It's not easy being a Spider-Man fan sometimes. For such a great character, he's been subjected to so many horrible storylines: The Clone Saga, Chapter One, Sins Past, and the infamous One More Day, to name but a few. As a result, it's easy to forget how many good Spider-Man stories there have been over the years. And with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hitting theaters this week, I'd like to focus on one of those. From the 200th issue of The Spectacular Spider-Man (May 1993), this is "Best of Enemies," featuring the "final" battle between Spider-Man and most dangerous enemy, The Green Goblin - who was once his best friend.
The Green Goblin, created by Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko, made his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964) in a goofy story (even by Silver Age standards) involving luring Spider-Man to Hollywood as part of an overly elaborate plot to kill him. The original Stan Lee story outline depicted The Green Goblin as an ancient creature released by a movie crew during a shoot in Egypt, but artist Steve Ditko fortunately changed the story and made him the villain we know him as today. Despite this inauspicious debut, The Goblin soon proved to be a dangerous enemy who was not to be taken lightly, and whose identity remained unknown for years. (The debate over The Green Goblin's alter-ego supposedly became the eventual cause of the Lee-Ditko split, although both parties have denied this.) Besides being one of Spidey's more frequent sparring partners in his early career, The Green Goblin became the first villain to learn Spider-Man's secret identity in Amazing Spider-Man #39-40. It turned out to be the same story that revealed the Goblin's own identity: wealthy businessman Norman Osborn, whose son Harry was a college classmate of Peter Parker (Spider-Man's alter ego, for the non-Spidey fans).
WARNING: Here be spoilers! Lots of spoilers, in fact. However, there's no way I can review what's so great about this story otherwise. So read on at your own risk.
More importantly, The Spectacular Spider-Man #200 didn't go anywhere after One More Day. Copies of it didn't suddenly vanish, never to be seen again. I still have mine, and there's nothing stopping me from reading it whenever I want to. I may pass on newer stories for undoing all of the growth and development that made me like these characters, but the older stories I like so much are still there, still enjoyable, and still worth remembering.