Remember that time the Green Goblin tried to act like the Riddler and gave clues to his dental-inspired crime spree? Brush those pearly whites, Crawlspacers, for we are about to go on another excursion into a story that proves that the good old days weren’t always so good…
The year is 1980. The Iran hostage situation is in full bloom, Stephen King put out Firestarter, Empire Strikes Back was on the silver screen, VCRs were new and cost $699, a gallon of gas was $1.20 (the leaded stuff, none of that sissy unleaden stuff we use now), George was puffing away on just a buck a pack, and your Commodore computer had a full 5kb of memory. Ah! The memories… Well, at least 5kb of them.
Marvel, not to be outdone by the greatness around them, put out the EXCLUSIVE COLLECTORS’ EDITION of The Amazing Spider-Man! (It says so right on the cover! But they did misspell EDITION in the small print on the front page.)
Folks, this is a strange one. In fact, this is awful. Let us glory in the awfulicity* of this comic.
It starts with a one-page origin recap. This origin could easily have been the source material used for the Spider-Man: Homecoming as it has no mention of responsibility or Uncle Ben. (Or even wheatcakes! *gasp*)
Once we get that out of the way, we get started with the story proper, one told by Marv Wolfman (current writer of ASM so he knows better), drawn by Alex Saviuk, inked by Mike Esposito, and colored by Carl Gafford. There is no letterer mentioned. Maybe he got stiffed. Maybe he decided it would be a better career choice to not have his name associated with this train wreck.
Spoiler Alert! Here follows the formula for the rest of this issue: Peter is babysitting Randy. Green Goblin commits crime. Peter ditches Randy. Green Goblin gets away, but leaves a clue. Dal segno al coda.**
Part One– In the Grip of the Green Goblin!
JJJ has called Peter into the Daily Bugle. Pete’s all excited about the potential to earn a little cash. Turns out Jonah’s nephew, Randy, is in town and Jonah is dumping the babysitting duties to Peter. After all, the kid wants to be a photographer and who better than Peter to show him what an awful job that is (JJJ paraphrase). This is back when Peter got irritated by things and refuses until JJJ threatens to fire him. So off they go to the dentist.
Meanwhile, the Green Goblin is reading a copy of The Daily Bugle which just so happens to feature an article on that same dentist and a new dental laser (maybe JJJ gets a good deal on dental procedures in exchange for the good press?). He starts to cackle and heads off to see Dr. Sadetsky.
Double meanwhile, poor Randy has six cavities (good gosh!) and the good doctor bemoans how long it will take to fill them all. If only he had his laser finished, then he could zap those cavities lickity-spit. In bursts the Green Goblin and steals the dentist! Oh no! But what would Gobby want with a dentist? Maybe he wants hold him for ransom. Maybe he has a toothache. Or maybe he is just captivated by all the wonders that dentistry has to offer.
But Peter doesn’t have time worry about that. He can’t stop the kidnapping without giving away his secret identity and poor Randy is traumatized. A supervillain just burst in, throwing glass all over him and stole his dentist. That would freak anyone out. So Peter does the responsible thing. He ditches him. Just look at this poor boy’s face:
To be fair, there should be some other responsible dental hygienists around to take of the tot. Spidey easily catches up with the Goblin (the trail of smoke rules out any stealthy get away) and makes a Mork from Ork allusion. The Goblin gets away from Spidey by throwing a power weakening gas pumpkin at him. That’s right! The same power weakening gas that Norman uses in the recent ASM arc. Spidey falls and catches himself in a web net. The Goblin promises that his next crime will really have a bite! This should have taken five, ten minutes max, but the comic says that Peter didn’t return for Randy for an hour. By the time he gets Randy back to JJJ, JJJ is furious. Not for ditching his nephew, but for not getting any photos of the kidnapping. He fires Peter.
Thus ends part the one.
That brings us to a good question. Who is this Goblin? He acts like Norman Osborn, but…
This comic came out in 1980, so that puts it right around the early 200s of ASM.
Norman Osborn dies in ASM #122 in 1973.
Harry Osborn is the Green Goblin in 1974 and doesn’t return to it again until the late 1980s.
Bart Hamilton dies in 1978.
Phil Urich is way too late to be even considered here.
The Nameless Construct is not just way too late to be considered, but is so incredibly awful, that he doesn’t deserve a fine comic like this one to star in.
So who the heck is this Goblin?????? The way it is written begs that this is Norman Osborn. Now we could just say it is not in continuity, like JR does in Spidey Kicks Butt (because of course I went to the Mad Goblin’s site first), the Green Goblin’s Hideout, and SuperMegaMonkey (presumably since they do not even list this issue), but where is the fun of that? To argue for continuity, Marvelunap.com lists the characters in this comic and they do NOT list an alternate earth for this story (and they list EVERYTHING), so the surmise is that they consider it canonical. If we really want to put it in continuity, it would have to be an Untold Tale of Spider-Man sort of thing.
OK, enough of that.
Part Two – Goblins and Gems!
Wasting no time, we find out that the Goblin wants the dentist to build him another laser drill. The drill that the dentist was wishing he had earlier is both unfinished and on display at a dentist expo. The dentist agrees after being threatened with a sparkle blast and after thinking that he do it in a way that will allow Spider-Man to track down and defeat the Goblin. Mind you that we will never follow up on that idea and the dentist will just make the drill regular style.
Meanwhile, Peter is still babysitting Randy (I guess he got hired back). While walking down the street, Peter overhears a police car CB reference the Goblin. So he leads Randy in an alley and ditches him because it would be too dangerous to take a kid around a super fight. You read that correctly. PETER ABANDONS A YOUNG CHILD IN A NEW YORK ALLEY BECAUSE IT IS THE RESPONSIBLE THING TO DO.
The Goblin is robbing the Robert A. Bite Gem Company (Get it? Bite! Get it? It’s a toothpaste giveaway? Ha!), but you wouldn’t know it from the art since the building only has a sign that says GEM on it. Much like that ‘60s jewelry store.
Gobby is surprised that Spidey figured out his clever riddle. Spidey has no idea what he is talking about because he didn’t pay attention to my bold purple letters in the first part recap like you did. Spider-Man and the Goblin fight, but finally Spider-Man webs the glider, effectively immobilizing the Goblin. That is, until Randy bursts in because … well, there is no good reason for Randy to be in this panel. The Goblin threatens to kill the kid, so Spider-Man lets the Goblin go by just yanking on the web and making it fall off the glider (????). The Goblin blows up a pumpkin grenade anyway and leaves, but not before leaving a NEW clue – the word ‘bridgework’.
Spidey leaves Randy and swings off realizing that if he can’t figure out the Goblin’s clue, it’ll be time to quit being Spider-Man FOREVER! (but not before making a Laverne and Shirley allusion).
O.K. You whippersnappers out there have no idea what I mean when I mention the Mork from Ork and Laverne and Shirley allusions. Basically, they were two spin off shows from Happy Days (please tell me you’ve at least heard of that one? The Fonz?). So here is a clip from Happy Days when Mork, an alien from Ork, goes to the Fonz for help on why boys date girls, so the Fonz brings in Laverne to help explain.
Hey, we only had few channels you could watch (three, to be exact for me), so you took what you could get. It sure beat having to watch Hee Haw on Saturday evenings.
Part Three – The End of a Spider-Man!
It’s the next morning and Peter is still babysitting Randy. This may be the most unrealistic part of this whole comic. So Pete thinks, “Hmmm. Kids love dental expos.” Take a good look at this expo – especially the center exhibit.
There is a man explaining that gold and silver has been collected from all the free nations of the world so that poor countries can use them to fill cavities because poor people have really bad dental hygiene. We also get to see the laser drill prototype that the dentist was hoping to use on Randy’s six cavities.
Imagine seeing THAT in your dentist office. It has cross hairs to guide it! Because if you’re going to be shooting laser beams in someone’s mouth, precision is overrated.
Meanwhile, back at the Goblin lair, the dentist struggles against his chains, but can do nothing but obey the Goblin’s request to build the laser.
Meanwhile again, Peter figures out the ‘bridgework’ clue and pawns Randy off on Aunt May, who gives him healthy snacks like milk and bananas. It looks like we could easily switch some of those panels into the Golden Oldie comic and not miss a beat. The clue? I’m sure you’ve figured out that it references the commonly seen Bridgework Metal factory that appears to be beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. You know, Spider-Man is always seen around this thing. It’s practically a character in the series. The Goblin is waiting for him, though and unleashes six exploding Goblin gliders on him – all trained to follow his unique heat signature.
Spidey makes them all explode, but the last one triggers an avalanche of steel pipes that crush Spidey. The End.
Ha! Fooled you! Spidey saved himself at the last minute with a web dome. The problem is that he still has “more than twenty tons” of steel crushing in on him. In a heroic moment that leaves ASM #33 in the dust, Spider-Man manages to reach down deep and break free!
There is one truly clever moment in this comic. Spider-Man is now free and he takes off after Goblin following the spider-tracer he put on him. That leaves the readers going ‘when did that happen?’ to which the editor replies with this:
Well, he catches up to the Goblin just as the dentist finishes his laser. In the fight that follows, the dentist is injured and Gobby gets away, but of course, not without one last clue – I’ll be filling my coffers tonight!
JJJ fires Peter again for ditching Randy with Aunt May AND failing to get photos again. He stops yelling because he loses a filling and that gives Peter all the help he needs in figuring out the last clue.
Part Four – The Final Fury!
Back at the dental expo, the Goblin is tearing through the poor security guards that are protecting the “millions” of dollars worth of gold and silver fillings. The gold and silver are stored in adamantium safes. That’s right. Remember that picture of the two big teeth I showed you earlier? They are safes. In the shape of teeth. Made of adamantium.
Excuse me while I digress.
Wolverine Origins stated that the value of the adamantium in Wolverine’s body was $500 million dollars, and that it weighed 100 pounds, so we can estimate the value of adamantium, not adjusting for inflation, mind you, at $5 million a pound. Those safes appear to be about 6’ tall or so. Now I’m spitballing, here, but it appears to be about the size of a Franklin 50 Liberty safe, and that weighs 1,045 pounds empty. Let’s round down to 1,000 for simplicity sake.*** We are looking here at 5 billion dollars worth of adamantium. Keep in mind, there are TWO of them, so, and check my math on this folks – I don’t want to be like Superman with his bad super mathematics**** – that is about 10 billion dollars worth of safe there. We’ll say they got labor for free since it is for a worthy cause. Add to this that you need special equipment to work with adamantium and once it hardens, it cannot be reforged. All to hold gold and silver. You know, I think that the 10 BILLION dollars worth of safe would have been better spent on just dental care for the third world people. But I imagine that I am the only one who cares about this, so….
OK. Digression over.
Spidey saves the day by awesomely webbing the two wings on the glider and plucking them off. Then he throws the Goblin into a large set of teeth. Jameson comes in and blames Spidey for the commotion so Spidey webs him up and hangs him from the ceiling, much to the delight of Randy.
All’s well that ends well. Peter gets paid for the photos he took, gets to keep his job, and Jonah, just to show there is no ill will, lets him take Randy back to the dentist.
The last three pages are just AIM ads. One is a list of things to do for healthy teeth. One is a subscription offer – you can get 12 issues for only $3.99 as long as you send in an empty carton of AIM toothpaste with your subscription order. You can get three titles for only $10 and three cartons of AIM. Finally, on the back, there is a sweepstakes that if you win, Spider-Man will come to your birthday party and give a sugary sweet cake that he clearly dissuaded you from eating two pages earlier. I tried to look and see if anyone ever won this prize, but the Internet is oddly quiet on it.
As bad as this issue it, I do have to give props on the cool onomatopoeias! I know that most of you wonder what my obsession is with these things, but just take a minute to revel in their glory!
Back in the day this was free, so you got what you paid for. Today, Overstreet values this at $2 for Good and $16 for Near Mint (although I saw one place selling it for a whopping $27). So that’s what you’ll need to pay to experience this. Or you can just steal it from your son’s collection, like I did.
Can’t get enough of the AIM Toothpaste Universe? Good news! There is another one that came out two years after that featuring Doc Ock!
* Of course it’s a word! I’m a teacher. You can trust me.
** It’s a musical term for ‘repeat’ – Musical Mark!
*** Well, I’m an English teacher, not a math teacher.
**** Look at the panel and do the math yourself. I do believe he is off by about 28,800 beans.
Oh, and if you are reading this on the day it was posted, happy Joker’s birthday!
“Amazing Spider-Man: Aim Toothpaste Giveaway.” New Kadia, 2017, www.newkadia.com/?Amazing_Spider_Man_Aim_Toothpaste_Giveaway_Comic-Books=166. Accessed on 25 July 2017.
Fettinger, JR. “Spider-Man 101: Part 6 – Aging and Continuity.” Spidey Kicks Butt, 2006, spideykicksbutt.com/SpiderMan101/SpiderMan101Part6.html. Accessed on 23 July 2017.
“Green Goblin art in Various Alternate Universes.” The Green Goblin Hideout. www.thegreengoblinshideout.com/green-goblin-alternate-universes-alphabetical. Accessed on 23 July 2017.
Mark5. Comment on “What Is Adamantium Worth?” Comic Vine, Game Spot, June 2011, comicvine.gamespot.com/forums/gen-discussion-1/what-is-adamantium-worth-618412/. Accessed on 23 July 2017.
Sjoerdsma, Al. “AIM Toothpaste: Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin.” Spider-Fan, Comic Boards, 2000, www.spiderfan.org/comics/reviews/spiderman_promo_aim/aim1.html. Accessed on 23 July 2017.
“What It Cost in 1980.” Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. 2017. www.bathroomreader.com/2015/05/what-it-cost-in-1980/. Accessed on 23 July 2017.
All scans are from my own copy of this magnificent issue.