Green Goblin: A Lighter Shade of Green (2011) collects Marvel Comics’ Green Goblin #1-13 as well as Amazing Scarlet Spider #2 and large portions of Web of Spider-Man #125 and Spectacular Spider-Man #225, all of which were published in 1995 and 1996. The majority of this material was written by Tom DeFalco and penciled by Scott McDaniel. Taking place in the midst of Spider-Man’s notorious Clone Saga, this collection contains all Phil Urich’s appearances as the Green Goblin.
Here, Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich’s teenage nephew Phil stumbles upon a cache of Harry Osborn’s old Green Goblin equipment, accidentally gets covered in Goblin Serum, and decides to take the gear and become a superhero (sort of). He runs into some standard Marvel villains, including the Rhino, the Hobgoblin, and a Sentinel, as well as some original villains who aren’t particularly memorable; he also has encounters with the Scarlet Spider, the Thing, Daredevil, and Spider-Man.
DeFalco’s writing here is good, if unspectacular. Phil is something of a slacker, and the prominent theme running through the work is personal responsibility. It’s kind of an interesting counterpoint to Spider-Man’s massive guilt-driven responsibility, although Phil is prone to vacillation, which leads a little more farting around than benefits the story, since slackers, by nature, don’t tend to do a whole lot, and Phil may be slower to come around than some readers will like.
Green Goblin bears something of a debt to The Mask, which DeFalco readily acknowledges. There’s plenty of dated dialogue here, written by a middle-aged person clearly only guessing at what was hip and edgy (or maybe basing it on what he’d seen on TV), as well as a load of even more dated pop culture references. This is jarring in part because of the writing, but also because of how far technology has come in fifteen years. In any case, DeFalco would go on to far greater teen-centered superhero works with Spider-Girl.
The Spider-Man comics included here don’t really relate to the rest of the work – the Green Goblin doesn’t do a whole lot in them – and they don’t add much to Phil’s story. But for the completionists, this volume contains every appearance of Phil as the Green Goblin.
Scott McDaniel draws most of the issues, and his art is good, although there’s a general lack of detail. The muddy colors don’t help matters either. But McDaniel’s style fits the Green Goblin perfectly.
This is a self-contained story arc, and it ends at a good place to leave Phil before, under the direction of other writers, he goes on to crazier, more villainous things (this collection was put together in 2011 after Phil became a new evil Hobgoblin – nothing in this volume even hints at that).
On the whole, Green Goblin: A Lighter Shade of Green is a solid read, and will be accessible to those with a basic familiarity with 1990s Spider-Man.