Despite Spider-Man’s optimism, recent events hint that the emergence of Marvel’s newest Goblin may set up the reappearance of an old nemesis.
The following contains spoilers for Gold Goblin #2, now on sale from Marvel Comics.
Norman Osborn has spent decades as one of Spider-Man’s most iconic foes — responsible for numerous heart-wrenching events in Peter Parker’s life, most notably the death of Gwen Stacy. His most recent attempt at redemption seems to be coming from a genuine place. However, it might also be short-lived, if his plans for the future end up coming to fruition.
Gold Goblin #2 (by Christopher Cantwell, Lan Medina, Antonio Fabela, and VC’s Joe Sabino) highlights just how willing Norman Osborn might be to get rid of all the guilt plaguing him over his past as the Green Goblin. The problem is, his current solutions to achieve that might just create the perfect circumstances to return him to his villainous roots.
Norman Osborn Desperately Wants To Escape Green Goblin’s Legacy
Ever since his encounter with Sin-Eater and Kindred, Norman has been contending with genuine guilt over all the atrocities he’s committed in his life. Since then, he’s been actively trying to make up for his past actions, working alongside Spider-Man and even becoming the “Gold Goblin” as part of his redemptive efforts. But despite this, the memories continue to haunt him — pushing him further and further down a desperate rabbit hole of possible solutions. One of these ideas leads him to speak with Ashley Kafka in Gold Goblin #2 — the cloned scientist who’d previously been working for the Beyond Corporation during Ben Reilly’s recent tenure as Spider-Man.
Ashley’s efforts to control Ben Reilly ended up setting the stage for his villainous turn as Chasm, as well as the Dark Web crossover. But Norman still sees potential in what she’d been working on. Norman believes these Memo-Surgeries could be the key to alleviating him of the guilt that’s been trapped within him since Sin-Eater got ahold of him. By going into his mind and simply erasing the memories of his past crimes, Norman theoretically could be freed of the effect these memories have been having on his psyche. But it also suggests he’s willing to go to some dark places to be free of his past.
Norman Osborn’s Efforts Could Actually Bring Back the Green Goblin
Ashley is reluctant to assist Norman in this pursuit even before revealing herself to be the current host of his past sins, turning her into the monstrous Queen Goblin. Norman’s willingness to use himself as a test subject in projects that have backfired before is concerning. The fact that he’s willing to repeat that mistake and beg for Ashley’s help in erasing his memories hints that his almost inevitable backslide might already be in the works. As Ashley explains, actual atonement would require living with the memories and becoming a better person. But the guilt is crushing him, and he’d much rather just erase the memories and the feelings that come with them. This would likely be the easiest way to bring back the villainous version of Norman as suffering through guilt is what separates the current take on the character from his past iterations.
Even without Ashley’s help, Norman could ultimately decide that the only way to be free of the guilt currently ripping him apart is to simply forget his mistakes and move on. But this would likely set him up to repeat those same mistakes and potentially set the stage for the Green Goblin’s return. It’s on Norman to make peace with his past actions and the pain it causes him to feel. That’s the only way the Green Goblin will remain dead. But Norman’s desperation to forget and move on — even reasoning that murdering Ashley will erase his guilt suggests that his dark side might be winning. Doing so could even end up putting the sins back into Norman, rendering his attempted redemption moot. His attempts to move beyond his past might just end up forcing him to repeat it all over again.