One of the most obscure Marvel villains just gave Norman Osborn a shot at revenge, only to turn it into a chance for personal redemption.
The following contains major spoilers for Gold Goblin #3, available now from Marvel Comics.
Norman Osborn has rarely been held in any particularly high regard in the Marvel Universe, albeit largely for his villainous reputation as the Green Goblin. Even as the former menace embarks upon a new career as a superhero, the sins of his past continue to haunt him both literally and figuratively. Thankfully, the Gold Goblin has also found the clarity to recognize the worst parts of himself for what they are, and all because of a high-flying battle with one of Marvel’s most obscure supervillains.
In spite of the Hellish chaos unfolding across New York City, Gold Goblin #3 (by Christopher Cantwell, Lan Medina, Scott Hanna, Wayne Faucher, Antonio Fabela, Andrew Crossley, Dee Cunniffe, Pete Pantazis, and VC’s Joe Sabino) finds Norman desperately trying to give his grandson some semblance of a normal birthday party. Unsurprisingly, the proceedings are interrupted by the explosive introduction of Jack O’Lantern, who has come looking for revenge against the elder Osborn. Instead, Jack O’Lantern finds himself very nearly dying at Norman’s hands, only to be offered some life-changing insight. And, by giving Jack O’Lantern a way out, Norman may have also been given a chance to save his own soul.
Jack O’ Lantern Just Gave Norman Osborn a Shot at Redemption
When Norman actually takes the time to speak to Jack O’Lantern, he discovers a man who has been caught up in a world no one could have ever prepared him for. While the original Jack O’Lantern, Jason Macendale, was inspired by the likes of Norman and the Hobgoblin to take up his own costume and glider as a supervillain, that isn’t exactly the case for the current version of the character. In fact, the Jack O’Lantern of today might not be a villain whatsoever, even if he isn’t quite sure what he is just yet.
In Owen Ward’s first appearance in 2018’s Venom #1 (by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman), he was spurned to villany after happening across the previous Jack O’Lantern’s stash. Donning a suit and equipment that he didn’t understand, Owen was vastly outmatched by the titular symbiote, who took one of the up-and-coming villain’s eyes for his trouble. This was just one of a series of defeats that have left Owen scarred nearly beyond recognition, yet none of them have stopped him from trying to make a name for himself. Norman’s offer of real help, however, very well might turn Owen’s life around, if not his own by virtue of trying in the first place.
Norman Osborn is Finally Being Genuine
Rather than finding a solution to the problem through violence, Norman finds it by opening himself up to his would-be nemesis. As surprising as it might be, giving Owen a friendly ear proves infinitely more valuable than throwing any punches his way. Not only does Norman end up bringing an end to their confrontation without causing any further damage, but he also unearths a part of himself that he may not have even known existed.
This isn’t to say that Norman Osborn has never been able to approach his problems nonviolently, but rather that he has rarely been able to do so without playing some other version of himself. At nearly every turn, Norman or his Green Goblin persona had ulterior motives in mind no matter the circumstances. By being able to put all that aside and truly open up to someone else, Norman may finally be able to find himself underneath all the pain and guilt he feels. With any luck, the Norman he uncovers will be everything his alter-ego never let him be, assuming another high-flying Goblin doesn’t dash that hope before it comes to pass.