Taking a look at some of my Spider-Man Comics today and it struck me that there were a lot of variations on a theme when it comes to the Goblin.

The original was, of course, Norman Osborne as The Green Goblin.  I don’t believe this is him in the costume (It’s Harry):

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There were 2 covers for this issue-a foil and a 'plain'. This is the foil version.

Web of Spider-Man #67

Web of Spider-Man #67

Lot’s of people took on the Goblin glider throughout the years, but Norman Osborne was the original and probably the best of the lot.  He was smart, powerful, driven – nothing was going to stand in his way.  Not even Spider-Man.  The Green Goblin was the villain for Spidey for a long time (which is why he got top billing in the 1st movie).  Then he was killed by his own glider in a battle with Spidey (or did he?!?! DUN DUN DUN!) and this left the field open to bring in some new blood.

Several people put on the greens and called themselves ‘Goblin’ including: Norman Osborne, Harry Osborne, Nels Van Adder, Bart Hamilton & Phil Ulrich (nephew of Ben Ulrich). Then, variations on the theme began.

Like The Hobgoblin:

The Hobgoblin

The Hobgoblin

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Same basic premise as The Goblin; guy in a fright costume flying around on a glider tossing pumpkin bombs at Spidey or anybody else who got in his way.  It was later revealed that he (and several others) had found The Goblin’s stashes of weapons and simply modified it for his own use. Again, several people ended up wearing the Hobgoblin suit including: Roderick Kingsley, Arnold Donovan, Ned Leeds and Jason Macendale.

Jason Macendale took it to the extreme, though.  When they did this massive, crossover event where demons were attacking everything, Macendale offers up his soul in exchange for some demonic powers.  He is fused with a demon becoming more powerful then ever before.

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Jason Macendale didn’t start out as the Hobgoblin, though – he stole the identity after one of the other guys (Ned Leeds, I think) got busted.  Earlier, he was known as Jack-O-Lantern (shown below):

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Of course, when Macendale became Hobgoblin, someone else took over as Jack-O-Lantern.  Are you confused yet?  These people swap supervillain roles like crazy!

As time went on, the costumes changed as the the people inside them changes.  The Green Goblin got a makeover later on:

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Spectacular Spider-Man #225 'The New Green Goblin!'

Spectacular Spider-Man #225 'The New Green Goblin!'

The point of all of this is that they were all different guys under the masks, but they were just variations on the same theme of the Green Goblin (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?).  But after you kill a guy a couple times, it becomes hard to bring him back over and over (Norman Osborne), so, they had to come up with different guys/costumes/names to fill in the gap of ‘Super Big Bad of the month’ so Spidey would have someone to fight AND they had to give them plausible reasons for doing so.

Jason Macendale was a mercenary and an opportunist.  Harry Osborne – well, his dad was mostly responsible for his putting on the Goblin ears.  Ned Leeds was so totally framed.  I think you get the idea.

As a side note (and possible foreshadowing of posts to come?!) – I love the way comic book artwork changes over time – you can track it through the years.  One guy who really made an impact in that arena, went on to be sorta famous.  Here’s one of his early covers for Spidey:

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…maybe you’ve heard of him?  Guy by the name of Todd Mcfarlane?

~P