Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #14

 Posted: 2003
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)


There's already a terrific lookback of this issue by our esteemed Editor, Jonathan Couper, but you know what? I don't care. I'm the "From the Beginning" writer and all of the issues From the Beginning are mine! All mine! Yaaa-hahahahahahahahahah!

He's become Spider-Man's most dangerous villain. He's the one they chose to use in the movie. He discovered Spidey's identity. He murdered his girl friend. He murdered his clone. He is a constant torment to the web-slinger. But in his very first appearance he had this nutty plan involving the Enforcers and a Hollywood movie studio.

Story 'The Grotesque Adventure of the Green Goblin'

Welcome to one of the classic covers to Amazing Spider-Man. It's all there, friends. Spidey clinging to the roof of a cave. The Green Goblin, his left hand ablaze, his right hand pulling a bomb from his bag of tricks, rocketing toward the web-slinger. The Enforcers watching from afar. And a special insert of the Incredible Hulk. We all know the cover copy by heart by now, don't we? "Does the Green Goblin look cute to you? Does he make you want to smile? Well, forget it! He's the most sinister, most dangerous foe Spidey's ever fought!" I don't know how Stan knew all the way back with Gobby's first appearance, but he knew, boys and girls. He knew.

This issue's Ditko splash page is almost dull compared to the others leading up to this issue. In it, the Green Goblin rides his broomstick and tosses a smoke bomb of some sort at Spidey, who recoils from it. That's all there is to it. As if Ditko wasn't going to dawdle and wanted to get right to the story.

And so we begin in "a silent, shadowy basement laboratory" where a man, hidden by shadows, is tinkering at a workshop. In the foreground is a mask on a pole, with pointy-tipped shoes sitting next to it. The mask is of a big-eared green goblin wearing a purple cap. (See? It's that simple. He's a goblin and he's green. Therefore, he's the Green Goblin.) There is a purple shirt with green scaly arms on a hanger behind. The man declares that he has put the finishing touches on his flying broomstick and is ready to don his costume and try it out. Now costumed with a red bag hanging on a strap from his shoulder, the man straddles the metal broomstick and hovers a few feet off the ground. Everything is ready. Now he has an appointment "in a sleezy hotel room, not far away".

How sleezy is it? Well, it has big cracks in the walls and three sleezy villains hanging around within. They are the Enforcers and they are already cranky and tired of waiting for the Goblin to appear. Montana spins his lariat, Fancy Dan dodges the lariat, and the Ox rips a telephone book in half. (Which used to be the cliché that defined a muscle man, remember?) Just then, the Goblin rides his broomstick right through the window into the room. He tells the Enforcers he is "ready to give the four of you your orders". (The four of them? What, does Montana have a frog in his pocket? This is the big scientific genius who eventually concocts a scheme to discover Spider-Man's identity and he can't even count? It's almost sad, really.) Anyway, the Enforcers immediately bristle at the idea of taking orders from a nobody like the Goblin so Gobby counters by pointing his right forefinger at them. Sparks fly out of this finger and that rattles the Enforcers so much that Montana says, "Start talkin', Goblin! I've got a hunch it'll be worth listenin' to!" (So let's see. He can't count and he's got some cheap sparkler set-up built into his glove. Hey, I'd listen to him!) So, what the Goblin says is, "I know that Spider-Man defeated you and caused you to go to jail for a stretch some months ago! (Back in ASM #10, March 1964.) Do as I say, and I promise you'll have your revenge on him!" This is good enough for the Enforcers. They tell the Goblin (or rather Montana tells the Goblin since he does all the Enforcer talking in this meeting) that he's got a deal.

The scene shifts to "the plush offices of a glamorous Hollywood movie studio" where producer B.J. Cosmos of Cosmos Productions is pacing the floor in a snit. He tells his yes-men that the studio hasn't had a "good scary hit" since it won the Oscar with "The Nameless Thing From the Black Lagoon in the Murky Swamp!" (I think it beat out Citizen Kane.) The yes-men, of course, all agree with him. Melodramatically, B.J. (a balding man with a pencil-thin mustache, wearing a white suit with no tie and his paisley shirt unbuttoned at the top) puts his hand to his brow and tells his yes-men he must be left alone to come up with a fresh inspiration. (His yes-men all agree and file out the door.) Just as B.J. hits paydirt with the idea of releasing "The Nameless Thing" again under the title "The Unknown Thing", the Green Goblin flies through his window and tells the producer "I've got a real money-making idea for you!!" (Two asides here. First, if people would only close their windows, then maybe the Goblin would leave them alone. Second, did the Goblin fly all the way from New York to Hollywood on his broomstick? Seems to me, with a ride that long, on that broomstick, in that costume, his thighs would probably start to chafe something awful.) He introduces himself as the Green Goblin, "your next star". When B.J. orders him out of his office, Gobby tells the producer he can bring him a movie "co-starring me, the Enforcers, and Spider-Man". At the sound of the web-slinger's name, Cosmos gets all excited. A movie with Spidey in it can't miss, he believes. Excited, he starts tossing out ideas for the film. "I'll have a hundred dancing girls" he decides, "a cast of thousands". He even thinks he can get Tony Curtis to play Spider-Man. (Hmmm. A young Tony Curtis as Spidey. It's an interesting thought.) "Or one of the Beatles!" But the Goblin promises he can get "the real Spider-Man to play the part". B.J. thinks the Goblin is "a nut". "Nobody knows who he is," he tells the Goblin, "nobody can get within a hundred feet of him! But you'll deliver Spider-Man!!" The Goblin gets back on his broomstick, tells Cosmos to "just relax and count your money" as he goes to bring the web-slinger in on the project.

Several days later, at Midtown High School, Liz Allan is sucking up to Peter Parker while Flash Thompson tags along. (Flash is wearing a green sweater with a big letter "F" on it, which sure doesn't stand for "Midtown" so I guess it just stands for "Flash".) Liz asks Peter how he managed to be the only student who got full marks on the last exam. A suave Pete tells Liz "It's just luck... that, and spending long hours studying every night!" Flash sneers at Peter's response. "Who wants to be an egghead anyway?" he says, "Not me!!" Immediately, Liz is on Flash's case. She puts a hand on her hip while she uses the other hand to poke Flash in the chest. And she yells at him, saying, "You don't have the equipment for being an egg-head! Namely, you're too dumb!" and adding, "It's the men with brains who run this country". Two of Flash's gang are standing nearby listening to this and Liz's statements are like a revelation. "Liz is right!" says one with a shocked look on his face. "She sure is!" says another, puzzling over it with his hand to his chin. Peter eats the whole thing up. He is thrilled to see "the kids finally see[ing] the light".

Having made her case, Liz walks away, leaving Flash to shake a fist at Pete and rail at him for trying to "beat [his] time" with Liz. Peter scoffs at Flash and uses one of those "timely-at-the-time" statements that I always get a kick out of. "Beat what time?" he says, "You've got about as much chance with her, as Khrushchev has with J. Edgar Hoover!!" (That one's admittedly a bit awkward but it's the old "Communist versus Anti-Communist" bit, don'tcha know?) A student with a transistor radio about as big as an oven mitt tells Flash and Pete to be quiet. There's a news bulletin coming on announcing that "a green-garbed figure on a broom stick has been flying over Manhattan for the past hour". (Meaning that the Goblin flew all the way back again from LA on the uncomfortable metal thing. I can almost feel the hemorrhoids from here.) Once Pete hears this news report, he slips away, changes into his Spidey gear, and makes his way to Manhattan.

In fact it is only "minutes later" from the moment he slips away until he spots the Goblin, according to Stan. Gobby looks nice and relaxed, gliding along with his feet up. Spidey takes one look at him and doesn't even need to be introduced. "He looks like some sort of Green Goblin", he thinks. Then he strings his webbing up between two chimneys and catapults himself from a roof right up onto the Goblin's broomstick. So, what's the first thing Spidey ever says to this villain who has had such a strong affect on his life? "Hold it, fella!! How about giving a guy a lift??"

The Goblin is happy to see the web-slinger. He admits that's he's been flying around the city hoping the wall-crawler would come to investigate. Spidey stands up on the broomstick and grabs the Goblin by the wrist. "Now what's the pitch??" he asks. Gobby explains that he represents B.J. Cosmos of Cosmos productions. "He wants you to star in a movie," he says. He explains that B.J. is in New York at the "Ritz Plaza Hotel" (It's just impossible to keep up with all the mergers these days.) waiting to talk with the web-slinger.

So, Spidey leaps off the broomstick to a nearby building, and then heads over to the Ritz Plaza. He peeks in various windows until he finds B.J. Cosmos. B.J. invites him in ("Don't just hang there! If anyone's gonna see you, I'll make 'em pay for it, at the movies!"), then tells him he'll pay out fifty thousand dollars to star him in "The Spider-Man Story" which will feature the Enforcers and the Green Goblin. Spidey agrees with a few conditions... "I don't want any interviews, no publicity, no sight-seers on the set!! And no phony romance build-ups with starlets!" B.J. thinks Spidey will "break a million Hollywood hearts" with such conditions but he agrees anyway. He sits the wall-crawler down and gets him to sign a contract, promising fame all the while. Spidey could care less about the fame. He's "just thinking of all the wonderful things [he] can do for poor Aunt May with fifty thousand dollars."

The contract signed, Spidey leaves the way he came, promising Cosmos that he'll be at the Hollywood studio by the end of the week. Around the corner, the Goblin hovers on his broomstick and gloats. His plan is working perfectly. If he has anything to do with it, Spider-Man's trip to Hollywood "will be a one-way journey with no return!" (Actually I think the "no return" is implied in the phrase "one-way journey" but who am I to nitpick with the Green Goblin?)

The next day, Peter Parker enters the Daily Bugle offices and approaches Betty Brant, his girlfriend and the secretary to J. Jonah Jameson. He has something important to tell her. But he never gets the chance. Jonah Jameson hears Peter and barges out of his office to talk to him. He has heard that Cosmos Films is making a movie starring the real Spider-Man and he wants Peter out on the west coast to take pictures of it. This is what Peter is hoping for but he was planning to break it to Betty first so she wouldn't worry herself to death. Still, just the thought of getting paid by both Cosmos and JJJ makes Peter break out in a broad smile. He is thinking that "Aunt May will never have to worry again" but that's not how neurotic Betty interprets the smile. "I suppose you can't wait to meet all those Hollywood beauties!" she says. Peter protests the accusation but Betty just turns her nose up at him. "I don't claim to be as glamorous as those starlets or that blonde Liz Allan you've been walking home from school with lately!" she says... giving the game away to Pete. "Liz!" he thinks, "So that's what's buggin' her!"

Now, let's not be so hasty in turning the page here. First, let's linger for a bit on the ad on the facing page. "Don't let them call you skinny" advises Beautiful Young Actress Quinn O'Hara... reads the copy for a product known as "Wate-On". There are two black and white photos of Quinn herself ("Appearing in Hall Bartlett's "The Caretakers" starring Robert Stack, Polly Bergen and Joan Crawford" according to the ad.). She is a buxom brunette wearing a white headband and a bathing suit that shows off all her curves. This ad appeared in Marvel comics for a couple of months and these pictures of Quinn O'Hara drove my seven-year-old self wild. She was the most beautiful woman my young eyes had ever seen. I could look at that advertisement all day. The Green who? The Amazing what? Who cares about those guys? I want to read more about Quinn!!! *Ahem* Well, anyway. That was a long time ago and Quinn O'Hara certainly didn't have the stellar movie-star career this ad suggests she will have. I wonder what ever happened to her? She can't be more than... I don't know... sixty by now. Well, hell, that's not too old. After all, I'm in my mid-forties myself. Maybe I could... Wait a minute... I didn't write all this down, did I? Naw, I didn't think so. I was just thinking to myself, that's all.

So, Pete heads home to talk to Aunt May about taking a trip to the west coast. May, knitting by the window, doesn't take to the idea at all. She tells Pete he is "too young to go traipsing around the country that way". When Pete tells her he is almost ready for college, she reminds him that he is so very very fragile. Peter promises to "dress warm, eat three good meals a day and take my allergy pills every morning" and, with that, Aunt May agrees to let him go. But she has a tear running down her cheek as she agrees to it.

And so, we leap ahead to Cosmos Studio's movie lot in Hollywood. Spider-Man is on the set along with the Enforcers, the Green Goblin, B.J. Cosmos, a script girl, the Gaffer, the Best Boy, and a cameraman. B.J. cheerfully tells his cast that he wants to win an Oscar for this film. (Uh, yeah, B.J. That'll happen.) Spidey is impressed with the makeup job that has made (he thinks) three actors look just like the real Enforcers. The Ox is itching to pound on Spidey right now but the Goblin holds him off, instructing him to wait until they get on location.

The crew picks up and trucks out to the New Mexico desert for the big fight scene, which they intend to film in thirty minutes. (So, hang on a second. Spider-Man is a New York guy, right? The Enforcers are New York guys, right? So who wrote a script that gives them a big fight scene in the middle of the New Mexico desert? And B.J. thinks it's going to win an Oscar?!) Anyway, as Spidey sits around going over his script, the Green Goblin suggests that he and the Enforcers move away from the cameras and rehearse their fight scene. Our poor clueless web-slinger proclaims, "It's okay with me!"

The five of them must move FAR away into the desert because we don't see the movie cameras for the rest of the story. The Goblin mounts his broomstick, Montana gets his lasso spinning and the Ox punches an unsuspecting Spider-Man right in the back of the head. (So, now, wait. THIS is the plan? To get Spidey out in the desert and then jump on him? That Green Goblin... what a master strategist! Couldn't they have forgotten all the movie stuff and just done this back in New York? Or maybe they figured, whether they win or lose, at least Spidey is out some dough for his plane ticket.) At first, our brilliant hero still thinks this is part of the act. "Hey!" he yells as he takes a tumble, "Try that again and I'll forget this is just a movie!!" But then his spider-sense (finally!) kicks in and he knows he is "the world's prize chump". Yes, friends, Spidey has officially figured out that the whole thing is a trap and that the actors "really are the Enforcers". He does a hand spring that puts him back on his feet but now the Enforcers surround him on three sides with the Green Goblin flying up above him.

Now, the battle begins in earnest. I have mentioned before that the Enforcers, properly used and working in tandem, are three of Spider-Man's very best opponents and they star in three of the top Ditko Spider-Man fight scenes. Don't believe me? Take a look at this one.

Montana slings his lasso at Spider-Man's feet forcing the wall-crawler to leap in the air to avoid it. While in the air, the web-slinger is attacked by Fancy Dan who leaps on Spidey's back and punches him on the side of the head. Spidey flips Fancy Dan over his head which gives the Ox the opening to land one of his right-handed haymakers right on the wall-crawler's chin. Spidey tries to counter by doing a back flip and shooting his web at the Ox but the webbing goes astray because Montana hogties Spidey's feet with his lasso and pulls the web-spinner backwards. Spider-Man springs to his feet and hops in the air, trying to pull the lasso off his ankles. While he is busy doing that, Fancy Dan runs up from behind with his fists clenched. This time, however, the spider-sense comes to our hero's rescue. He realizes that Dan is sneaking up behind him and he manages to free his feet AND sling Dan away from him. Dan collides with Montana, knocking both to the ground. But the Ox is still there, right behind Spider-Man, ready to pound him on the top of his head. That's when the webhead utilizes his spider-speed. By the time the Ox's fist comes down, Spidey is no longer there. He has somersaulted away. "Nobody can move that fast!!" protests the Ox but there's no denying that the web-slinger has flipped and leapt far enough away to give himself a breather. As he catches his breath, Spider-Man realizes that he must go back and warn the moviemakers that they are dealing with real super-villains. But he doesn't get the chance. There is a fourth opponent who has not yet entered the battle and he is, as Spidey correctly deduces, "the brains behind this little caper".

The Green Goblin starts pulling "stun-grenades" out of his pouch and, from his safe position up in the air, throws them down at Spider-Man. (Note that these are not yet "pumpkin bombs" but just regular metallic-looking explosives.) The webster starts dodging them but the smoke and the destruction keep him off-balance. He fires a web at his opponent but the Goblin uses his broomstick to easily "dart out of range" only to zip back again and throw another grenade. The Goblin's distractions do the job. The Enforcers have caught up to the action. While Spidey is occupied with the Goblin, Montana lassos him so securely that he is encircled by at least four coils of the rope. But Montana didn't count on Spidey's "power of chest expansion!!" (And who would?) The wall-crawler expands his chest muscles and snaps the rope in five different places. The other two Enforcers compensate for Montana's momentary defeat. Fancy Dan hits Spidey low, at the knees, the kind of hit that can blow out an ACL in a hurry. Simultaneously, the Ox hits him high with a haymaker to the jaw. With Spidey down in the desert sand, the Ox jumps on top of him. Fancy Dan follows and then even Montana gets in the act. Spidey squirms and fights back as best he can as the sand billows up in the air from all the activity. The Enforcers can't get a good grip on him. "How can such a skinny runt be so strong?" wonders the Ox as he hits Fancy Dan instead in all the sand and confusion. Spidey summons up all his strength and, "while they're all confused", kicks out with his feet, pushes out with his hands and springs up into the air. All three Enforcers go flying, allowing Spider-Man to get to his feet, attach a couple of web strands to some tumbleweeds, and spin the webbing around and around over his head, "whipping up a manmade dust storm!" With his opponents "temporarily blind", the wall-crawler uses his spider-sense to pick his way through them and slip away. Those must have been prime duststorm-causing tumbleweeds because a cloud has arisen that seems to cover miles of desert landscape. Flying above it all, the Green Goblin waits patiently for Spider-Man to emerge.

Whew! Now THAT was a fight scene, wasn't it? I mean, was I right or was I right? And it's not over, people. In fact, there's a fifth opponent for Spidey who hasn't even made an appearance yet. But first, let's take a little breather and see what Aunt May, Liz Allan, Flash Thompson, Betty Brant, and J. Jonah Jameson are doing.

Well, Aunt May is sitting at her desk at home, writing a letter to Peter. "And I hope you're taking your vitamin pills, Peter dear!" she writes, "Also be sure to get enough sleep... you know how easily you tire!" Ah yes, good old tiresome Aunt May! You just gotta love her!

Meanwhile, at the "soda parlor", Liz Allan asks the other teens if they've gotten any mail from Peter Parker. Some nameless member of Flash's entourage asks why Liz is always "so interested in Parker". "I thought Liz was your gal, Flash!" he says. Flash walks up to Liz and tells her to come clean and admit that she is making a fuss over Peter just to make him jealous. "You know he's a big zero compared to me!" he says. Liz smiles and asks him "how much rent do you pay in that dream world you live in". Then they're face to face, jawing at each other. "Peter is a dreamboat!" Liz says, "He's sensitive, intelligent, articulate." "Nuts!" Flash fires back, "He's scared of his own shadow! And you know it!"

Over at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson lights up a cigar and tells his secretary that he's expecting some "sensational pictures of Spider-Man" from Parker. "I don't want to find out that he's wasting his time dating those Hollywood glamour girls!" At these words, Betty's eyes go wide behind her stenographer's pad. "Oh no!" she whines to herself, "I mustn't even let myself think such thoughts about him! I mustn't!"

Now, let's see. One woman thinks Peter is a "dreamboat", "sensitive", "intelligent" and "articulate" while the other is so caught up in jealousies that all she can do is pout, make snide remarks and whine. So, which would you go out with, given the choice? Liz. Right. So what in the world is Peter's problem?

Okay, that's enough of a breather. Back to the action. Spidey emerges from the dust right by the entrance to a cave. It looks like a good place to get a bit of a rest so he enters. But, the Goblin, still scouting up above, sees the webster enter the cave and relays that information to the Enforcers by signaling to them. (A signal they shouldn't be able to see since they're still caught in the dust cloud but there's too much action coming up to worry about that now.) A weary wall-crawler sags as he leans up against a huge stalagmite and just barely has time to catch his breath before the Enforcers appear at the mouth of the cave. Ox, Fancy Dan, Montana, and the Goblin find a huge boulder that just happens to fill up the entire cave entrance. They all push hard against the big rock (the Goblin pushes with his feet) until the boulder is securely in place. Now they've got Spider-Man trapped in the cave with them.

Or it could be the other way around. Montana, noticing how "powerful dark" it is wonders exactly that. "Are we trapping him or has he got us trapped?" he asks. The Goblin calls Montana a fool and assures him that "the four of us can handle a dozen Spider-Men!!" Seconds later, however, Montana, last in line of the four, is cut out of the herd. Spidey reaches down from his perch on the cave roof and yanks Montana up into the air. He whispers to the cowboy, telling him not to make a sound "unless you don't ever wanna see that home on the range again". Montana gulps in fright but keeps his mouth shut. As far as Fancy Dan can tell, Montana has only lagged a bit behind him.

But then, moments later, it occurs to Dan that Montana is gone. The Ox has a great explanation. "Maybe he tripped on those nutty high-heeled boots of his," he says. But the Goblin spots Spider-Man above them and climbs onto his broomstick again. He's too late to do anything about Fancy Dan, however, who gets wrapped up in webbing and hauled up into the air to be attached to the roof of the cave.

Still, the Goblin has fleshed Spider-Man out. He flies toward the web-slinger and flings another of his stun-bombs. The webhead leaps away and the bomb only blows up a nearby stalactite. The Goblin throws a second bomb, again Spidey leaps away, and again the only victim is a low-hanging stalactite. Somehow (and please don't ask me to explain it) the Goblin goes from being in the vast expanse of the cave to being trapped in a little side pocket. Spidey takes advantage of the situation by shooting webbing across the entrance to this pocket, trapping the Goblin within. Or so he thinks. Instead, the Goblin holds his broomstick in his hands, turns it around so the flaming exhaust is shooting out in front of him, and uses the thing like a blowtorch to burn the webbing and free himself.

In the meantime, there is still one more Enforcer to deal with. The Ox has grabbed a boulder that he intends to throw at the webster. Instead, Spidey jumps down and lands on the boulder. The Ox, with his hands full, can't defend himself as Spider-Man clocks him right in the jaw with a "spider-strength love tap", knocking him flat out.

Things are looking up for our hero. He now has only the Goblin to worry about. Gobby flings yet another bomb at the web-spinner and again Spidey leaps away from it. But this time, when the smoke clears, Spider-Man finds himself face to face with "the strongest living being to walk the earth". Or as the web-slinger puts it, "Holy Hannah! Of all the caves to pick for a fight, we hadda pick one the Hulk was hiding in!" And, believe me, the green-skinned goliath is pissed. After all, he is hiding in this cave specifically to get away from attacks from the human race. Now, even here, as far as he can tell, someone has dared to intrude on his solitude and try to capture him. (Spidey's response: "Capture you? Brother, I don't even wanna share the same planet with you!") Arms outstretched, the Hulk lumbers at the Amazing One. Spidey is forced to leap over the Hulk to evade his huge powerful hands.

(We don't have to go into the Hulk's history, do we? Dr. Robert Bruce Banner? Caught in a gamma bomb blast? Turns green in stressful situations and becomes the strongest man on earth? Naw, I didn't think so.)

Hovering up above, hidden from the Hulk's view, the Green Goblin can't believe his good luck. All he has to do is hold back and let the Hulk finish Spider-Man off. Down below, Spider-Man tells the Hulk they have no reason to fight and he tries to explain. No go. The Hulk won't listen to a word he says. Instead, he starts punching. Spidey clings to a stone pillar and flips upward to avoid the blow. Good thing he does since the punch shatters the rock like it was plywood.

(By the way, this story takes place back in a time before the Hulk got really really dumb. He still refers to himself in the third person but he also has lines like, "You call me insulting names! You think I'm a brainless fool! If you only knew the truth" and "Never again will I be tricked by the lying words of an enemy! My only defense against mankind is my strength and nothing will stop me from using it!")

Spidey realizes that he has no chance trying to reason with the Hulk. All he can do is make sure he stays "out of reach of those bone-crushing fists". He perches high up on another stone pillar but this does him no good. The Hulk plows into it down below and the whole thing shatters into fragments. (And Spidey, as he leaps down, is impressed. "Next to him, the Enforcers are like Campfire Girls," he thinks.) As he falls, the web-slinger gets a bright idea. Instead of trying to avoid the Hulk, "Maybe I can surprise him with a sudden attack!" So, he drops right down onto the Hulk's back. Only trouble is "It's like landing on top of a rock pile!!"

The Hulk reaches behind his head with both arms, trying to snag the pest who now rides on his back. Spidey counters by webbing the Hulk's hands together. But, with his great strength, the Hulk tears the webbing apart "as though it was made of paper". Then, he slams his back up against a wall, trying to squish the bug who is perched there. It takes spider-speed on the part of our hero to allow him to leap away before being crushed.

Spidey has had enough of this. He's tried reasoning, he's tried evasion, he's tried webbing. Now, he's ready to show "that Spider-Man isn't exactly a weakling either". He clenches his hands into fists, runs at the Hulk, and hits him so hard in the jaw that the Hulk's whole head is concealed behind some Ditko-drawn shock waves. And he's so cocky about this punch that he dares to call the Hulk "turnip brain" as he throws it.

Then, reality sets in. The web-slinger's fingers ache from whacking them on the Hulk's hard head and the Hulk is completely unfazed by the powerful punch. This is where the Hulk, responding to the "turnip brain" insult, says the "brainless fool... knew the truth" line that I quoted above. Spidey briefly wonders what the Hulk means by "the truth" (since this is before the time that the world knows that the Hulk is Dr. Robert Bruce Banner), and then he has to put such musings aside. The Hulk has picked up a boulder and flung it at him. Spidey avoids it but the Hulk says something that sinks in. "You'll soon get tired," says the jolly green giant, "But the Hulk never does!" Perched up on a stalactite again, the wall-crawler realizes that he's just wearing himself out and that he's got to stop reacting and start thinking. Quickly he comes up with a dangerous plan and implements it immediately.

The Hulk is down below, hefting the boulder again, looking in the wrong direction (the big turnip brain) when Spidey jumps down and offers to "settle this now, man to man". The Hulk casually tosses the boulder away over his shoulder and accepts the challenge. But he's not fooled one bit. "You have a trick in mind! But it won't help you!" he tells Spider-Man. The webhead is a bit startled to learn that the Hulk is onto him but it's too late to back out now. The Hulk throws a big right hand at Spider-Man's jaw. Spidey knows he must time this "by a split-second" and he uses his spider-sense to tell him the exact instant the punch will land on him. At that moment, he turns his head just enough so that he is barely touched, even as the Hulk thinks he has landed a solid blow. The wall-crawler goes flying back toward the boulder that keeps him trapped in the cave. It's not entirely an act. "Even though he hardly touched me, it's the hardest punch I ever felt!!" he thinks. Now he puts his plan into effect. Pretending to be stunned by the blow, Spidey starts to crumble while leaning up against the exit-blocking boulder. The Hulk runs up for the killing blow. He raises both hands over his head and brings them down hard. But Spidey leaps up, up, and away. The Hulk's punches shatter the boulder "like a pane of glass".

With the boulder gone, the web-slinger uses all of his agility and speed to head for the exit. But as he is going, he sees the Goblin on his broomstick making a break for it, too. Not only that but, Spidey notes, "He's deserting the Enforcers, like the rat he is!" So, the webhead decides to do something about it. He jumps at the broomstick as the Goblin flies by and manages to get his hands on the back end of it. The Goblin counters by pointing his broomstick upwards, which loosens Spidey's grip and puts him in an awkward position. The wall-crawler realizes that the Goblin is trying to fry him with the flaming exhaust of his broomstick. Spidey also knows that "normally I could outmaneuver him easily" but that the fight with the Hulk has taken so much out of him that "my arms and legs feel like wood". He has no choice but to let go and fall. Fortunately, there is an underground spring right below. He plunges into it but doesn't come up. The Goblin hovers above and gets into some serious gloating. "Spider-Man proved easier to defeat than I would have guessed!" he says, "He fell in that small spring and hasn't come up yet! What a triumph for the Green Goblin!" And having enjoyed the moment to the fullest, the Goblin flies off, making his escape.

But it isn't injury or fear of the Goblin that has kept Spidey under the water. The old spider-sense has warned him that the Hulk is right nearby and is still looking for him. And so, he uses his "spider-stamina" to hold his breath until his senses tell him that the Hulk has returned to his cave. (Yes, you read it right. The spring may have been inside the cave when Spider-Man first fell into it but one panel later, it is out in the open air.) Spidey emerges from the pool and watches the Hulk head into the cave. He's home free, he's successfully given the Hulk the slip... until he remembers he left the Enforcers in the cave. And you know what a responsible sweetheart the web-slinger is. "Even though [the Enforcers are] not exactly my best friends, I can't stand by and let the Hulk grab them", he thinks.

So, trailing the Hulk, Spidey goes back into the cave, sticking to the ceiling and the shadows and keeping out of the green goliath's way. When Spidey notices that the Hulk is taking "the long way around" (not that there was any indication that there was more than one way into the body of the cave before this moment), he knows that he can use his speed to "take the other fork", scoop up the Enforcers, and have them out before the Hulk even knows they are there.

And that's just what he does. Shortly thereafter, the Amazing One, totes the three webbed up bad guys out into the desert. As he does so, he notices an Army helicopter, hovering above, coming down to investigate. Knowing that "once they recognize the Enforcers the rest will be routine", Spidey leaves the crooks for the Army and leaps away from the scene.

Back in Hollywood, B.J. Cosmos gets some bad news. "The movie's a fizzle! The Green Goblin flew away... Spider-Man vanished... and the Army turned the Enforcers over to the police!" B.J. is not willing to take this lying down. "We'll sue!" he proclaims. When one of his yes-men asks him who they will sue, B.J. replies, "What's the difference? We'll find someone!" The man who has brought the bad news adds that a search was impossible because the Hulk has been seen in the area. This info turns B.J.'s mood right around. He declares that the Hulk is "even better than Spider-Man." "He's a genuine monster!" he says, "The public will love him!" He orders a contract drawn up for the Hulk and he shunts aside the question of how the studio can get the Hulk to sign it. No, he's too busy putting together the concept. "I can see it all now" he emotes, "A cast of thousands! We'll get Doris Day to sing the hit song based on the title: The Honey and the Hulk! We'll get a hundred dancing girls!" He orders his man to hop a plane back to the desert to sign up the Hulk or else! Just then, Spidey (who has webslung, apparently, from New Mexico to Hollywood) swings in the window to warn B.J. about the type of people he is hiring... "Especially your villains!" But, B.J. is no longer interested in Spider-Man. Lighting up his cigar, Cosmos tells Spidey that his picture is kaput but "if you'll leave your phone number, perhaps we'll need some extras". Spidey retaliates by shooting his web over the lighter and the tip of B.J.'s cigar as he reminds the producer about his contract. Unfortunately, the web-slinger did not read the fine print. As B.J. puts it (while he tries to get the webbing off his lighter and cigar), "You don't get any money until the picture is completed! So, if we don't complete it, I don't owe you anything!" ("You're not related to J. Jonah Jameson, by some chance, are you?" asks the web-slinger.) Still, out of the goodness of his heart, B.J. agrees to pay Spidey's expenses. He shoves a fistful of bills into Spidey's hand, then leaves the room, declaring, "Don't call us, we'll call you!" Spidey looks the money over and decides it is just about enough to pay his way back to New York. "Oh well" he says, "That's show biz!"

Later, Peter Parker climbs on a bus to New York. He figures that, by traveling cross-country by Greyhound, he'll save some money to give to Aunt May.

And speaking of New York, the Green Goblin is already there. He flies in on his broomstick (ouch, ouch, ouch... and you wonder why he converts the broomstick to a glider next time) landing at his "murky hideout". His plan to "organize a world-wide crime syndicate with [the Enforcers] as [his] lieutenants" has backfired but he is philosophical about it. "My biggest mistake was not realizing that the area I chose for the battle was the Hulk's stomping grounds," he decides as he pulls off his mask. "It just proves how hard it is to make a career of crime!" he adds, which seems to imply that he is new at the crime game, "You never can think of everything!"

He changes into a light brown suit and tie (with his face obscured by a piece of equipment so we can't see who he is) and looks on the bright side. He successfully escaped and his identity is still a secret. "The world hasn't heard the last of the Green Goblin!" he tells himself.

Sometime later, Peter arrives in New York. He heads from the bus terminal to the subway, wondering about the Green Goblin. "He could be any place!" he thinks, "He could be anyone! I must never relax my guard!" (Too bad you do relax it, Peter, but that's a story for a later time.)

Not much of interest in this issue's letters page but here's a few excerpts anyway. Carter de Paul, Jr. of East Orange, New Jersey says of his fellow readers, "They will write and tell you how good or bad one particular issue was but they are missing the general picture. More readers should step back and take a look at all the issues of Spider-Man as a whole. There is no other comic, past or present, that has such a consistent run of superb comics!" Hear, hear, Carter! Jerry Murrell of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was touched by J. Jonah Jameson's revelation as to why he is jealous of Spider-Man, in ASM #10. "So I wanted to know if you would put in a future magazine a story where Spider-Man saves J.J.J.'s life. Then J.J.J. could forget about the feud between them. Please!" Sorry, Jerry. Spidey saves Jonah's life more times than I can count and he's still the same crusty old webhead-hater! Jim Civarra of Alderwood Manor, Washington didn't have the benefit of forty years of continuity when he admitted "I was shocked at the ending (of ASM #10) as I thought Jameson was the Big Man". I'm sure you weren't the only one, Jim. Finally, in the Special Announcements Section, Stan reveals, "We're definitely going to publish a Spider-Man Annual!"... in case any of you Lookbackers out there were wondering. And, yes, we'll have it for you right here at From The Beginning when the time comes.

Now, just to wrap things up...

The Hulk begins his run in Tales to Astonish just a couple of months after this story, first guest-starring in Giant-Man's strip in issue #59 (September 1964) then getting his own feature the following issue. The title is changed to The Incredible Hulk with #102 (April 1968) and the Hulk has had his own book ever since.

The Green Goblin returns in three months in Amazing Spider-Man #17 (October 1964).

The Enforcers are back in Amazing Spider-Man #19 (December 1964).

Spidey and the Hulk meet again in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 (November 1966).

And finally some Goblin Clues: Being A Look at the Hints Dropped Along the Way in the Mystery of the Goblin's Identity.

  1. He has the financial resources to have a "silent, shadowy basement laboratory".
  2. He has the mechanical knowledge to create a flying broomstick and some stun-grenades.
  3. His comment about "how hard it is to make a career of crime" seems to imply he is new at the game, therefore not an old Spidey villain with a different disguise but someone new altogether.

(What? You expected more than that? How many hints can there be? It's not like Stan and Steve even knew themselves who the Goblin was at this point, right?)

General Comments

Milestones (Landmark events that take place in this story.)

  1. First Green Goblin.
  2. First B.J. Cosmos.
  3. Second Enforcers.
  4. First fake movie scheme used against Spider-Man.
  5. First overbearing Aunt May letter to Peter.
  6. First time Pete is referred to as a dreamboat, sensitive, intelligent, articulate.
  7. First Spidey battle with the Incredible Hulk.
  8. The Hulk lands "hardest punch [Spidey] ever felt".
  9. Third time, believe it or not, a villain escapes without appearing again in the very next issue. (First two times: The Terrible Tinkerer and Doctor Doom in ASM #2 and ASM #5 respectively.)

The 1969 Marvelmania International Spider-Man Portfolio checklist entry for this story. Warts and all:

"The Green Goblin" - First Green Goblin. -G.G. convinces Spidey to do a film using the Enforcers as extras; then the Hulk unexpectedly join in.

Overall Rating

The Goblin, the Enforcers, the Incredible Hulk, B.J. Cosmos... is there even any doubt? Five webs. (And, hey, Stan says there's going to be a Spider-Man Annual this year, too!)


Next: Giant-Man goes on the trail of the Amazing Spider-Man. Tales to Astonish #57!

 Posted: 2003
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)