Gold Goblin is the new form Norman Osborn has taken now that his sins are cleansed. Thanks to events in Amazing Spider-Man, Norman has a new path, but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten those sins. In the new series, Christopher Cantwell and Lan Medina flesh out Norman’s struggles and new direction as a hero, but with sins haunting him, how long can that heroism last? You’ll be pondering it while reading Gold Goblin #1.
Norman Osborn is a near-impossible character to redeem. He’s gone good only to return evil countless times, has done terrible things to actively ruin Peter Parker’s life and even committed war crimes. The dude is all bad, yet Cantwell and Medina have the task of making us think, “maybe not?” It’s also fighting against history, which reminds us legacy characters always return to their original form. His depiction in Amazing Spider-Man has leaned towards good with the hint that something ghosts are haunting him, but Gold Goblin #1 makes the case that maybe he’s savable.
Gold Goblin #1 opens with a baseball bat hitting a baseball. Norman has taken his grandson to the batting cages, and while this is a hopeful and fun activity, we soon learn Norman can’t get out of his head. Much like that bat hitting a ball, there’s a battle going on that Norman can’t escape as visions and thoughts enter his mind like a ball being hit out of a park. It’s an interesting metaphor that parallels a moment in the final scene. Norman questions his goodness early on, but by the end, he’s signing things like a baseball Hall of Famer.
This issue is smartly written. Cantwell deals with ideas surrounding guilt, heroism, and truly awful crimes. The humanity of Norman is apparent from the first page, yet by the end, he’s signing a skull and none the wiser. One can see he actively wants to be better, yet he’s doing something quite disturbing unaware of what it means.
After a relatively efficient recap of how Norman is free of sin and some of his worst acts, the story involves Peter Parker. If you haven’t been reading Amazing Spider-Man, you should note Peter has been suspicious of Norman, but this story takes that and runs with it. Peter’s new take on Norman is an interesting one from a heroic perspective, and it also supercharges Norman’s goals. If he can’t escape his demons, maybe he can lean into being a hero.
This issue also shows Norman as the superhero, which features the new Gold Gobin costume that looks slick. Medina and color artist Antonio Fabela create a dark atmosphere here, but the costume for the Gold Goblin sticks out like a shining beacon. It’s an interesting concept when you consider the demons Norman is wrestling with since it’s symbolic of the great hope he wants to achieve in proving he can be a hero and a good person. An iconic villain with a flaming pumpkin head makes an appearance and he looks relatively cool in this issue.
Gold Goblin is a compelling psychological narrative well worth exploring. As a reader tired of Norman Osborn, I was invigorated by this first issue with its unique direction for the character. It asks that if a person is removed from their sin, can they ever outgrow the acts themselves? Gold Goblin is a fascinating look into a complicated mind.
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