Amazing Spider-Man #249-251
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #249, Amazing Spider-Man #250, Amazing Spider-Man #251
And here it is from the trade.
Why do that?!? Was it really just to avoid an external reference for trade readers? Or was it due to some deep seated Shooter hating? (I've been reading Jim Shooter's blog lately, that's why my thoughts are going in that direction.)
These issues also present a challenge to my project. As mentioned, in the course of this story, Spider-Man loses his spider-sense. And issues of Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel Team-Up take place while he's lost it. But there's no clean break between these issues of ASM where those additional Spider-Man stories can occur. Which means that the other comics must take place concurrently with this story arc, in between panels. Not the first time we've run into this, and we'll deal with it in the Continuity Considerations section, but it's always my preference when the issues take place sequentially. That said, this is still a case where i think there's a major benefit to reading Marvel's line as a whole in chronological order. Otherwise if you're reading, say, the Spectacular Spider-Man series and suddenly Spidey doesn't have his spider-sense, you're missing part of the story! And that's not even considering the fact that all of these issues end with Spider-Man heading to Secret Wars.
Before we get into the plot summary, one more thing. This is Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.'s last arc on Amazing Spider-Man. Issue #251 begins the Defalco/Frenz run, with Defalco scripting a Stern plot. Famously (among comic nerds, anyway), Stern didn't supply DeFalco (or anyone) with the Hobgoblin's identity, and this will lead to a lot of confusion and a number of bad reveals over the next few years. I don't know why he chose not to reveal the Hobgoblin's identity, but in retrospect it seems like a bad idea.
Major update here: It turns out Stern did disclose to DeFalco his intentions for the Hobgoblin's identity, but DeFalco didn't like the idea of it being Kinglsey. See Comic Book Resources review of the Hobgoblin identity snafu Part 1 and Part 2.
Despite the fact that the secret of the Hobgoblin's identity was bungled by later writers, Stern's run has definitely been a highlight of the Amazing Spider-Man series.
As for JRJR's art, it was of course great. Not stylized and angular like his later work. Just a very nice clean Marvel house style. On complaint is that his Peter Parker became too much of a heroic muscular type. Peter (and Spidey) is supposed to be slender and agile looking. Spider-Man is strong, sure. But he shouldn't look like Captain America.
And Peter should still look somewhat nerdy. It's even worse because the dialogue still has people referring to Peter as being geeky.
It's actually a pretty common problem for people drawing super-hero comics. In the 70s, Mr. Fantastic was drawn with a similar muscular frame. Beyond that, Romita Jr.'s was a great compliment to Stern's writing. And going forward, Ron Frenz's Dikto-tribute style will certainly correct the Peter Parker issue.
Now on to the plot! Via Osborn's notes, the Hobgoblin has acquired dirt on various business leaders, and he's decided to go for blackmail. J. Jonah Jameson and Harry Osborn are included in the plot. JJ for having created the Scorpion, and Harry for his father's identity as the Green Goblin. Roger Kingsley, the fashion designer from Stern's Spectacular Spider-man run, is also apparently included as well, but we'll get back to that. Harry brings Peter along, and the Kingpin also shows up at the Century Club where the blackmailing is going down.
Most of the blackmailees suspect Harry since his father would have had the goods on all of them. But when the Hobgoblin reveals himself...
...Harry confronts him directly, and knocks off his head. It turns out that he was really a robot (note Kingsley's overacting)...
...and the real Hobgoblin bursts in.
Spidey jumps in to defend Harry...
...but the Hobgoblin hits him with the Green Goblin's old gas that blocks Spidey's spider-sense.
Without that power, the Hobgoblin has the edge and Spidey is defeated. But the Kingpin steps in and prevents the Hobgoblin from killing him, and even slips a spider-tracer on the Goblin's sled.
Spidey seeks out the individual blackmailees but doesn't get much help. Note two details from his visit with Kingsley, however. 1. Kingsley is upset that his brother is out of town. We haven't heard anything about a brother before. 2. Kingsley doesn't seem to remember his girlfriends name. Odd!
Finally, Spidey seeks out Jameson, and learns that JJ is writing up an editorial confession regarding his involvement in the creation of the Scorpion.
While Spidey notes some contradictions - JJ's only copping to his involvement in the Scorpion and not, say, the Spider-Slayers or the Fly, and the fact that he's only coming clean now - it's still a nice distinction between Jameson and the other people being blackmailed. JJ insists on publishing his confession even after Spidey stops the Hobgoblin and destroys his notes, and resigns as Editor In Chief of the Daily Bugle, turning that title over to Joe Robertson (JJ remains Publisher).
While he's without his Spider-Sense, Spider-Man pulls out his old device that tracks his Spider-Tracers. His internal monologue makes it sound like he hasn't used the device in a long long time ("It's been years since I've used the tracking receiver... and it looks like it! The batteries leaked... it's a mess in here!"), but Chris Claremont had him pull it out of his butt to give to the Invisible Girl in Marvel Team-Up #88.
Using the tracer device, Spidey tracks down the Hobgoblin, who had actually found the tracer that the Kingpin placed on his sled and was therefore prepared for the confrontation.
During the course of the battle, the Green Goblin's journals are destroyed in a fire.
The battle continues and Spider-Man regains his Spider-Sense (we've shifted into Frenz art here; note the very Dikto-like and skinny Spider-Man).
Then the two of them go over a pier into the Hudson while fighting in the Hobgoblin's battle van. At this point Spidey is trying to save the Hobgoblin from drowning, but the Hobgoblin seems to prefer death. He has an odd thought about how the "disgrace would be too much for me.... and my family".
Roger Stern intended Roderick Kingsley to be the Hobgoblin. He has a twin brother Daniel who poses as Roderick in these issues. If you know what you're looking for, you can kind of see the clues, but they're very subtle and it's not surprising that subsequent writers weren't able to follow up on it without any help from Stern.
After wrapping things up with Harry...
...Peter investigates a major spider-sense tingle in Central Park, and winds up getting sucked into the construct that will transport him to Secret Wars.
Regardless of the the long term problems with the Hobgoblin, this was a nice wrap-up to the Stern/Romita run, and the Defalco/Frenz combo looks promising at this point as well.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: As noted above, we have some concurrencies between this arc and some surrounding issues of Marvel Team-Up and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man. Luckily, the Marvel Chronology Project has already thought this all through (probably based on the Marvel Indexes). Team-Up #138 and Spectacular #87 occur after Spidey has lost his Spider-Sense and while Spider-Man is talking to various people being blackmailed (but not JJ), basically between pages #10 and 11 of Amazing #250. Then we have Spidey's confrontation with JJ and his rebuilding of the Spider-Tracer Receiver in Amazing #250 pages 11 to 16. Then Marvel Team-Up #139-140. Then the rest of Amazing #250-251, except for the last few pages where Peter talks to Harry and then leaves for Secret Wars. Then we have Spectacular #88-89 (and, oddly, Web of Spider-Man #26, which is an unrelated fill-in set in the past). Then Amazing #251, Spectacular #89, and Team-Up #140 all repeat the same scene of Peter talking to Harry and leaving for Secret Wars. Complicated, but luckily my personal obsession doesn't require the splicing up of individual issues and all we really have to say is that these stories are essentially taking place at the same time and all culminate in Spidey leaving for the Battleplanet.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Amazing Spider-Man: The Origin of the Hobgoblin, Marvel Tales #261
Inbound References (11): show
Peter's Spider-Sense goes off in issue 249, right before he and MJ go into the pool. It also goes off briefly in issue 250 and then disappears again. Maybe those scenes weren't included in your trade.
Posted by: Michael | July 10, 2011 7:12 PM
Thanks, i had just found the scene from #249 and was in the process of scanning when your comment came in. Updated above.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 10, 2011 7:34 PM
So with all the talk about who's to blame for the way the Hobgoblin story ended - has Roger Stern ever said why he left Spider-Man before resolving the story himself?
Posted by: S | March 29, 2014 1:19 AM
I believe it was due to him being angry at Marvel editorial during the time, and especially upset with being removed as writer of Avengers. Plus, he couldn't pass up that chance to write a new Star man series that DC was offering.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 29, 2014 2:03 AM
No, that's why he left MARVEL. Stern was still working at Marvel when the Hobgoblin was revealed in 1987. (His last full issue of Avengers was dated November 1987 and the Hobgoblin was revealed in June 1987.) S is asking why the Stern left Spider-Man before resolving the story.
Posted by: Michael | March 29, 2014 8:52 AM
Roger Stern on the reason he left Spider-Man:
"Just the usual creative shuffles. Towards the end of (The Amazing Spider-Man run), Tom DeFalco left to get Marvel's Star Comics line started, and J.R. picked up the X-Men assignment. Danny Fingeroth became the new Spider-editor. Danny is a good guy, but...you have to understand, as far as Spider-Man was concerned, Tom and I were absolutely on the same wavelength. When he left, it just wasn't the same without him. I didn't have to explain every little detail to Tom, the way I did with Danny.
"I liked Danny - I still do - but I could see that if we kept working together, it would drive at least one of us crazy. Maybe both of us. After about six months, I called J.R. to discuss it with him, and he said that he was thinking of leaving Amazing to spend more time on the X-Men. And that made it easier to leave the book.
"Of course, if I'd known that Ron Frenz was going to take over as the new penciler, I might have stuck around. I'd had so much fun working with him on (The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man). I finally got to work with Ron again on a Superman Annual and a couple of miniseries [Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives and Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin], but it would have been even better to work with him on Amazing. He and Tom produced some really great stories on that book."
Posted by: Haywerth | June 27, 2014 8:22 PM
As a kid, I just thought "Kingsley" slipped up and called one girlfriend by another's name; it's absolutely a clue! From the Kingpin using a Spider Tracer to Peter digging out the old tracker to the "I Created the Scorpion" confession by JJJ, there are so many fine little touches that make Roger Stern the best Spider-scribe since Stan Lee. At the time, JJJ's editorial and step over to Publisher seemed momentous in that Romita/Janson DD-flavored office. Obviously Jonah wanted to take the sting :-D out of the blackmail, and it DOES set up the '84 Annual, but he basically succeeded because other writers don't mention it much, right?
Posted by: Cecil Disharoon | November 8, 2015 7:51 AM
I think JJJ's involvement with the Spider-Slayers is public knowledge at this point; when a robot runs around town with your face and voice, people tend to notice. At the very least, people at the Bugle would know about it.
Posted by: mikrolik | February 23, 2016 11:51 AM
The "clues" to the Hobgoblin's identity I think are almost too subtle. For instance:
1. "Roderick" says he has a brother. If we even bother to focus on what seems to be a throwaway line, at this point, we haven't seen or heard about said brother, so why would we assume it's an identical twin?
2. "Roderick" forgetting his girlfriend's name would probably be interpreted by the reader as Kingsley is a ladies' man who is two timing his girlfriend, and can't keep their names straight.
3. Hobgoblin saying the disgrace would be too much for him and his "family". Well, doesn't everyone have a family? Or at least a family name they'd want to keep reputable?
Interesting that Stern wanted to reveal Hobby's ID around #264, but he was gone after #252. I wonder how he would have handled the issues leading up to #264? Would readers have guessed Roderick was the Hobgoblin once Daniel's existence was made clear? Maybe if he was revealed before #264. If Daniel was introduced the same issue Roderick was unmasked, I think it would have been incredibly disappointing.
Posted by: mikrolik | August 10, 2016 11:10 AM
Following the later reveal that Daniel is bald and wears a toupee to masquerade as Roderick, I can't help thinking of them as George and Oscar Bluth.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 18, 2016 5:30 PM
Do think Arrested Development was inspired by Hobgoblin Lives?
Posted by: Michael | August 18, 2016 7:50 PM
There's something I don't understand. If Daniel saw Hobgoblin at the blackmailing event, why does he think he is out of town?
Posted by: AlluAllu | August 21, 2016 2:44 AM
Do think Arrested Development was inspired by Hobgoblin Lives?
Now, the story of a rich fashion designer who stole everything, and the twin brother who had no choice but to keep it all a secret.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 21, 2016 8:10 AM
@AlluAllu: I don't think Roderick had told Daniel he was the Hobgoblin yet. He just said, "I'm not putting myself at risk. Daniel, you take care of this blackmail thing."
Posted by: Thanos6 | August 21, 2016 12:23 PM
Yeah, I agree that at this point Daniel was in the dark about Roderick being the Hobgoblin. Thus, I don't think he's "overacting" in the scene where the Hobgoblin confronts his blackmailees, that's just Daniel being Daniel (while masquerading as Roderick).
As for how the reveal would have gone down if Stern had stuck around, I've probably said this in the comments of another issue, but...
I suspect the hints would have become more obvious, with possibly one or two more red herrings post issue #251. Eventually, I think the specter of Roderick's unseen "brother" would have had most of the readership believing that this guy who was never around but who Roderick seemed to be so dependent on would *obviously* be the secret identity of the Hobgoblin... and probably have a great many of those readers crying foul in that they were anticipating being given the big reveal only an issue or two after we actually met the secret identity in question (which would have been just like the Green Goblin, discounting Norman's earlier appearances as window dressing where he wasn't identified).
THEN we'd actually meet Daniel around #262 or #263 and we'd be thinking "Wait, THIS guy is secretly the Hobgoblin? That doesn't make sense... he seems even more of a nervous Nellie than Roderick ever was..." And only in #264 would we see that the "Roderick" we'd been seeing much of the time was in fact Daniel and that we had in fact met the Hobgoblin's secret identity way back in Stern's Spectacular run.
Posted by: Dan H. | April 24, 2017 4:54 PM
Ah man, these issues are just classic. 249 had some wonky art but Janson knocks it out of the park inking over JRJR and Frenz in the next two. Great mystery, great fights, total package here.
Too bad Stern left though. I'm not going to say DeFalco didn't miss a beat but the first couple years of his run was great.
Posted by: MindlessOne | April 29, 2017 8:32 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|