Today's release of Siege: The Cabal marks the beginning of the end of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe. Let's reminisce over the on-again, off-again Green Goblin's stranger moments of murder, mayhem, and flagrant disregard for contraceptives.
For the last year, Norman Osborn (a.k.a. Spider-Man's greatest archnemesis) has been the director of the intergovernmental military force H.A.M.M.E.R. Under his tenure, Norm's made bad behavior the norm - villains are posing as heroes, heroes are hunted as villains, dogs are breeding with cats, and so on.
Luckily for the forces of justice (and comic fans' hemorrhaging wallets), Norman's Dark Reign begins to wraps up this month with Siege: The Cabal, a prelude to the four-part Siege miniseries, which will detail Norman's inevitably ill-fated invasion of Thor's old stomping grounds, Asgard.
As a tribute to the man who made criminal insanity de rigueur for 2009, we've compiled the kookiest moments of the occasional Green Goblin's career. Thanks for memories, Norm.
(PS: As for Norman's man behind the curtain, I've got $25 riding on Shuma-Gorath and a Super Nintendo copy of Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage on Uncle Ben.)
Norman Pink-Slips The Swordsman
From: Secret Invasion: Dark Reign 1 (2008)
Andreas von Strucker never had a chance to become an A-list baddie. His dad was the most famous Nazi in the M.U. (Baron von Strucker), his superpower was way too incestuous for mainstream villany (skin-to-skin contact with his twin sister Andrea allowed him to fire energy bolts), and - when his sis kicked it - he traipsed about with a sword hilted with her tanned hide. Ick.
Given the Swordsman's lack of PR potential, it's unsurprising Norm fired Andreas from his gig as the Thunderbolts' in-house pompous bastard. Unfortunately for Andy, Norm's idea of a severance package was pretty literal.
Norman Fakes Aunt May's Death Just For Laughs
From: Spectacular Spider-Man 263 (1998)
In 1973, the Green Goblin throws Gwen Stacy off of the George Washington Bridge. It was poignant. In 1995, Aunt May dies of a heart attack (but only after revealing that she always knew Peter Parker was Spider-Man). This too was poignant.
And in 1998, Norman admits to kidnapping Aunt May, replacing her with a genetically altered elderly actress (?) and keeping the real May alive in a warehouse for absolutely no damn reason. This was why I stopped reading comic books in the late 90s.
Norman Recruits The Sentry with Hamburgers
From: Dark Avengers 3 (2009)
Norman's Dark Avengers sales pitch to the Sentry is awesome, particularly when he starts yammering out of the blue about Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Seriously, getting two mentally ill anti-heroes to bond over your burgers is product placement* In-N-Out can just dream about.
*To be fair, I tried Five Guys for the first time shortly after reading this. It was fucking fantastic. Yes, the Green Goblin sold me on a hamburger.
Norman Knocks Flash Thompson Off The Wagon
From: Peter Parker: Spider-Man 45 (2002)
In another story straight out of the "Overly Complex Green Goblin Scheme and Laughably Grim Take on a Classic Spider-Man Co-star" files, Norman hires a down-on-his-luck and recovering alcoholic Flash Thompson, gets him blotto, and puts him behind the wheel of an OsCorp truck on a collision course with Peter Parker's high school.
Luckily for Flash, the ensuing brain damage from the accident was retconned away by Peter Parker's deal with Mephisto in the One More Day storyline. Unluckily for Flash, he had instead lost his legs in Iraq. By the time Brander Newer Day rolls around, Flash will be caught betwixt the Scylla and Charybids of shingles and premature ejaculation.
Norman Mocks Spider-Man's Lack of Fluid
While we're on the topic of One More Day, we're pretty sure this 1982 exchange was retconned out of existence as well. Pity. If all of Spidey's rogues' gallery began making fun of his shortcomings in the fluid department, it could really mess him up on a psychosexual level.
Norman Watches the Submariner Take a Shower
From: Dark X-Men: The Beginning 1 (2009)
When Namor joined the Dark X-Men, one of the men seemingly tacked on a rider requiring the director of H.A.M.M.E.R. to watch the Prince of Atlantis' daily ablutions. Is it a mind game on Namor's part to give Osborn an inferiority complex? Is Norman just being Norman? We honestly cannot say.
Norman Knocks Up His Son's Girlfriend
From: The Amazing Spider-Man 598 (2009)
If Namor was indeed attempting to show up Norman's manhood, he'll have to try a little harder. For a white guy with cornrows, Norm's had disturbingly good luck with the fairer sex, with a big emphasis on "disturbingly" here.
In 2009, Norm impregnated his son Harry's girlfriend, Lily. Sure, she was secretly the supervillain she-goblin Menace (and the only woman strong enough to handle Norman's mutated goblin sperm), but really? Really? At least this stupid, creepy baby mama subplot wasn't born out of an even stupider, creepier baby mama subplot…or was it?
Norman Knocks Up Spider-Man's Girlfriend
From: The Amazing Spider-Man 512 (2004)
Hoo boy. Yes, that is Norman Osborn dirty dancing with Gwen Stacy. Yes, that is Norman's O-face. Yes, Norman is too evil for rubbers.
For those of you who don't remember this episode, allow us to recap in the simplest terms possible:
1. Norman has an affair with Gwen Stacy.
2. She secretly gives birth to twins. Norman's Goblin spunk alters the children's DNA and rapidly ages them to adulthood.
3. Norman has a hissy fit and chucks Gwen off a bridge.
4. The twins grow up to be super-assassins or some similar dross.
The most depressing part of this incident wasn't its necrophiliac treatment of the Silver Age of Comics. No, it's that One More Day didn't exile any of this dolorous twaddle into retcon oblivion.
Norman is Willem Dafoe
From: Spider-Man (2002)
Say what you will about his Power Rangers-esque bodysuit – when Willem Dafoe was out of his chartreuse kabuki mask, he brought a mantis-like sensuality to the Green Goblin that few other actors could muster. I almost wish Sam Raimi had simply painted Dafoe green, at the risk of audiences mistaking Norman for a deranged Green Bay Packers fan.
Norman Goes Spider Jerusalem on The Thunderbolts
From: Thunderbolts 120 (2008)
Thunderbolts 120 is perhaps the best portrayal of Norman Osborn. Ever. The issue begins with a five-page monologue of unmistakable Warren Ellis patois and ends with Norman vowing to kill his entire security staff just cuz'. Along the way, we are treated to infinitely quotable epigrams on…
His Green Goblin outfit: "I'm so glad I never washed this particular costume. Smells like death, blondes, and victory."
Venom and Swordsman: "I was wondering if you could direct me to the arm-eating retard and the sword-waving aristo. I have to punish them you see."
Himself: "I'm fricking martyr to my own innate heroism, is what I am. Norman Osborn, America's last hero. That's what I am."
I could write a whole dissertation on this one issue, but let's just say that the brilliance of Norman's portrayal here is that he epitomizes the hallmark difference between heroes and villains – restraint. Let the good guys hamstring their powers with laws and moral pantywaistry. Norman Osborn's screaming "I AM GOD!", watching his peons brown their trousers, and laughing his ass off about it. Who's to say he's the crazy one?