Green Goblin In Animation - A Retrospective

Part One - Part Two - Part Three - Part Four

31 episodes into the series, we are finally introduced to The Green Goblin in the series. The episode actually feels like it couldíve taken place in the opening season as itís a nice single, standalone episode with a nice slow pace but the characters are presented as they are in season three. Peter is single but pining for MJ, who is dating Harry. What I think I like most about the episode is Harryís involvement. Whilst it was pretty obvious Norman would become The Goblin, they tease us so well with enough evidence to suggest that it really could be Harry under the mask, not Norman.

Semper admits to loving the original Green Goblin stories from back in the day and itís clearly shown here. The episode is helped in spades because of the quality of the voice acting. Barnes is on par, as always, but Ross steals the show here, playing Norman and The Goblin so far apart you wonder if itís the same actor. He really did bring out the best in the role, and really helped sell The Goblinís character, because he sounded like an absolute lunatic whenever he read The Goblinís lines. Neil Ross is without a doubt one of the finest voice actors walking the Earth and this episode proves it.

The visuals in the episode where also a huge step up from the showís usual standard, as this comes close to reaching Night Of The Lizard levels, with TMS on fine form throughout. The Goblin looks great too, a faithful rendition of one of Diktoís greatest costumes ever. It's worth noting that nearly every single Green Goblin appearance looks stunning. I'm not sure if someone ponied up more moolah for a better looking episode for The Goblin or not, but this and Turning Point are both outstanding, animation wise. Even the series finale, which also features The Goblin, looks a hell of a lot better than most of the other post season one episodes.

Whilst itís obvious that the gas gave him his powers, The Goblinís personality clearly emerged from Normanís own frustrated mind, with the pressure of everything finally making him crack. The Goblinís attempts to kill everyone who was antagonising, The Oscorp board members, prove it. There are a few silly things here though, but nothing that canít quite be glanced over. The gas changing the colour and shape of The Hobgoblinís costume was a littleÖ weird, for lack of a better term as was him finding Hobgoblinís pumpkin bombs as, if you remember, those were designed by Smythe after Hobby had left Osborn and began working for Fisk. Normanís weapons for Hobgoblin were that 90ís laser gun and his glider. But overall, one couldnít have asked for a much better introduction Of The Goblin in this cartoon.

As with the comics, Norman had no memory of his time as The Goblin, and quickly reverted back to his normal everyday life. No one besides Spider-Man was aware that Norman was The Goblin, and everyone simply assumed that The Goblin kidnapped Norman in those two weeks he was missing.

As soon as the pressure got to him again, thanks to The Kingpin insisting on Osborn telling him the secret identity of The Hobgoblin, he turned into The Goblin again. It was really gripping stuff to watch Norman and The Goblin argue as The Goblin convinced Norman that everyone was wronging him and that all of them wanted to hurt Harry.

Despite the fact Hobgoblin was clearly outmatched, it was great fun seeing the two Goblins on screen together. The finale of the episode does make Hobgoblin appear to be far too much of a wimp for my liking but it did a great job of setting up the third season finale, the swansong to Spider-Manís feud with The Goblin.

The season three finale follows directly on from Goblin War! And features The Green Goblin battling Spider-Man in a finale attempt to get rid of his most powerful adversary. Using a miniaturised version of Dr. Ohnís time dilation accelerator (which was actually huge, compared to the original) The Goblin decided to even the score and find out who was under Spider-Manís mask. The opening scene in this episode is perfect in itís own twisted way, as we see Osborn arguing with himself, with Neil Rossí typical perfect performance and some exceptional staging, which was rarely ever found in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Thereís something so compelling about watching Norman and The Goblin bicker back and forth before Osborn finally loses out when The Goblin puts his mask on.

The next scene was a shocker, to say the least. Whilst the current Marvel comics are no strangers to shocking storylines, these were the days when the shocks werenít just hollow stuff to sell more books or an inane attempt to rip the internet in half, these resulted in great stories and made the characters more interesting. Itís sad to see Marvelís current regime constantly try to outdo their previous ďOh my God!Ē moments Ė to this day despite all their attempts, theyíve never quite topped The Death Of Gwen Stacey. Even Spider-Manís unmasking reeks of desperation to get their new mini series into the mainstream headlines.

I loved the attention to detail in the unmasking scene. This series wasnít the best at making use of his Spider-Sense, but if it had been forgotten here, it wouldíve been a really hollow scene. I especially dug Spider-Man worrying that his mutation disease might be returning. If you recall, the last time his powers started playing tricks on him, he learned that it was the beginning stages of the story arc that eventually became The Neogenic Nightmare.

The episode doesnít stop there, however. As The Goblin learns that Peter is Spider-Man, Norman freaks, telling himself that Parker is his sonís best friend. Or at least he was, until he Ďstole Mary Jane awayí. The Goblin then believes that this was Parkerís plan Ė to hurt Harry, and use him to get to Norman.

Then, the episode really starts kicking in, as Peter and Mary Jane attend Harryís birthday party, as Peter slowly begins to realise that Norman has truly lost it, and has discovered his identity, and is taunting to reveal his identity to his friends. I especially love this scene, as it is essentially four different personalities battling each other. When Peter sets his chemicals on fire to cause the explosion and the fight finally ensues, The Goblin tells Spider-Man heís been a thorn in his side for too long, and Norman reveals his anger for the way Peter treated Harry. After a rather cool fight in Normanís background, we see a nice homage to the original comic tale in which they discover each otherís identities as The Goblin ties Peter to his glider and flies over the city before landing at the George Washington Bridge (why does everything bad happen on that Bridge? Is Brooklyn Bridge reserved for Mysterio?). The Goblin also had a great line before they landed;

ďAs befits an adversary of your calibre, Iím granting you a demise with dignityĒ

With Norman then kidnapping Mary Jane (after threatening Aunt May no less - Peter Parkerís worst nightmare come true) and the episode again kicks it up a notch as Spider-Man (and the scene was actually helped by some great music, believe it or not). We even get a nice, albeit short, dialogue-less scene in which Spider-Man chases The Goblin back to the bridge. Thereís a great scene in which Peter tries to convince Norman not to kill MJ, as she is the only person Harry cares about and we are reminded that The Goblin does what he does for Norman, and even Norman states that no one else cares about him Ė everyone else hates him. Which was true, you saw how quickly everyone turned against him when Oscorp had itís chemical weapons scandal in Enter The Green Goblin Ė even Jameson, his supposed friend, ratted him out.

Then, in a surprising twist, Mary Jane falls into the portal, and never returns. Spider-Man dives into the river to look for her, but to no avail Ė sheís gone. The Goblin later shares her fate, as Spider-Man fails to save him from being sucked into the portal. In the brief moment that Spider-Man is astounded in his reaction to what just happened, I too, as a viewer thought it was one of the most odd scenes Iíd ever seen in a cartoon. I donít think, at the time, Iíd ever seen such a gripping episode, probably because I wasnít aware of anything that was about to transpire. It didnít stop there, however. Madame Web made her presence known, and refused Spider-Manís pleas to bring them both back. Then, he flipped out, and finally gave the old broad what for. Awesome stuff!

ďLearn? I am tired of you. Of your riddles, of your lessons, and of your supreme arrogance. Donít you ever, ever enter my life againĒ Do you hear me?Ē

Then (it's not over yet!) we get possibly my favourite segment in the entire show, as Peter reflects on his loss.

"For so long now, I've tried to be there for everyone, tried to live up to the responsibility that comes with this great power. But when push came to shove, I failed the people who needed me most. The woman I love is gone, gone forever..."

The show never reached this level of quality again, and to be honest, when you compare them A-B, only Farewell Spider-Man even comes close. Thereís some contenders for the best ever episode before it, sure, but only one real threat for what came after it.