I recently came across an issue of Detective Comics in my Bat Signal series that features Batman participating in a movie based on himself. And that issue got me thinking about the fact that there are a surprising amount of comic books about superheroes being involved in movies about themselves. Spider-Man has two that I can think of off the top of my head. And that inspired me to check out my favorite of those two Spider-Man stories, which also happens to be the first encounter between our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and one of his arch enemies, the Green Goblin. And no, this article isn’t about the Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Green Goblin has ruined multiple Spider-Man movies, both in our reality and that of the House of Ideas. So sit back and relax for an absolutely insane early Spider-Man comic that features movies, the Green Goblin, the Enforcers, and the Incredible Hulk! How did they manage to cram all of that nonsense into one issue? Let’s find out!
The issue begins with Stan Lee speaking directly to the reader, and explaining that he knows no one cares about context, and they just want to get straight to the villain of the month. In this case we get to see the mysterious Green Goblin working in his laboratory, already in his mask, getting his bag of tricks prepared. This is the Green Goblin’s first appearance in the comics, so we don’t know his identity, and we also see that he wasn’t really created fully formed. This is primarily demonstrated by the fact that he doesn’t have his glider yet, and instead is riding around on a rocket-powered broomstick, which is kind of better than the glider if I have to be honest. Anyway, the issue continues it’s promise of focusing on the villain by having the Goblin blast out of his lab and reach the secret hideout of the Enforcers to have a meeting with them. And, in case you don’t know who the Enforcers are, they’re great. It’s a group of normal human thugs who exist to be beaten by Spider-Man, and that’s comprised of Ox, a big, strong, dumb guy, Montana, a cowboy who is good at lassos, and Fancy Dan, a little man who is skilled at knives and judo. Goblin explains that he has a plan to defeat Spider-Man once and for all, and that he needs the Enforcer’s help. And what is that plan? Well…
Yeah, so the Green Goblin has just flown himself to a movie studio called Cosmos Productions and hopped right into the window of the owner, B.J. Cosmos. Turns out that Cosmos is in desperate need for a new hit movie, and the Green Goblin arrives to tell him that he has a plan to get Spider-Man himself into a film. Goblin lays out the idea of a movie with himself and the real Spider-Man as actors, providing actual superhuman stunts for the masses. Cosmos loves this idea and says that he’ll produce the movie if Goblin can convince Spider-Man to play himself in the movie. So, with the first stage of the complete, the Green Goblin moves on to the next stage. Namely, flying around New York aimlessly until he gets the attention of Spider-Man. Which happens pretty quickly, because Peter Parker is hanging around his school, dealing with teenage relationship drama, when someone holding a giant transistor radio overhears the appearance of a weird green guy on a rocket broom, and Peter decides he should maybe check in on that.
So Peter suits up and swings into Manhattan to find the Green Goblin. Which doesn’t take much time, because it’s kind of hard to miss a crazy dude on a flying broomstick. Spider-Man then just tackles the Green Goblin, assuming he’s up to no good, when Goblin explains what’s up. He tells Spider-Man about the movie idea, and promises him a lot of money. Spider-Man is a little wary about this deal, but he’s always in need of money, so he swings over to the hotel that Cosmos is staying in. Spider-Man then pops into the hotel room, and the two come up with a deal to make “The Spider-Man Story” with the Green Goblin for $50,000. And Peter is down with that. So after ensuring that he’ll never have to reveal his identity and won’t have to do any press junkets, Spider-Man signs the contract and heads home to get ready for a little vacation.
Peter next heads over to the Daily Bugle, desperate to find a way to get to Los Angeles so they can film the movie. And luckily for him the news of the movie has broken, and J Jonah Jameson is willing to send Peter to the filming in the hopes of getting some nice behind the scenes pictures of Spider-Man. So that’s taken care of. We also have to have Peter deal with Betty Brant being jealous of him being near other women, but we can just glide right past that and into the next challenge. Aunt May. She’s not keen on Peter travelling across the country by himself, but he manages to talk her into it and heads straight to Los Angeles where they’re getting ready to start filming the movie. Spider-Man is a little curious about the fact that they seemed to find perfect actors to play the Enforcers, but he just breezes past that and gets ready to start filming. Which means that they promptly pack up and drive to New Mexico. Sounds about right.
So Spider-Man and the other “actors” are hanging around set while things are being set up, when the Green Goblin approaches him and offers to go practice the scene. Spider-Man agrees to this proposition, and the group head off into the desert. This proves to be a bad plan when Ox just punches Spider-Man right in the head, almost knocking him out. This is when Spider-Man realizes that these are the real Enforcers, and that things aren’t exactly on the level. So Spider-Man begins fighting the Enforcers, dodging Ox’s punches, Montana’s lassos, and Fancy Dan’s powerful little body, all while Green Goblin just flies around above them, mocking Spider-Man. The Enforcers continue to whale on Spider-Man, eventually tying him up with Montana’s lasso so that they can pull his mask off. Spider-Man isn’t down with this plan though, and he summons all of his strength to knock the Enforcers off him, and begins swinging around some webs to summon up a dust storm to disappear in. At which point Spider-Man tries to escape, and runs into a random cave in the desert. Which is where things really start to get weird.
Yep, the Goblin and the Enforcers have come into the cave as well, and have rolled a giant boulder over the opening, trapping everyone inside. Spider-Man then realizes that things are about to get wild, and decides to just say ‘screw it’ and goes full Arkham Asylum. Spider-Man begins creeping around in the shadowy cave, getting the drop on the Enforcers and taking them out, one by one, as he webs them to the ceiling. Spider-Man is able to take Montana and Fancy Dan out of the equation, until Goblin and Ox realize what’s going on and fight back. Spider-Man is able get Goblin to fly into a small little pocket of the cave, and webs it completely up, leaving him with just Ox while the Goblin tries to burn his way through the webbing. And, left on his own, Ox isn’t that competent of a foe, so Spider-Man is quickly able to knock him out. Which is right when Goblin frees himself, and makes things get even more insane. Because he just starts lobbing around concussion grenades, causing a whole new cavern of the cave to open up, and reveal out guest star. The Incredible Hulk.
Turns out that the Hulk has been hiding from humanity in these caves, and he’s just been dragged into a fight with Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. The Hulk just comes lumbering into the cave, ready to start smashing Spider-Man, which is when Goblin decides to hang back for a bit and just watch the show. Which isn’t going great for Spider-Man. He’s just kind of leaping around, trying to stay one step ahead of the Hulk, who is just pulverizing everything in sight. Hulk smashes through the entire cave, ripping through webbing and just getting closer and closer to Spider-Man. All until Spider-Man decides to give violence a shot, and throws everything he has into one gigantic punch to Hulk’s head.
Which does precisely nothing. Well, except for practically breaking Peter’s hand. He did accomplish that. Oh, and pissing the Hulk off even more, if that’s possible. So Hulk is furious, and just starts swinging at Spider-Man again, trying to smush him like a bug. Which is when Spider-Man decides he needs a change of strategy, and figures out a way to escape the cave. Namely, lure the Hulk closer to that giant boulder that’s trapping them all in the cave, and get him to break it. Which he accomplishes by standing in front of the rock and waiting for Hulk to swing a massive punch, ducking out of the way at the last second. The Hulk’s mighty blow shatters the boulder like it’s made of glass, and there’s suddenly a way out of the cave.
Which the Green Goblin promptly uses. He realizes that things have gone competently pear-shaped, and decides to cut his loses by booking it out of the cave to freedom. Spider-Man sees the Goblin trying to flee, and chases after him, trying to hold him accountable for his crimes. Goblin and Spider-Man grapple a little bit, but the fight with the Hulk has really taken it out of Spider-Man, and he ends up letting Goblin get away, while he falls into some stagnant water. The Hulk then stomps over, still trying to kill Spider-Man, but apparently super-powerful lungs are one of the proportional powers of a spider, so Peter’s able to stay submerged until the Hulk wanders off to find the Enforcers and kill them. Peter momentarily considers just leaving at that point, but he’s a goddamn hero, so he doubles back and saves the Enforcers from the Hulk’s wrath, bringing the three unconscious thugs out of the cave and into the waiting arms of the military. He then heads back to Los Angeles where he learns that B.J. Cosmos has reneged on their deal, and is scrapping “the Spider-Man Story” in favor of what sounds like a Busby Berkely musical about the Hulk, which sounds delightful. So the whole trip was a waste, Peter isn’t getting any money from it, and he gets to ride a Greyhound bus back to New York, because Peter Parker’s life is terrible.
I’m going to be honest with you folks, I’ve been rereading the original run of the Amazing Spider-Man, and basically every issue could be written up on the site. They’re all just so delightfully insane. Peter Parker is basically Charlie Brown, if something bad could happen to him, it will. Which feels like it should get demoralizing, like Peanuts, but there’s something inspiring about seeing Peter Parker rise above all of the horrible things that happen to him, and continue to strive to be a hero. And this issue is actually a good example of that. He gets stranded in Los Angeles because he god scammed into participating in a fake movie, and he just takes it in stride, finding ways to spin it into a good thing for Aunt May. He even goes out of his way to help save the Enforcers, who have continually tried to kill him. That’s pretty great. Plus, this issue is insanely fun. I mean, who would have guessed that the introduction of the Green Goblin, the character that will probably most influence Peter Parker’s life, was such a goofy little story? I’m not even sure why he needed to do the fake movie thing. Because really it seemed like he put together a big budget movie just to get Spider-Man away from the city? All that happens is the Goblin and the Enforcers jump him, they couldn’t have just done that in New York? Oh well, I guess we don’t have to understand why supervillains do the the things they do. That Norman Osborn, always up to something.
The Amazing Spider-Man #14 was written by Stan Lee (the poor man’s Shakespere), pencilled by Steve Ditko (the poor man’s Da Vinci), and lettered by Art Simek (the poor man’s rich man), 1964.