Green Goblin In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

The Green Goblin was a villain created way back in the Lee/Dikto days, originally appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #13 as something of a throwaway villain. Iíve since realised that this was more than likely due The Hulk and The Enforcers also fighting for their share of panels, but in the comics, The Green Goblin didnít become a major player until he discovered Peter Parkerís identity. The real twist came when he unmasked himself to Spider-Man in what he believed would be a final moment of glory in their feud, as Peter was shocked to realise that The villainous Goblin was in fact the Father of one of his best friends. But Iím getting ahead of myself. This is an animation retrospective, not a comic one.

As with most of the great Lee/Dikto/Romita villains, The Green Goblin first appeared on the small screen Spider-Man 67. Given the state of Saturday morning at the time, if youíre expecting to see the ruthless SOB from the comics here, donít waste your time. Norman Osborn isnít even mentioned here, and the show never bothered to take him seriously to begin with. Whilst a lot of the villains in the show would feature characters at similar if not perfectly faithful to their comic book counter parts, The Green Goblin was just another super villain here. As with a lot of the villains, Spider-Man had met him before, so we donít get to see his introduction or his origin. Heís pretty much a thief with an interest in ghosts, ghouls and sorcery. His design however, is pretty good for the time. They managed to capture Steve Diktoís quirkiness pretty much perfectly. His voice actor, whose name shockingly escapes me at this moment was also pretty good. Nothing exceptional, but he fit the role nicely.

As odd as it may sound, I found The Goblin to be really funny in the show. Whilst this series really is better described as a comedy than an action show, itís still abnormal to think of The Goblin as a comedy character. Thereís an absolutely priceless moment in his second episode, Magic Malice, as The Goblin has stolen a book of magic spells (the show is camp in a way that would make Adam West blush) and makes his way to the jewellery store hoping to rob it. Our villain then announces that he doesnít want to break the law and be considered a criminal, so he gladly pays the parking fee for his Goblin Glider and then robs the store.

The Goblinís final appearance in the show also brings with it what I deem the showís most hilarious moment. No small feat, I assure you. Iím not usually one for camp humour, especially when it involves superheroes, but this is a scene I simply cannot watch without bursting into hysterics. Itís not something that can be explained in mere words, but Iíll try anyway. Dr. Noah Body releases The Vulture, Electro and of course our grinning Goblin from prison in one final attempt to kill Spider-Man. As with most supervillain team ups, they spend most of their time trading insults with one another and telling one another that they each believe they are Spider-Manís greatest villain, and they should be the one to finally put an end to his existence. After a flawless spot of ventriloquism bests The Vulture, Spider-Man manages to create webbing that can withstand lightning and pumpkin bombs, and as the bombs bounce back up towards him The Goblin follows it up with the best ďOh No!Ē youíll ever hear. I would consider it to be perhaps the funniest moment in Marvel Animation history.

As stated earlier, this would The Goblinsí last appearance in the show. There would be many green skinned villains in the sophomore and final seasons, but none of them were anywhere near as good as the Goblin.

By the time The Green Goblin was next set to appear on TV, things had certainly changed. Following a rather lengthy feud in the comics, Norman Osbornís battle with The Green Goblin was anything but humorous, and with him knowing Peterís secret identity and his presence always looming around Peter due to his friendship with Harry, it became gripping stuff to read - this was back in the days when Spider-Man comics were actually good.

In what went down as arguably the most shocking moment in comicsí history in Amazing Spider-Man #122, Spider-Man and The Goblinís feud came to itís conclusion as Norman kidnapped Peterís girlfriend Gwen Stacey and fought Spider-Man on the George Washington Bridge, throwing Gwen off it. Itís not sure if she died of shock or if Spideyís webbing broke her neck, but the fact is, The Green Goblin killed his girlfriend. He met his own demise in the story arcs conclusion, as his own glider impaled him. Many believe this story to be Spider-Manís greatest, and they raise a good argument, in my opinion. If youíve not read this story, read it.

By the time The Green Goblin next appeared in a cartoon, there was no doubt as to whom Spideyís top villain was. Even though heíd been dead for years at this point, The Green Goblin was still the chief villain in Spideyís illustrious rouges gallery. In my opinion, it wouldnít even be rivalled until The Hobgoblin debuted years later.

With animation strictly being aimed at a younger audience in the 1980ís, it would be foolish to assume weíd see anything like The Death Of Gwen Stacey appear in the cartoon. The show wasnít strictly a comedy like the previous cartoon however. Iíve only just recently seen this episode after it eluded me for many, many years but I do remember being shocked at seeing The Goblin unmask Spider-Man. For some reason, The Green Goblin was already aware of Peterís other identity, and simply unmasked an almost paralysed Peter without any real dramatic build up. This version is almost identical to the one found during the Lee/Romita glory days, except Harryís nowhere to be seen. (He is mentioned in one episode as a millionaire inventor friend of Peterís, but that has nothing to do with The Green Goblin). Norman and The Goblin are two separate personalities, and The Goblin is unaware that Peter Parker is secretly Spider-Man.

The ending goes down the comedic route and The Goblin attempts to tell J. Jonah Jameson Spider-Manís secret identity while Spider-Man makes as much noise as possible in order to stop Jameson from hearing his name. Whilst itís certainly an entertaining episode, making The Green Goblin into just another supervillain is hardly worthy of the character. Still, he had a great design and a pretty good voice, but letís face it, given how supervillains were portrayed on TV in the 80ís, weíre lucky he was this good.

If youíre not aware by now, the 1980ís solo Spider-Man series was a syndicate show designed to help sell Spider-Man to the networks. It worked. Just a few years after Spider-Man was syndicated, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends came to ABC and became one of the most beloved and popular cartoons of the decade, if not all time.

The Green Goblin would once again return, in the showís opening episode! Triumph Of The Green Goblin had The Goblin retrieve the formula that originally turned him into The Goblin in an attempt to make everyone look like him. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is pretty much a rehash from the previous 80ís Goblin episode, only Firestar and Iceman are included. Whilst this one is a little better, one canít help but feel disappointed. Still, there was excellent casting here. Producer Dennis Marks was a fine Goblin, and Neil Ross played Norman Osborn. Ross would later play both Norman and The Goblin in 1994ís Spider-Man: The Animated Series.

The Goblin only made the one appearance in Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends. Like most villains who werenít Videoman, there was never any intention of brining him back for a second episode. The Green Goblin wouldnít be seen on TV again until the aforementioned Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the 90ís, and boy, did it cause some controversy.