Comics : Osborn #2

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This review was first published on: Dec 2010.

Background...

Norman Osborn's life seems to be a roller coaster ride with extreme highs and extreme lows. After he was removed from power following his siege on Asgard, Norman once again hit a low point as he was placed in the maximum security prison known as the Raft. Perhaps he thought life could not get worse, if he did, he would have been wrong. To avoid the possibility of botching his prosecution, he was sent (without being charged) to a super-secretive detention unit known as the Special Containment Center (SCC). Norman's transfer was not public information, in fact, only a handful of people knew that he was moved. The center's whereabouts are unknown to all but a few relevant political leaders.

Osborn shares the Third Wing of the SCC with four other vicious inmates, all far too dangerous to see trial or walk free again.

Outside the prison walls, a Goblin cult is growing and Norman is completely unaware of it. One of the Goblin-followers is a priest that makes periodic visits to the SCC, Father Coulmier. This priest, along with Senator Morrison and undoubtedly a few others, have manipulated Osborn's transfer to the SCC.

At the offices of the Front Line, reporter Norah Winters was about to write a piece on Osborn, but became very afraid for her life when she uncovered that Norman has gone missing from the Raft...

In Detail...

Osborn #2
Feb 2011 : Review (No SM)
Summary: Norman Osborn attempts escape from the SCC
Editor In Chief:  Joe Quesada
Senior Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Editor:  Alejandro Arbona
Writer:  Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist:  Emma Rios
Cover Art:  Ben Oliver
Colorist:  Jose Villarrubia
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Articles: Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Winters, Norah

This story begins in the same manner as the last issue, with Norman Osborn expressing his admiration for a member of the animal kingdom. This time, instead of a spider, it's the hyena, a so-called 'opportunistic hunter'. Osborn is sharing his thoughts with Father Coulmier, during what appears to be a monitored therapy session. Osborn explains to Coulmier that being opportunistic does not imply a lack of character, rather, it demonstrates 'a good deal of sense.' Norman places emphasis on his point by slamming a rolled up newspaper on the table in front of him, startling Coulmier. He tells the priest he was swatting a fly, but Coulmier quickly replies, 'we don't get flies down here.'

Their session is unproductive as Norman responds to Coulmier's commentary with sarcasm, but soon the priest asks the prison guard to leave so that Osborn can receive the sacrament of penance in private. Once the guard leaves, Coulmier informs Osborn the true reason for his interest in the former villain. The priest tells Norman that he is a man of faith and that he and his associates believe that Norman has a 'crucial role in bringing about a better world'. Norman is quite intrigued to be a cult leader (once again!), but refuses aid from Coulmier in escaping. Norman believes himself to be political prisoner, so escape would hurt his cause. Coulmier tells him that there are two ways out of the SCC, death and when 'they' need you for something (the former seems most likely). The moment Coulmier issues that statement, alarms go off across the SCC, there's a security breach in the Second Wing.

Back at the Front Line, Norah Winters receives a suspicious envelope with a return address located somewhere miles off the coast in what seems to be a non-existent locale. Inside the envelope she finds a note with three words, 'Pier 84. Midnight', on the back of the note is the Goblin Cult image (identical to the tatoos on Vin Gonzalez and Father Coulmier).

With the alarms still blazing at the SCC, Marty, the schmucky security guard from the Third Wing, appears to have a mental breakdown and the prisoners take advantage of it. Ai Apaec grabs the guard while June Covington tries to coerce him into opening the cell gates. Marty fails to get the gate open for June, so Ai Apaec squeezes the guard with its spider-legs, killing him instantly.

The story then returns to Osborn and Coulmier, both of which are lying face down on the ground while the alarm is sounding. Norman becomes fed up with waiting for the guards to allow him to return to his feet, so he does what any impatient person would do...he kills the two guards and begins his escape. Before leaving, however, Norman returns to the Third Wing where he finds their guard slain. Osborn informs the group of prisoners that he will free them, but first he promises that if they don't do what he says until they are beyond the prison walls, he will kill them. The prisoners agree to his terms.

The group of five make their way down the prison halls, looking for an escape route (since none of them know exactly where they are). While leaving, Xirdal (the reptilian inmate) sees the dead guards (the ones Osborn killed) and decides that she doesn't want to follow a murderer into battle so she goes off on her own. After she opens a hatch door, a flood of water is released, seemingly killing Xirdal. Osborn watches her die and says, 'someone chose poorly'. Norman was somehow aware that he's miles underwater. When Father Coulmier asks Norman how he knew that, he replies, 'whoever heard of a cesspool, with no flies'. It appears Norman astutely recognized a clue that Coulmier had given him earlier in the day.

The story concludes out on Pier 84, where Norah is meeting up with her mysterious informant. The informant refuses to give Norah his name, rather, he directs Norah to her 'chariot'...a submarine! She's headed to the SCC...

In General...

Not too bad for a second issue of a five-part mini, the #2 usually becomes a filler of sorts, yet this one delivered. My intrigue-level has maintained from the last issue, I'm very excited to see where DeConnick is taking us...

Some commentary...

First, a new Goblin cult?! I just wanted to take a moment and remind everyone that this is Norman's second shot at cult leadership (that we're aware of!). Recall that after Norman orchestrated the Gathering of Five ritual he went insane and a loyal group of Scriers helped nurse him back to health. That loyal group then became known as the Order of the Goblin, with Norman Osborn the Goblin Lord as their leader. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

This new cult, however, seems much more maniacal and manipulative than the Order of the Goblin. The priest says that Norman was crucial to 'bringing about a better world'. I don't know if I'd trust these guys if I were Norman, it sounds to me like they may be trying to make a martyr out of him or possibly something else worse. This was the best part of the story by far, I can't wait to find out what this new cult really has in store for Norman.

Xirdal, Xirdal, Xirdal...this reptilian prisoner was very confusing to me. She objects to following Osborn because he murdered some security guards, but she also witnessed her fellow inmates kill their guard (Marty) and she went along with that no problem. This character has some odd moral values and I don't think for one second that she's really dead. First off, she's reptilian, so the water shouldn't have killed her (unless the water pressure was very high at those low depths). Second, she just made a moral stand against Osborn, that sounds to me like a character we'll see again...perhaps one that is integral in getting Osborn back into detainment.

I'll close with this parting thought (which I edited out of my issue #1 commentary because I thought it was already too long), the idiotic guard of the Third Wing, Marty, seems so totally inept that it hurts the story. DeConnick has gone out of her way to make the reader believe this prison is so secretive and that these inmates are so dangerous, yet their security guard would probably be outmatched by Barney Fife! This character was too weak to keep this storyline believable, but since its a minor detail I'll let it pass...for now.

Overall Rating...

This story is picking up some momentum, but still too early to gauge its overall effectiveness. We witnessed Norman make a big step, it'll be interesting to see if it amounts to anything.