Norman Osborn was just a child when he first became obsessed with acquiring wealth and power after his father, a failed business inventor who claimed that he was swindled out of his inventions and personal fortune, took out his rage on Norman. Norman realized that he couldn't depend on his father for financial security, so he began working after school and saving every cent he earned. He wouldn't allow himself to become a failure like his father. Norman studied chemistry and electrical engineering in college. He also took a number of courses in business administration. One of his teachers was Professor Mendel Stromm. They became good friends and later formed a business partnership. Since Norman put up the bulk of the financing, they called their company Osborn Chemical, or Oscorp.
Norman married his college sweetheart and they had a son: Harry. Unfortunately, his wife became ill. After she died, Norman buried himself in his work and rarely had time for young Harry. As the brilliant co-owner of a chemical manufacturer known as Oscorp, Norman Osborn, loving wealth and power, decided to take control and had his partner Stromm arrested when he found he was committing embezzlement, granting him complete control over the company and making Norman the official CEO of Oscorp. While going through Stromm's notes, he found a secret formula that would make him superhumanly powerful. However, his son, Harry, who was tired of always being ignored and rejected by his father, switched the chemicals in the serum, which turned it green and caused it to explode in his face.
Later, at the hospital, Norman Osborn found himself thinking more clearly than ever before, not knowing that he would slowly become insane. Attempting to achieve power beyond his wildest dreams, Norman Osborn planned to become the most powerful gang-lord of all by uniting all the independent gangs under his leadership in an attempt to gain control over all of New York's crime. To prove his power and establish his reputation, he decided to choose Spider-Man as his victim of choice, and sent two criminals, the Headsman and Scorcher, after Spider-Man. The two were soundly defeated, and Norman Osborn decided to take matters into his own hands. Remembering a giant green goblin monster from childhood nightmares, he created a costume that reflected that monster, and he became the Green Goblin.
He first battled Spider-Man with the help of the Enforcers, by getting Spider-Man to participate in a movie about him. Attempting to defeat him in New Mexico, he let Spider-Man battle the Hulk, whose stomping grounds the Goblin, the Enforcers, and Spider-Man accidentally stumbled upon. Escaping the Hulk, Spider-Man attempted to capture the Green Goblin, but was too exhausted to prevent his escape. Returning to New York, the Green Goblin easily hid amongst New York's population.
Spider-Man and the Green Goblin fought a few months later at a fan club meeting for Spider-Man organized by Flash Thompson. However, when Spider-Man heard that his Aunt May was extremely ill, he was forced to retreat, giving him a sour reputation by most of New York's citizens, including several superheroes, super-villains, citizens, and, of course, J. Jonah Jameson, and giving the Green Goblin an impressive reputation. Later still, the Green Goblin pretended to be helping the police by attempting to capture Lucky Louis, a big gang leader, and, after seeing defeat by Spider-Man, attempted a partnership with the Crime-Master, which again ended in defeat.
With every one of these defeats, the Green Goblin became more determined. In time, Osborn became totally obsessed with Spider-Man and finally began directing all of his efforts to finding a way to conquer his web-swinging adversary.
One of the biggest success in the Green Goblin's career was learning Spider-Man's secret identity, by utilizing a false gang that sprayed Spider-Man with a gas that nullified his spider-sense, allowing the Goblin to follow him without being detected. Capturing Spider-Man with ease, he brought him to his hideout and revealed himself to be Norman Osborn, the father of Harry Osborn, one of Peter Parker's classmates. After gloating and revealing his past, he let Spider-Man escape his bindings, so as to prove his superiority. Spider-Man managed to defeat the Goblin by sending him into a bunch of disconnected, high-voltage wires that were drenched in chemicals. Gaining amnesia, Norman Osborn lost all memory up to the years that his son was in high school. Spider-Man, content in this knowledge, burned the Green Goblin's costume, hoping never to see him again.
'Death' of the Green Goblin
Norman's memories eventually returned, and the Green Goblin attempted to overcome Norman and defeat Spider-Man once more, this time with a bomb that was filled with a gas that nullified his wall-clinging ability. Spider-Man defeated him this time by landing on his back and luring him to the hospital room of Norman's son, who was extremely ill from drug abuse. Snapped back to reality, Norman returned to normal.
Osborn was involved in a brief affair with Gwen Stacy, which resulted in the birth of twins, Gabriel and Sarah. The twins were taken with Osborn to Europe to be raised during his sabbatical. They rapidly aged and developed superhuman strength and endurance.
Somehow, though, by as-of-yet unknown means, Norman regained his memories. He nearly killed Gwen Stacy after kidnapping her and throwing her off a bridge, after which Spider-Man attempted to save her with a web-line, but the "romantic idiot" killed her by applying the 1100 pounds of force required to bring her to a dead stop. Filled with rage, Spider-Man savagely attacked the Goblin, nearly killing him. He returned to his senses at the last minute, however and the Goblin took the opportunity to attempt one final play by remote controlling his goblin glider to impale the wall crawler. Spider-Man was able to dodge the glider which instead impaled the Goblin, seemingly killing him. The nightmare was over, or at least that's what Peter thought.
Harry Osborn, Norman's son, had witnessed the final defeat of his father at the hands of Spider-Man and removed his costume before the authorities could arrive, thus preserving his secret identity. He even bribed the coroner so that further autopsies would show no trace of the "Goblin" formula in Norman's blood. And for many years, the world believed Norman Osborn to be dead.
After the apparent death of the Green Goblin, many tried to follow in his footsteps, including his son Harry, Harry's therapist Bart Hamilton, Phil Urich, and millionaire Roderick Kingsley who attempted to create his own variation and legacy on the goblin motif as the murderous Hobgoblin. Each subsequent version of the goblin was defeated and Harry eventually died as a result of exposure to an untested experimental version of the formula that had given his father his abilities. Little did anyone know that Norman Osborn was in fact alive and well and putting a master plan into place that he hoped would ruin Spider-Man forever.
The Return of Norman Osborn
The same formula that had given Osborn his heightened strength and intellect also gave him powerful regenerative abilities, allowing him to survive the impalement by his goblin glider. He had escaped the morgue, replacing his body with that of a drifter he had murdered (and impaled through the chest) and fled to Europe. There he joined the Cabal of Scriers, eventually moving up in their ranks and completely taking them over. After the death of his son Harry, whom Norman believed would prove himself in his absence, Osborn accelerated a series of plans he had formulated over the past several years.
From the shadows, Osborn manipulated Empire State University Professor Miles Warren as part of a grand scheme to have Parker believe he was in fact a clone and that Ben Reilly (the real clone) was the real Peter Parker. However, with Peter's wife Mary Jane Watson pregnant and the possibility of a life without Spider-Man on the horizon, Peter freely relinquished his alter-ego to Reilly. Unsatisfied with these results, Osborn returned as the Green Goblin revealing himself as the mastermind behind the entire fiasco and killed Ben Reilly who sacrificed himself to save Peter. Reilly's body disintegrated, proving that Peter was in fact the real Spider-Man all along. In addition, Osborn had an employee of his, Alison Mongrain poison Mary Jane into an induced premature labor, kidnapping the child.
Osborn's next grand scheme was to make Spider-man his heir, first drugging him into wearing the Goblin costume and attacking his friends. After days of physical and mental torture at the Osborn Estate, Peter nearly gave in, but refused at the last minute. Next, the Goblin used a drunken Flash Thompson to drive a truck into Midtown High School, where Peter had taken a job as a teacher. The accident caused Flash brain damage, and spurred Peter into a final battle with his old enemy. Although, it seemed that in some strange way Norman wanted Peter to finish him off, Peter refused saying he did not want to fight him anymore and declared a truce.
Sometime later, Norman Osborn was finally revealed to the public as the Green Goblin and after an climatic battle with Spider-Man and Luke Cage that raged across Manhattan, he was finally imprisoned. However, things were far from over.
From behind bars, Osborn once again masterminded a plan against Spider-Man. This time he had Mac Gargan, also known as the Scorpion, kidnap Peter's Aunt May. The plan was for Spider-Man to break Osborn out of prison in exchange for his Aunt's life. Peter reluctantly agreed and with the help of the Black Cat proceeded to break Osborn out, only to have twelve of his greatest enemies waiting for him on the outside. Osborn had assembled a Sinister Twelve, which included Mac Gargan newly bonded with the Venom symbiote. However, Mary Jane had contacted SHIELD and the villains were faced with the combined might of Captain America, Iron Man, Yellowjacket, Daredevil and the Fantastic Four. During the fracas, the Goblin had escaped to kidnap Mary Jane and took her to the George Washington Bridge in order to replay his murder of Gwen Stacy, a final act of vengeance against Spider-Man. However, a drugged Doctor Octopus intervened, attacking the Goblin. Spider-Man was able to save Mary Jane after a bolt of lightning sent the two villains into the river. Following some verbal clues from the Goblin, Peter was also able to discover where he had hidden Aunt May and rescued her as well. It was revealed that Osborn sent Peter a letter before the fight, thanking Peter for giving his life meaning and purpose, but Peter never received the letter due to moving from his residence.
After the Goblin's take-down, Norman and Gwen's twins confronted Spider-Man. They believed Parker to be their real father as well as responsible for killing their mother and abandoning them. Spider-Man told the twins the truth - Gabriel rejected Spider-Man, and accepted the Goblin mantle as the Gray Goblin, becoming insane in the process. After battling Spider-Man, a deranged Gabriel disappeared, while Sarah sought training to use her powers for good.
The Goblin later watched in shock as Spider-Man publicly revealed his identity as Peter Parker, railing that Peter "broke the rules!" Peter also confirmed on TV that Osborn was the Goblin, and that he killed Gwen Stacy. He was then approached by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who were seeking his aid. When Osborn fled during his last jail break, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents picked him up outside of Paris and returned him to his jail cell under heightened security.
The Goblin confronted and attacked Ben Urich in an alley, but SHIELD's nano-machines caused him to stop, involuntarily making him collapse and foam at the mouth.
Later he made a deal with a shadowy figure from the pro-registration side who gave him a serum to override the control nano-machines implanted by SHIELD. The figure was indicated to be highly trusted by the superhero community, though whether he was himself a superhero was unspecified; Sally Floyd and Ben Urich believe it to be Tony Stark himself. He attacked a group of Atlanteans in his Goblin gear, killing and wounding many. Later, when an Atlantean ambassador attempted to give a speech, Norman appeared and shot him, wounding but not killing him. As he was being taken away by security, Norman said he was 'sick' and not in control of his actions. While being interrogated by two officers, Norman became increasingly agitated when they questioned who gave Norman access to the press conference and assisted in smuggling a weapon there. At first, Norman became angry, threatening to kill the two officers' families, then he became more and more afraid until a government figure interrupted the interview (assumed from Norman's comments to be the man who neutralized his nano-machines) at which point Norman begged the officers not to let him go, even promising to reveal all he knew to them.
Norman Osborn became the government appointed new director of the Thunderbolts and was prescribed medication to stabilize his personality. He remained unbalanced, however, and prone to maniacal laughing fits. One such occurrence happened after he read a file on the Steel Spider. "Steel Spider, man".
After Mephisto changed reality, Norman's son, Harry, was alive once more and no one (including Norman) knew Spider-Man's secret identity.
In addition to calling the Thunderbolts to New York to hunt down Spider-Man, Norman agreed to help New York mayoral candidate Randall Crowne, who got into trouble when Ben Urich's newspaper Frontline revealed that he had been operating an illegal sweatshop. Norman confronted the man who took the photos: Peter Parker. Norman was unable to find a way Parker could contact Spider-Man and left him. When he later observed a fight between Venom, Anti-Venom, and Spider-Man, Norman was confronted by Menace. After a short confrontation, Menace spared him, after accusing Osborn of being a fool for devoting all his time and assets to Spider-Man's destruction. As Menace left, Norman found Peter Parker's camera and used it to reverse engineer the tracing system allowing the camera to zero on Spider-Man's chest. Norman later used the captured villain Freak to produce a counter-measure for Anti-Venom, at the same time providing Gargan with a protective Scorpion battle suit that would distribute the cure throughout his body, healing the symbiote faster. However when faced with the combined might of Anti-Venom and Spider-man, Anti-Venom fled the fight and Norman had to destroy his recent New York Headquarters after his fight with Spider-man. However, he was still regarded as a hero within the eyes of the public.
Captain Marvel, revealed to be a Skrull sleeper agent, attacked Thunderbolt Mountain, but he couldn't bring himself to kill Norman. Osborn offered him a chance to explain himself, spoke with him in private, and convinced him to leave. Following this, it became clear the Thunderbolts - due to Norman forcing the usage of Oscorp technology over Stark Industries products, the latter of which had been deactivated by Skrull agents - were the only team that could reach and defend Washington, D.C.. Norman successfully managed and directed the team, while personally joining the battle with a machine gun. During the conflict, several Skrulls shape-shifted into duplicates of Spider-Man, the sight of whom drove Norman into an apparent nervous breakdown. He gunned down every one of them, stating the slaughter to be "therapeutic" for him.
After saving the capital city, Norman successfully manipulated the media to promote himself and the team as patriotic heroes, and undermined the CSA and his former industrial rival Tony Stark, who appeared to retreat in the heat of battle. He subsequently led the team to New York, joining the final battle. His "heroic" status was exemplified when numerous TV cameras captured his gunshot killing Skrull Queen Veranke. When the President of the United States shut down S.H.I.E.L.D. and indicted Tony Stark, Norman was given the role of running the SHRA and the Avengers Initiative.
The Dark Reign
Norman was seen as the Earth's greatest hero, and had been effectively granted the power to restructure the U.S. military-industrial complex to fill the gap left by S.H.I.E.L.D. Osborn secretly brought together a group of super-villains and morally-ambiguous heroes, comprised of Doctor Doom, Namor, Emma Frost, The Hood, Loki, and, later, Taskmaster, under the name of the Cabal. Norman and his Cabal would initiate drastic changes that would tip the scales in favor of super-villainy, with Osborn promising to give them all an opportunity to reach their respective goals. To counteract the villain's inherently treacherous natures, they were threatened into compliance by the Sentry, though Namor, Emma Frost, and Doctor Doom would all later leave or defect.
Norman reformed S.H.I.E.L.D. into H.A.M.M.E.R., with himself as director, and former S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant Victoria Hand as deputy. Tony Stark, formerly Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., was portrayed as being indirectly responsible for the Skrull Invasion. Osborn had him hunted down as a fugitive, with the intention of recovering the sole remaining copy of the SHRA database, and also to obtain the secret behind the Iron Man armor's repulsor batteries.
Osborn renamed the 50-State Initiative to the Thunderbolts Initiative. With many of the previous members of the Thunderbolts folded into his new Dark Avengers, he created a new team of Thunderbolts as his own black ops team. Led by the second Black Widow, this team's first mission was to assist Osborn in divesting himself of the bad publicity attached to Green Goblin image. When Osborn was called to ride aboard Air Force One by the new U.S. President, he was confronted by Doc Samson, who possessed footage of one of the Green Goblin's murderous rampages. However, Osborn's new Thunderbolts engineered a scenario in which Osborn appeared to save the President from a gamma-irradiated Doc Samson and a copycat Green Goblin (in actual fact, the Thunderbolt Headsman). Grateful, the President gave Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. his blessings.
When overseeing the closure of Thunderbolts Mountain, an irate Swordsman confronted Norman about his actions. Norman seized his sword and murdered him in a psychotic tantrum. Norman then began to realize that his Green Goblin persona was starting to resurface.
the Dark Avengers
Osborn's next order of business was setting up his new team of Avengers. He was able to recruit Ares, The Sentry, and Marvel Boy (now calling himself Captain Marvel), as well as giving his former Thunderbolts new identities (Moonstone became Ms. Marvel, Venom became Spider-Man, Bullseye became Hawkeye, and the addition of Daken who took the identity of Wolverine). With the help of Ghost, Osborn was able to break into one of Tony Stark's armories and create his own suit, fusing elements of the design of both Tony Stark's "Extremis" suit and the Captain America's costume, naming his new super-"hero" persona the Iron Patriot.
The Dark Avengers' first mission was a response to a distress call from Doctor Doom, who had been attacked in his homeland of Latveria by Morgan le Fay. Osborn and Doom linked their armors to travel back in time, killing Morgan before she could launch her assault. Osborn and the Dark Avengers would later encounter rogue Atlanteans and Molecule Man.
The Void and the Green Goblin resurgent
Osborn appeared initially to use his experiences of mental illness to empathize with Robert Reynolds' schizophrenia, helping to suppress the Sentry's evil alter-ego, the Void. However, it would gradually become apparent that Osborn was merely callously gaining Reynold's trust, so that he would more willingly acquiesce to Osborn's later requests to allow to the Void to take control. Perhaps as a result of Osborn's manipulations, the Void would eventually establish itself as the dominant persona and begin to destroy New York. Osborn was able to negotiate a deal of sorts, with Osborn promising the Void happiness if he followed his orders.
Concurrent to Reynolds' deterioration, Osborn's own psyche appeared to be fracturing. He began to suffer auditory and visual hallucinations of the Green Goblin persona - some (if not all) of which were revealed to be due to Loki's sorcery.
Norman became the father of Lily Hollister's child. Norman wanted to turn Harry into the "American Son", a hero combining Iron Man's armor technology and Captain America's super-soldier serum. He offered Harry a job at H.A.M.M.E.R. Harry refused, but reconsidered later when he found out that Lily Hollister was pregnant, believing the child was his. After Harry's first day working at the Avengers' Tower, he snuck into restricted areas (using Green Goblin gadgets), and found a antidote serum for Lily. Lily mocked Harry, claiming she wanted to be Menace, and confessed the child was Norman's. Harry confronted Norman who confessed his plan to have the American Son die after his inception, to bring Americans around the Iron Patriot. Harry fought Norman using the American Son armor. Norman insulted Harry saying that he had to breed a better child to make up for Harry's failure. Harry almost decapitated Norman but instead walked away, accepting that Norman was no longer his father, ruining his greatest plan.
When riots began in San Francisco over regulation for mutants, H.A.M.M.E.R. moved in to secure the situation. Osborn branded Cyclops as the instigator of the chaos and turned public opinion against him and the X-Men. He had Namor and Emma assemble a team of mutants to serve as Osborn's X-Men for the riots and round up many hostile mutants to subject to the Omega Machine, a device created by Dark Beast to sap them of their powers. Cyclops negotiated with Osborn and demanded that he leave the city once he had the riots under control. However, their arguments went nowhere, so Cyclops left. In a more sinister moment (as the Iron Patriot), Osborn announced that he would kill Cyclops personally.
Soon enough, Frost and Namor turned on Osborn, having been working for Cyclops the whole time, allowing X-Force to evacuate the captive mutants. They retreated to a rebuilt Asteroid M, christened the Utopia. Cyclops denounced Osborn and his methods on live television. Angered at this betrayal, Osborn became determined to kill his fellow Cabal members. However, his team was defeated one by one by the X-Men. Eventually, only Osborn and Sofen were left, forcing them to retreat.
During his Dark Reign, Norman Osborn drew up a "to-do" list, consisting of solutions to major threats to his status quo, which he pursued with varying degress of success.
The Siege Of Asgard
Osborn viewed the presence of Asgard above Oklahoma as a threat to the American way of life. At Loki's suggestion, Osborn sought to create a scenario that would force the President of the United States to allow H.A.M.M.E.R. to invade and destroy Asgard. Osborn tasked the Hood with recruiting a team of villains that would be able to instigate the Siege.
The Hood's U-Foes implicated Volstagg, an Asgardian, in the massacre of thousands of innocent spectators at a football match at Soldier Field Stadium in Chicago. With an Asgardian apparently responsible, Osborn was now able to justify his invasion.
Despite Ares's initial misgivings, and without receiving official clearance from the President, Osborn led the Dark Avengers, members of the Thunderbolts Initiative and the Hood's gang, and a surfeit of H.A.M.M.E.R. troops and helicarriers in an assault of Asgard. While the Void set about destroying Asgard proper, Osborn and his cronies battled with Thor, Maria Hill, Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors, the New and Young Avengers, the recently-returned Steve Rogers, and the recently-revived, Extremis-free Tony Stark.
Meanwhile, in the White House, appalled by Osborn's unsanctioned attack on Asgard, the President gave the order to dissolve H.A.M.M.E.R. and arrest Osborn for treason. Back in Oklahoma, Tony Stark swiftly disabled Osborn's Iron Patriot armor with his own MK IV armor, and Osborn, realizing his imminent defeat, commanded the Void to destroy Asgard utterly. Before Steve Rogers could place Osborn under arrest, the compromised Iron Patriot armor disintegrated, revealing that the stress of running H.A.M.M.E.R. had taken a grievous toll on Osborn's mental health: underneath, Osborn had been wearing a crude face-paint rendition of the Green Goblin mask. The images of Osborn's breakdown were broadcast worldwide, cementing his downfall and the end of the Dark Reign.
The assembled heroes were subsequently threatened by the grotesquely malformed Void. Osborn, deranged and defiant, claimed that his sympathy and influence was all that had kept the Void under control, and that without it, the Void was unstoppable. In the ensuing battle, Osborn briefly escaped, only to be recaptured by Volstagg and Steve Rogers.
Osborn was initially incarcerated in the Raft penitentiary, still tormented by his Goblin persona, whom Osborn blamed for preventing him from successfully remaking the world as he saw fit. Later, Osborn was secretly transferred to the Special Containment Center. There, he met Father Coulmier, his secret follower. When his other imprisoned followers rioted in the Second Wing, he and other dangerous villains, including Ai Apaec and June Covington, broke free. Afterwords, Osborn surrendered himself to the police.
Return of Norman Osborm
In his cell alone, the Goblin persona began to harass Osborn over his failure, and how he can still make a difference, that he has followers everywhere, H.A.M.M.E.R. still exists and everyone knows he's right all he needs to do is call them. Later that day Luke Cage's Avengers are told by Victoria Hand that he is being transferred, and are chosen to escort him, as expected H.A.M.M.E.R. agents come to spring him during the transfer, one group fail due to Dr. Strange's illusion magic, while another group manage to get him to safety, not before he threatens Jessica Jones' baby and states "the call has been given" causing H.A.M.M.E.R. Sleeper agents to come to his aid and free him before he can be apprehended.
Later he is seen in a large gathering surrounded by many followers, of which include Superia, madame Hydra and Gorgon. They make a target of taking out the Avengers (specifically Luke's team) by using Ultimo, and good tactics to anticipate the moves, his main goal was to get Tony Stark's armor, but as Ultimo was destroyed he sent a machine to collect Wolverines blood (being a "genetic goldmine") and flying to a safe location, after which he initiated a self-destruct on Ultimo.
The New Dark Avengers
Osborn went about recruiting a new team. First, he traveled to the Savage Land to recruit Skaar, as his Hulk. Next, he faked the death of Barney Barton and enlisted him. Third, he went to the jungles of Brazil and met with Ai Apaec. He fed Apaec some sort of drug, transforming his usual monstrous body into that of a six-armed Spider-Man. He also recruited Gorgon to be his Wolverine, June Covington to be his Scarlet Witch and Superia to be his Ms. Marvel. With his new Avengers now assembled, Norman jokingly asks for a suit of armor.
Helped by Victoria Hand, Osborn's Avengers made their first appearance controlling a situation at Miami, the New Avengers arrived there late by Victoria's (on purpose) fault and faced Osborn.
At the same time, Osborn tended a trap to the main team of Avengers, who where subdued by H.A.M.M.E.R. agents with super-powers, such as "Spider-Hulks", Giant-Men and Wasps.
Osborn negotiated with the President to be in charge of USA security again, seizing the Avengers Mansion and making the New Avengers fugitives. When the main Avengers team managed to get free from H.A.M.M.E.R.'s HQ, Osborn appeared with a defeated Vision, leading a full army of Hand ninjas. Meanwhile, Skaar betrayed his team and attacked them when they where about to attack the New Avengers.