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Amazing Spider-Man #40: Review

Sep 1966
Stan Lee, John Romita

Story Name:

Spidey Saves the Day!

Review & Comments

5 stars

Amazing Spider-Man #40 Review by (March 13, 2024)

Review: Here it is, the epic conclusion to the earth shattering cliffhanger last issue was left at! The Green Goblin is Norman Osborn! In order to give him time to get free of his restraints Peter keeps Norman talking, leading finally to the Green Goblin’s backstory and origin. The actual plot of the issue is deceptively simple. We learn of Norman’s strained relationship with Harry and the chemical explosion that changed him, leading to his becoming the Green Goblin. We then get an epic showdown between Spidey and the Goblin, with some wonderfully choreographed action by John Romita. That’s the issue in a nutshell, the Goblin’s backstory and then an awesome fight, but it makes for a phenomenal issue. Norman’s strained relationship with Harry really strengthens both of them as characters, with the full extent of his obsession and mania making him an even more deadly foe than before! Osborn’s amnesia at the end also makes for a nice resolution to Peter’s dilemma, with his greatest enemy now seemingly gone, having forgotten Spidey’s identity as well!

We also get a surprise return for Betty Brant, not having been seen for several issues, as she finally decides to return to New York. This issue does have a few little oddities, such as the Goblin’s machine capable of projecting his mental images. It’s a little weird in conjunction with most of the rest of his repertoire but it’s a neat way of summarizing their previous encounters, making this feel even more like a final, epic showdown. There’s also a radio message that says that Spider-Man hasn’t been seen for several days even though Peter getting captured last issue and the entirety of this issue could only have been a few hours, but that’s a very minor thing. It’s one word balloon that can be easily overlooked. There’s also a nice little parallel at the end with Peter and Norman both being looked after by their loved ones, promising a brighter future for all involved. If only that were the case. Overall, a phenomenal, classic conclusion to the set up from last issue, making these two issues in conjunction one of the classic Spidey stories! And as I’m sure we all know, the Goblin will not stay gone forever, leading to even more classic appearances!

Comments: The Green Goblin’s origin is finally revealed. Mike Esposito is credited as Mickey Demeo for inking.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Amazing Spider-Man #40 Synopsis by Anthony Silvestro

Starting right off from last issue, Spider-Man has been captured, his identity discovered by the Green Goblin, who in turn revealed himself to be Norman Osborn! Peter tries to keep the clearly unhinged Osborn talking while he struggles against the coils that bind him. Peter brings up Harry Osborn, Norman’s son, and Norman starts to unravel, claiming that Harry can never know about his double life. Peter claims that Norman doesn’t really care about Harry and Norman decides to make Peter understand by telling him how he became the Green Goblin, promising it’ll be the last thing he ever hears! Norman tells of how Harry’s mother passed away when he was a baby, leaving Norman to raise Harry by himself. Norman worked tirelessly to be able to provide for his son, buying him whatever he wanted while amassing a fortune, but never being able to be there for him emotionally, deluded into thinking this made him a good father.

Peter realizes that Osborn is even more far gone than he thought, almost in his own little world while he recounts his story. Norman, justifying his need to be ruthless when it came to his business, recounts how he sent his former partner Mendel Stromm, seen in ASM #37, to prison, in order to increase his control. Osborn recounts how he started working with some of Stromm’s old notes, all the while ignoring Harry. After working for hours on a certain chemical, it suddenly explodes in Osborn’s face, sending him to the hospital for weeks! The doctors believed that the explosion had cause damage to Osborn’s brain, and it indeed implanted an obsession in him to amass even more power. With this obsession driving him for months, he crafted a costume and equipment and the Green Goblin was born! With his story told, Osborn dons his mask once again and the Green Goblin ponders how he should finally claim his ultimate victory.

Meanwhile, Aunt May is fraught with worry, having no idea where Peter is. Anna Watson attempts to console her, arguing that Peter may just be on a date and doesn’t realize the time but her words fall on deaf ears. Anna then suggests that Peter may be at the Daily Bugle. Their call is answered by J. Jonah Jameson, who angrily tells them that he has no idea where Peter is, only increasing May’s worry. Our scene changes again to a Midwest railroad station, where we find Betty Brant, as she finally decides to stop running from her issues and return to New York. Her mind fills with Peter, Ned, and Spider-Man as she boards a train for New York.

Back at the Goblin’s lair, Peter tries to keep him talking, taunting him about how he’s always lost to Peter, and how Peter will beat him once again! In order to prove Peter wrong, the Goblin uses a device to project his mental images of all of their previous encounters, showing that time and again, they always escaped each other. Not wanting an empty victory, the Goblin then frees Peter from his restraints as he commands Peter to don his Spider-Man costume. Peter obliges and the two begin an epic battle, with Spidey deflecting a thrown pumpkin bomb! Spidey agonizes about his situation, as even if he wins the fight, the Goblin still knows his identity. Spidey acts stunned from the Goblin’s glider exhaust, letting him land a sucker punch when the Goblin flies too close. It’s then the Goblin’s turn to play possum, as he shocks Spider-Man with a fallen electric cable. Spidey and the Goblin continue to evade each other’s attacks until the Goblin charges up a cannon with which to finish the fight. Spidey dodges the blast and delivers a decisive kick to the Goblin, which sends him careening back into the live wires and chemicals, giving him the full brunt of a huge electro-chemical shock!

A fire starts, and Spidey finds the Goblin amidst the smoke, unconscious but alive. As he comes to, Osborn has no idea where he is. With his spider-sense not alerting him, Spider-Man concludes that Osborn seems to have completely lost his memory of the last few years! Fire fighters appear on the scene, and try to break down the door. Deciding that Osborn shouldn’t be punished for actions he committed while not really himself, Spidey changes him out of his Goblin costume and burns it in the fire, ending the Green Goblin, hopefully forever. Spidey leaves Osborn with the fire fighters, telling them that he helped Spidey take down the Green Goblin. Peter then races home to find Dr. Bromwell at Aunt May’s house, having sedated Aunt May. Bromwell criticizes Peter for staying out so late after knowing that Aunt May shouldn’t be worrying in her condition and Peter promises it won’t happen again. Aunt May awakens, and feeling Peter’s forehead warm from the fire, thinks he has a fever and concludes to take care of him, which Peter accepts, thinking it’ll be good for her. Harry is doing much the same for Norman, as Norman promises their future will be a good one.

John Romita
Mike Esposito
John Romita (Cover Penciler)
Mike Esposito (Cover Inker)
Stan Goldberg (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Sam Rosen.


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: Anna Watson, Betty Brant, Dr. Bromwell, Mendel Stromm.

> Amazing Spider-Man: Book info and issue index

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