Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #23


Cover Date: April 1965

Cover Artists: Steve Ditko

“The Goblin and the Gangsters”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

The Green Goblin has returned, and its up to Spider-Man to stop him from taking over the New York City underworld!


  • The Green Goblin wants local gangster Lucky Lobo to cede control of his gang to him.

  • Lucky Lobo (predictably) chooses not to just hand over his criminal operation to the Goblin. This doesn’t deter GG; he’s got big plans.

  • The plan, it turns out, is to get Lucky into legal trouble, so the Goblin can make a power grab.

  • When the police were notified, they raided Lucky’s businesses. Happening by, Spidey is about to help, when he sees the Green Goblin swoop in and prevent some underlings from escaping. Naturally, this rouses his suspicion.

  • The Green Goblin notices Spidey on his tail, so he decides to bring the hero to Lucky Lobo’s hideout. He hopes that one enemy will take out the other.

  • His plan works! Spider-Man stumbles into the mob hideout, and while he and the gangsters are confused, the Goblin escapes.

  • A fight ensues, and Spider-Man has a good time beating up some thugs.

  • When Spidey corners Lucky, the gangster explains the Green Goblin’s (pretty obvious) motives.

  • Spider-Man is able to catch up with the Green Goblin, after leaving Lucky and his crew for the police. The two battle, but neither has a clear edge. The Green Goblin manages to escape, if only because Spider-Man’s webbing ran out.

  • The Goblin may have escaped, but thanks to Spider-Man, the entire Lucky Lobo gang was arrested. The Goblin’s plan to take over the gang won’t work if they’re all in jail!

Is It Good?

Yes, this was pretty good. It was structurally unusual —- the villain’s POV is represented more in this story than any other Spider-Man story that I can recall —- but that made it feel refreshing.

I really liked the artwork in this issue. Ditko drew the extended fight sequences well, and I love how weird his Green Goblin looks. That guy’s got eyelashes for days! As for the story, it wasn’t the most logical one, but I liked some of the smaller moments; Spider-Man calling Aunt May in the middle of a fight was very cute, and I liked that the mob did not immediately accept the Green Goblin’s leadership. Neither was terribly important, but they were nice touches that we might not have seen in another title.


  • The Green Goblin last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #18.
  • Frederick Foswell, AKA the Big Man, last appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #10. He served his time in jail and was re-hired at the Daily Bugle.

  • This is the first appearance of “Lucky” Lobo. He is a gangster in NYC. We won’t see much of him
  • This is the first appearance of Norman Osborn, outside of his Goblin costume. He is not named here, he is just a background character in J. Jonah Jameson’s social club.

  • Ned Leeds left for Europe in Amazing Spider-Man #20. Apparently, a few months have gone by in the past few issues.

  • Spider-Man ran out of web fluid again. It’s been a while since this was a problem.

  • Peter doesn’t seem to think that Frederick Foswell has reformed. Peter suspected him of working for the Green Goblin and considers him a risk to Spider-Man’s secret identity.

  • We have a pin-up this issue, of Spidey and almost everyone that has had a meaningful appearance in this title to date. I can understand them omitting Blackie Gaxton, but I’m surprised that the Hulk and/or Human Torch aren’t included here, since Spidey has spent a decent amount of time fighting them.

  • Future Marvel writer/Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter has a fan letter printed in this issue.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • I’m not saying that liking clean laundry is weird, but thinking “MMMM” about laundry makes me think there might be a fetish here.

  • Spidey taking a break, mid-fight, to call Aunt May and say he’ll be home late makes me very happy.

Behind the Scenes:

  • I thought it was pretty cool that Norman Osborn’s civilian identity was introduced as a background character, but I wondered if that was a conscious choice for Lee and Ditko. Maybe they didn’t have anyone in mind at first, but later decided to flesh out an underdeveloped supporting character, you know? Well, Brian Cronin found an old column written by Steve Ditko that confirms that he (and Stan) always meant for Norman to be the Green Goblin. So, I guess that settles that!

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