Alford Notes: Amazing Spider-Man #32

The Green Goblin is back!  The one with the capital I after his name, not some knock off version.  And this time, he had the power to destroy our favorite wall-crawling hero for good – and he uses it!  Guess I probably should have said spoiler alert on that one!  Read on for the final story in Spider-Man’s saga!


The Devil in the Details

Story Title: Personal Demon* (Ha!  You thought it was going to be ‘Once a Goblin’ because of the cover!)

Writer: Dan Slott

Artist: Greg Smallwood

Colorist: Jordie Bellaire

Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Artist: Alex Ross

Editor: Nick Lowe

Published: Sept. 13, 2017


Remedial ASM 101

Way back in the Superior Spider-Man run, Mason Banks, a.k.a. Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin was on a tear and completely defeated Doc Ock, but at a cost.  He was cured of all effects of the Goblin serum by an antidote created by Sajani and administered by Peter Parker using Ockto-nanobots.  The result is that Norman no longer has the edge that he once had, and he blames Peter for it.  On top of that, Peter recently goaded him into more plastic surgery turning him into THE GQ GOBLIN!

The Story – Pay Attention, This Will Be on the Test

Norman desperately wants to cure his sanity.  He visits doctor after doctor, scientist after scientist, hypnotist after acupuncturist (Obamacare dollars at work!), but all to no avail. So Osborn goes on a journey, finds the Temple with No Name (much like the bar with no name, but with less alcohol), and meets three fellows that sound like Kung Fu Panda characters.  They offer him solace if he is worthy.  He passes the test when the Emarald of the Oracle of Ikkon lights up like a wand at Olivanders.  They train him and he grows in the mystic arts and takes on the Goblem totem (the mask seen on the cover).  He unleashes his powers on Spider-Man and destroys him.  When the priests try to reign him in, he turns his consider power on the three of him only to learn that this was all still part of the test with the emerald.  The priests inform Norman that while he has great potential, he has failed the test and all temples will be warned to turn him away.  Norman leaves frustrated, but hopeful, as he believes the Goblin persona can indeed return.


This isn’t the first time we see Norman Osborn with powers beyond those of the Green Goblin.  Which of these did Norman become (yes, in the 616 universe)?

a. Super-Adaptoid – with the ability to absorb any superpowers when he touched a super-powered individual. He ended up absorbing all of the Avengers powers.

b. The Worthy Goblin – where, for one issue only, he was able to pick up Thor’s hammer and wield Thor’s powers

c. Dark Horse – For a brief time, after exposure to the Infinity Gauntlet, Norman Osborn had nigh god-like powers and used them to fight the Beyonder.

d. Mega Maniac – after being experimented on in prison, Norman gains abilities similar to those of the Sentry, but only a limited amount. He used them up before being able to go after Spider-Man.

Click the image to reveal the answer.


What Passed:

Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire do a wonderful job with the art.  The grainy look of the coloring is not something I would want every issue, but it was a nice effect for this one.  Gave it a different feel, almost like I was back to reading comics when they colored it with dots of color, but much more sophisticated than that.  I liked how Smallwood used the scars of Norman’s disfigured face to mimic the goblin mask at times.

A one and done issue is a welcomed break after endless story arcs and events.


Onomatopoeia of the Issue

On a scale of 1 (POW) to 10 (BLRKBQRKPQRBLNB), this rates a 1.  Why did I pick this one? It is the ONLY onomatopoeia in the issue.  It felt like a ‘Nuff Said, but just without sounds.  Sorry Evan!


What Failed:

No Spider-Man.  Well, technically that is not true, there are 14 panels out of 80 with Spider-Man somehow in it, but as he is not the protagonist nor is it the real Spider-Man, but only a mystic delusion, it is questionable whether it counts.




Before people get overly upset at what is, quintessentially, an annual back up story masquerading as the main story of the main Spider-Man title, consider this.  What we have here is Dan Slott doing the best he can under the constraints of Marvel marketing.  Secret Empire just ended, so we have wrapped up the Doc Ock/Hydra and fall of Parker Industries arc.  To drag it out in some Secret Empire Omega story would not be well received.  The next big stage in Spider-Man’s life is this ‘Peter Parker Threat of Menace?’ arc.  But that story has to wait until the big legacy reset, which isn’t until next issue.  So Slott’s timing is hampered by dictates from the marketing department (or whoever comes up with these things).  Considering that, I think he did an OK job with it.

I know you were really hoping to see Spider-Man cope with not having his gadgets and special suit.  You’ll need to wait one more issue.

We are not really looking at a character development story for Norman Osborn, but rather a character reset.  If the rumors are true and Spencer (Nick Spencer, that is, not Spencer Fettinger, sadly) is taking over the title soon, Slott needs to put the “toys back in the box” (they he has often said).  Sure the Goblin has been slightly damaged by the storylines, but with this story, the next writer can use this as a premise to restore the status quo Norman as it is clear now that the Goblin persona is still there – just repressed, not cured.

When I read this issue for the first time, I was a bit put off by how much time must be passing for him to do all of this training.  That was what clued me into the fact that he was not actually doing this, but still at the emerald, although, in the back of my mind, I was worried that Slott might actually be doing this to the character.  This sort of set up reminds me of the short story “The Test”, which you should read.  It’s only three pages.

There are several things that make an appearance in Norman’s mystic dream test.  Each is a bit off, but that makes sense after finishing the story because while Norman is familiar with Doctor Strange, he would not have a comprehensive knowledge of all things mystical.

  • The Emerald Oracle of Ikkon – While there is no such thing in Doctor Strange, in Doctor Strange #32 (issue number coincidence?) he does invoke the power of Ikkon to make multiple arms appear on himself in mirror reflections.
  • Mister Softee – When Spider-Man is summoned to face off against Norman, he was apparently at a Mister Softee ice cream stand. We don’t have any of those here in North Carolina where I am at, so I looked it up to see if it is a real place.  Sure enough it is!

    He is about as scary as that waterslide at this Disney Resort

  • The Astral Arms of Denak – Denak is an ugly guy who controls a lot of demons. I couldn’t find anything about astral arms, but this is a Spider-Man comic, so it makes sense.
  • Chains of Krakkan – This is some mystic jailer who has appeared twice in Marvel comics. He wears chains, so there you go.
  • Flames of Faltine – These things are no joke! I saw a picture of someone using them to throw Thor around.


Extra Credit:

I believe there are about 16 goblin themed villains in Spider-lore.  Can you name them?  The same person using multiple goblin names still just counts as one.

Final Grade:

All in all, this was a back-up story masquerading as a main story.  I don’t fault Slott for that as event timing is the big issue here.  For what it is, it is a good story.  This would have been a great back-up story for an annual.  As a main story for Amazing Spider-Man, I’ll have to give it a



Your Turn:

What grade do YOU give it?


What’s Next?



Down on your luck Peter Parker is back, for good or ill. New York has changed, and so has Peter – but entering a new phase of his Spider-Man life isn’t easy; neither are new relationships OR new foes. Peter Parker is not the Spider-Man you remember, but why is he taking his fight to THE DAILY BUGLE? And what happened to PARKER INDUSTRIES? PLUS: Includes 3 bonus MARVEL PRIMER PAGES! Story by Robbie Thompson and art by Mark Bagley!



* Would someone please tell Nick Lowe to stop putting the title of the comic issue in quotation marks?  You do not punctuate a title on its own work.  I know that is nit-picky, which is why I am putting it way down here where nobody reads.  It just bothers me every issue.


‘Nuff Said!

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