Characters Appearing: Ben Urich, Donald L. Menken, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin (Phil Urich), J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Liz Allan, Molten Man, Normie Osborn, Spider-Man
Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil
Issue(s): Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil
Marvels was still what Busiek was probably best known for and this is sort-of in that vein, in the sense that it has painted art and features a reporter (Ben Urich this time) doing a retrospective. It takes place entirely in the (near) present, as opposed to Marvels, but it's got that kind of historical review feel. Urich is doing research for a book on the Green Goblin(s).
It ALSO gives us a new kind of goblin: the Goth Vulcan Goblin.
While going to interview Liz Allan for the book, the Goth Vulcan Goblins (there are three of them) attack. Spider-Man gets involved but isn't able to stop them from kidnapping little Normie Osborn. They telepathically tell Liz that Normie is going to receive his birthright: the legacy of the Green Goblin. Spider-Man and Urich agree to pool resources and look for Normie.
Ben Urich looks a bit de-aged at times in this issue.
Almost makes me wonder if it wasn't meant to be him or was originally not meant to take place in the present day all the way though, but it doesn't seem like any of that is the case.
Molten Man also gets involved in the search for Normie.
One thing to note: Urich has Harry Osborn's coffin exhumed to confirm that he's really dead.
I never made it far enough into Brand New Day to find out if that was every addressed when Harry returned.
The investigation - part searching for who might be behind Normie's abduction and part just research for Urich's book - is where we get the Marvels-esque continuity informed character analysis.
For what it's worth, everyone thinks Norman Osborn was nuts to begin with except J. Jonah Jameson, who blames Spider-Man.
One interesting thing is that Urich is under the impression for most of this story that Harry, not Norman, was the Goblin who killed Gwen Stacy. The assumption was that Norman was the crime-boss Goblin who associated with Lucky Lobo and the like, and Harry was the psychotic one. Eventually Spider-Man corrects Urich on who killed Stacy, and then Molten Man suggests that Norman went crazy after "something went on" between him and Spider-Man. The implication is that the "something" was Amazing Spider-Man #39-40, when they learned each other's secret identities. The fact that both Goblins were psychotic is what causes Urich to realize that it's the "insanity" that is the Green Goblin's legacy, and that Harry was obsessed with "family" and that means it must be Liz Allan who is behind the kidnappings - via a posthumous mind-control device. Frankly the leap from Urich's mistake to this revelation is a little less clear than it should be; one of Busiek's rare misfires during this period (or maybe i'm just dumb in seeing how it all connects). But it works fine as typical comic logic.
Anyway, this leads everyone to a big underground facility where a computer-animated Norman/Harry hybrid (Norman's face, but Harry's voice) is preparing to dump Normie into the insanity-causing Green Goblin formula. The computer is sophisticated enough that it can recognize Ben Urich.
Between that and the Goth Vulcan Goblins, which turn out to be robots, Harry has proven to be more knowledgeable about artificial intelligence than he'd ever demonstrated in life.
Spider-Man and company of course save the day. Afterwards, it's confirmed that it was learning Spider-Man's identity that caused Norman to go (fully?) nuts. Urich considers digging deeper into that but decides that he's already been down that road with Daredevil and doesn't want to do it again. In the end we see Urich working on his book. His nephew Phil has some interest in it.
It's good! At this point i'd rather have seen Busiek on a regular book, but we'll get there soon enough.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP have this between Amazing Spider-Man #399-400. Peter Parker is still active as Spider-Man and we'll see Ben Urich working on the book he started here in the early issues of the Green Goblin series, so this takes place before that (a note on the inside cover says it takes place before Green Goblin #1).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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