Specifically, this moment (Civil War, Front Line #2) when he revealed his identity to the press and started to take questions.

What makes this puzzling is that we see Norman get furious for a few panels (as do others like JJJ) but there's no follow-up in this issue (or in the series) that explains why he said this (as far as I can tell!)

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Trying to dig through multiple issues of ASM and the canon in general to figure out what arrangement or rules did Norman think he had with Peter back when their conflict was more frequent?

I doubt the former Green Goblin meant "super-powered costumed folk don't ever reveal their secret identity" (his was known far and wide at this time, anyhow).

So was there some moment during their bitter history together where Norman assumed some sort of pact or arrangement?

  • In unfamiliar with it but one reading suggests this refers to the original scene where Gwen died. I think spidey chose Gwen, this breaking the rules. Regardless, I'm paging @Thaddeus.
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 19, 2015 at 19:37
  • Not sure that is true. By your reasoning, Peter chose Gwen ages ago; nothing to trigger a reaction from Normie like this in the present.
    – shivsky
    Apr 20, 2015 at 1:12
  • 2
    Except Spidey blaming him publicly on TV....
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 20, 2015 at 7:42
  • 1
    civil war spoilers in title :(
    – RedCaio
    Jan 10, 2016 at 0:47
  • 2
    Wondering what the statute of limitations is for spoilers? This question is about the 2006-2007 comic series (created back in a time free of disney and avengers blockbuster hype).
    – shivsky
    Jan 19, 2016 at 17:13

2 Answers 2


The Green Goblin has, for a very long time, known Spider-Man's secret identity. He has been playing a "game" with Peter ever since: Peter knows that Norman could expose him at any point, and could go after his friends and family; and Norman knows that Peter always managed to outsmart or outwit him and thwart his plans.

Thus, Norman's "game" is simply that "You let me escape and I keep your secret."

This game is, of course, mostly in Obsorn's head, but it's very real to him. Any time he thinks Peter is breaking the rules, he reacts negatively. For example, at one point, Peter manages to have Osborn arrested and put into a high-security prison. He responds by implementing a failsafe plan involving kidnapping Aunt May to get back at Peter.

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When Peter revealed his identity to the world, he took away Norman's leverage against him. He ended the game prematurely -- he "broke the rules".

  • 2
    Much better than my answer in my opinion.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 10, 2015 at 15:40
  • Revisiting this answer and I notice a parallel to Hans Landa (Inglorious Basterds)'s jovial/banter behavior to Aldo's men (where he knew they were pretending to be Italians) vs. his murdering fury over Hammersmark's inability to "stay within the game".
    – shivsky
    Mar 24, 2021 at 14:14

I do not have any good evidence to back this up, but my feeling is that Osborn is claiming that Peter "broke the rules" because he shared their feud with others. In Osborn's mind, this is personal, man-to-man. Of course, the Green Goblin has regularly brought in other foes to fight Spider-man, but he's also insane, so it makes perfect sense to him that his private fight with Spider-man allows him to bring in reinforcements while Peter must fight alone.

Alternately, his beef is over calling out Osborn as Osborn rather than as the Goblin. All these years that the Goblin has been withholding Parker's identity wasted...

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