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Amazing Spider-Man #39: Review

Aug 1966
Stan Lee, John Romita

Story Name:

How Green Was My Goblin!

Review & Comments

5 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #39 Review by (March 13, 2024)

Review: The Green Goblin unmasked and with that comes the debut of my favorite Spider-Man artist of all time, John Romita Sr.! Romita starts off strong in this absolutely landmark issue, filled to the brim with strong moments and dynamic artwork. I feel like Romita was emulating Ditko just a touch in these early issues for him, particularly with how he draws Spider-Man himself, before really settling into his own style but his flair is apparent right away. I feel that Romita is particularly great at drawing action sequences, with some really exciting  and dynamic action in this issue! Obviously the other hugely significant thing about this issue is the last page reveal that the Green Goblin is Norman Osborn! It's one of those surprise twists that’s so well known that a lot of more modern fans probably don’t even realize it was a surprise, kind of like Darth Vader being Luke’s father (spoiler alert for a 40+ year old plot twist that everyone knows). Regardless, it’s still one of the most famous and memorable moments in Spidey history!

On the Peter Parker front, he finally starts to get through to Harry, bonding a little, as Gwen and Flash take notice. Gwen is noticeably more forward with her thoughts of wanting to get closer to Peter than she was before, and even Flash thinks he may have been wrong about Peter. Ned Leeds is also more clearly apologetic than how he was last issue. You can really tell that the creative team shifted, and now that the writer and artist are actually collaborating once more, everyone is more focused and less hostile. It makes me wonder if Stan was finally able to do more of the things he wanted to do with Ditko gone, as the shift is quite apparent. Peter’s social circle is one step closer to falling into place as most people remember it. With some amazing debut artwork with great action by John Romita and some great character development for the supporting cast, ending with the big reveal and Peter at Norman’s mercy, this is one of the all-time greats! Tune in next issue for the just-as-classic conclusion!

Comments: John Romita’s first issue as regular artist for Spider-Man. The Green Goblin is officially revealed as Norman Osborn. Mike Esposito is credited as Mickey Demeo for inking.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #39 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

We open upon the Green Goblin, deciding that he has waited long enough, and the time has come to get his revenge on Spider-Man! The Goblin muses to himself that he wants to toy with Spider-Man first, learn his identity and expose him, before finally finishing him! Speaking of Spidey, he’s swinging around and notices that he seems to be coming down with a cold and so makes his way to Dr. Bromwell’s office. After changing, Peter emerges from a broom closet, utterly confusing the poor janitor, and makes his way to Dr. Bromwell. Bromwell examines Peter and diagnoses a cold, while also telling him that Aunt May’s recent operation from ASM #33 has left her rather weak and that she should suffer no sudden shocks or excitement. This causes Peter to worry, thinking she can’t ever find out he’s Spider-Man and he appreciates how good she’s been to him all these years.

Peter makes his way to ESU, still wrapped his thoughts, as Gwen Stacy and Flash Thompson try reaching out to him, deciding to be nice, but receiving the usual silence. Meanwhile, Harry Osborn is having his own issues, as he is dropped off by his father Norman Osborn, who seems to be in a rather foul mood. This causes Harry to fret that he can never seem to please his father, causing him to also unintentionally ignore Gwen and Flash! In class, Peter reaches out to Harry, seeing him down in the dumps, and Harry actually starts to open up to Peter. Peter and Harry have a bit of a heart to heart about parents and letting frustrations out. This is witnessed by Gwen, who is overjoyed at the idea that Peter could become part of their group, and Flash, who thinks that maybe Peter’s a better guy than he ever gave him credit for!

After going out swinging as Spidey, Pete witnesses an apparent robbery taking place on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. Spidey swings down and tackles the crooks, taking out a few but noting that they seem almost prepared for him, like they were practicing for this very occurrence. Spidey dodges around gunfire, webbing one guy to a post and tripping a bunch of others. Spidey’s fight with the crooks allows the civilians to escape via the elevator, with the robbers seeming nonplussed about their victims escaping, confirmation Spidey’s suspicions that something more is going on here. Spidey then realizes that he’s been taking too many risks during this encounter, remembering what Dr. Bromwell said about Aunt May. Spidey decides to finish the fight quickly, but in so doing gets hit with a special gas grenade the crooks had prepared.

While all this was happening, the Green Goblin has been watching the whole thing from a distance, revealing that he orchestrated the robbery just so Spider-Man could get hit with that gas, which will nullify his spider-sense! After the gas seemingly has no effect, Spidey takes out the rest of the goons and leaves them for the police. Spidey gathers his clothes and changes back to Peter in an alley, all the while unknowingly being watched by the Green Goblin, who sees Spidey’s face for the first time! The Goblin continues to follow Peter, who is none the wiser, due to his spider-sense being nullified, but can’t shake the feeling that something is off. Peter makes his way to the Daily Bugle, where he encounters Ned Leeds, who is much more apologetic about his behavior to Peter last issue, with Peter wishing him all the best in finding Betty. Peter then sells the photos he took of the fight earlier to J. Jonah Jameson, managing to talk his way into getting paid in a timely fashion!

During all of this, the Goblin has still been listening in, now having learned Peter’s name, discovering his full identity at last! Peter makes his way home, but right outside Aunt May’s house, the Goblin suddenly ambushes Peter! Not wanting Aunt May to possibly see any of this, Peter instinctively tries to web up the Goblin, realizing too late that he’s not wearing his web-shooters, as the Goblin releasing a choking smokescreen! Inside, Aunt May notices the apparent fog and worries for Peter’s safety. Peter is reluctant to engage, for fear of Aunt May hearing anything, as he dodges around the Goblin’s attacks. Finally deciding he needs to finish this quickly, he pounces at the Goblin, who takes the opportunity to stun him with an asphyxiation grenade! The Goblin ties Peter up and flies him back to his lair. With Peter tied to a chair, the Goblin wants Peter to know who it is who finally beat him, as he removes his mask and presents the shocking revelation that the Green Goblin is none other than Harry’s father, Norman Osborn!

John Romita
Mike Esposito
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Art Simek.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Green Goblin
Green Goblin

(Norman Osborn)
J. Jonah Jameson
J. Jonah Jameson

(JJ Jameson)
May Parker
May Parker

(Aunt May)

(Peter Parker)

Plus: Dr. Bromwell, Ned Leeds.

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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