This one is going to be the weirdest issue I ever post, and it kind of delights me. I decided when I started all this I could only post about single issues I own. Nothing out of trades. But I only owned the older stuff in collections, so how would I handle that? I got those weird newspaper reprints for AF 15 and ASM 1-11, and I’ve managed to get originals for everything else… Except this one. And I forgot about it. And when the time came, I didn’t have a copy to read. But I wasn’t very well going to skip the first appearance of the Green Goblin, and I sure can’t afford a real one. So I decided to break my personal rule just this once and post from this paperback collection of early 60s material, the very source from which I first read this story. I don’t recall exactly when I got this, but I was still young, still in grade school, I think. And given that this book is from 1979, only a year younger than me, I assume it came from a garage sale, but I don’t know for sure. But it was my very first contact with 60s Spider-Man, acquired after I’d gotten the bug. I was fascinated to get this glimpse into the early days. The art looked really weird and everyone talked funny, but even at a young age, the historical import of stuff like this wasn’t lost on me. And look at that cover! The cover to Spectacular Magazine #2 is THE iconic image of these 2 fighting for me, but it’s because of this book. Honestly, a blog about all my Spider-Man stuff including this book feels correct. So here we go! The first story in this paperback, and certainly the most important. The big guest star promised last issue is The Hulk, but as the cover isn’t in this book and he’s not on the splash, we’ll just have to wait for him to appear.
In an odd choice, they spread out the tiers of panels to better fit the dimensions of the paperback, so DItko’s trusty 6-panel grid looks a little off, but otherwise, it’s the complete issue. Here he is, tho, The Green Goblin. On his flying broomstick! They were right to ditch that ASAP.
You can really feel how much fun Stan had with the top of this page. Certainly a weirdly convoluted first scheme for Gobby, but then, no one knew what a big deal villain he would become. A few days later, Peter Parker is at school, being ragged on by Flash when Liz Allen chews Flash out and calls him dumb, and some of the other kids agree, even. Things are looking up for Peter, but then he hears a news bulletin on the radio about a strange, green garbed figure flying around. Where would Spider-Man be without kids walking by with radios? It’s his entire thing! So, soon, he’s out there, and he finds The Goblin, and he makes a web catapult on a roof and shoots himself right at his new foe.
Spider-Man signs a contract and agrees to report to the studio in Hollywood by the end of the week, just like that. Hope he got them to agree to pay cash this time. He goes by The Bugle, where JJJ immediately wants to send him to Hollywood to cover this Spider-Man movie, just as he’d hoped, and where Betty is very jealous of Liz Allan, who I only just noticed is Liz AllAn and not Allen, whoops! Only 30 years later… Anyway, in just 2 panels, he talks May into letting him go. He also says he’s a high school senior. Everyone says Peter was 15 when he was bit by the spider, but it doesn’t actually say so in the comic. And here he is, a senior by issue 14 of ASM. I’ve just always felt pretty sure he’s only 15 in his first appearance because someone decided it much later on. Anyway, we jump ahead to Spider-Man already at the studio, and surprised by how realistic the makeup on The Enforcers is. No Spider Sense, either. They want to attack him as soon as they see him, but The Goblin tells them to wait til they’re on location. Then we’re told the cast & crew make “a difficult journey” out into the desert to film. I want so badly for someone to make a comic about Spider-Man, Green Goblin and The Enforcers chatting on a bus as they drive out into the desert. Also, why shoot your Spider-Man movie in the desert? What’s he gonna swing from? Anyway, the baddies suggest they go off into the desert to rehearse their fight scene, and STILL no Spider Sense.
I remain so impressed that Ditko is able to make such dumb, dumb villains as The Enforcers so exciting on the page.
Even as but a lad, “my power of chest expansion!” made me laugh. Weird choice. Spider-Man summons all his strength and flings the dog pile off of him, then uses his webs to whip up a dust storm, giving himself some camouflage to escape in. The Goblin flies above it, tho, waiting to see him come out. Then we pop back over to NY for a minute, to see Aun May writing Peter a letter, Liz telling Flash Peter is “a dreamboat,” and JJJ saying Pete better be working and not “dating those Hollywood glamor girls,” which really worries Betty. Hilarious. Then Goblin sees Spider-Man emerge from his dust cloud into a cave, and we’re back on. The villains roll a conveniently perfect giant boulder in front of the cave mouth to trap Spider-Man inside, but Montana says Spider-Man can see in the dark a lot better than they can (Who says??) and wonders if he’s trapped in there with them, or they’re trapped in there with him, some 20 years before the famous line from Watchmen. In the dark, Spidey picks off Montana and Fancy Dan without the others even noticing before The Goblin spots him…
So begins a really terrific battle between Spider-Man and The Hulk, with Ditko swinging for the fences. Spider-Man tries dodging and reasoning with him, and only gets a pretty sizable amount of cave smashed and almost crushing him, then tries to jump on Hulk’s back and web his hands, but Hulk rips right out of the webbing.
They keep going around until Spider-Man finally has an idea. He stands in front of the boulder blocking the exit, taunting Hulk to settle things man-to-man, and getting his powerful foe to smash the boulder, freeing them all.
A pretty wild first meeting for Spider-Man and Green Goblin. Ditko managed a lot of antagonists with ease. But wait, there’s more of Stan Lee’s goofy movie exec…
The mystery of The Green Goblin begins! Unlike the Hobgoblin mystery it inspires, it’s resolved in 25 issues. The panels of this one are all burned into my brain. Spidey’s first meeting with his biggest foe was one I read over and over as a kid. It’s pretty slight, storywise, but it’s still a really fun issue, and still managed to setup The Goblin nicely. It won’t be long til he returns. But for now, we have an unusual detour to take. But, here’s this issue’s actual cover: