I’m still enjoying Gold Goblin a lot, much more than I thought I would be. The ghost of Harry continues to play a large role, especially in this issue, so let’s take a look at him!
Norman, fresh off his fight with Queen Goblin (aka an Ashley Kafka poisoned with his own sins) is having angst, and how. It doesn’t help that the city is currently in a hellish Limbo, but that’s New York for you.
Norman stops to save some kids from a demonic stuffed toy, as you do. When the kids’ dad starts yelling at them, Norman takes a second to reprimand him (you will note that the dad is wearing green, the Bad Colour of Osborn-related comics) and then muses on his own stint as a father, remembering, “Of course I did a lot worse than yell.”
Ghost Harry pops up in the background as Norman is briefly overcome with his guilt.
But, just as when he was living, Norman doesn’t have time for Harry! He’s much too focused on finding Kafka.
Right in the middle of this is Normie’s birthday party. Don’t try and guess how old he is at this point, I’ve given up trying.
Wow, Norman paid people to come to the party! As if poor Normie wasn’t screwed up enough already, his grandfather is buying him friends. Hey what about Dylan, his actual friend? Ask your mother about that one, Normie.
In this scene we also get a brief cameo from Mark Raxton/Molten Man. Oh hi Mark!
Then (after an unfortunate incident with a Spider-Man cosplayer) Normie finally starts asking his grandfather about his dad.
To be fair Normie shouldn’t have to ask this because he always had a pretty good relationship with Harry, really, and surely he’s old enough to understand everything that went down. But I’m always up for stories that highlight that Harry was a far, far better father than Norman ever was.
(It’s also interesting to get a tiny glimpse of what the Normie-Stanley relationship is like, which I really hope is explored in Red Goblin.)
“Tell him. Tell him how weak I was. Tell him I was a screwup and a drug addict. Tell him how sometimes you’re relieved I’m dead, just so you don’t have to pick me up anymore only to watch me fall on my face,” says Ghost Harry. But perhaps this isn’t a ghost, perhaps it’s just Norman’s image of what his son was… a screwup and a drug addict.
Normie then FINALLY asks the question no-one else has asked:
Thanks Normie! About time!
Norman doesn’t know why he hurt Harry so much, or hurt anyone so much. While he’s gloomily thinking about it, Jack O’Lantern crashes the party.
Norman and Jack O’Lantern trade blows (and in the heat of the moment Mark considers bringing his molten powers back, which I’m sure will come into play some time later.) They punch each other away from the party and Norman screams at the other man that he’s a “weakling.” In that moment he suddenly sees not Jack O’Lantern, but Harry.
This sudden flash of Harry (in colour this time!) causes Norman to suddenly stop his punches and attempt to talk to his enemy instead. And this is a very touching scene!
Jack O’Lantern tells Norman his real name – Owen Ward – and Norman tells Owen that he can get him the help he needs. I.e, the exact thing he failed to do for his son. Owen is touched, and even apologises to Normie for ruining his birthday party.
Norman decides that maybe he doesn’t need to destroy his sins (and Kafka) after all, just atone for them. The story ends with him and Normie smiling at each other. All seems good… For now.
I continue to be so annoyed with how good this story is. I hate the very idea of “good guy” Norman as well you know, but Gold Goblin is doing SUCH a better job with him than ASM is. And this is the best use of ghost/illusion Harry that I’ve seen in a while. If Norman can ever truly be good, it’s only because of the memory of his son.