Comics : Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #180

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Child Within"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Spectacular Beginnings

This review was first published on: 2007.

Background...

The cover says it all for this one, "Call my killer... my friend!" The Green Goblin is back with a vengeance, 'nuff said.

In Detail...

"Shame"
Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #180
Sep 1991 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "The Child Within"
Editor:  Danny Fingeroth
Writer:  J.M. DeMatteis
Pencils:  Sal Buscema
Inker:  Sal Buscema
Cover Art:  Sal Buscema
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 Reprinted In: Complete Spider-Man (UK) #20
Articles: Aunt May Parker, Emily Osborn (FB, 1st), Green Goblin I (Norman Osborn), Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Elizabeth (Allan) Osborn, Osborn, Jr., Norman (Normie), Vermin

This issue starts the same as every other issue in the storyline, namely, with a visit to the trusty ol' asylum-cam. Vermin AKA Edward, is laying his head on the lap of Dr. Kafka. She tries to prod him about "the bad thing" he mentioned last issue, but as she does he lunges at her throat, screaming "I'm not Edward. I'm Vermin!" She manages to calm him down, though, and they end the exchange in a hug.

The next page segues into Vermin, floating in the middle of some sewage with rats running all over him, holding his little buddy from last issue in his arms.

Switching scenes once again, we are treated through a look through a photo album with captions at the bottom of each picture. Someone's having an argument with himself, and I'll give you one guess as to who...

Turning the page, we see Harry Osborn sitting in a chair, with the spectres of Spider-Man and the Green Goblin (Harry's dad, Norman) off to either side of him. He pleads with them, "Leave me alone!" That doesn't work, though. After three pages of arguing with the phantoms in his head we see Harry throw the photo album to the floor and clutch his head. Then, after a moment's pause he picks it up and tears it into pieces with his bare hands.

Meanwhile, Spidey is visiting the graves of his parents and Uncle Ben. Then we see him swinging through the city, doing his usual interior monologue/last issue recap. All throughout the captions, one phrase is repeated in the background, "You did it." Hmm, I wonder what that means?

Anyway, Spidey winds up at Aunt May's house, and decides to sit on the roof for a while. I guess he's tired from swinging through the city looking for Vermin (which wouldn't really do him a lot of good anyway, since we all know Vermin is hanging out in the sewers underneath the city).

Which is exactly the scene we are treated to next. I guess it's close to bedtime, because Vermin is reading the story of Hansel and Gretel to his new buddy.

Next up, the asylum-cam is back, and this time Vermin is relating how he screams and screams for help, but no one helped him when "the bad thing" happened. Dr. Kafka appears again, saying she will protect him and he doesn't have to be scared anymore.

They hug again. We pull back and see once again that Dr. Kafka is reviewing old footage in her office (jeez, doesn't she have any other patients to look after?).

In the meantime, Harry is kissing Normie and Liz goodbye with all the tenderness of a man who's never going to see them again. Which is basically what happening, since after this his goblin persona takes over. This scene is two pages long with no dialogue or captions, and is really poignant (see, decompression does work if there's a point to it instead of just padding out storylines for the TPB).

Now, if Stan Lee were still writing these yarns, he'd probably segue into this next scene with a pithy one liner like, "Now you've waited through 17 pages of buildup, but here's where it pays off!" But since I've already said it, we'll just move on...

After hanging out on Aunt May's roof for an undeterminable time, Spidey finally calls it a night and returns to his loft apartment where we can assume MJ is waiting for him (hats off to Sal Buscema for wasting a perfect opportunity for gratuitous cheesecake). In the background, however, we see the silhouette of the Green Goblin rising up on his glider, and suddenly our hero's spider-sense kicks in.

A full page panel shows Gobby in his full purple and green glory, with a pumpkin bomb raised menacingly at Spidey. All he says is, "Hello, Peter."

Spidey webs the pumpkin bomb while he tries to talk to Harry and figure out what's going on. However, Peter makes the mistake of mentioning Harry's dad, Norman, and that just gets the Green Goblin even angrier. Saying there's no reason to get their families involved (at this time Peter's and Harry's families both live in the same building) the Goblin flies off and Spidey follows him.

Peter is left to wonder, as he swings after his quarry, what made Harry get back in the costume (not having the luxury of reading the past couple of issues). He's also upset, naturally, that Harry remembers his secret identity.

Never one to give up, Spidey tries reasoning with Harry again. He says that Harry's sick and needs treatment, and as his friend Peter will do everything he can to help. The Goblin's reply? "Oh yes, Peter, help me. Help me by dying!" And then he lobes another pumpkin bomb.

Luckily he misses. Spidey chases after him again, climbing a wall to reach the top of the building they're fighting on. But it looks like Harry didn't mean for that pumpkin bomb to hit Peter. It's actually filled with some kind of knock-out gas that floors Spidey once he reaches the roof.

Uh oh. Our hero is out cold. What's the Goblin's plans now? He says he wants Peter to suffer through the same pain that he, Harry, went through. So he's not going to kill him outright, he's just going to screw with his mind first.

Of course, we'll have to wait till next issue to see what that entails.

Overall Rating...

Wow. Harry is back as the Green Goblin and just as scary as his father used to be. I love how DeMatties shows the internal dilemma Harry goes through before he puts on the suit. It really adds a new dimension to the character.

Another thing I love about this issue is how it twists the whole Green Goblin / Spider-Man feud. Whereas Norman Osborn was just a guy trying to become a crimelord who Spider-Man kept foiling, this new incarnation makes it personal – it's a fight between two old friends who just happen to be deadly enemies. This was played up later when Norman returned after the Clone Saga. It doesn't work with Norman, but it does with Harry.

In short, I can't say enough good things about this issue. The entire storyline is shaping up to be a major landmark in Spidey's long career.