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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    Default Norman Osborn as a General MU villain. What do you think?


    Just wanted to see what the general opinion is on the era from the '00s up to the early-mid '10s where Norman Osborn got upgraded from Spidey rogue to big bad to the wide Marvel Universe?

    I wasn't sure to post this in the Spider-Man board or here, but it pertains more heavily to the General MU, so I thought this was a better place.

    For the longest time, Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin was one of the few examples of an "exclusive villain" in Marvel (known for their willingness to having heroes fight each others' villains). Unlike his contemporaries, such as Doc Ock, Electro, Rhino, Mysterio, Scorpion, Sandman and so on, Goblin never ventured outside the Spider-Man titles and was strictly a villain to Spider-Man, tied solely to his legacy and mythology. Of course, he was dead from 1973 to 1996, where it was retconned, so that might have to do with it not happening sooner.

    That changed in the '00s, thanks to Brian Michael Bendis, who over the course of his writing (and Bendis' push to being everywhere himself), built up Osborn as being a Lex Luthor-like figure -- a corrupt and amoral businessman given too much power. He was pushed him away from the Spider-titles and into the center of the MU itself. During this time, he went on to antagonize just about everyone, both directly and indirectly, and was the biggest driving force of villainy in this period, culminating with Dark Reign. However, he still remained a general force even after, and it wasn't until mid-'10s where he returned to being a true Spider-Man villain

    So what's the general opinion on it?

    I have mixed thoughts. I do think it's cool that Spider-Man's mythology affected the entire universe on an unprecedented level, and I think cool things came of it, but it was flawed. That, and Osborn himself as mentioned was more like Post-Crisis Lex Luthor rather than his previous characterization as a mad man obsessed with killing Spider-Man. It's an interesting take, if a bit jarring when you consider everything. What's funny is that Lex Luthor was inspired by Frank Miller's take on Kingpin, so this is an example of going full circle.

    Let me know what you think, and discuss.

  2. #2
    iMan 42s
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    I almost preferred this incarnation due to it actually going somewhere. Modern Green Goblin is fairly one note so I liked Thunderbolts and Iron Patriot just fine.
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  3. #3
    Hold your machete tight! Personamanx's Avatar
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    I enjoyed his tenure as the big bad of the Marvel Universe. In theory I don't think many Spidey rogues are much in the way of big deals when faced against the Avengers, X-Men or even the Fantastic Four. Didn't read everything that seeded it or the entirety of everything that grew from it, but I generally liked the comics.
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  4. #4

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    It makes more sense than him only being a threat to Spider-man

  5. #5
    Latverian ambassador Iron Maiden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post

    Just wanted to see what the general opinion is on the era from the '00s up to the early-mid '10s where Norman Osborn got upgraded from Spidey rogue to big bad to the wide Marvel Universe?

    I wasn't sure to post this in the Spider-Man board or here, but it pertains more heavily to the General MU, so I thought this was a better place.

    For the longest time, Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin was one of the few examples of an "exclusive villain" in Marvel (known for their willingness to having heroes fight each others' villains). Unlike his contemporaries, such as Doc Ock, Electro, Rhino, Mysterio, Scorpion, Sandman and so on, Goblin never ventured outside the Spider-Man titles and was strictly a villain to Spider-Man, tied solely to his legacy and mythology. Of course, he was dead from 1973 to 1996, where it was retconned, so that might have to do with it not happening sooner.

    That changed in the '00s, thanks to Brian Michael Bendis, who over the course of his writing (and Bendis' push to being everywhere himself), built up Osborn as being a Lex Luthor-like figure -- a corrupt and amoral businessman given too much power. He was pushed him away from the Spider-titles and into the center of the MU itself. During this time, he went on to antagonize just about everyone, both directly and indirectly, and was the biggest driving force of villainy in this period, culminating with Dark Reign. However, he still remained a general force even after, and it wasn't until mid-'10s where he returned to being a true Spider-Man villain

    So what's the general opinion on it?

    I have mixed thoughts. I do think it's cool that Spider-Man's mythology affected the entire universe on an unprecedented level, and I think cool things came of it, but it was flawed. That, and Osborn himself as mentioned was more like Post-Crisis Lex Luthor rather than his previous characterization as a mad man obsessed with killing Spider-Man. It's an interesting take, if a bit jarring when you consider everything. What's funny is that Lex Luthor was inspired by Frank Miller's take on Kingpin, so this is an example of going full circle.

    Let me know what you think, and discuss.
    You should really mention that Warren Ellis was the one that really gave Osborn that push into a different direction with his Thunderbolt series. Bendis just picked up on what he started.

  6. #6
    Mighty Member your_name_here's Avatar
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    Really enjoyed his time with Dark Reign.
    He was fantastic and scary in Iron-Man: Worlds Most Wanted, and I loved his comeuppance in Siege (where we finally got a good vs bad event).
    Logically I could see him being a big bad in the MCU but Spidey rights may halt that.

  7. #7
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    It would be interesting to see how other heroes deal with him.

  8. #8
    Original CBR member Jabare's Avatar
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    considering how OSCORP is in NYC and that is the center of the Marvel Universe it kind of makes sense by default that he becomes a bigger force. The Kingpin was originally a Spidey villain then Daredevil villain now he's more of a general NYC villain.

    Dark Reign pretty much did the same thing for Osborn in my mind
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  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Norman Osborn has advantages in that he's practically the only American villain who can really be a Marvel-wide threat. So when he stepped up he wasn't taking anyone's place so much as carving one for himself.

    If you look at most of Marvel's Earth-based villains they are usually European -- Doom, Zemo, Red Skull, Magneto -- and in the case of Mandarin, you have someone who's Asian. So if you want to do a big crossover event in the Marvel Universe but with a more grounded scale for some variation (i.e. not a battle that goes cosmic and is fought on some dumb planet or another) you don't have too many choices in terms of a villain who has star power, who has abilities and skills, and who has resources on top of that to play that role. Kingpin for instance has star power but he's largely a gangster of Hell's Kitchen and he does most of his stuff behind a board-room and so on, he wouldn't work as a Marvel-wide villain. Iron Man villains like Justin Hammer have resources but don't have abilities, and most important of all don't have star power.

    So Norman Osborn is best placed to take that niche. He's got star power, he's a superhuman, he's brilliant in chemistry and gadgets, he's also really rich. So he's able to play that role well.

    I will say that Green Goblin becoming a Marvel-Wide villain could have been executed better in DARK REIGN and Thunderbolts, if
    A) Bendis didn't make jokes about the Goblin costume and so on. Respect the Ditko. Respect the costume, and have the Goblin be the scariest, meanest, best version of Osborn.

    B) Goblin being elevated as a Marvel-Wide Villain should also be accompanied by a parallel elevation in Spider-Man. And ultimately it should be Spider-Man who takes him down.

  10. #10
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Norman Osborn has advantages in that he's practically the only American villain who can really be a Marvel-wide threat. So when he stepped up he wasn't taking anyone's place so much as carving one for himself.

    If you look at most of Marvel's Earth-based villains they are usually European -- Doom, Zemo, Red Skull, Magneto -- and in the case of Mandarin, you have someone who's Asian. So if you want to do a big crossover event in the Marvel Universe but with a more grounded scale for some variation (i.e. not a battle that goes cosmic and is fought on some dumb planet or another) you don't have too many choices in terms of a villain who has star power, who has abilities and skills, and who has resources on top of that to play that role. Kingpin for instance has star power but he's largely a gangster of Hell's Kitchen and he does most of his stuff behind a board-room and so on, he wouldn't work as a Marvel-wide villain. Iron Man villains like Justin Hammer have resources but don't have abilities, and most important of all don't have star power.

    So Norman Osborn is best placed to take that niche. He's got star power, he's a superhuman, he's brilliant in chemistry and gadgets, he's also really rich. So he's able to play that role well.

    I will say that Green Goblin becoming a Marvel-Wide villain could have been executed better in DARK REIGN and Thunderbolts, if
    A) Bendis didn't make jokes about the Goblin costume and so on. Respect the Ditko. Respect the costume, and have the Goblin be the scariest, meanest, best version of Osborn.

    B) Goblin being elevated as a Marvel-Wide Villain should also be accompanied by a parallel elevation in Spider-Man. And ultimately it should be Spider-Man who takes him down.
    Cosigned, especially B. That was why Dark Reign ultimately fell flat in my opinion, because the conclusion was just a standard "Avengers assemble to take down the Big Bad," with the Avengers taking the lead being the usual trio of Captain America (Steve Rogers), Iron Man, and Thor. Granted, Spider-Man got to sock Osborn in the face to shut him up when he started on one of his psychotic rants, but that was after Osborn had already been taken down by Cap and Tony, so it lacked a certain punch, pun intended.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  11. #11
    Extraordinary Member jackolover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post

    Just wanted to see what the general opinion is on the era from the '00s up to the early-mid '10s where Norman Osborn got upgraded from Spidey rogue to big bad to the wide Marvel Universe?

    I wasn't sure to post this in the Spider-Man board or here, but it pertains more heavily to the General MU, so I thought this was a better place.

    For the longest time, Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin was one of the few examples of an "exclusive villain" in Marvel (known for their willingness to having heroes fight each others' villains). Unlike his contemporaries, such as Doc Ock, Electro, Rhino, Mysterio, Scorpion, Sandman and so on, Goblin never ventured outside the Spider-Man titles and was strictly a villain to Spider-Man, tied solely to his legacy and mythology. Of course, he was dead from 1973 to 1996, where it was retconned, so that might have to do with it not happening sooner.

    That changed in the '00s, thanks to Brian Michael Bendis, who over the course of his writing (and Bendis' push to being everywhere himself), built up Osborn as being a Lex Luthor-like figure -- a corrupt and amoral businessman given too much power. He was pushed him away from the Spider-titles and into the center of the MU itself. During this time, he went on to antagonize just about everyone, both directly and indirectly, and was the biggest driving force of villainy in this period, culminating with Dark Reign. However, he still remained a general force even after, and it wasn't until mid-'10s where he returned to being a true Spider-Man villain

    So what's the general opinion on it?

    I have mixed thoughts. I do think it's cool that Spider-Man's mythology affected the entire universe on an unprecedented level, and I think cool things came of it, but it was flawed. That, and Osborn himself as mentioned was more like Post-Crisis Lex Luthor rather than his previous characterization as a mad man obsessed with killing Spider-Man. It's an interesting take, if a bit jarring when you consider everything. What's funny is that Lex Luthor was inspired by Frank Miller's take on Kingpin, so this is an example of going full circle.

    Let me know what you think, and discuss.
    When do you think Bendis altered Osborn? I think Bendis’ first attempt at 616 Osborn was in Pulse #1-13, and that just made Osborn a lunatic.

    The next time we see Osborn of any note is in Civil War Frontline, but still as a troubled villain, being harassed by madness and nanotech in his bloodstream. You don’t really get a general usage Osborn until Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts, so the groundwork was done in Frontline, Thunderbolts and continued in Iron Man by the Knaufs. By the time Osborn is handed over to Bendis again, Osborn is a fully formed General usage character already insinuating into a political role, full of network coverage, like Donald Trump. In fact, I think Osborn would be the best equivalent to a Trump at this stage - both are acceptable leaders and well supported in the general public.

    When Bendis takes full control of Osborn is post- Secret Invasion, but Bendis’ has him at full authority in the US and Bendis installs him in Osborn’s own Trump Tower, Avengers Tower. The transition from lowly burocrat to SECDEF of Osborn, is rather wrenching. Osborn is funnelled out of relative obscurity, into an absurd position for people to accept him as a public figure, instead of a wild criminal on a leash for the CIA.

    However, the climate of the time wasn’t conducive to the redemption of super heroes being accepted back as unsupervised civilians roaming the streets at will. It seemed the public was more concerned with a person making noises that sounded acceptable, to actual superheros serving the people. The psychology of the climate in America at that time was to listen to public broadcasting spin, rather than actual service. The Dark Avengers Of Norman Osborn were an exercise in how to fool the public with glossy colourful costumes and the similarity to heroes already stuck in the conscience of the people. All you have to do is appear to be normal, and doing similar work to heroes, and you could waste the public money, and do criminal activity as long as no one sees it. This is what the public thought super heroes were doing.

  12. #12
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackolover View Post
    When do you think Bendis altered Osborn? I think Bendis’ first attempt at 616 Osborn was in Pulse #1-13, and that just made Osborn a lunatic.

    The next time we see Osborn of any note is in Civil War Frontline, but still as a troubled villain, being harassed by madness and nanotech in his bloodstream. You don’t really get a general usage Osborn until Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts, so the groundwork was done in Frontline, Thunderbolts and continued in Iron Man by the Knaufs. By the time Osborn is handed over to Bendis again, Osborn is a fully formed General usage character already insinuating into a political role, full of network coverage, like Donald Trump. In fact, I think Osborn would be the best equivalent to a Trump at this stage - both are acceptable leaders and well supported in the general public.

    When Bendis takes full control of Osborn is post- Secret Invasion, but Bendis’ has him at full authority in the US and Bendis installs him in Osborn’s own Trump Tower, Avengers Tower. The transition from lowly burocrat to SECDEF of Osborn, is rather wrenching. Osborn is funnelled out of relative obscurity, into an absurd position for people to accept him as a public figure, instead of a wild criminal on a leash for the CIA.

    However, the climate of the time wasn’t conducive to the redemption of super heroes being accepted back as unsupervised civilians roaming the streets at will. It seemed the public was more concerned with a person making noises that sounded acceptable, to actual superheros serving the people. The psychology of the climate in America at that time was to listen to public broadcasting spin, rather than actual service. The Dark Avengers Of Norman Osborn were an exercise in how to fool the public with glossy colourful costumes and the similarity to heroes already stuck in the conscience of the people. All you have to do is appear to be normal, and doing similar work to heroes, and you could waste the public money, and do criminal activity as long as no one sees it. This is what the public thought super heroes were doing.
    And depending on your interpretation, the public wouldn't be entirely wrong. We know the difference because we have the benefit of the writers showing us readers what goes on "behind the scenes" with superheroes, but the in-universe public doesn't necessarily have the same details as us, so of course they would get cynical about superheroes' motivations and actions. It also didn't help that the writers themselves were pretty cynical about superheroes and it showed in the content of the stories being put out in that period.
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    My favorite portrayals of Marvel-Wide Osborn are:
    -- Ellis' Thunderbolts
    -- Fraction's Invincible Iron Man namely Worldwide Man Hunt, where Osborn actually defeats Iron Man on live-tv but backs away from killing him because ratings.
    -- Kelly Sue DeConnick's Osborn (where Norman actually has Willem Dafoe's face and it's glorious).
    -- Hickman's Dark Reign: Fantastic Four

    Having said that I like Bendis' portrayal of Osborn in The Pulse.

    And as much props as people are giving to Ellis, in my view, Marvel-wide Osborn was established by Mark Millar in his underrated series Marvel Knights Spider-Man. There Osborn is a charismatic genius, manipulator, mastermind, and all-purpose sadist who admits that being a supervillain is better than being a middle-aged man with mid-life crisis.

  14. #14
    Mighty Member Hybrid's Avatar
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    I agree, but it's true that Bendis took full control after Secret Invasion and plotted Dark Reign. I should've credited Ellis as well, as he kinda planted the seeds for Bendis to take after, but I think Bendis first put him outside the Spider-titles with The Pulse? I'm not quite sure what exactly was Osborn's first non-Spider appearance. If it's indeed The Pulse, then the precedence for Osborn antagonizing people besides Spider-Man was certainly there and established by Bendis.

    However, while Bendis did indeed play the biggest part in Osborn becoming the General MU villain as the writer of Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, others (like Warren Ellis) also play a role. Good point. I guess like with anything in comics, or fiction really, it's a group effort.

  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hybrid View Post
    I agree, but it's true that Bendis took full control after Secret Invasion and plotted Dark Reign. I should've credited Ellis as well, as he kinda planted the seeds for Bendis to take after, but I think Bendis first put him outside the Spider-titles with The Pulse? I'm not quite sure what exactly was Osborn's first non-Spider appearance. If it's indeed The Pulse, then the precedence for Osborn antagonizing people besides Spider-Man was certainly there and established by Bendis.

    However, while Bendis did indeed play the biggest part in Osborn becoming the General MU villain as the writer of Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, others (like Warren Ellis) also play a role. Good point. I guess like with anything in comics, or fiction really, it's a group effort.
    If you want you can go back to Green Goblin's first appearance in ASM #13, "The Grotesque Adventure of the Green Goblin" . In that one, Goblin tricks Spider-Man into coming to California, then attacks him with the Enforcers, which leads into a cave where Spider-Man finds out just happens to have the Hulk there. All Goblin does then is "Huh...I'll just sit back and let the Hulk do his thing".

    So Goblin's first appearance also included a crossover with another Marvel hero.

    Let me say, that I have issues with the denouement of Dark Reign and Siege, and I find Bendis' take on Marvel-Osborn uneven, which is to say that parts of it were good and parts of it could have been better.

    Bendis certainly does deserve credit for elevating Osborn overall.

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