I didn’t blame Spider-Man. He did his best. I blamed the goddamn Green Goblin and his grotesque glider. As far as this kid was concerned, he did the worst thing anybody could do and he paid the price for it and I first understood the concept of justice.
My morals are formed by Superman and Doctor Who. Treating people with respect and upholding a moral code that protects the weak and punishes the guilty comes from comics and movies and television shows. All that is good in me was inspired by the deeds of fictional creations like Peter Parker and his Heartbreaking Losses.
(I also tried to dress like Peter Parker once, but it all went horribly wrong. Stupid fucking early nineties.)
Everything I know about justice I learned from Spider-Man and his final battle with the Green Goblin. Once Norman killed poor Gwen, I knew he had to pay, and the impalement on his own glider was the epitome of justice in my little mind.
Years later, it all turned out to mean nothing.
* * *
When Norman Osborn came back from the dead, I was fucking spewing.
Right at the end of the awful, awful clone shitpile, there was one last idea to sour the taste of Spider-Man forever. I still get excited when I get a book out of the library and it’s 200 pages of new Spider-Man comics by dazzlin’ Dan Slott and jizzin’ JR Junior, but I haven’t bought an issue of Amazing Spider-Man since #398.
I loved Spider-Man in the early nineties and got hooked on Bagley at a fairly early age, (especially when he was doing Spider-Man and New Warriors every month and producing some strong and slick work.) And then it all turned to rubbish, so quickly. It was the continued crossovers with lesser Spidey comics right at the start of the clone mess that killed any interest I had in Amazing, so I was lucky to miss the worst of it, but I never really came back.
Part of this was due to the Big Reveal at the end. Bringing Norman Osborn back was the last little dollop of shit on a mountain of it, but I was soured forever by it. If Spider-Man loses that battle, if Norman fucking Osborn keeps coming back and killing innocent people, than he is not accomplishing anything.
Three decades after that nightmare on the bridge and the Green Goblin is still bloody doing it. Norman has dropped a few innocent souls in the past decade of comics, more people that Spider-Man cannot save. He is the impotent superhero, and while he remains a great character to pile on the angst, there is a fine line between being a tragic figure and just being a fucking failure.
I can handle Spider-Man taking shit from J Jonah Jameson, as Jonah is still a fundamentally decent guy who actually thinks he is doing the right thing, and sometimes confounds expectations by actually doing it.
But I can’t abide seeing Norman Osborn enjoying overwhelming support from a public that must be aware of his horrible past. He might plead past insanity and maintain that he is completely cured, but even then, you don’t give people like that power because they shot an alien in the face.
That level of stupidity has always been there, buried in the psyche of the average Marvel universe inhabitant. It’s the idiocy that saw them throw bricks at the X-Men after they saved people from a burning building, or willing to believe anything they’re told by proven liars.
But the amount of stupidity behind Osborn’s current reign has been taken it to a whole new level. Unless there are some kind of brainwashing shenanigans going on, there really isn’t much excuse for giving this lunatic the powers he has.
It won’t last, and eventually Osborn will pull a Lex Luthor and get too nuts to get away with it, but the chances of Osborn actually facing proper justice remain slim. Marvel are happy to use him as the ultimate bogeyman in Spider-Man’s life, offering him up as an unbeatable villain. There is a lot of logic behind that idea, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
* * *
I was five years old when Gwen Stacy died. She actually died two years before I was born, but I didn’t find out for another seven years. When I did read those issues in a shitty black and white reprint comic, it hit hard.
It was horrible. Super-heroes are supposed to save their loved ones. A couple of years as a court reporter have made me horribly cynical about the entire justice process, but at least there is still a sense of accountability in the real world. The Marvel world has none of that, and I want nothing to do with it.
Over in the DC Universe, it still grates to see the Joker slaughter more and more and more innocent people. But even if Luthor could con enough people to make him the present of the United States, nobody is going to make the motherfuckin’ Joker the
head of the CIA.
But there Norman is, sitting happy at the centre of power in the Marvel Universe, talking to himself in that lazy way writers use to show insanity. If the Green Goblin can fool the world and escape all judgment, then there is no justice and the Marvel Universe means nothing to me.
It might be a blind and irrational hatred for a fictional character, but it’s enough to sour me on every book the character appears in. And with his ubiquitous nature these days, that’s damn near all of them.
So fuck Norman Osborne. Fuck the Green Goblin. And fuck the Marvel Universe, for keeping him around so long, when his story was done a long time ago.