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Norman Osborn Isn’t the First Heroic Green Goblin

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The following article contains spoilers from Amazing Spider-Man #12, on sale now from Marvel Comics.

In Amazing Spider-Man #12 (by Zeb Wells, John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz, and VC’s Joe Caramagna) Norman Osborn has forgone his villainous Green Goblin mantle to supposedly take up the role of a superhero under the moniker of the ‘Gold Goblin’. However, this is not the first time that the traditionally malign Green Goblin name has been connected to heroism. There have been two major instances where the Green Goblin became an ally of Spider-Man and helped fight crime throughout New York, though in both instances, the Green Goblin eventually returned to villainy.

One of these heroic Green Goblins was Norman Osborn’s son; Harry Osborn, who during the Inferno event in 1988, used his father’s own mantle to defend New York when the city was overrun by demonic forces. The second instance was during the controversial Clone Saga Spider-Man storyline from 1994-1996, Daily Bugle journalist Philip Urich took up the Green Goblin name and used it to fight criminals instead of becoming one.

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Spider-Man’s First ‘Heroic’ Green Goblin

Harry Osborn became the first example of a heroic Green Goblin in Web of Spider-Man #47 (by Gerry Conway, Alex Saviuk, and Keith Williams). He used his father’s costume to defend his wife and son from the unhinged Hobgoblin who was searching for the Green Goblin serum that gave Norman Osborn his enhanced abilities. Deciding that the lives of his family were more important than the shame of wearing the Green Goblin costume, Harry tracked Hobgoblin to the Osborn Chemical Plant and fought the supervillain for the safety of those he loved.

With the added assistance of Spider-Man, Harry was able to force Hobgoblin into stopping his attempts to find the Green Goblin serum. Harry Osborn would continue to use his father’s Green Goblin suit to help citizens and even Spider-Man’s Aunt May in Spectacular Spider-Man #147 (by Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema) against the horde of demonic creatures unleashed upon New York because of theInferno” event. However, this turn to good was undermined in Spectacular Spider-Man #180 (by J.M. DeMatteis and Sal Buscema) where Harry Osborn regains his memories of his father’s supposed death at the hands of Spider-Man. This causes him to try to kill the Wall Crawler, becoming his next great nemesis until he was killed twenty issues later.

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Spider-Man’s Second Good Green Goblin

Phil Urich took up the Green Goblin mantle two years after Harry Osborn’s death and had an arguably more successful career as a benign Green Goblin. That said, he did eventually succumb to madness. Phil made his debut as the new heroic Green Gobin in his own Green Goblin comic book series written by Tom DeFalco where he happened upon a modified Green Goblin suit and serum while helping crime boss ‘Ricko the Sicko’ break into an Oscorp warehouse. Exposing himself to the serum, Phil used the Green Goblin suit to attack Ricko when his gang was preparing to attack his uncle Ben Urich. Seeing his newfound abilities and gadgets as a way to gain fame as a hero, Phil adopted the Green Goblin name and fought various criminals.

After Phil Urich’s Green Goblin comic book series concluded, he joined the superhero team ‘Excelsior’ in 2005’s Runaways #1 (by Brian K. Vaughn, Adrian Alphona, and Craig Yeung). There he would become close friends with the mutant heroine Hollow. However, Phil’s growing psychosis as a result of using the Green Goblin serum eventually became too much for him, and he nearly killed his teammates from Excelsior. He also eventually killed and usurped Daniel Kingsley as the New Hobgoblin, though during the 2014 Original Sin comic book event, he changed his identity again to the ‘Goblin King’.

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Is Spider-Man’s Gold Goblin Destined to Fail?Norman Osborn becomes the new Gold Goblin

When Norman Osborn unveiled his new Gold Goblin suit as a means to use his intellect for good after apparently being cured of his villainous ways thanks to the resurrected villain; Sin-Eater in Amazing Spider-Man #851 (by Nick Spencer and Pat Gleason). Norman intends to show how he has changed for the better. However, with the track record of Green Goblins committing to heroism, it does not seem likely that Norman will be able to resist the calling of the chaotic nature of the Green Goblin.

Norman Osborn has a history of tricking both Spider-Man and the wider Marvel Universe into believing he had reformed in the past. He even went as far as to persuade the United States government to place him as the director of the Thunderbolts team. Although Norman’s heroic Gold Goblin persona is set to star in his own Gold Goblin comic book series, the synopsis hints that Norman will not be able to keep his malign traits away forever. It looks like he may soon join Harry and Philip as one of the failed heroic Goblins.

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