Spider-Man: Goblin Moon

When I first saw this book on Amazon.com (no links - they ain't paying me anything - go find them yourself) at about 30% off, I figured I had to get it - particularly since by that time it had been out all summer and I never even knew it existed. Although I'm a guy who historically waits for hardcover books to show up for $4.95 at Book Warehouse before he buys them, I figured it'd be a long time, if ever, I saw this book that cheap.

Anyway, I waited for this book to arrive with great anticipation. I was hoping that, in a novel form, the nature of Spidey's and the Green Goblin's rivalry would be fleshed out in considerably more detail than the comic books had provided,and that we would be privy to previously unknown facts about Norman Osborn and his alter ego. Plus, I simply expected a rousing good story.

However, I ultimately proved to be disappointed. I suppose I made the mistake of expecting too much from a novelization of a comic book character, but my expectations were raised when I saw that one of the authors was Kurt Busiek, who possesses an uncanny knowledge of the most minute details of Spidey history, as the short-lived, but acclaimed, Untold Tales of Spider-Man demonstrated. Also, although I have not read them, I had heard good reviews of the various Spider-Man novels written by Diane Duane, who has written some of the better Star Trek novels in the Pocket Books line, and so I was expecting even more from Busiek.

I really did like the idea behind the basic plot, that Norman Osborn maneuvers to try to make himself the mayor of New York City, thus giving himself a legitimate power base from which to initiate many of his schemes. This loosely ties in with the Earth X, miniseries, set in a future in which many of the old Marvel heroes are old, out of shape, or dead, and Osborn is the President of the United States (no foolin'!). However, in this book, rather than any colorful henchmen, Osborn uses a fairly pedestrian group of thugs called The Rat Pack (really) who create all sorts of mayhem. Osborn exploits the mayhem they create to force the current Mayor to appoint him as the Public Advocate (after having the current Public Advocate murdered) which puts him in a position of succeeding the Mayor in the event of Hizzoner's untimely passing. So, what do you suppose Norman does after that? He plots to kidnap and murder the Mayor, thus allowing him to succeed to the city's highest office. At the very end, Osborn puts on the Goblin costume and he and Spidey duke it out but needless to say, he is defeated (yet getting away), the Mayor is saved, and all is right with the world. Pretty bland stuff, very predictable and no surprises whatsoever.

The opportunity to really see what goes on inside the mind of Norman Osborn is wasted (this was well before the current miniseries Revenge of the Green Goblin). Instead, we are treated to the typical mental super-villain ravings about crushing everyone in his way, particularly Spider-Man, but we learn nothing about what motivates Osborn, or why he is a bad guy other than he is crazy and has a need to control.

Not only that, but a huge chunk of Spidey continuity relative to his struggles with the Goblin are completely ignored. The circumstances surrounding Norman Osborn's "return from the dead" are almost ignored. The Green Goblin's history, according to this book, ends with the death of Gwen Stacy, which if you've been reading the comics the last few years, you know is not true. Additionally, this Osborn is robbed of his renewed motivation for coming after Peter Parker. In the book, we are never told just why Osborn decided to return from exile in Europe or why he didn't come back to clear his name sooner when he was suspected of being the Green Goblin. Anyone familiar with the Clone Saga and The Osborn Journals knows that it was his son Harry's death (which naturally Norman believes was Peter's fault)that prompted Osborn's return and fueled his hatred of both Peter and Mary Jane (since MJ had once dated Harry, but in Norman's mind "chose Parker over my boy"). In addition to all the usual power-trip schemes, this would have provided a solid and dramatic motivation - but it was ignored.

The impact of Norman's role in the clone saga in the life of Peter Parker are also completely ignored, except for one single solitary reference to Osborn killing Ben Reilly, who was closer to Peter than a brother. No mention is made of the fact that Reilly was Peter's clone - that Osborn had secretly used Professor Miles Warren (the Jackal) to create the clone as part of a scheme to convince Peter that he was the clone in essence, stripping the very foundation of his existence from him. And no mention is made of the Green Goblin's return in "Revelations," in which he tried to kill everyone at the Daily Bugle and blow up most of the building. Kind of a significant event to forget. Not only that, but the fact that Osborn blackmailed J. Jonah Jameson into selling him 50% of the Daily Bugle by threatening his family is also ignored.

Beyond the omissions, there are also a number of inaccuracies. There are several references to Norman Osborn being revealed as the Green Goblin at his alleged "death" and that in getting around it, Osborn spread the lie that the Goblin was made up to look like him. This never happened. After the Goblin died at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #122, his son Harry removed his costume, so no one ever saw Osborn revealed as the Goblin. Osborn was never even suspected of being the original Goblin until his son Harry took up the mantle and he more or less revealed that Norman was the original Goblin (although we have never seen where this definitively happened).

The conversations between Peter and Mary Jane is in this book are long and labored, and frankly, don't sound like two married people talking at all. Again, a key event in their lives, Mary Jane's pregnancy and apparent "loss" of the baby (which Osborn kidnapped, but this is a plot point that Marvel has since obliterated with "Brand New Day") is totally ignored.

In short, this book is recommended only for die-hard completists of Spidey or Green Goblin tales. And if you see it for $4.95 at Book Warehouse or something.

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Copyright 1998-2008 by J.R. Fettinger. All rights reserved. All original content is the exclusive property of J.R. Fettinger. Spider-Man, the Green Goblin, and everyone else who appears in the Spider-Man comics is the property of Marvel Entertainment, and are used in these articles for the purpose of analysis and commentary.