The Worst Things Norman Osborn Has Ever Done
As Norman struggles to find redemption in 'Gold Goblin,' revisit some of the worst crimes he ever committed against Spider-Man and the Marvel Universe.
Since his introduction in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #14, Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, has proven himself to be one of the Marvel Universe’s fiercest villains. However, he was recently cleansed of evil by Sin-Eater in the "Last Remains" storyline. Now, in the pages of Christopher Cantwell and Lan Medina’s GOLD GOBLIN (2022), he hopes to redeem himself. With Osborn trying to make up for his past misdeeds, here are seven of the Green Goblin’s worst sins.
Osborne's Dark Reign
During SECRET INVASION (2018), Skrull impersonators replaced some of Marvel’s biggest and best heroes. As a result, what remained of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes engaged in a massive battle with the Skrulls, which ended only when Osborn killed Veranke, the queen of the alien shapeshifters. By publicly stopping such a threat, Osborn earned much acclaim, leading him to become the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the events of DARK REIGN (2008). To make matters worse, he even got the chance to form his own villainous Avengers.
This led to a power struggle between Osborn and Earth’s heroes that had catastrophic consequences. For example, after Bullseye joined Osborn’s Dark Avengers team, the assassin killed more than a hundred innocent people during a fight against Daredevil. This massacre pushed Daredevil over the edge and kicked off the SHADOWLAND (2010) event, which saw an unhinged Matt Murdock using the Hand to wage war against crime in New York… and that’s just one of many ways Osborn’s dark reign created problems for the Marvel Universe.
The Clone Saga
In the mid-90s, Osborn orchestrated THE CLONE SAGA (1994), an event that shook up Spider-Man’s life in some major ways. At the start of that two-year storyline, Ben Reilly returned to Peter Parker’s life. However, they were manipulated into believing Parker was a clone and Reilly was, in fact, the real version of Peter. This caused a major identity crisis for Parker, but Osborn’s attempt to break his old foe didn’t stop there.
Osborn—who was presumed dead at the time and, thus, worked from the shadows—set several deadly villains against Parker and Reilly. He also faked Aunt May’s death, replacing her with an actor, and even killed Reilly in the storyline’s climax. While that death confirmed Reilly was the clone, Parker’s life—and those of so many around him—was still turned upside down in the most agonizing way possible.
When He Sent Flash Thompson Into a Coma
After starting out as Parker’s high school bully, Flash Thompson eventually became friends with his old foe. However, his life took a dark turn due to his stint in the military, and when he returned from war, he turned to alcohol and eventually crashed his car while driving under the influence. During Flash’s recovery process, Osborn got him a job at Oscorp to mess with Parker.
Of course, the Green Goblin had a secret motive, which was revealed during the "A Death in the Family" arc. In that story, Osborn went after those closest to Parker to try and goad Spider-Man into killing him. Flash, who had come to trust Osborn, suffered the consequences of this. After Flash left an addiction-recovery meeting, Osborn abducted him and force fed him alcohol. The villain then put Flash behind the wheel of a truck and had him crash into Midtown High School, where Parker was teaching. Following the incident, Flash suffered brain damage and ended up in a coma. Although he eventually recovered, Flash’s already difficult life was basically destroyed by the man he trusted.
When He Sold Harry Osborn’s Soul to Mephisto
During the "Last Remains" and "Sinister War" arcs, Spider-Man fought against a mysterious villain named Kindred, who wanted to punish Parker for his past failings. Soon, Parker discovered that Kindred was his friend: Harry Osborn, Norman’s son. The fight itself was part of a plan by Mephisto to stop a potential future in which Parker or his daughter foiled his plans.
Just how Harry became Kindred, though, is one of Norman’s many sins. During the battle against Kindred, Norman revealed he sold Harry’s soul to Mephisto in exchange for success in business. Not only did this deal effectively destroy Harry’s life, but the act also led to Norman’s transformation into the Green Goblin.
The Time He Buried Aunt May Alive
Osborn may have faked Aunt May’s death as part of a larger plot during the CLONE SAGA, but what he did to her during Spider-Man’s MARVEL KNIGHTS era was, perhaps, even worse. At the start of MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN (2004), Aunt May went missing. Spider-Man attempted to find her, but the Owl distracted him by tricking him into a fight Electro and Vulture. Despite a battle that ended with several causalities, Parker ended up no closer to finding Aunt May. Eventually, after getting help from the X-Men, Parker believed Aunt May dead.
Parker soon learned that Osborn had orchestrated Aunt May’s kidnapping. The villain then manipulated Spider-Man into helping him escape from prison and, once free, ambushed him with the Sinister Twelve. Parker survived the confrontation and deduced that Aunt May had been buried alive in Uncle Ben’s grave. This one has a happy ending, though, as Spider-Man arrived just in time to save Aunt May before she ran out of oxygen.
The Abduction of Peter and Mary Jane’s Daughter
While this one is technically part of the CLONE SAGA, the events of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #418 are so heinous they deserve an entry all their own. During the CLONE SAGA, Mary Jane Watson became pregnant and went into labor. However, the baby was seemingly stillborn, forcing Watson and Parker to mourn the loss of their child. In reality, a woman named Alison Mongrain, who worked with Osborn, abducted the newborn baby.
Just what happened to the baby, who was named May Parker, has never been totally clear, but there’s some indication that Osborn had the child killed. The mystery of just what happened to May remains unsolved and, following the undoing of Mary Jane and Peter’s marriage in "One More Day," it looks like it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
The Death of Gwen Stacy
Osborn has killed plenty of people during his time as the Green Goblin, but there’s perhaps no death more impactful than that of Gwen Stacy in the aptly named "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" storyline. In that arc, Osborn abducted Stacy and threw her off one of New York’s bridges. Although Spider-Man tried to catch her with his webs, she died before hitting the ground.
Stacy’s death had major ramifications for Parker over the next decade, and he has often treated the tragedy as a personal failure. Stacy’s death has also played a prominent role in GOLD GOBLIN (2022), as Osborn seems to feel especially guilty about that crime.
To find out what Norman does next in his quest for redemption, pick up GOLD GOBLIN #2, on sale now!
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