Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2
Issue(s): Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine #2
The continuity is not 100% perfect. There's no mistakes. But that subplot had Norman Osborn missing (although we, the audience, saw him) whereas in this series he's returned with no explanation. As Michael Grabowski notes in the comments, it could be that the early portion of this story is intended as a kind of flashback weaving through recent issues.
For some reason, Captain Stacy has organized a showing of photos of a Spider-Man / Green Goblin battle. Peter Parker, J. Jonah Jameson, and both Norman and Harry Osborn are in the audience. Peter is rightly nervous since the photos are causing Norman fits are likely to cause him to remember his suppressed memories of being the Goblin and knowing Peter's secret ID.
The funny bit, or maybe not so funny bit, is Captain Stacy suggesting that JJ could use psychiatric help as well.
Norman is hospitalized, and while he's fitfully resting there, he suddenly does remember that he's the Goblin. He runs out of the hospital (here's one of the scenes Michael references in the comments that could suggest Norman had super-strength)...
...and makes his way to one of his many hidden hideouts.
While Peter worries about Norman being on the loose, Norman returns home to Harry, pretending like he's all better now. And Norman suggests throwing a dinner party with his son, and has Harry invite Gwen, MJ, and Peter. Peter rightly guesses that the others have just been invited as a cover-up, but when he goes to pick up Gwen he lightens up enough to compare her to a centerfold model in front of her father. I have to assume that in the 60s that there were magazines other than the Playboy type that had centerfolds, based on the fact that no one gives Peter a beating.
They get to the party to find that MJ still has her perm haircut.
What follows is a very awkward dinner.
Eventually Peter decides that he's going to make the first move, so he (secretly) throws a web ball into the fireplace, and everyone is forced to leave the apartment in the ensuing smoke. While they're leaving, Norman starts ranting that he's going after Aunt May. Only Peter hears that, apparently, so he ditches his friends and follows Norman.
A lot of this issue feels a bit padded; it's a story that could basically have been told in a regular length issue but there's a lot of flashbacks and worried dream sequences. But when we get to the battle with the Green Goblin, it's pretty intense because the stakes are so high.
Here's the other "super-strength" scene.
The problem (besides the Goblin's very phallic new weapon) is that Peter can't just turn the Green Goblin over to the police because he'll divulge his identity, and he also can't kill him. The solutions comes in the form of another new weapon: the Green Goblin's psychedelic pumpkin.
Banking on the fact that Norman is "mentally ill already", Spider-Man turns the psychedelic bomb on him.
Killing Norman is going too far, but messing with a mentally ill person's head isn't crossing a line, i guess. It's not like Peter has a lot of choices. But this was the problem with the Green Goblin after the revelation from Amazing Spider-Man #39-40. You had to continually have him losing his memory in order to keep him around as a villain.
Despite that contrivance, this was a good story that did well with the stressful situation of a villain knowing your secret ID. In some ways it's the same as Amazing Spider-Man #39-40, but it gets to explore the idea raised there in more detail.
There's still really nothing here that wasn't already being offered in the regular comic book at this point though. It seems that Stan Lee didn't feel that anything more needed to be added (or subtracted, e.g. this issue plays directly into regular ASM continuity) to reach the older audience he was targeting with this magazine; the format itself seemed to be the key. Stan was probably also hoping fans of the comic would follow the magazine; after all, this issue concludes a running subplot from that book. Nonetheless, this was the final issue of the short lived series.
In John Romita Sr.'s introduction to the Marvel Masterworks trade reprinting these Spectacular issues, after describing how Marvel came to work on the black & white magazine format (which i quoted in the previous entry of this series), it says:
Martin Goodman, our publisher, however, felt that we should stick to what we did best and decided the second Spectacular would be in full color. This solved my halftone problem, but disappointed as we were, we put out a great second issue that brought the Green Goblin back in the culmination of a long-running subplot.
Here's a scan of the ad for The TV Terror.
And to be utterly pedantic, i'll note that this issue wasn't entirely in color. The issue opens with a black & white recap of Spider-Man's origin. I think this was actually the inside front cover.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This should take place after the scenes in Amazing Spider-Man #66 that show Norman still hiding from his son Harry. ASM #66-67 is a continued story and i've placed it after those issues; the MCP, probably following a Marvel Index, actually interweaves the scenes in this magazine with scenes from ASM #66-67. And see Michael Grabowski's comment regarding that. Either way, we never actually see Norman show up again in Amazing prior to his appearance here, and he's with Harry at the beginning of this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man vol. 7 (softcover)
Inbound References (1): showAunt May, Captain Stacy, Green Goblin (Norman Osborn), Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, J. Jonah Jameson, Jackal, Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man
This issue might be what convinced Roger Stern that Norman Osborn had super-strength. In one scene, he knocks Harry and his doctor over easily, and in a later scene where he fights Peter hand-to-hand Peter is impressed by his strength. It's debatable whether Osborn was supposed to have SUPER-strength or just be unusually strong for a man his age.
Posted by: Michael | December 15, 2014 8:03 PM
I've added those two "super-strength" scenes. The flashback in ASM #96 is interesting. It seems to show scenes from both ASM #39-40 and this magazine without really distinguishing the two.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 15, 2014 8:39 PM
Quite a few 1960s(and previous) magazines had centerfold pin-ups, or just plain pin-ups. Not all of them were nude or topless either(for example, Esquire regularly had pin-ups).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 20, 2014 4:39 PM
Ah here we go, the proof of the Goblin having super strength. Still my Essential volume didn't include this one.
Posted by: david banes | October 23, 2015 3:05 PM
Adding to the super-strength evidence, Norman is also briefly shown tossing around some hefty-looking wooden furniture like it's nothing.
Peter letting Norman go makes some sense if he thinks the Goblin serum is what made Norman villainous, and he knows that the amnesiac Norman is genuinely a good person. It's likely that Peter sees Norman's Goblin identity as something not terrifically different than, say, Curt Connors's Lizard transformation.
Of course, Norman before the serum was still ruthless, and Peter even thinks that back in ASM #39. But all of the Goblin's subsequent appearances under Lee's pen treat him like Norman is the good persona and the Goblin is the evil one. Of course, decades of retcons later, plain old Norman Osborn is at least as evil as his costumed identity, and perhaps even worse.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 8, 2017 10:04 AM
That's a good point, Omar. I haven't checked in with the character since Dark Reign, but I enjoyed the dynamic where "normal" Norman was still ruthless and evil, whereas the Goblin persona was all that AND crazy... and no one feared his return more than Norman.
But unless I've forgotten some scenes to the contrary, at least at this point in history it seemed like Norman's ruthlessness and evil WERE completely tied to the Goblin persona. The Norman who was amnesiac regarding his time as the Goblin was written like a candidate for citizen of the year. Your Curt Connors analogy is exactly right. But yeah, it doesn't make sense considering what we'd already been shown by then of Norman's history. He should have just gone back to being the same guy who betrayed his partner and treated his son like a disappointment. Instead it's like the amnesia actually produced a completely new personality.
Posted by: Dan H. | July 8, 2017 4:04 PM
Interesting point on how Norman was treated then compared to now. Amazing #40 does show flashbacks of Norman being ruthless before the Goblin formula, and also that he was often a stern father who used his wealth to buy Harry things rather than talk to him or care for him.
On the other hand. in the previous issue Harry claims they got on well before a few years ago when something changed, clearly meant to be the Goblin formula. And Norman's flashbacks clearly confirm Norman goes from a father who is trying to do his best but doesn't understand Harry and is frequently absent, to an arrogant father who directly puts Harry down. (At this point, Harry being a disappointment to Norman only appears after Norman ingests the Goblin formula.) So yeah I think to a certain degree Stan intended that Norman had been turned evil by the formula, even though the flashbacks of his pre-formula ruthlessness (including turning STromm into the police) seems to contradict that a little.
(I'd also forgotten that the Goblin formula was in fact one of Stromm's inventions, not Norman's (in fact Stromm says most of their inventions were his not Norman's), that Osborn took while Stromm was in jail.)
The crazy sweats Norman always gets when his Goblin memories start coming back also seem to suggest that Stan saw it as some sort of mental illness that took hold of Norman.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | July 8, 2017 8:18 PM
If Peter needed a beating for anything, it's picking out the white socks to go with his suit. That only works for David Letterman. Reckon that was Aunt May's doing?
Posted by: Brian Coffey | July 8, 2017 9:41 PM
Our last glimpse of Normal Norm is in ASM #63. By #65 he's missing (presumably following his hospital escape here), and in #66 he has a one-panel cameo in full Goblin gear. It is possible to weave the events of the first 20 pages of this story into those comics, though not really necessary. Maybe hand-draw rounded corners around all the panels in the first 3rd so it looks more like a recap-flashback.
Note that Peter's insistent rationality helps him defeat GG's psychdelic gas much the same as he defeated Mysterio's psychdelic-mechanical illusions in ASM #67, Spidey's immediately previous adventure, with similar dialogue & thoughts in both instances, plotted and scripted by the same fellows not too far apart in real time, presumably.
Posted by: Michael Grabowski | March 18, 2018 2:09 AM
Thanks Michael. Now i see why the MCP lists it that way.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 19, 2018 4:40 PM
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