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Goblins a Go-Go, Part 2
We take a close look at the convoluted Hobgoblin saga
By Arnold T. Blumberg
April 27, 2002
One Hobgoblin meets his maker (and we didn't even realize it at the time) in SPIDER-MAN VS. WOLVERINE #1.
© Marvel Characters Inc.
You knew I couldn't leave well enough alone, didn't you? Sure, the first installment of this article didn't say "Part 1," and sure I threw away my only reference to the Hobgoblin by saying that the lineage of that Spider-villain spin-off was "a convoluted tale for another time," but guess what? Now's the time! So settle in bunky, draw up a web, and let me enlighten you as to the origins and current status of one of Spider-Man's deadliest and most mysterious foes, the horrific Hobgoblin! But be warned - this one is so complex, we're going to have to cover it all in two parts. Then we'll be done and you'll have more Spider-Goblin knowledge than you'll know what to do with. Trust me.
Even those of you who aren't particularly Spider-savvy have probably guessed by now that the Hobgoblin is somehow connected to Spider-Man's ultimate arch-enemy, the Green Goblin (about to terrorize the web-slinger and audiences in movie theaters everywhere this May), and you'd be right. It all began way back in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
#238, which also sported one of the most evocative covers in the series' long history, with the shadowy form of the new Goblin tearing a Spider-suit asunder. That surreal image only hinted at the torment that this new foe was about to heap on the shoulders of our hapless wall-crawler. It also didn't hurt the nostalgic mood that both John Romita Sr. and Jr. collaborated on the artwork for this issue, beautifully recalling the glory days of the title when the Spider and the original Goblin used to mix it up on a regular basis.
Is this the end of the Hobgoblin? Of course not! Cover to AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #251.
© Marvel Characters Inc.
As seen in AMAZING
#238, an unknown figure is led by a thug to one of Norman Osborn's old Goblin hideouts, which is still packed from floor to ceiling with pumpkin bombs, spare gliders and Goblin suits, and other bits of technological paraphernalia. The mystery man is intrigued, quickly offs the little toady, and sets about crafting a new persona from the ashes of the old. By issue's end he has redesigned the Goblin mask and costume, changed the colors, and emerged in pumpkin orange and yellow as the Hobgoblin. And a generation of Spiderphiles shivered in anticipation.
The eerie first appearance of the Hobgoblin in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #238.
© Marvel Characters Inc.
It is well-known that the mystery behind the identity of the original Green Goblin was at least a point of contention between co-creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko if not the motivation for Ditko's decision to leave the title after issue #38 in July 1966. Appropriately enough, history was about to repeat itself, although in a far more prolonged fashion. It would be years before anyone knew who the Hobgoblin truly was, a torturous but always entertaining period in Spider-Man's career that was replete with clues, red herrings, and tense confrontations, usually concluding with the Hobgoblin cackling into the night as he jetted away to fight another day. Even when the secret of the Hobgoblin's identity was
finally revealed, that wasn't the end of the story!
Before we go any further, let me offer the requisite spoiler warning - for anyone who still doesn't know who the first Hobgoblin truly was, we'll be spilling the beans, so leave now if you want to pick up the old issues and relive the magic and mystery that was the Hobgoblin saga. Everyone set? Ok then, and be warned. In order to tell this story in an efficient manner, we'll be examining the four major incarnations of the Hobgoblin in a non-linear fashion, so keep up!
The real Hobgoblin was revealed in HOBGOBLIN LIVES, by Roger Stern.
© 1997 Marvel Characters Inc.
Hobgoblin III - Ned Leeds: While the Hobgoblin was created by Roger Stern, the apparent "final" revelation of his identity was handled by others in a rather off-handed way when Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds was murdered in Germany in the pages of the one-shot, SPIDER-MAN VS. WOLVERINE
. As it turns out, that was supposedly the Hobgoblin's last gasp as well, because we were later told in a flashback to the murder that Ned Leeds was the Hobgoblin! Shock! Ned had been a supporting player and Betty Brant's husband for some time, and while the revelation seemed to fit, it wasn't quite what Stern had originally planned. As we later learned, Ned was but one of many dupes the real Hobgoblin had brainwashed and used to throw Spider-Man and the authorities off his scent. Ned's reporter instincts actually allowed him to follow his own sort of criminal agenda for a while, and he in turn used Flash Thompson as a surrogate Hobgoblin when things got a bit dicey. Eventually Ned's "identity" was leaked to the underworld by the real Hobgoblin, who allowed Ned to be assassinated by a fellow named Jason Macendale (more on him later) through a hired gun known as the Foreigner. Thus was a major loose end tied up, freeing the original Hobby to take a much-needed sabbatical from crime. But Macendale had other plans...
Next time we'll wrap up our massive Goblin retrospective - yes, we promise - with a look at the man who dared to take on the Hobgoblin identity and the man who created it in the first place. The original Hobgoblin revealed...again!
TO BE CONTINUED