Zechs takes a gander at Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives TPB.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Writer- Roger Stern & Glenn Greenberg (Goblins at the Gate)
Penciler- Ron Frenz (Hobgoblin Lives) & Luke Ross (Goblins at the Gate)
Inker- George Perez (Hobgoblin Lives), Jerome Moore (Hobgoblin Lives), Scott Hanna (Hobgoblin Lives), Bob McLeod (Hobgoblin Lives), & Al Milgrom (Goblins at the Gate)
Colorist- John Kausz (Goblins at the Gate), Christine Scheele (Hobgoblin Lives), & Joe Andreani (Hobgoblin Lives)
The mystery of the original Hobgoblin was one of the greatest Sagas in Spider-Man history. After Jason Phillip Macendale confesses to the world he wasn't the first, the whole world of Betty Brant, wife of the original, Ned Leeds, shatters as a result. However, when Macendale is subsequently murdered by a mysterious assailant. The question begins to arise, does the original Hobgoblin still live?!
For the second tale: Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, has literally conned the whole world into believing he's a innocent man and making Spider-Man's life a living hell. However, one man is watching Norman's achievements and is rife with envy knowing the full truth, Roderick Kingsley aka the Hobgoblin! Witness the first and so far only confrontation between the original Green Goblin and Hobgoblin. It's all out goblin war, with Spider-Man caught in the middle.
After years of pleading from fans, Marvel finally re-releases the long out of print trade in Hobgoblin Lives, which provides true closure to the Hobgoblin Saga. Though as an added bonus they include the other Hobgoblin story that Roderick Kingsley was involved in and that's Goblins at the Gate (Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1 #259-261). For those who grew up in the 80s, Hobgoblin Lives is nothing more than return to that era. You have not only Roger Stern back in the saddle writing Spider-Man and one of the creators of the Hobgoblin (the other being artist John Romita Jr.), but you have Ron Frenz who drew a good portion of the Saga (when Stern left Frenz and writer Tom DeFalco wrote the other half save for the "finale" in Amazing Spider-Man #289). On the opposite side, for Goblins at the Gate, Stern is joined with Glenn Greenberg (editor for Lives) as writer and Luke Ross (Captain America) as penciler.
The greatest strength of both books is the writing. Stern acts like he's never left the book fitting the events perfectly into the current Spidey continuity. Even more, how he brings back the original Hobgoblin, by using the plot holes that resulted in the Saga originally is just utter brilliance and it makes complete sense. The characters are just priceless compared to today's standards.
Other great strengths is the art in Hobgoblin Lives. Every single time I read it I discover something new that Frenz (and no doubt Stern) hid away revealing a clue to who the Hobgoblin was. Ross, while good had a cartoony approach to his art style during this period of his career. It might be good to some, but may not be fun for others.
As for extras, pretty much if you read the separate issues of Hobgoblin Lives, you're treated with a guide to the Hobgoblin Saga (unlike the first released trade which had bonus panels from the issues). So you will know what the issue the characters are referencing and given a short summary of said event. Also, you get the same afterword Roger Stern himself put in the original trade.
The new features added to this particular volume, are quite awesome as well. You get a full spread cover to every issue (meaning if it's Hobgoblin Lives you get the full two page cover spread that covered that wondrous mini) and a small cover gallery at the end of the trade of the previous cover.
One of the things that you don't get (which isn't a big problem), was the little late 90s recap intros Marvel had going during that era. I was hoping that Marvel would slip just one due to the fifth Green Goblin (new readers or those unaware of that era would probably be scratching their heads without history of the character). Still, it's a minor complain and really all you need to know about the fifth Greenie was he was a no name clone and stood in for Norman to hide his goblin alter-ego. The only irony in the current scheme of things is that this fifth Goblin was going to be revealed as the fourth, Phil Urich, who was being blackmailed by Norman for stealing his son Harry's goblin equipment and to punish his uncle Ben Urich for exposing his goblin identity to the world (Ben wrote a tell all book on the Osborns called Legacy of Evil which is also the name of the one-shot written by Kurt Busiek that goes into detail about that). Why is it ironic? Phil Urich is now the fourth and current Hobgoblin. Alas editorial stepped in and pulled the idea from Greenberg, which is why we got the no name clone reveal later on in the infamous run of Howard Mackie/John Bryne.
Back to the features, the real treasure of the extras is a new Spider-Man/Hobgoblin time-line by Roger Stern himself, detailing each and every important event and clue that went on with each appearance of the original Hobgoblin. However, I know the only way you could truly love this sort of extra is if you have the actual issues or the Origin of the Hobgoblin trade (which thankfully appears to be getting a reprint come December of this year). Hobgoblin Lives TPB is a MUST buy for any Spider-Man fan. It heralds the returns of much beloved writer to the series and the Spidey villain he helped create. About the only major negative one can have with this trade is it wasn't released in premiere hardcover. Still, with what you get (three issues of a long mini, and three extra issues of a bonus story not even included in the original trade) for the simple price of twenty bucks. It's well worth the cover price.
10 out of 10
Review by: Zechs