I don’t remember this one, either, but the phrase “proto-goblin” fills me with dread. Probably not the way they’d want it to, though. Romita, Jr. sits this one out, but the rest of the 1997 team in the form of Howard Mackie, Scott Hanna & Gregory Wright are joined by penciler Dan Fraga. Fraga is an escapee of Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios. Like everyone there, he was expected to draw like Liefeld (Some former employees have alleged that Liefeld even stole their pages and signed his name to them, claiming he drew them). Like many people who worked there, he’s a lot better than his more famous mentor. That’s a low bar, and one a lot of guys working for Rob, not to mention guys we’ve seen on this blog, couldn’t clear, but while Fraga isn’t gonna be one of the greats, he’s pretty decent for this period.
Gotta take the chance to better integrate these Stacys into the fabric of the family when it’s offered, I suppose.
Wonder of wonders, Gwen Stacy’s Mom has a name! That only took 30 years. George, already a captain, has been called to Osborn Industries, where “a suspicious individual” messed up a lot of cops and then fled inside. However, he’s told Osborn won’t let the cops on his property and said he’d only deal with George. As he goes in, George meets Norman, who says OI is in the midst of several delicate experiments, and he can’t let anyone, even a friend like George, on site without being escorted by his new head of security. Guess what, it’s Arthur Stacy, who arrives right about then. Awkward.
George sends the other nameless cops out with the newly wounded one, saying he and his brother will take care of this, but then Arthur runs off alone and gets tossed through several crates for it. A big monster, a “proto-goblin,” if you will, sets its sights on George. As the mostly hidden form lunges, George fires several rounds into it, but then is disappears, seeming to have made a hole in the wall with some kind of red fluid. Arthur is sure this is both the serial killer mentioned before and an mutant, but George is unconvinced. He also finds an Osborn ID badge in the rumble, indicating the attacker is an employee.
Good of them to find a place for the title character in the book, I guess. This dialogue is really clunky. Doesn’t seem like Mackie’s usual. Something’s up. Arthur goes to a bar to drown his sorrows, where George finds and confronts him. He’s mad enough to try to fight his brother, but George isn’t into it.
This is really just not working for me. It just doesn’t jibe with the actual Norman of the 60s. Later, Norman finds Arthur going through his desk, just after Arthur confirms the allegedly fired monster-man is still employed by the company. Arthur is, obviously, fired himself for the intrusion. Back a this home, his wife mentions he had a job offer in England, and this isn’t the end of the world. Then their living room is riddled with bullets. To my actual surprise, Nancy is not killed or even injured, but this is obviously too much. Arthur calles George to tell him he’s taking down Osborn tonight and not to get in his way. This is a weird comic. So, soon, Arthur is breaking back into Osborn Industries. He’s surprised no guards come for him until his brother appears, telling him what happened at his house was a gangland shooting at the wrong house and nothing to do with Norman. For a smart guy, George sure isn’t being too bright in this issue.
The brothers find “proto-goblin” attacking Norman, who tells them to subdue it. He tells Arthur he’s back on the payroll at twice his previous salary.
Well. Ok. Man, if this Proto-Goblin guy comes back in the present (of 1997), I do not remember that at all. And I guess this is meant to be the moment that causes George to walk with a cane when he’s first introduced. Didn’t look THAT bad. But, what do I know? 2 more of these Flashbacks left before we can really get on with it. One I haven’t read, which I expect to be quite bad, and then the best of the lot. Highs & lows.