly tangled in it and they laugh at him. Cool.
Now once Spidey's all tangled up, the Goblin lobs a final pumpkin bomb ("filled with laughing gas") at him. Now that Spidey's webbed himself up, I would think this would work, one of the damn bombs would finally find their mark. But no, somehow Spidey is now suddenly free of his tangled mess of webbing, and then makes what I can only describe as a "web-towel". Somehow, just holding this web-towel in mid-air is enough to bounce the pumpkin bomb off it and send it rocketing right back at the Goblin's head. Okay... Well... Spidey seems to be implying that an American soldier with a sturdy beach towel could decimate a corps of Nazi Grenadiers single-handedly, which I don't think is right, but whatever.
So the laughing gas hits the Goblin, he falls to the ground and starts laughing, Spidey goes over to unmask him, it's Harry Osborn, whoop-dee-frickin'-doo. He takes Harry back to his bedroom. Spidey finds some random chemicals.
Spidey: This stuff must turn Harry into the Goblin. Down the drain it goes!
Actually, I thought it was a mad-on for crappy children's toys and a lack of public shame that turned him into the Goblin, but if you want to believe it was due to some mysterious "chemical" you found lying around that was probably vinegar, you go right on believing that.
So Spidey strips off Harry's Goblin suit, puts him to bed and crawls into bed next to him. Sorry, everything except that last bit, trying to drag head out of gutter. Spidey opens Harry's closet and finds like 50 toys in there, which he decides to return to the toy stores. Sadly, Spider-Man walks to every toy store in New York like 5 times, since he has to carry all the toys in his hands also, for some stupid reason. Jesus, it's called a BAG, Spidey, look into it.
*the next day at school*
Peter: When Harry wakes up, nothing will remind of the Green Goblin and he'll forget.
*Harry walks in*
Harry: Hi Peter, old buddy. Boy I had a strange dream last night!
Peter: *devious wink to the audience*
Um, so does that mean because I don't live with my Mom or have a picture of her on my desk, I'm going to forget she ever existed? That would suck. But wait... if I burn all my pictures of my ex-girlfriend, tear up her love letters, and delete her emails, I'll forget SHE ever existed? Sweeeeeeeet.
You know, I was going to say something about how stupid the Green Goblin's outfit looks, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. He looks just the Green Goblin in the main Marvel Universe, and I love that guy. You know you've been reading comics too long when you see a guy wearing green synthetic goblin skin and a purple elf hat riding around on a metal bat he built in his garage, and you don't find that the least bit weird. In fact, if he were to appear without his green skin or goblin glider or pumpkin-bombs that release gas, I'd kick somebody's ass. Yeah, kinda sad.
So here's the complete list of toys we see the Goblin stealing in this story.
hockey stick - roller skates - dartboard, 2 darts - football - toy bus - toy speedboat - toy plane - baseball bat - teddy bear - toy sailing ship - top - toy purple car - beach ball - jack-in-the-box - wagon - catcher's mitt - green boat - toy duckie on a string.
What I want to know is, where does the Goblin plan on fencing this stuff? I don't know if Tommy the Fence can fence out three different types of toy boats. Who's he gonna sell it to? The Kindergarten Mafia? Goodwill? The Make-A-Wish Foundation? Maybe the Goblin would have done better robbing the National Geographic store for back issues or something. Seriously, what kind of criminal empire is built on a mountain of toy duckies?
Speaking of which (and this is a problem in the Main Marvel U, as well), why doesn't the Goblin just sell his Glider and get ultra-super-rich and buy his own chain of toy stores? Harry would be filthy rich enough to retire at age 17 and spend his full time in pursuit of junior high girls, though that's pretty much what he does now anyway. For chrissake, he invented a silent, self-propelled one man airplane (albeit, shaped like a metal bat). Now I'm no high-level U.S. military strategist (well, actually, I... uh, sorry, you're not cleared for that) but I'm pretty positive our military could think up a few uses for this glider. No, Harry thinks robbing toy stores are where the big bucks are... *sigh*
3 webs. Close call on this one. I love the Goblin, but he's just not wacky enough here compared to our regular crop of villains. Maybe my standards are too high...... reading about mind-controlled laundry-washing mountain gorillas will do that to you.