Every Wednesday we take turns to delve into our trusty longboxes, pluck out a dusty back issue, and give you our thoughts. We’ll also try and place it in the context of the time it was originally published.

The scene : An office at Marvel, some time in 1995.

“Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a new series!”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“The Green Goblin!”

“Oh… no, seriously. Just no. For starters, Norman and Harry Osborn are both dead…”

“I know, but…”

“… and even if they weren’t, you just can’t sell a solo series on the name of a major villain. If it didn’t work for the Joker, what makes you think it’s going to work for us?”

“No, hear me out… this Goblin won’t be an Osborn. He’ll be… a good guy!”

“You what?”

“Yeah, seriously! Here’s the idea, right. We have this kid, fairly decent sort but maybe mixed up with a few hoodlums through no choice of his own. One day, he’s trying to escape from them and somehow stumbles across Harry Osborn’s secret lair! He does the whole accidentally-falling-into-chemicals thing…”

“What’s the excuse this time?”

“Oh, he gets frightened by a rat.”

“Hm. Nice one.”

“Thanks. Anyway, so yeah, he takes a chemical bath, and then puts on the Goblin costume to try and escape from the bad guys. Lo and behold, he’s suddenly flying around the sky, cackling maniacally, but trying to be a sort of anti-hero-vigilante guy at the same time!”

“Hmmm… so he wants to be a hero, but everyone thinks he’s a villain because he happens to look just like an extremely famous super-villain?”


“I like it. It has shades of the whole misunderstood-hero thing… you know, the one that used to be a major theme in Spider-Man until it got pretty much forgotten about except for by the people who are going to reset continuity in 2008…”


“Oh, nothing. Anyway, got any ideas for who this punk kid should be? He’s got to have some links to the past, right?”

“Ah, that’s easy. He’s Phil Urich, nephew of Daredevil‘s Ben and an intern at the Bugle to boot!”

“Okay, so that’s another of the Parker boxes ticked. Oh, and we should have him call Urich ‘Uncle Ben’ a few times to boot, eh? Really hammer the point home.”

“You got it. He can do that inbetween all the hip young street slang we’re having him say – what with this being 1995 and all, we’re really cutting edge and down with the ‘kids’.”

“Yes, I particularly like the line about how his ‘heart starts rocking like an old Slash guitar solo’. Quality stuff. So where do you see the series going?”

“Well, the first issue won’t be great. It’s a bit of a mess, quite rooted in cliche, with some pretty shoddy dialogue. But it’ll turn some aspects of superhero-origin convention on their head neatly, and despite his lack of a way with words, Phil will come to be quite an appealing character. He’s the sort of guy our audience should be able to empathise with, and his lack of confidence and slightly loser personality will contrast with his brash mania when he’s in the Goblin outfit…”

“… again, shades of the Parker, there.”

“Exactly! And hey, did you see that Jim Carrey movie that came out last year? Based on the Dark Horse comic? It’ll be a bit like that, as well!”

“Brilliant. So where do we go from there?”

“Well, he’ll get to fight the Rhino, and the Hobgoblin… and we’ll have Daredevil show up later, what with him being an Urich and all. Oh, and you’ll like this – Scarlet Spider!”


“Yeah. But while those one-shots will work fairly well for the first half of the run, and we create an interesting potential arch-nemesis called Angel Face in a quite good issue drawn by Darick Robertson, it’ll fail to get a grasp on anything like a solid, longer storyarc or underlying continuity. There’ll be a pretty lame Onslaught tie-in, and it’ll really suffer in the last few issues because we’ll lose Scott McDaniel’s solid and dynamic artwork and replace him with some guy called Josh Hood, who might just be one of the worst pencillers ever to work in the industry.”

“Hmm. So will anyone still be buying it by this point?”

“It’ll have a slightly loyal fanbase thanks to the enjoyment factor of the early issues, and Tom deFalco’s quite good at building up his characters like that – but even they’ll be put off by the artwork and lack of any real story, and eventually we’ll just can it at issue #13. But don’t worry, Tom will rescue Phil, just like he does with every other failed Marvel experiment of the ’90s, in something called Spider-Girl.”

“Okay, sounds great! That should tie in nicely with our bringing Norman back in a year or so and thus negating the entire point of the character, anyway. If you could leave the document in the file marked “Interesting But Failed Experiments Of The ’90s That Will Be Worth A Look If You Can Find ‘Em Cheap In Back Issue Bins, But Not Really Worth Getting Excited Over”, and we’ll get started on it immediately. Now, about this Ben Reilly fellow…”