Amazing Spider-Man #14
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #14
Review/plot: The first appearance of the Green Goblin is very silly.
He convinces a bad stereotype of a Hollywood producer to create a movie starring Spider-Man, the Enforcers, and himself. Spider-Man agrees to be in the movie (He signs a contract, presumably as Spider-Man. Doesn't he remember that he can't cash checks made out to that name?), and flies out to New Mexico where the movie is to be filmed. Peter thinks the crew did a really good job with the make up because the "actors look just like the real Enforcers". The Green Goblin tells Spidey that they and the Enforcers should go off and rehearse the fight scene, and when they get him alone, they attack him. That's it. That's the Goblin's plot.
I'll try to give the Goblin the benefit of the doubt and say that the reason he wanted to shoot in the desert is that brings Spidey out of his element, with no buildings to swing on. However, Spidey doesn't have too hard a time of beating them in any event. The fight eventually winds up in a cave where Spidey picks off the Enforcers one by one, But then it turns out that the Hulk is hiding out in this cave and Spidey has to fight him too.
The Green Goblin gets away, but the Enforcers are presumably picked up by an Army helicopter (How they'll recognize these guys as the 'real' Enforcers as opposed to actors when even Spidey, who has fought them before, did not, is not mentioned).
The Green Goblin rides around on a mechanical flying broomstick. This doesn't square away as nicely with UTOS #8 as one might like it to. In that issue, the Headsman was using a proto-Goblin Glider, but the Goblin is not using a Glider here. Also, was this the great scheme that the Headsman was originally trying to contact the Enforcers about?
When Osborn is not dressed as the Goblin, his face is kept hidden. At this point Lee and Ditko did not have a person in mind for the Goblin's alter ego, and the (often discredited) rumor is that Ditko actually left the book over the decision.
Meanwhile, Liz Allan is definitely falling for Peter Parker. She describes him as a dream boat. Also, Peter tells Aunt May that he is a high school senior almost ready to go to college.
The editors of this reprint have chosen to replace all the topical references with updated ones. Therefore the producer considers having Tom Selleck play the role of Spider-Man, and wants a soundtrack by Blondie. Worse, Peter tells Flash that he has as much a chance with Liz as Arafat has with Begin. This book was reprinted in 1994, so even though they were aiming for topical, they failed by at least a decade, because these changes were being carried over from an earlier Marvel Tales reprint. It's a bad idea to update these references at all for just that reason.
There's also a panel where the Green Goblin is talking to the Enforcers and says, "I'm now ready to give the four of you your orders!". It's probably just a mistake (if so, why not fix that while they were updating all the topical references?) but maybe he's got another henchman that we don't know about, like maybe the Headsman?
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint:Spider-Man Classics #15
Inbound References (5): show
The Comics Code objected to the Goblin's broomstick(I dunno why), so it was changed to a glider.
One of the contemporary rumors about the Green Goblin's ID was that Steve wanted him to be Ned Leeds, and Stan wanted a resurrected Egyptian mummy.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 3, 2013 7:46 PM
Yes, this issue is silly, but it's quite possibly my very favorite Silver Age comic. Yes yes, a debut of Spider-Man's arch-nemesis. But also: the Hulk. And also: the sheer 1960's lunacy of anyone ever thinking the Enforcers were a threat to anybody. ("Our gang has guns!" "Oh yeah?! Well, our gang has, like, a weight lifter, a guy with a lasso, and a kung-fu pipsqueak in a purple zoot suit!" "A kung-fu pip-sq.... Listen man, we don't want any trouble, forget about it. We'll be leaving.")
Plus! The 1960's lunacy of B.J. Cosmos as the broadest possible satire, along with the unbearable-yet-classic-cliche of the "movie of you fighting actor-villains, who are in fact the real villains."
Plus! Road trip to New Mexico for no reason (other than to fight the Hulk).
Plus! Constant inter-cutting between the Spider-Man battle scenes and the soap opera stuff back home.
I mean, if those are your design specs (and it was 1964, of COURSE those were your design specs), Ditko and Lee execute flawlessly.
This issue, while absurd, is probably the best single issue Marvel published until "This Man, This Monster" in FF #51.
Posted by: James S. | March 23, 2013 5:32 PM
The 1994 reprints did indeed use the same topical references as an earlier reprint, in this case an issue of MARVEL TALES from the early eighties. Tom Selleck references don't seem as odd in this light.
Posted by: Anonymous | June 13, 2013 1:21 PM
I remember this issue of MARVEL TALES specifically as the one that made me aware that topical references in Marvel comics were not to be taken literally. There was an editorial about it in the letters page. There was also some discussion about additional editing in reprints, whether it was appropriate to "fix" twenty year old mistakes, like dialogue reflecting faulty science (Spider-Man "grounding" himself to fight Electro rather than insulating himself, things like that...)
Posted by: Jay Patrick | June 13, 2013 1:28 PM
For someone who would end up as one of the key villains in history this really is a pretty unimpressive debut. It was cool though that they kept the identity secret for so long to keep people guessing - of course, that just lead to the same thing with Hobgoblin, which really drove people nuts (and had to be changed more than once).
You know, Doom and Magneto had great first appearances. But do you think Stan could have known how big the Goblin would become?
Posted by: Erik Beck | December 24, 2014 12:01 PM
Well in Spider-Man's defense this time he insists in being paid in cash. Also I had no idea the CCA objected over the use of a flying broomstick. They must have thought it had something to do with witches/witchcraft, etc.
Posted by: Leves | January 26, 2015 10:00 PM
It's kinda hard to ride on a flying broomstick without it looking phallic. That might be why the CCA raised a hand against it.
Posted by: MegaSpiderMan | February 3, 2015 1:42 AM
I think it was because it looked like a missile, and back in those days with all the missile and bomb scares from Russia the CC didn't want any parallels. Could the Goblin have been perceived as a political representation of Khrushchev or Castro riding a missile? His flyer still looks odd especially being used to the glider all these years.
Posted by: Mike | August 27, 2015 2:17 PM
I really liked this story. Sure, it's silly, but I always thought the Green Goblin himself was very very silly. He never struck me as any sort of criminal mastermind, and this story fit quite nicely with my expectations. His looks are intriguing and his weapons are wild, but his Silver Age appearances put him light-years behind the Kingpin, Magneto, Doctor Doom, the Leader, the Red Skull, Loki, or even the Wizard. He is basically a high-tech maniac who dreams of underworld glory and hopes to achieve them by offing the one true costumed crimefighter. His schemes frequently involve getting actual gangsters doing his dirty work, whether it's the Enforcers, Lucky Lobo, that Crime-Master guy or whatever he is called, and most of the time he succeeds squarely by chance. The Hulk saves him in this first appearance. He'll be saved in the next one by the Human Torch's dunderheaded interference, of all things. And if it weren't for Aunt May's disease, Spider-Man could've licked him.
But I used to like him. He was original. And having him figure out Spidey's real identity was a good innovation. This may have been one of the first times a villain figured out a super-hero's secret identity--apart from Doctor Strange figuring out Batman's.
I'm going with MegaSpiderMan on the subject of CCA-unapproved flying broomsticks. The CC Authority was always afraid of sex. They seemed lenient with sofcore witchcraft motifs in Dr. Strange (Ditko's, not Batman's). And I think S.H.I.E.L.D stories got the O.K. for missile-mentioning tall tales. But phallic symbols? Eeeeeewww!!!
As for the Enforcers, I always figured they were super-strong and agile to some point. In any event, James S.'s explanation of the Enforcers' threat was the funniest thing I've read in any internet post in ages.
Posted by: The Transparent Fox | August 27, 2015 4:32 PM
Transparent Fox means Hugo Strange, of course. But I am hilariously imagining a world where Dr. Strange knows Batman's secret identity.
If any of you non-DC fans aren't familiar with that storyline, it's got magnificent art by Marshall Rogers and is available as a trade called Strange Apparitions. It's my single favorite work from DC in the 70's.
Posted by: Erik Beck | August 27, 2015 6:25 PM
I want to second Erik's recommendation of the Englehart/Rogers 1970s Batman run. Well worth reading -- I think of it as some of Englehart's best work and some of the best Batman stories ever told. It certainly influenced the Batman films and future writers.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 28, 2015 1:43 AM
I suspect that the portrayal of the movie producer is influenced by Ditko's philosophy about earning money through your own work vs. people indirectly involved with the work making money off of other's efforts. More than any other 1960s Marvel Comic, Amazing Spider-Man constantly deals with the ethics of earning money vs. making money, and that has probably is Ditko's contribution.
Also, what I like about the early appearances of the Enforcers is that they try to be well-coordinated in their attacks. I think that the Goblin is smart to select them to go up against Spider-Man at this point in Spidey's career (and in the reader's relationship with Spidey). In their first appearance, they each demonstrated the ability to take out several experienced gangsters, so they are tougher than they appear, and Spider-Man did not definitively defeat them -- the police arrested them with his aid. Too bad that later appearances failed to make better use of them.
As for the military recognizing the Enforcers, they probably did not know that a film shoot was going on, so they weren't biased towards assuming they might be actors.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | August 28, 2015 2:16 AM
I suspect the CCA's objection to the broomstick was due to an overly strict reading of the ban on all monsters seen in the pre-code 1950s horror comics--no vampires, no werewolves, no walking dead, no traditional-looking witches, and that includes nobody on broomsticks.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 28, 2015 2:41 PM
Best line of the issue: "But one thing he didn't count on is my power of chest expansion!!"
Posted by: Robert | February 7, 2016 4:45 PM
Every so often, I step back for a moment, and think to myself that the archenemy of Spider-Man is a guy called the Green Goblin. It's one of those comic-book names that sounds fine because you're used to it, but must sound like arbitrary nonsense to anyone not immersed in the genre already.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 7, 2016 7:48 PM
The Enforcers remind me of Hoss, Little Joe, and Adam on Bonanza.
Magic how Green Goblin keeps his balance on that broomstick, with his crotch suspended 6 inches in the air above it about half the time, and even with Spidey hopping around on it rocking the boat.
Posted by: James Holt | August 16, 2016 12:20 AM
I loved this one as the Green Goblin is my all-time favorite Spider-Man villain. As far as how it sounds to people who don't read comics, who cares?
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 29, 2016 4:35 PM
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