Most Spider-Man fans will agree that the Green Goblin is one of the Wall-Crawler's greatest foes (if not THE greatest). Beyond the psychodrama of their long conflict, a big part of the Goblin's appeal is his sheer visual impact. Frightening elements like his rictus-grin and bulging yellow eyes are balanced out by goofier touches like the curly-toed boots and pointy ears...but the most arresting element of the Goblin's get-up is, of course, that wonderful bat glider. Both functional and frightening, Norman Osborn's high tech invention would belch out billowing clouds of smoke while dipping and diving like a real bat (not to mention eventually becoming the instrument of Osborn's death).
However, the Green Goblin's first appearance way back in Amazing Spider-Man #14 (1964) hardly conveyed the complex master villain he would eventually become. As I touched upon earlier this year, the Green Goblin was initially a bizarre, somewhat whimsical figure who convinced Spider-Man to star in a phony Hollywood movie. Amplifying the loopiness of the Goblin's debut was his first flying device...no, not the bat glider, but his original flying broomstick! Looking a bit like a vacuum cleaner, the Goblin would ride perched upon the mechanical broomstick while (miraculously) not tipping to the left or right while flying.
Like all of my Humble Beginnings subjects, a much-needed upgrade soon came along, in this case the aforementioned bat glider (in the Goblin's next appearance three issues later). But he'll always have that peculiar, impossibly stable flying broomstick to live down.