Big finish! Big finish, indeed, our final issue in this block, the end of the Goblin story, and the last 60s book I’ll cover. Momentous! Calling this issue “Spidey Saves the Day” feels like it’s some kind of attempt to reassure the reader. “I know things have gone crazy, but don’t worry!” It’s such a hokey title, and not Stan’s kind of hokey. This issue is inked by Mike Esposito, under his “Mickey Demeo” alias That last name just sounds so fake). When people talk about how Stan, Jack & Steve created the Marvel Universe, and then you find out Ditko technically only originated 2 books (Tho he worked on Hulk, Iron Man, and others in addition to them, and designed my favorite Iron Man armor), it feels weird. Whatever you believe about who did what, Stan & Jack have the whole Marvel U to their credit (With an asterisks next to Iron Man & Thor), and Ditko has Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. But Ditko inking his own work assuredly played a crucial role in that. It helped his books be the best they could be, but it also meant he couldn’t do 8 titles a month like Jack. Romita’s only on issue 2 and has already been saddled with a subpar inker. That’s the biz, I guess, but you gotta give Ditko credit for sticking to his principles and only inking his own work. At any rate! On the splash, Osborn has Peter at his mercy, and Peter decides his only chance is to keep him talking, so he insults Norman’s son.
Some unfortunate printing issues here. Messed up black plate on page 2, misaligned cyan plate on page 3. Osborn describes Stromm being carted off by the cops, and Peter suddenly understands the events of ASM 38 a lot better. He’s made some progress on his bonds, but goads Norman into continuing. About how he found some weird formulas in Stromm’s stuff, skipped Parents’ Night at Harry’s school to work on them, and created what would eventually become his infamous, sought-after strength formula, craved by Goblins everywhere. And of course…
Recently learning that Stan wanted Green Goblin to be a culturally insensitive demon figure, and Steve went rogue and turned him into a guy in a suit, it feels stranger than ever to have Lee and a freshly recruited Romita coming up with this backstory.
Meanwhile, Aunt May is worried sick about her missing boy, and Anna Watson has come over to try to calm her down. Anna decides to call The Bugle and see if he’s there, and a particularly curmudgeonly JJJ answers, saying “he’s probably out stealing hubcaps somewhere,” then telling his current secretary to come in and take notes on screeds against the new generation, and the also the old generation, too. None of this makes Aunt May feel any better. But guess who else pops back up?
Romita’s really trying to give you Ditko’s Betty, but let’s face it, Ditko drew weird looking women, and Romita has plenty of years on romance comics under his belt, he can only go so far.
Wow, Norman just happens to have a TV for thoughts and he’s obsessed with becoming a crime boss? You really chose the wrong line, buddy! Goblin replays their greatest hits from ASM 14, 17, 21, 27 & 28, coming up with explanations for how he didn’t lose in any of them. By the time he’s done, Peter has one hand free, and will be loose in seconds, when Goblin just lets him out. He says it would be a hollow victory to just kill a defenseless foe. And that’s not all.
Goblin’s “broomstick” smashes into the wall, so that’s done. He’s very angry. He pretends to be injured so he can wrap a live wire around Spider-Man’s leg. His enhanced strength is all that saves him. So Gobby unleashes most of his tricks, but Spider-Man dodges them all. Spidey starts to get the upper hand, and Goblin pancis, suddenly saying he should’ve killed Peter when he was all tied up. Then he lets fly with a cloud of not-yet-named razor bats to occupy Spidey while he gets his “fully automated Goblin Cannon” ready. Which, it must be said, just kinda looks like a light from a movie set.
And so, the status quo is rather shakily saved. You can’t really do this story in a book like this without a kind of lame cop out ending. But, an ending it is. To a lot of things, for me. The blog now has posts about ASM from the very start all the way to #383 with no interruptions, and I only have 72 comics left to read in the Vol. 1 era. I’m kinda glad it worked out that this big finish to the Ditko era was near the end. It’s nice to have some important, classic stuff as I wind down this period. The final 2 blocks, sadly, are far less important. But we’ve come this far! Next post, we’re back to 1993 for our final look at the Michelinie run.