In the shadows of Character Spotlights' past.. THE HOBGOBLIN RISES!!
In an Internet filled with overwhelming negativity and pointless hatred of frivolous stuff, it's sometimes necessary to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember why we enjoy comics in the first place. Character Spotlight is a weekly feature showcasing some of the Outhouse's favorite characters that epitomize why we read comics. Maybe you'll learn something, maybe you won't, but regardless we hope you enjoy the Outhouse's Character Spotlight!
– Roderick Kingsley--
Thwarting a heist gone wrong, Spider-Man captures all save one lone robber, Georgie, who escapes because the arachnid gives up (mirroring the same lack of responsibility of not catching the Burglar who shot Uncle Ben). Georgie then stumbles across the lair of the then deceased Green Goblin.
In an attempt to appease his shadowy boss for the bungled robbery, Georgie helps plunder the entire cache of goblin weapons and gear. In payment for his servitude, the employer then murders Georgie. Using the material he had stolen, the man modifies the Green Goblin suits to a frightening new visual.
And the Hobgoblin is born!
There have been many pretenders to the throne, but the original still stands out as the benchmark of judgment (ironically like Norman Osborn before him). So what makes a character whose actual identity wasn't revealed until twenty years after his creation so enduring?
For me the answer is threefold: The first is his lack of remorse and his unredeemable evil nature. No matter what Norman has done, there is a small hint that he does care for his son Harry and even Pete (though of course it's a warped view). Add to the fact that recently Norman believes he's fighting the good fight. Kingsley never believes any of that. He knows what he does is crooked and the only one making a buck off the misery of others is him. This is a dude who is only concerned with himself and has no morality over the lives of anyone around him including his brother Daniel. This lack of empathy is what makes every confrontation against Spider-Man so satisfying. When Spider-Man beats the living crap out of him, you just can't help but be happy in the plight of a total bastard.
Then there's the fact that it was Peter who had a hand in the creation of the Hobgoblin, neglecting to go after that one final hood. It's a repeat of his first failure and really it's pretty much up there with failing to save Gwen. Think about it. Every life taken or ruined by the hands of the Hobgoblin is all thanks to Pete. I'm surprised writers have never brought up this fact save once (during the Clone Saga in a mini-series when Pete was in "retirement" and lamenting his career as Spider-Man).
The final reason why he's such a magnificent bastard is that up until Amazing Spider-Man #649, Kingsley had actually gotten away with all the crimes he had committed as the Hobgoblin. Think about that...
Normally in comics, a villain is beaten and sent to prison then limbo, but not Roderick Kingsley the original Hobgoblin. For over ten years, he had successfully tricked and cheated all his enemies: Spider-Man, Norman Osborn, the Kingpin, and Betty Brant. He then retired to the Caribbean Islands with all his criminal earnings intact. For his entire career as the Hobgoblin, Kingsley had only been caught once (Hobgoblin Lives #3). His stay in the confines of prison didn't even last that long as he then manipulated Norman Osborn to bust him out (Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1 #259).
Amazing Spider-Man #238-239, 244-245, 249-251, & Spectacular Spider-Man #85 – Roger Stern's tenure of the Hobgoblin Saga saw the rise of the hellfiend super-criminal. Watch his quest for power and glory using the legacy of Norman Osborn. Everything one enjoys about the character is on full display here from his use of the goblin's devices to frightening new effect to sending out dupes to befuddle the wall crawler. The stunning finale is set up as the Hobgoblin intends to blackmail members of the Century Club (including J. Jonah Jameson and Harry Osborn). The fiery finale to it all between Spider-Man's fight with Hobgoblin is not to be missed!
Amazing Spider-Man #254 – Though he doesn't actually appear in the issue itself, the specter of the Hobgoblin hangs over the entire issue. Spider-Man comes across a Jack O'Lantern and a group of thugs trying to unearth the sunken Battle Van. Ironically during the climax of the fight the van turns on and heads off leaving Jackie with nothing but a Spider-Man's fist in his pumpkin face.
Amazing Spider-Man #257-261 – Though the first part is all Mary Jane centered, Hobgoblin controls the B plot as he begins a partnership with the Rose. Doing his part, Hobby muscles some hoods and takes over some territory for the crime lord. In exchange, the Rose helps him kidnap a pregnant Liz Allen and Mary Jane Watson so Harry Osborn can find any more lingering Osborn journals. Again, Spider-Man has two several epic fights with the Hobgoblin in the story: one throughout the actual Osborn Manufacturing building (humorously ending in the women's bathroom) and the other in the warehouse owned by Hobby and the Rose. The first Green Goblin/Hobgoblin battle occurs in this story, with Harry donning some goblin gear and joining Spider-Man to fight the Hobgoblin. The Hobgoblin then proceeds to one shot Harry next showcasing his superiority.
Amazing Spider-Man #275-277 – In this story, the Hobgoblin returns from a long absence and aches for a showdown with his hated foe. Though in the aftermath, Flash Thompson also earns the wrath of the Hobgoblin. In the end, Hobby sets up another encounter with Spider-Man that ends up with Flash taking the fall for all of Hobby's crimes. So much in fact that vigilante Scourge sets his sights on Flash with Spider-Man trying to save him.
Amazing Spider-Man #284-288 -- The Gang War story-line that effected not just Spider-Man but other street heroes such as Black Cat, Falcon, Daredevil, and Punisher. A battle between all of New York's underworld erupts when the Kingpin is deposed as ruler of all crime in New York. The Rose/Hobgoblin alliance fractures and dissolves when the later betrays the other by revealing his identity to the Kingpin for information. Also during the arc the Jack O'Lantern and Hobgoblin's rivalry begins and intensifies to the boiling point of Macendale swearing he'll murder the Hobgoblin one way or another.
Amazing Spider-Man #289 – The Hobgoblin is finally revealed to be... a recently deceased Ned Leeds?! Then who's the Hobgoblin Spider-Man is fighting? Why, it's Jason Macendale, the now former Jack O'Lantern, who put a contract out on Leeds and then stole his garb to become the new Hobgoblin!
So one door closes and another new Hobgoblin sets forward. The story itself isn't all too good. It feels rushed and there are plot holes aplenty. However, the only reason it's included here is it establishes the nature of those who don the mask of the Hobgoblin and for the events that happen next.
Green Goblin #5 – A now ironic tale of the heroic Green Goblin, Phil Urich (the current wearer of the Hobgoblin mask) being haunted by the goblins of the past including the supposedly dead original Hobgoblin. The supposed deceased informs Phil that even being fully sane and aware still didn't save him from the fate that befell the other goblins. It sums up why being a Goblin is never ever going to be a happy ending for anyone who takes the identity.
Spider-Man Unlimited vol. 1 #14 – Though the main crux of the story is the finale of an over-rated event going on in other Spider-Man books. The real meat is in the subplot with Ben Reilly taking Betty Brant to a Bugle Fundraiser at the Century Club. Yes, the very same blub Hobby had blackmailed in the first story above. Throughout the gala event we see all the players and suspects of that Saga again including Roderick Kingsley himself. It's a nice teasing set-up for what is to come.
Peter Parker Spider-Man vol. 1 #69 – This is the final full appearance of Jason Macendale's tenure as the Hobgoblin. In the tale, he murders some lackeys he had hired to beat up Peter Parker and unknowingly makes life miserable for Ben Reilly as well. He's then told by his employer, the mysterious Gaunt, that his benefactor wishes to sever ties with him and to not kill Spider-Man. Alone, Macendale has a long monologue stating that for all his winnings and power he realizes how fruitless it all is because in the end he still has nothing. It's a fitting end to Macendale's career and his failure to live up to the original. The tale ends with Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) defeating the would-be successor to the original.
Hobgoblin Lives #1-3 – With Jason Macendale on trial for the crimes committed by him and the original, he outs Ned Leeds as the Hobgoblin to the press. It isn't long when the attention to the original Hobgoblin's crimes attracts something Jason never expected... the actual original Hobgoblin himself! Slaying Macendale, the original reclaims his mantle and sets out to continue his corporate plundering. Roger Stern returns to finally reveal just who was the original Hobgoblin: Roderick Kingsley!
Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1 #259-261 – Goblins at the Gate, the first ever meeting and confrontation between the original Green Goblin, Norman Osborn and Kingsley with Spider-Man and the fifth Green Goblin caught smack in the middle. Both original goblins get to showcase their character quirks until we finally get to see Osborn vs. Kingsley vs. Spider-Man! It isn't a true goblin war (Norman only dons the Green Goblin mask at the end), but it's the closest and best Goblin battle in Spider-Man books.
Plus one can see it as an end to the entire Hobgoblin Saga as a whole with Kingsley retiring from being a super-villain and keeping his earnings he had stolen. A villain actually having a happy ending and not get caught?! This was the actual case for quite a long time.
Spider-Girl vol. 1 #98-100 – After an almost six year absence in comics, Kingsley returns with a vengeance in this arc taking place in an alternate universe. He's tasked by a criminal organization to destroy Spider-Girl and her friends. The battle leads into an epic fight where a long-lost element in the Spider-Girl books ends at the hands of the newly returned Hobgoblin. Kingsley would later plague Spider-Girl in Amazing Spider-Girl #1-15 and then return again in the Spectacular Spider-Girl mini-series, though none of those appearances would be as classic or fitting for the character.
Amazing Spider-Man #648-651* – It features the actual 616 return of Kingsley as the Hobgoblin ... only to be cut down by Phil Urich who then takes his place. An all too brief appearance, but it sets the stage for Kingsley's possible return to the world of Spider-Man. As for Phil Urich, like Jason Macendale before him, he goes on a similar quest to get everything that he believes is owed to him.
* EDITOR'S NOTE: The story listed is the one that current Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott claims makes "Zechs' head spin Linda Blair Exorcist-style." Their initial confrontation over the character has evolved into a continued effort by Mr. Slott to troll of Zechs, which led to an eventual confrontation at C2E2 2012 (where Mr. Slott inappropriately groped our innocent staff writer). Reader discretion advised: If you do read the current run of Amazing Spider-Man comics and do not enjoy it, Mr. Slott may engage your mother in sexual intercourse in an attempt to "son" you over the internet.
The Hobgoblin Can Even Beat Superman:
The man has befuddled Spider-Man for years, though really his only interest in Superman would be plundering his wondrous Kryptonian and LexCorp technology. He'd probably have send out some poor dupe to fight Superman with several kryptonite-laced weapons. All the while with Superman busy with his stooge, he would loot the vaults. Then it would be too little too late for the Man of Steel.
Where is the Character Today?
He's been presumed dead. HOWEVER, given that the Hobgoblin is on par with Mysterio at being the master of smoke and mirrors, it may be misleading to believe so. Supposedly, Amazing Spider-Man #696-698 will feature a story called Danger Zone: a story that rattles the status quo of current Hobgoblin, Phil Urich. Dan Slott himself has promised revelations so shocking that they will make the author of this very article's head spin. Is it quite possibly a hint of a possible Kingsley return? Or could he be appearing even sooner in another book perhaps (is he the new Crime-Master that's been plaguing Flash Thompson's Venom)?
Until then, Marvel chose last year to dump most of the classic Hobgoblin stories listed above in trade form. You should really buy those or follow Kingsley's actual advice:
Update: HE's BAAAAAACK!!!!
The Hobgoblin Will Return in Amazing Spider-Man #695....
Written or Contributed by: Zechs