When Did Spider-Man’s Greatest Rogues First Show Up in Other Comics?

By z20z.com 9 Min Read


  • Spider-Man’s villains, such as Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Venom, rarely appeared in non-Spider-Man comic book titles in the early days of the shared Marvel Universe.
  • Doctor Octopus first appeared in a non-Spider-Man comic book title in 1982’s Dazzler #17, where he interrupts Dazzler’s date with Angel to commit a crime.
  • The Green Goblin’s first appearance in a non-Spider-Man comic book title is debatable, but a possible example is The Pulse #4, where Green Goblin plays a main villain role in coordination with Marvel Knights Spider-Man.

In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Today, we look at the first times that Spider-Man’s three greatest rogues; Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and Venom, showed up to fight another superhero in a non-Spider-Man comic book title.

An interesting aspect of the concept of a shared universe is that while the Marvel Universe was nominally a shared universe from very early on, it wasn’t like there was a whole ton of crossover from one title to another in terms of characters fighting Spider-Man in one title and, say, the Hulk in another title. It obviously DID happen, but it was either treated like a big deal (like when Doctor Doom showed up in Amazing Spider-Man) or it was, like, a specific migration (like Sandman becoming an “official” Fantastic Four foe). In fact, the idea of each superhero sort of having their own specific villains was the centerpiece of the 1989-90 Marvel crossover, Acts of Vengeance, where a group of super villains got together and decided to coordinate an attack on the superheroes of the world by having the rogues of one superhero fight a different superhero, who presumably would be unprepared to face off against an unfamiliar foe.

Nowadays, of course, the shared Marvel Universe is REALLY shared, but it really did used to be a big deal when a Spider-Man villain showed up in another title. So big of a deal that reader S-S specifically wrote in to ask, “I would love to know when the first time was that spider-man’ s big three foes i.e. Dr. Octopus, Green Goblin and Venom appeared in other Marvel heroes’ comics?” Let’s find out!

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When did Doctor Octopus first fight a superhero in a non-Spider-Man comic book title?

The first thing to note for something like this is that I’m obviously not going to count anything in an alternate reality, like What If…?s or Avengers Annual #2 (a story set in an alternate reality where the Scarlet Centurion conquered the Marvel Universe, including fighting the super villains of the world like Doctor Octopus). That’s not what we’re looking for here. However, I think Secret Wars would count if that was the first time that Doctor Octopus appeared in a non-Spider-man comic book title.

That wasn’t the first time Octopus appeared outside the Spider-Man titles, though. Oddly enough, it was in 1982’s Dazzler #17 (by Danny Fingeroth, Frank Springer and Vince Colletta). Dazzler is on a date with Warren Worthington III, the original member of the X-Men known as the Angel, when it is interrupted by Doctor Octopus doing some crime, so the two heroes leave their date to go fight Doc Ock…

Dazzler and Angel fight Doctor Octopus

Definitely not where I would have expected Doc Ock to first appear outside the Spider-Man titles!

When did the Green Goblin first fight a superhero in a non-Spider-Man comic book title?

The Green Goblin is a tricky one, since obviously Norman Osborn’s whole deal was that he had amnesia, so he would stop being the Green Goblin for long periods of time, and obviously all in the pages of Spider-Man’s titles. Then, when he came out of one of his amnesiac states, he killed Spider-Man’s girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and then died himself soon after. So since he was DEAD, it is kind of hard for him to appear in other titles.

So, do you count the time that the Green Goblin fought the Avengers as part of the Legion of the Unliving in Avengers Annual #16 (by Tom DeFalco, Keith Pollard and Al Williamson)?

The Avengers fight the Legion of the Unliving

I don’t think that really counts (especially since Norman Osborn was later revealed to have never died in the first place). Also, obviously, something like Marvels, which retold stories set in the past, doesn’t count, either.

Similarly, Fantastic Four #405 (by Tom DeFalco, Paul Ryan and Danny Bulanadi) featured a time-traveling Green Goblin that really doesn’t count…

Green Goblin travels through time

Norman Osborn was then revealed to still be alive in Spider-Man #75. He remained just a Spider-Man foe, but there was one tricky example in The Pulse #4 (by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna), where Green Goblin was the main villain of the first arc…

The Green Goblin attacks

That could possibly count, but it was also sort of a Spider-Man title, and it coordinated with the events of Marvel Knights Spider-Man, so I think it’s TOO much of a Spider-Man book, so I don’t think it should count.

What I think SHOULD count is Civil War: Front Line #4 (by Paul Jenkins, Ramon Bachs and John Lucas), which featured the Green Goblin wrapped up in some sort of conspiracy…

Green Goblin cuts inrt the Civil War

Norman Osborn in that story was pretty much a through line to Osborn becoming the head of the Thunderbolts, where he REALLY got involved with the greater Marvel Universe.

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When did Venom first fight a superhero in a non-Spider-Man comic book title?

Speaking of the Acts of Vengeance, that was precisely how Venom made his first appearance out of the Spider-Man titles. He showed up in the Acts of Vengeance tie-in issue of Quasar (#6, by Mark Gruenwald, Paul Ryan and Danny Bulanadi). It was a bit of a bait and switch by Gruenwald, as the issue opens with a splash page that seemed to suggest that Venom was going to play a major role in the issue…

Venom shows up in Quasar

but then Quasar defeats him very quickly on the second page of the issue…

Quasar defeated Venom

Quasar later fought some other villains he doesn’t normally fight, including the Living Laser (who was part of a really cool piece of continuity, with Living Laser sneaking into an issue of What If…?).

Obviously, I guess you could argue that the Venom symbiote appeared in Secret Wars, but come on, we don’t count that.

Thanks for the suggestion, S-S! If anyone else has a suggestion for a future When We First Met, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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