Monday, May 7, 2012
Return of the Goblin: Amazing Spider-Man 136
Amazing Spider-Man #136 (September 1974)
"The Green Goblin Lives Again!"
Gerry Conway-Ross Andru/Frank Giacoia/Dave Hunt
Karen: That really is a gorgeous piece, and I wish I'd picked it up years ago.
Doug: One of the times I had the privilege of meeting the Jazzy One, he was hawking this beauty. What a gentleman he is. As I've said around here before, if John Romita is ever at a con near you, GO.
Doug: We begin with Pete and MJ on a date, trying to decide what to do after a whirlwind day. There's some great dialogue here, really sweet as the two discover each other all over again in the months after Gwen Stacy's passing. It's finally determined that since Pete's place is closer, they'll go hang out there. But as they approach the door and MJ takes Pete's key, the Spider-Sense begins to ring off the hook. Pete grabs Mary Jane and throws her to the floor, landing on top of her just in time to shield her from a massive explosion.
Karen: Conway does a nice job with the dialog between these two. MJ's playful side really comes off well here, and Peter's oddball nature (listening to Ella Fitzgerald?) is brought back.
Doug: No doubt the musical choice was odd. Nothing wrong with that genre, per se, but for a young 20-something in the early '70's -- it's a bit odd. I wonder if Conway just pulled that out of the sky or if he was teasing someone he knew or who worked in the Bullpen.
Doug: Pete's pretty banged up, and as the smoke clears he checks on MJ. Now I have to admit to a dirty mind here, and over the next few panels. I've included the images to show you how it goes for me. Just sick, I know... what, Pete couldn't find her wrist to check her heart rate? And whenever I learned CPR we held our ears close to the victim's mouth to check breathing. But hey, it makes for a better visual I suppose. Once Pete determines that his lady is not seriously injured, his next motive becomes ridding the apartment of anything Spider-related. Enter the next panel that made me giggle. As Pete empties his dresser of extra web cartridges and his spare costume, he makes quite a humorous statement. Forgive me...
Karen: Regarding Peter's 'exam' of MJ, that's all you pal! Maybe our readers will back you up, but I never gave it a second thought as I read this issue. But yeah, the comment about the web cartridges made me think bad thoughts. It's interesting that Peter is still on his feet and functioning, even though he took the brunt of the blast. Sometimes I forget how tough Spidey really is.
Doug: After Pete tosses his extra gear onto an adjacent rooftop, he hustles back to MJ just in time for the fuzz to arrive. While MJ gets a ride to the hospital, Pete gets the third degree, almost to the point that he wonders if the police suspect him in blowing up his own digs! But after waiting at the hospital, Pete's finally allowed into MJ's room. But when entering and laying eyes on her, it's Gwen's face he sees -- as she looked in his arms the day she died! We then get a concise re-telling of the events of ASM #'s 121-122. I thought it was definitive, and something we discussed at length about a year ago when we reviewed those issues, that Conway has Pete muse that the fall killed Gwendy. Interesting...
Karen: I'm wondering if the doctors even examined Pete? You'd think they would, but it doesn't appear to be so. Kind of an oversight. This was an effective retelling of Gwen and the Goblin's deaths for those readers who might be unfamiliar with those issues. Peter may actually believe it was the shock of the fall that killed Gwen -or maybe he can't handle the guilt of knowing that his webline snapped her neck? I suppose we could debate that endlessly.
Doug: Pete has an uneasy feeling about all of this. He'd found a detonator in the debris in the apartment, and Harry was nowhere to be found. As they'd had some stress between them lately, Pete decides to web it over to one of Norman Osborn's old warehouses. Once inside, he does an inspection of the place and decides that it looks as he thought it should, with no evidence that anyone had been there. But then for some reason Spidey wonders to himself if maybe the dust is fake? Say what? I half-expected Mysterio to pop out at this point -- I just didn't know what Conway was going for, or why he got the idea to insert that line. Anyway, Spidey decides to stake-out the joint as only he can -- in a web-hammock. And it doesn't take long to find his clue.
Karen: Yes, fake dust. Doesn't everyone have a bag lying around? This was an example of the typical Bronze Age (and even Silver Age) ridiculousness that we seemed to completely ignore as kids. Of course, if we're going to accept a guy getting powers from being bitten by a radioactive spider, then shouldn't we just roll with the fake dust?
Doug: In one of the definitive Green Goblin poses of all time, Ross Andru draws a phenomenal depiction of Harry Osborn atop the glider. A classic Spider-Man/Green Goblin battle ensues, with new readers brought up to speed by some nifty visuals of all of the Goblin's weapons and tricks. Spidey calls him "Harry", but the Goblin does not initially let on who he really is. As we said in the two Tarantula stories, Andru crafts a nice series of panels that show the frenetic energy that is this battle. Spider-Man's downfall, however, is the exhaust from the Goblin-glider. Apparently Harry had worked a chemical into the engine that would give off some sort of knockout gas -- Spider-Man succumbs, only to have the Goblin's sparkle-fingers (jeez, sounds like a cheerleading term) malfunction. Rather than finish the job on the weakened Spider-Man, the Goblin flies away to seek a more fitting revenge.
Karen: This was just the appetizer. Although Harry's Goblin would have to be pretty under-powered compared to his Dad's version. Of course, this is another fight where we know Spidey is holding back. He's such a nice guy -he holds back on the first Goblin because he's his friend's dad, he holds back on the Lizard because he cares about Doc Connors, and now he's holding back on Harry. Sparkle fingers? Is that from Twilight??
Doug: There's an odd coda to this story, set in the offices of the Daily Bugle. Pete has just been denied a leave of absence by JJJ, and storms out of his office. Betty Brant tried to cheer him up, but Pete snaps on her. Certainly Pete's under some severe stress, but then we get the "Spider-Man no more!" line that from now on, Peter Parker goes it alone! Just seemed out of place for an ending to what should have been a major storyline.
Karen: I did not get why that half-page ending was there. It seemed very out of place, almost as if there was some disconnect between Andru and Conway and it was too late to fix it. Who knows, but it left me scratching my head.
Doug: As always, we appreciate your comments on our comic book reviews. But in addition to your thoughts on the art and plot, I'd like to pose a question for everyone with an opinion: Many of you, my partner included, have intimated a bit of an eyeroll at the very mention of the first Clone Saga. Personally, I like it -- it was a very early entry point to Amazing Spider-Man for me. What I want to know is this -- are there some of you out there who dislike the Gwen-revival, but don't mind at all this legacy of Norman Osborn? And if so, I'd just be curious to know what the difference is. Thank you in advance.