Characters Appearing: Fancy Dan, Flash Thompson, Green Goblin (Norman Osborn), Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, Headsman, J. Jonah Jameson, Jason Ionello, Montana, Ox, Sally Avril, Spider-Man
Untold Tales of Spider-Man #8
Issue(s): Untold Tales of Spider-Man #8
Review/plot: This story is told from the perspective of Harry Osborn as his father continues the behind-the-scene machinations that lead to his becoming the Green Goblin. A new super-villain called the Headsman...
...who wields an electronically powered ax and flies a prototype of the goblin glider, rescues the Enforcers from Spider-Man, presumably to hire them to work for Norman. The Enforcers had previously worked for Osborn, as seen in Inner Demons, but Osbourne, who was building his corporate empire at that point, was very actively involved. Presumably now that he is a respected businessman, Osborn can not directly associate with the Enforcers, who are still wanted by the law having just broken out of police custody after the Big Man arrest. Hence the use of the Headsman as an intermediary. Harry unknowingly ruins his father's plans by summoning (with an Osborn Distress Flare - part of the Osborn catalog for 27 years! Dependable, inexpensive, and coast guard recommended!) Spider-Man when he sees the Enforcers at his father's factory.
In this issue Harry is neglected and verbally abused by his father. Harry comments that this is a recent change in his father's personality (due to the effects of the chemical explosion that gave Norman his Green Goblin powers).
Harry and Gwen Stacy are seen hanging out together, possibly dating.
Good story. Also, i haven't yet mentioned Pat Olliffe's art in these UTOS stories. It is consistently good. It may have seemed retro in 1996 but the art is clean and the storytelling is easy to follow while still using some interesting panel layouts. It is *not* really anything like Steve Ditko's art, however, although people writing in to the letters page seem to see a similarity.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Betty Brant is still missing. The Enforcers are basically lost after the defeat of the Big Man. According to the chronology chart in UTOS #14, this issue takes place between ASM #10 & #11.
Continuity Insert? Y
My Reprint: N/A
-after kicking Harry out, calling him "whiny", "stupid", and "useless", Norman says to himself he can now stop playing the "doting" father. yeesh.
-on his "date" with Gwen, Harry's lamenting how if he could just figure out what he needed to do so his dad wouldn't think he was useless. what does Gwen do in the face of his insecurities and pain? mentions how she totally understands where he's coming from cause sometimes her dad gets so wrapped up in work, he skips meals. poor Harry.
Posted by: min | May 8, 2012 1:43 PM
You know UTOS just feels like a missed opportunity. They sometimes get an idea of the right art but screw it up with modern style villains like the Headsman and Scorcher which just pull you out of the nostalgia.
It would be interesting if somebody new read the comics in order with the UTOS issues. When they'd get to the big green goblin reveal in ASM #39, everyone would just say "We knew that."
(Kinda what kids growing up with Star Wars prequels must say when Vader reveals himself as Luke's father in "Ëmpire".)
Posted by: kveto | February 13, 2016 7:19 AM
This and the other Headsman issue were the only Untold Tales of Spider-Man issues I found myself able to tolerate. Mostly because I bloody loved Thunderbolts: Siege and thought Headsman's story was beautifully tragic.
Posted by: AF | February 13, 2016 7:45 AM
everyone would just say "We knew that."
Is that strictly true? Assuming you weren't alrdy spoiled, I can't recall anything in those original stories that strictly pointed to it being Norman. Certainly Ditko never intended it to be so, so I can't imagine there were hidden clues or anything of the like.
Posted by: JC | February 13, 2016 7:52 AM
Thats kinda my point. There were no clues in the original stories. All the "clues"are in the UTOS. The UTOS were all written with the knowledge that anyone reading them already knew Norman was the GG, and didn't try to hide the fact.
Posted by: kveto | February 13, 2016 8:01 AM
Oh well sure, though I doubt many if anyone reading UTOS hadn't alrdy familiarized themselves with that tidbit.
Posted by: JC | February 13, 2016 8:05 AM
You mentioned that Ditko didn't intend the Green Goblin to be Norman Osborn. I've heard the theory that the disagreement over that was why Ditko left Marvel. However, I have also heard that Ditko developed a drinking problem and that Stan fired him for missing deadlines because of this.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 28, 2016 7:34 PM
It's been officially debunked by Ditko himself that he didn't want Norman Osborn to be the Green Goblin:
He says himself that in issue #23, he first drew the person at JJJ's club that would eventually become Norman Osborn, and that he intended for him to one day be revealed as the Goblin.
He still hasn't definitively revealed why he left Spider-Man, but this was not the reason.
Posted by: mikrolik | October 29, 2016 10:48 AM
After Telford Porter (the Vanisher), the Headsman has my second favorite super-villain real name: Cleavon Twain.
Posted by: Andrew | May 8, 2017 11:14 PM
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