E191: Come on, ugly doesn't mean evil! (Amazing Spider-Man #23) -- April 1965
Don't judge a book by it's cover
In this episode:
Mike and Ed discuss the increased police presence in the city and how that is affecting both real and perceived crime. Is this because police have less to do as a result of the superheroes helping out? Is the presence of superheroes itself causing criminals to give up lives of crime, and maybe even become heroes? More to the point, is that what happened with the Green Goblin - he was inspired to become a hero? If so, why has he not changed his appearance? Does he want to be scary, or is what he truly looks? And how the heck does he balance on that glider - does he have abs of steel?
Behind the Issue:
This is the third appearance of the Green Goblin. Clearly, he does not become a hero. Steve Ditko and Stan Lee decided to keep the Goblin’s identity secret, but behind the scenes they were debating who he should be. Lee wanted him to be someone from Peter’s life, but Ditko wanted him to be a stranger. The disagreement meant that the Goblin’s identity remained a secret from the readers until Ditko left the title (the Goblin’s identity was revealed in the first issue after Ditko was replaced). Oh, the drama!
In this issue:
The Green Goblin tries to take over the New York City underworld, and while they are not convinced, he is definitely scaring them. Meanwhile, Peter Parker notices that former reporter and criminal Frederick Foswell is back at the Bugle. Apparently, the Bugle’s publisher J. Jonah Jameson believes in redemption, or at least the value in giving people a second chance. Peter is not convinced that this is a redemption story, though, and he tails Foswell, whom he notices speaking with a thug. Foswell turns over information to Jameson that the thug had on a crime boss, who in turn provides this information to the police. The Goblin is overjoyed with these pieces falling into place - he has set this whole thing up to help him with his hostile takeover of the world of crime. Peter then changes into his Spider-Man outfit and tracks the Goblin, who tricks him into conflict with a mob boss and his lieutenants. Spider-Man basically does the Goblin’s dirty work, taking out the gang and leaving them for the police. Realizing he has been played for the fool, Spider-Man finds and attacks the Goblin, who gets away. It’s not all roses for the Goblin, though, who is disappointed to find out that Spider-Man did too good a job when he took down the mob boss and his entire gang, with the result that the Goblin had no gang to take over.
Assumed before the next episode:
The Green Goblin is going to need to rethink his whole gang takeover strategy.
This episode takes place:
After Spider-Man took down an entire gang.
Edward: Feeling safer these days? Mike?
Michael: No. ? No, I wouldn't say so. ,
Edward: I feel like, like there's increased police presence on the streets. They're putting some crime bosses away. Is New York not a safer place than it was even a few weeks ago?
Michael: Oh, well I guess that's standard than maybe, but I definitely have noticed a greater police presence in the last little while, certainly since the, a. Population of superpowered individuals on the scene. Do I feel safer before buildings could be captured and kidnapped and brought into space? I wouldn't say so in, you know, multiple invasions in New York City, but
Edward: so, so, so, so clearly. Life is less safe now than it was in 1960 before.
Edward: buildings. Were getting torn away, but I'm just talking about recently, like recently it feels like the superheroes are out on the streets. There's a bunch of them now. It feels like they're covering the ground around the monsters and the super villains, and that's freeing up the police to go and take out the normal villains.
Michael: Well, I think so. I have noticed that there's more police for sure. I, don't know what element of that is performative and what element is that the costume vigilantes that we speak about every week have been in addition to attacking gods and monsters and aliens have also been attacking street level crime as well. There is no doubt that Ant-Man and now Giant-Man and Spider-Man and all the insect related heroes, I suppose are trying to deal with some street level justice, which probably is freeing up some time for the police to focus on other things, other elements of society that require policing. That's my guess. Or, is his performatively they're just trying to show that maybe they shouldn't be ignored. Yes, there's people flying through the air, but we're the police, darn it. And we're in the. Keeping you safe, .
Edward: Yeah. That, that, that is something, right? If that performativeness makes us feel safer, it could also make the criminals feel less safe and drive the criminals back into the holes they came from.
Michael: Maybe. It could, but I still wonder if it's just performative. It's almost just trying to get attention, if you know what I mean. Like it's like everyone's talking about Iron Man, but don't they know we're the real heroes, , and it's like
Edward: the, the every we have, we need more, less kids. Dressing up as Iron Man and more kids dressing up as everyday police officers.
Michael: That's right.
Edward: Let's have more realistic dreams. Kids. . .
Michael: Yeah. Unless you are a super science genius, can invent your own costume, you should probably apply to the police academy
Edward: don't expect to be superhero. Just be a regular, everyday hero.
Michael: Yeah. And that's good enough. But no, but seriously, I guess I haven't made my mind up. I'd be curious about the statistics. let's just call it regular crime and whether police are being freed up to deal with more of the regular crime that's why we're noticing it. And if they aren't, if there's no real change in how much, in the impact of like regular crime and how it's being policed, then I think it is performative. And it just seems like they're just trying to get some of the attention. I have a mixed mind, not when it comes to the police in general, it's just they're not there to tell me what to do and not to do they're there to investigate crimes and well, and,
Edward: and they've, and they, so they've had some successes lately, right? So, lucky Lobos basically says whole criminal enterprise got all swooped up. The Frederick Farwell, a former crime boss himself outta prison now working for the daily bugle, put together a. Basically did investigative reporting figured out where all of Lucky Lobo's financial records were kept and, blew it out to the police. And they shut down, not just the head of the family, but basically shut down the entire operation and that's gotta reduce crime. ?
Michael: Well, yeah, it would, I think, I'm not saying that there haven't been some recent successes, it's just that I'd like to see that's more anecdotal. Or at least there's a recency effect here. I'd like to see what has been the impact? I guess I'd express it this way. What has been the impact of having superheroes and super villains out in, say, New York City on the ability of police to police regular crime? If there has been any impact, so is it that the superpowered individuals are taking care of that and a little bit of regular crimes such there's more effort being put into a policing regular crime or if it's just no impact at all. And it's just for show, I don't know.
Edward: It's interesting when I was in business school, one of the studies that we looked at was about crime in cities. And clearly like when crime goes down, real estate prices go up. And so we, well, we cared about in business school was money Mike and how forget about safety, but how safety affects money. But the point was, When you could, one way to drive down crime and drive up real estate prices was to basically do us like a spike of policing. Because if crime was at a relatively low level, that meant the police that you had on duty could identify any new crime that happens and shut it down. But if crime is at a really high level, the same number of police can't handle all that crime, and crime goes unenforced, which then encourages more crime, cause you can get away with it. Your chances are getting cock down. And so you need to drive it down to a low level and then keeping. At that low level is a lot easier than getting it there to begin with. And so I wonder if this, like the spike in policing that we've seen, the performative nature of it, the fact that we have these superheroes doing stuff. Has that driven crime down to a level now that it's gonna be easier to maintain at a low level. And it's driving even super villains to become superheroes like so the Green Goblin, for example, now he's gone from being a villain to like apparently being a hero. And maybe that's because crime doesn't pay anymore. let's switch to the other side.
Michael: Before we get to the Green Goblin, I understand the point you're making, maybe, I mean, again, but I think as a business person, you would like to see the data as would I, but I'm a little confused. Why are you saying the Green Goblin is, is acting like a hero?
Edward: So Green Goblin was involved in this whole shutdown of The lucky Lobo criminal gang, he helped take them on and he was seen battling them and taking out the crime bosses. He's working for the good guys.
Michael: Yeah, Goblin's always worked for the good guys.
Edward: Are you saying? Saying maybe if he's gonna switch sides, he should change his name too and become like the green? I don't know. Green Elf, .
Michael: I don't know. He is got this goblin mask, he looks frightening on purpose. So are you sure he's on the side of the angels now, ed, you don't see that maybe taking out a whole. Might be in the interest of someone who's previously acting like a villain and attacking the city.
Edward: Oh, so you're saying that he's just taking out his competition?
Michael: Well, I mean that's, yeah, I mean, cuz The Thing is, okay, how about this? Previously he was acting like a villain, dressed up like a goblin, and he's frightening. He's on this glider, he is throwing bombs. at a, I think wasn't at a TV state. At a, at a tv
Edward: Wait, at, at, the fan event, the Spider-Man fan event. He was like terrorizing people.
Michael: I think it was being filmed too, but whatever it was, it's certainly at a fan event. So that's a criminal? Who should be locked up? And so do we have such a short-term memory that he just is still wearing the same stuff with the same equipment? And he's like, no, no, no, no, no. I'm good now. Well, he really
Edward: yes and no. So we assumed he was a villain, but we also assumed that Spider-Man was a villain, right? There was a lot of assumptions flying around with these people, and it's not like Spider-Man and the Human, Torch haven't had public battles in Times Square, like the go what did the Goblin really do in his past event? He basically tried to attack Spider-Man, but like, it feels like everybody wants to attack Spider-Man. Maybe he's just like a guy who like has a grief with Spider-Man and now he's like trying to do.
Michael: Wasn't he throwing bombs at crowds of people?
Edward: Wasn't the Human Torch throwing like fireballs at crowds of people?
Michael: I don't think he, no, I don't think he was at crowds of people, but I don't know. But may I assume you're right.
Edward: They were in New York City and there were fireballs going around and there were people in New York City. Now nobody got hurt, but I don't think anyone got hurt from the goblins bombs either, did they? .
Michael: I don't know off the top of my head, but I think there's a difference between throwing a bomb into a crowd of people and then actually being engaged in a fight. But anyways, I don't wanna make that go down, that so far cuz then we get the whole idea that you're right, they shouldn't be fighting in crowded places, but let's, okay, let's assume he's the go, the green goblins now a hero. You're a business guy. Is this good marketing? Like should he, what if he just got a new costume?
Edward: Fair enough.
Michael: He's truly on the side of angels and just changed it. So he looks like, I don't know, the,
Edward: well, here's the other thing. Do we know it's a costume? Patel? Maybe he's like a Defor. Maybe he's like, that's his face. Like do we know it's like an actual mask? Maybe It's like, like, I dunno, like the Hulk looks kind of weird and stuff like there, there's all sorts of villains.
Michael: I think it's a rubber mask. I, I think that the reporting shows it's a rubber mask. It's not like as a skin texture, but,
Edward: maybe his, I think he, like Mike, we live in a world of monsters and aliens. Maybe his face just looks like a rubber mask, , and the poor guy can't change his face. The poor guy is like this ugly. Deformed thing that was driven into crime because it was deformity and people were making fun of him, mocking him, people like you. And now he's trying to go to the side of good and we're still mocking his like ugly.
Michael: So you heard it here first, folks, ed, nevermind humanitarian, , goblin, goblin, defender,
Edward: . I'm just, I'm just saying that not enough people defend the ugly people. People like there are focus groups and there are groups that help all these different people who have a tough time in life, but there's no group of like the Association of Ugly people that helps people like,
Michael: Ed, I think that you've got the organizational skills. I think you're the person that should do that. But I wanna talk about one other thing before we go on to your pledge drive to help the criminally ugly people in the world. But what do you think about the green goblin? And I was, I was kind of thinking about this for a while. Like, what do you think about the fact that he is flying around on a glider like technology that doesn't exist? Right? He flies through the air at fantastic speeds. On the one you think, he must be a genius to invent that. But on the other hand, don't you think he would take some special training in order to manage that? Like I as a kid found a skate. Challenging, you know what I mean? as an adult,
Edward: many people can use skateboards. Michael , many people use skateboards.
Michael: It's, yeah. But to really use it like, to do tricks and whatever and to go down the street. But as an adult, I think I would find it impossible. But what do you think, but what kind of skill level would it take to properly manage that glider? I mean, we've seen it. We've seen it in action. It's incredible what he can do with it.
Edward: Clearly, clearly the goblin has some skills.
Michael: Some skills, but where do, where does he get the skills? So he gets it from, is he actually a military trained operative who's now broken, bad or good? Depending upon your view of him. Is he like,
Edward: maybe, maybe he's just a really skilled skateboarder.
Michael: really skills skateboarder . But what if he's a foreign national scent here to just ferment descent? I mean, I don't know, but that's the first things that jump to mind, right?
Edward: Yeah. Yeah. So , it's po It's possible maybe I'm a foreign national here to do dissent. Who knows. I think jumping to the conclusion just because this poor man is ugly, that therefore he is a foreign national Michael. Like, like they're, they're ugly people Are, they're ugly Americans as well,
Michael: what I'm saying. Forget the, you're the one calling him ugly, by the way. I'm not like, I've never called the,
Edward: you said he's so ugly and he must be wearing a mask that no human can look as bad as this poor man looks .
Michael: I think he's wearing a mask. I definitely think that, but you're the one that calls it ugly. Anyways, the point I'm trying to make though, is that to talk about what is where do you think the green goblin's from? Right, and I think the ability in and of itself to fly in that glider tells me that he's had some training.
Edward: Or, or maybe he has like superpowers, like other people do. Like Spider-Man, I dunno. Like spider, I'm pretty sure Spider-Man doesn't climb walls and fly on webs cuz of training. He's not like some foreign national or military guy. He has like some sort of superpowers that give him like the powers of a spider. Maybe the green goblin has like the powers of a goblin. .
Michael: Yeah. He's got like an amazing core, . so strong, and he's like, he's like, his quads are unbelievable. Just like the power of like standing crouched like that and flying at like standing upright, well, flying through the air at 50 miles an hour. The amount of strength that takes.
Edward: He's, he's ripped man. The man is ripped. So all you women out there that are worried about his ugly face, but he's a ripped body. You know, this is the trade off that sometimes has have with men. But I think Spider-Man for example without any, I think additional training could be riding that glider, captain America could be riding that glider. Right. We, we have a lot, we have a lot of these superheroes that have special abilities. To me, it makes sense that the goblin has these special abilities too, and the fact that he, and, maybe he didn't invent the glider himself. Maybe Tony Stark invented the glider and gave it to somebody who had the superpowers to be able to use it. .
Michael: I'll tell you what I think that the Green Goblin, if he's listening to our show, should feel comfortable coming on our show because , hi,
Edward: because it's a radio show and it's no video, so he doesn't have to worry about his ugly appearance.
Michael: no, I never said he is ugly and he is clearly gonna offend and Ed, who thinks he's a good guy? So, come on the show Goblin, but leave your goblin pouch outside with the bombs.