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Bring on the Bad Guys 2011

Bring on the Bad Guys: Norman Osborn

Before he founds a new Dark Avengers team, get to know the erstwhile Green Goblin

By Jim Beard & Ben Morse

A hero can be best measured by the opposition they face, and in the Marvel Universe, the tyrants, thugs and cosmic menaces thrown against our champions clearly mark them as the greatest of all.

Yet “villain” often proves too shallow a term when it comes to the antagonists stacked against the Avengers, X-Men, and others. Their motivations frequently run deeper than mere lust for power or desire for destruction. In many ways, they’re the heroes of their stories.

And in other ways, they’re just plain bad guys.

Join us for a week of examining some of Marvel’s greatest villains and the threats that will define our heroes in the days to come, reliving their histories and peering into their futures.

NEW AVENGERS #18 preview inks by Mike Deodato

Sporting a troubled and tortured childhood, Norman Osborn visited his legacy of abuse on his own family and, in doing so, created one of the world’s worst villainous dynasties. The industrialist’s warped mind re-invented itself as first the criminal Green Goblin, then also the force behind H.A.M.M.E.R., the organization that once held freedom beneath its jack-booted heel.

Osborn Industries held many secrets, chief among them the fact that its co-owner dabbled in illegal activities. Norman Osborn’s ruthless nature drove him to help other companies create monstrosities to battle the super heroes of the world, all the while collecting hefty fees for his illicit services. Stumbling upon an experimental serum designed by his business partner, Osborn tested the wicked elixir on himself, but one explosion later he emerged with not only enhanced strength and intellect, but also full-blown insanity. From the ashes of that shattered experiment rose a super villain of matchless wit and perseverance: The Green Goblin.

As the Goblin, Osborn challenged the amazing Spider-Man in a series of clashes both physical and psychological. He swiftly cemented himself as the wall-crawler’s chief nemesis and torturer. Time and again the two foes battled, leading Osborn to a kind of amnesia and ultimate relapse. Back stronger and more twisted than ever, the Goblin robbed Spider-Man of the hero’s most cherished treasure: the life of his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. The web-slinger hunted down Osborn and witnessed what he believed to be the final act of the tragedy: the Goblin’s death by the wicked man’s own hubris.

NEW AVENGERS #18 preview inks by Mike Deodato

But, Osborn lived, unbeknownst to Spider-Man. While he lay low overseas, licking his wounds and planning new schemes, Norman’s son Harry took up the mantle of The Green Goblin. Eventually, Osborn Senior revealed himself to the world and set about making Spider-Man’s life a living hell, but finally justice prevailed and Norman landed in jail, hopefully to rot there forever. Then, a strange series of evil twists in the ongoing story offered a new life to Osborn.

The deranged psychopath manipulated himself first into the good graces of the U.S. government as the head of the Thunderbolts, a squadron of “former” villains, then as director of H.A.M.M.E.R., the organization that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D after an alien invasion. Norman Osborn now stood as not a villain, but a seeming hero, the man who would protect the country and the world with his own team of Avengers.

These “dark” Avengers—mostly super villains corralled by Osborn—perpetrated one of the greatest hoaxes on the American populace. Led by Osborn in the guise of the “Iron Patriot,” the faux-Avengers eventually crashed and burned due to their leader’s insanity after an invasion of the fabled city of Asgard. The former Green Goblin, twitchy and off-balance from his own split personality disorder and the wretched serum that flowed through his veins, found himself back where he belonged: in prison.

But you can’t keep a bad man down long.

“Norman Osborn will be breaking out of jail in spectacular fashion in NEW AVENGERS #16.1 drawn by comics legend Neal Adams,” foretells writer Brian Michael Bendis. “It will launch a very large, very epic rebirth of H.A.M.M.E.R. in both NEW AVENGERS and AVENGERS. 

NEW AVENGERS #18 preview inks by Mike Deodato

“In NEW AVENGERS the reconstituted Dark Avengers will be assembled and putting together a plan that will knock the New Avengers on their collective butts. While in AVENGERS, H.A.M.M.E.R.—which will be a mixture of Hydra, A.I.M., and the Hand—will be putting together their plan, going right after Captain America and his position as the top cop the world.”

Osborn’s rebirth begins in NEW AVENGERS #16.1, on sale next week, September 28, and continues into the New Year.

Tomorrow, our week concludes with a look at Doctor Doom!

Join the conversation with your thoughts about Marvel’s bad guys on Twitter with the hash tag #TheBestVillains

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Osborn senior is a real villain but Harry Osborn is a mystery

moogerfooger22 plus member

Osbourne looking a little like a cross between George W and Nixon in #18 preview inks... nice.