Appearing in "Proto-Goblin"
- Arthur Stacy (First appearance chronologically)
- Stan Lee
- Ben Parker
- May Parker
- Peter Parker
- Gwen Stacy (First appearance chronologically)
- Jill Stacy (First appearance chronologically)
- Nancy Stacy (First appearance chronologically)
- Paul Stacy (First appearance chronologically)
- Phil Sheldon
- Helen Stacy (Only appearance)
- Sergeant Morelli (First appearance)
- Dr. Mendel Stromm (Recap)
Races and Species:
- N.Y.P.D. Police Car
Synopsis for "Proto-Goblin"
Stan Lee interrupts the current Spider-Man storyline, addressing the reader to introduce this month's story, a tale from the past. Although this takes place before Peter Parker became Spider-Man, Stan assures the reader that the tale between three pages will have far-reaching consequences in the life of Spider-Man...
Years Ago[Continuity 1]
In Queens, New York, the Stacy family is having a backyard barbeque. There, Arthur Stacy tells his brother George about his theory that superhuman beings exist and that they will be capable of overthrowing humanity. Arthur believes one such being -- possibly a mutant -- is responsible that the killings that his brother George has been tasked with investigating. George, however, thinks this is nothing more than another one of the crazy conspiracy theories that Arthur likes to believe in.[Continuity 2] That's when both get notifications from their respective jobs and leave their wives and children to go to work.[Continuity 3] Soon, Captain George Stacy arrives at the scene of yet another murder. This one took place at the Osborn Chemicals plant and he quickly learns that his officers have been refused entry by Osborn himself. George soon meets with Norman Osborn, who refuses to allow unauthorized personnel on the property without an escort from his chief of security. When the security chief arrives, George is not surprised when it turns out to be his brother Arthur.
George and his brother enter the building with a team of armed officers looking for the mysterious assailant. They are brutally attacked by a shadowy goblin-like creature with sharp claws. The mysterious creature manages to escape but Captain Stacy discovers a bunch of red fluid, possibly blood, on the floor. This attack convinces Arthur that his conspiracy is true, but George isn't convinced, thinking there is a rational explanation. Arthur stays on site after brother leaves to do his own investigation. It is then that he finds an Oscorp employee badge on the floor belonging to Dr. Nels Van Adder.
Arthur Stacy tries to find a connection between Dr. van Adder and the creature so he confronts Norman Osborn about it. Norman Osborn tells him that Dr. van Adder was a disgruntled employee and was fired many months ago. This does not stop Arthur Stacy’s questioning as it does not explain why Dr. van Adder’s badge was found lying on the floor. Norman Osborn leaves to get away from his meddling employee. Arthur decides to take this evidence to Norman Osborn who is having an open house at one of his science labs. When asked about Nels van Adder, Norman tells Arthur that Nels was a disgruntled employee who he was forced to fire months earlier. Norman wonders what Arthur is implied about the ID badge, but Arthur is just curious to know what Nels van Adder was working on before he was fired. Norman deflects this questioning by telling Arthur that the work done at Oscorp is beyond his understanding. He then excuses himself to talk to a couple and a young man. This turns out to be Ben and May Parker, who have brought their nephew Peter to the open house. Learning about Peter's interest in science, he encourages the boy to keep at it, seeing a bright future in him. He then jokingly says he has a good feeling that when the boy grows up they will either be great friends or fierce competitors. Going back to Arthur, Norman tells him that this is what Osborn Industries is all about and tells Arthur that his line of investigation is off base and ends the subject, telling Stacy that if he doesn't like his work he is should quit.
After Norman's warning, Arthur goes to a bar to drink and is out late enough to send his brother George out looking for him. George heard about the altercation and asks Arthur if he is out of his mind. Fed up of his older brother following his career instead of doing the right thing and tries to punch his brother out. When the bartender tells them to take it outside, George flashes his badge and says he's done with this anyway and walks out, leaving Arthur alone in the bar. While back at Osborn Industries, Norman Osborn looks out the window and looks forward to owning the entire city. However, he is satisfied that he now is the full owner of the company. He recalls the good fortune it was catching his partner, Mendel Stromm, embezzling money from the company, allowing him to take control of the company.[Continuity 4] However, he has been unable to find his former partner's notes, as he needs Stromm's work to help keep the company going. That's when Nels van Adder enters the office demanding to know what Norman had done to him. As it turns out, Van Adder has been transformed into the creature that George and Arthur encountered earlier. Nels is upset that his transformation prevents him from seeing his family, and that he cannot control his desire to kill. He suddenly screams in pain and begins to become less human than before. Norman is intrigued by the mutative properties of his formula and injects Nels with stabilizing reagent. He reminds Nels that he volunteered for this, but assures the man-monster that he will learn all he can about this formula, no matter the risk.
Later, Arthur Stacy breaks into Norman Osborn's office to check his files on Nels van Adder in order to learn what secrets Norman is trying to keep. He learns that Nels was part of a biogenic project and there is no record of Van Adder getting fired. He is caught in the act by Norman Osborn, who tells Arthur that he is fired and threatens to call Arthur's brother to have him arrested for kidnapping. With no other choice, Arthur leaves but tells Norman that this is far from over. Arthur returns home where his wife, Nancy, tries to cheer him up. As his wife heads up for bed, Arthur notices a car pulling up in their driveway with the high-beams on. Sensing trouble, Arthur pushes his wife to the ground as shots are fired. He then tells Nancy to get the kids to safety while he calls his brother. However, instead of asking George for help, Arthur tells him that he is going after Norman Osborn and to stay out of his way. Soon, Arthur breaks into the Osborn Industries building and is surprised there are no security personnel on site. That's when his brother George gets the drop on him and orders Arthur to stop. George tries to convince Arthur that Norman had nothing to do with the shooting, telling him they caught those responsible -- some kids doing a driveby that hit the wrong house. This does little to convince Arthur that Norman is ever involved, telling George that Osborn is dirty. George finds this impossible to believe, pointing out that Norman Osborn is a wealthy philanthropist who is well regarded by city officials and even the President. This argument is quickly cut short when they hear someone screaming in agony.
Rushing into a nearby lab, the Stacy brothers discover Norman Osborn being attacked by Nels van Adder. Norman pleads for them to help, telling Arthur that he will be hired at twice his previous salary. George rushes in to stop the creature but is knocked away, breaking his leg on impact. When George pleads with his brother to save Norman, Arthur refuses at first, until George convinces him that even if Norman is up to anything illegal, he doesn't deserve to die. Arthur puts an entire clip of bullets into the monster but it still won't go down. That's when the two brothers rush the monster and push it out of a window, sending it into the river on the other side. In the aftermath of the attack, an ambulance is called for George. As he is being carted away, Norman explains that Nel van Adder got ahold of his former partners notes and experimented on himself. Accepting this explanation the Stacy's leave Norman to clean up the mess. Looking among the wreckage, Norman discovers Mendel Stromm's notes, as they were hidden in a desk. Norman decides to take the notes home in order to ensure their secrets are his, and his alone. While along the river, the so-called Proto-Goblin emerges from the waters, alive and well.[Continuity 5]
... Concluding this story, Stan Lee assures readers that the webs of this story will ensnare Spider-Man in the near future.[Continuity 6]
- Chronologically, this story takes place prior to the events of a flashback in Sensational Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #33 which states Peter was 12 years old. Although's age in this story is not specified, one could assume that he was around 11 years old. In Civil War #2, Peter states he was 15 when he became Spider-Man. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, that would place this story as happening roughly four years prior to the start of the modern age.
- This story takes place prior to the modern age of heroes. Although there is documentation of superhuman beings during World War II (such as Captain America), and the First Line during the 20th Century, at this point the general public thinks that superhumans are a myth at this point in time.
- George and Arthur are depicted as using pagers here. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Mendel Stromm's embezzling of Oscorp was originally detailed in Amazing Spider-Man #40.
- Although this story implies that the Proto-Goblin might return, he has yet to make another appearance.
- Stan is referring to the fact that Mendel Stromm's notes led to Norman developing the formula that turned him into the Green Goblin. The fact that Strom developed the formula was first revealed in Osborne Journals #1. Norman's transformation into the Green Goblin by this formula was first recounted in Amazing Spider-Man #40.
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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