Wednesday, December 5, 2007

'Green Goblin' Harry

The Green Goblin is one of the most intriguing characters in comicbooks that I have read. In film 'Spiderman' (directed by Sam Raimi), the senior Green Goblin was played by Willem Daoe with such aplomb that even avid readers like me had to laud the effort. But it is the Junior Goblin, that is Harry's childhood friend, Harry, played by James Franco that has set the viewers' herats aflutter! He is such an adorable dude early on and so vicious as the film series takes off. Here's treating all my readers with the back-up story defining the character better than the movie's formulaic and truncated screenplay. A tribute of sorts to Harry Osborne aka Green Goblin!!!

Harold "Harry" Osborn had a lot going against him from a young age. His mother, Emily Osborn, died shortly after he was born, which left him in the custody of his violent and mercurial father, Norman Osborn.Emily had been a stablising factor in Norman's life and in his grief over her death, took out his anger on Harry, sometimes beating the boy. Norman always regretted what he had done, and appologized to Harry, leading the boy to think that deep down, his father was a good and kind man. He was part of the popular crowd in high school, and was friends with his schools "It" girl, Gwen Stacy. Harry and Gwen both attended Empire State University after high school, where they met Peter Parker. Peter, being the diligent student that he was, seemed distant and arrogant to Harry and Gwen and they enjoyed trying to bring him down a few notches. Despite feeling blown off by Peter, Gwen felt an attraction to him, even though Harry felt that he was a jerk.

Harry didnt begin to feel differently about Peter until after he visited Norman Osborn in the hospital. Unknown to Harry, Peter Parker was the Amazing Spider-Man and Norman Osborn was the Green Goblin. Peter had finally managed to defeat Norman, whom had suffered from selective amnesia after their previous battle. Appreciating the sympathy that Peter showed to his father, Harry became his best friend and they became room mates. Peter got to know Gwen better and through Peter, Harry met Mary Jane Watson. Harry was quite enamoured with MJ, but she was really more interested in Peter.

The pressure of keeping MJ as his girlfriend and keeping his father happy and healthy got to him, however, and he began taking drugs. It was a long, slow road to recovery, replete with backslides. It was during such a period that Harry witnessed the battle between his father, the original Green Goblin, and Spider-Man, that resulted in his father's death. The shock started to drive Harry towards insanity.After discovering Spider-Man's costume in Peter Parker's room, Harry assumed the identity of the Green Goblin and tried to do in his roommate. Peter defeated Harry, only after Harry kidnapped Mary Jane, Flash Thompson and Aunt May. Harry wired one of them with a bomb and held them in different parts of the city, but didnt tell Spidey which one had the bomb. With only minutes until the bomb was set to explode, Spider-Man didnt have time to save all of them.
Peter took a guess and went to Aunt May. Naturally, she was the one that was trapped with the bomb. The arriving authorities refused to believe that either Peter was Spider- Man, or that Harry himself was the Green Goblin, despite Harry's rantings. They handed Harry over to a psychiatrist, Dr. Barton Hamilton, who successfully treated Harry's insanity but who also learned everything Harry knew about the Green Goblin. Dr. Hamilton eventually went on to become the third Green Goblin after kidnapping Harry, who defeated Hamilton with the help of Spider-Man. Harry was hurt in the battle and lost parts of his memory.Harry's life began to calm down after he married Liz Allan and had a son, Norman Osborn, Jr.. He inherited OsCorp Industries from his father after Norman's "death" and lived a happy, wealthy life with his family and friends.This peace and calm began to erode when the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, offered him proof that Norman Osborn was his father. Hobgoblin demanded access to more of Norman's journals of his criminal exploits and kidnapped a pregnant Liz and Mary Jane until Harry turned them over. Harry tried to use some of his father's weapons on the Hobgoblin, with dismal results. He was again saved by Spider- Man.Harry stayed away from super-powered types for a while. During the Inferno crisis, he became the Green Goblin again and battled the second Hobgoblin, Jason Macendale. The new Hobgoblin also demanded to know about the secrets of the original Green Goblin, specifically the Goblin's strength enhancing formula. Harry barely managed to defeat the Hobgoblin.

While at first Harry was too concerned about his wife and child to seriously think of becoming a crime fighter in his own right, he quickly began to miss the thrill and excitement that he experienced as the Green Goblin. He helped Spider-Man and his brother in law, Mark Raxton (aka the Molten Man) stop a robbery of an experimental plant preservative called DIOX-3 from Osborn Chemical. The chemical was sought after by Tombstone, who wanted it to preserve the drugs that he was smuggling from South America. Harry, emboldened by his success against Tombstone, began to put together plans to be New York's newest crime fighter, but was persuaded to change his mind by Spidey.

Peter left Harry alone after convincing him to stay a non-superhero, but he was unaware that Harry's memory of Peter's secret ID had returned. Harry began to imagine his father's spirit, goading him to revenge. Despite his best efforts to ignore Norman's "ghost" and put his violent history behind him, the fact that his best friend was involved in his father's death became too much for the emotionally fragile Harry to bear.Combined with years of abuse at his father's hand, the drug use from his youth and his all around stressful life, Harry suffered an emotional breakdown. He obtained and used a modified version of the original Green Goblin's strength formula.
Harry taunted Peter and Peter's wife, Mary Jane, with his knowledge of Peter's secret identity and threatned to expose his secret to the world. He openly jetted about in his Goblin attire, even publicly confronting J. Jonah Jameson. His determination to extract vengeance caused him to try and blow up the Osborn Foundation with himself and Spider-Man inside. However, the presence of Mary Jane and his son, Normie, shocked him into a semblance of sanity. He got everyone out safely before collapsing. He died shortly thereafter, apparently from an unexpected side-effect of the modified Green Goblin formula.
Even death didnt stop Harry from tormenting Peter and his family. Just before his death, Harry created robotic duplicates of Peter's long dead parents with the help of the Chameleon. Their mission was to convince Peter that they were the real thing, gain his trust and then kill him. Peter stayed skeptical of them for a long time, but evenutally he trusted them. The "father" robot went about its mission to kill Peter with a vengeance, but the "mother" robot considered Peter to be "such a positive human," that she refused to attack him and went so far as to destroy her "husband." Peter and the robot didnt have time to mourn his passing or to become a family, as the Vulture used the remaining robots artificial life to power his rejuvenator device and become young again.Harry's final attack involved the kidnapping of his own son.
He sent three robotic Goblin women to kidnap Normie and to expose him to the Green Goblin Formula, unaware that it was toxic. Spider-Man tracked Normie down with the help of Bugle reporter Ben Urich and the Molten Man, and the complex that held the computer containing Harry's final instructions was destroyed. Spider-Man got to see Harry again, in a way. A rebel Scrier kidnapped Normie after Norman Osborn returned to America. Normie was kidnapped in order to draw Norman out and kill him. A hologram of Harry was created to keep Norman Jr calm and cooperative. After the Scrier was defeated, the hologram took Normie aside and told him that his grandfather was not to be trusted, that Spider-Man was his friend and had nothing to do with Harry Osborn's death. Before it disappeared, Spidey asked "Is it really you, Harry?" "As close as it comes, buddy" was the answer. They embraced and the hologram faded away.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Girl From Hell

'Jigoku Shoujo - The Girl From Hell' is a fantastic animated series. It is a traditional Japanese ghost story with circumstances beyond anyone’s control but yet still under the control of other humans. There is a website, accessible only at midnight, called the Hotline to Hell. If someone who feels like they are a victim goes there, they can type in the name of their antagonist and to have sent to hell. Enma Ai then appears and tells them that they must untie the red string on the straw doll she gives them for the contract to be complete. However, should they untie it, besides their antagonist being taken immediately to hell, they too will be condemned to hell when they die..
The aforementioned scenario plays out in basically every episode. Victim shows up and feels wronged, they contact Ai, they wrestle with whether or not to pull the string, then they pull it anyway. The real story in this show is not the people who appear for only one episode and act out their vengeance. The story in Jigoku Shoujo is all about Ai. From the start it seems she is an emotionless girl who just keeps doing the same thing over and over. However, this is her job, her duty, and her curse. Once you realize that, you begin to understand the gravity of the repetitiveness. It has a purpose: to make you empathize with Ai. In every episode you see something new about Ai, something subtle and small.
The characterisation is so powerful and intense that u can't help being drawn towards them. Ai’s sadness, and the overall theme of the show, is simple: the human desire for vengeance. Every episode you see the same tragedy play out even though you think “this time maybe they will see the error of their ways.” Before they are left to decide, Ai always shows the victim a taste of what hell will be like when they die. Despite this, they always pull the string anyway to exact vengeance on their antagonist. Some victims are relieved of abuse for one lifetime to be carried to hell when they die. Is it right to send someone to hell when they have done wrong? This drama plays out between the Shibatas through the series. The daughter believes that the antagonist probably deserves it and that being sent to hell in the long run to be relieved of a temporary pain is worth it.
Overall, the unraveling of the mystery of Enma Ai is what makes this show so good. Granted there is a fiercely repetitive nature to this show, but if you can get past that in get into the heart of the story there is a hidden jewel in the silent red eyes of Ai. The emotion and drama of Jigoku Shoujo [Girl From Hell] and the artwork make it a must-watch animated series for adults. [The violence, sexual content and dark, brooding tone make it thoroughly unfit a series for kids!]