Whatever Happened to Originality?

Matt Tuck Mar 4, 2018
Amazing Spider-man #799

Are you part of the Red Goblin madness that’s taken over mainstream comics?

I’ve been a Spider-Man fan since I was a child, and my favorite villains were the symbiotes. Next to them, I love the original Norman Osborn Green Goblin. So you’d think that combining these would be a sure thing for me. It hasn’t been.

Since I was a fan of both the Green Goblin and Carnage, it was natural that I was intrigued by the idea of putting them together. The first art I saw was an Alex Ross Red Goblin cover for Amazing Spider-Man #799, and it was great. Now that I’ve read the lead-up issues in ASM #795 and 796, I’ve started to lose interest.

The cover art is superb, especially the Ross and Gabriele Dell’Otto versions, but the story is lackluster and unimaginative. The interior artwork is something from an old Saturday morning cartoon and lacks the maturity that I feel a character like the Red Goblin needs. Basically, it is by-the-books, step-by-step storytelling that is the hallmark of most Marvel comics these days: unoriginal and immature.

The best Green Goblin story, in my opinion, had a depth that hasn’t been matched since. The death of Gwen Stacy was groundbreaking and had an impact on Peter Parker for decades. Remember that Amazing Spider-Man #121 and #122 were published in 1973 when much of comics was still written as cartoonish adventures aimed at younger audiences. These two issues were anything but, and they added a touch of realism by giving Spider-Man a consequence for being a superhero. Then we saw an angry, vengeful Spider-Man who was intent on murdering Norman Osborn instead of the typical “take him to jail” superhero attitude. In the end, Spider-Man, with all his fantastic superpowers, became more like us because that’s how most people would react if your loved one was murdered in front of you.

All of that is what is missing from the Red Goblin story, at least so far. Like many of the new Marvel “creations,” the Red Goblin takes two popular characters, forgets about what we loved about them to begin with, and presses them together like a kid experimenting with Play-Doh.

Case in point: Weapon H. Or Hulkverine. Or whatever you want to call him. It’s a creature combination of Wolverine and the Hulk. There’s no depth to the character or motivation. It’s just Hulk with claws. That’s it.

While I’m a fan of Donny Cates, I’m going to lump Cosmic Ghost Rider into that mix as well. Basically, it’s Ghost Rider meets Silver Surfer. Yes, his secret Identity is/was Frank Castle, but he’s more Deadpool than the Punisher.

And that’s where Red Goblin rolls into that sandtrap; he’s yet another unoriginal creation that is meant to drive sales in the short term.

At this point, Red Goblin would be perfect for an old issue of What If... when we could have a “What If the Carnage Symbiote had Possessed Norman Osborn?” issue. One or two issues, to the point, and great fodder for action figures for years to come.

Because in the end, that’s all these amalgamations really are meant for: they’ll make for great action figures.

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