Amazing Spider-Man #275-276
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #275, Amazing Spider-Man #276
At a Welcome Home party for Nate Lubenski, Peter Parker, feeling guilty for not being there when Nate was attacked, decides to give up being Spider-Man. On his way home, Peter tells Mary Jane that this has been brewing for a while, since his encounter with the Beyonder last issue and "a few other weird recent events". It's at this point that MJ asks Peter why he decided to become Spider-Man in the first place, leading to the Amazing Fantasy reprint.
MJ's reaction to Peter quitting being Spider-Man is ambivalent.
Meanwhile, Flash demonstrates to Sha Shan that he's not a bully (c.f. Web of Spider-Man #11, including my "data point" comment).
This bad behavior on Flash's part is the culmination of a build-up that had him having an affair with Betty Leeds while hypocritically accusing Peter of having an affair with Sha Shan. But it's also in the service of providing several candidates for the identity of the Hobgoblin, who resurfaces this issue.
Other candidates include Lance Bannon...
...and Ned Leeds.
Ned is set up to be the prime candidate. He is aware at this point of Flash's affair with his wife, and he shows up at Flash & Sha Shan's apartment after Flash leaves. And then encounters Flash on the street, where Flash delivers another blow.
Before you allow that scene with Ned swearing vengeance to convince you that he's the Hobgoblin, be sure to see this one from Flash finding out that Sha Shan has packed her bags and left.
Sha Shan is soon spotted by the Hobgoblin, who grabs her as a hostage in an attempt to draw out Spider-Man.
Hearing the news about the Hobgoblin, Peter decides he's not getting involved. Not aware that Sha Shan is the hostage, Peter says to let the Avengers or the Fantastic Four handle it. But Mary Jane convinces him not to turn his back, invoking the responsibility he learned from his origin story.
Remember that, please.
Poor Sha Shan is drawn like a hunched-over old woman, and to add insult to injury, the Hobgoblin claims that he chose her specifically because she's unattractive. He also says that he has a thing for beautiful women and isn't able to menace someone he finds appealing.
Earlier, when telling MJ why he was quitting, Peter mentioned the death of Gwen Stacy and Sin-Eater shooting into a crowd. So Spider-Man's battle with the Hobgoblin is designed to give him a closure on those points (this is the latest of several regarding Gwen's death). He prevents a pumpkin bomb from reaching a crowd, and he successfully catches Sha Shan when the Hobgoblin tosses her.
The Hobgoblin also has a new device that fires random bursts of electric zaps from his finger. The randomization should prevent Spider-Man from dodging, but that doesn't take into account Spidey's spider-sense.
However, Spidey did dislocate his shoulder rescuing Sha Shan. So while Spidey retains the upper hand throughout the battle...
...he's unable to prevent the Hobgoblin from escaping.
Flash later visits, or rather menaces, Sha Shan at the hospital...
...and then taunts the Hobgoblin on television.
It's surprising to see Roderick Kingsley here. He hasn't figured much into Tom DeFalco's plots aside from being the head of the company that is employing Mary Jane as a model. But Kingsley was who Roger Stern intended to be the Hobgoblin. The legend is that Stern never told anyone who the Hobgoblin was supposed to be. But seeing Kingsley here makes me wonder.
Remember that conversation between MJ and Peter about the Avengers and the FF and responsibility from above? Well, here it is in reverse.
Spider-Man does go out and locate the Hobgoblin...
...and their battle results in a gas explosion. Spider-Man is dazed but remains conscious, and the Hobgoblin is knocked out, making it possible for Spider-Man to capture him. And when he's unmasked, Peter finds that he's Flash Thompson.
The real Hobgoblin is then shown hanging up his costume and saying that it "couldn't have happened to a more deserving fellow".
The Hobgoblin isn't the only character whose secret identity is a mystery. There is also his partner in crime, the Rose. Here we have the Kingpin musing on that subject.
There are some nice twists in these issues but we're reaching the point where the Hobgoblin is mainly defined by the mystery of his secret identity. And so with ads promising that "the saga of the Hobgoblin explodes in '86", it's necessary to extend that mystery for as long as possible. And since the Hobgoblin is the 80s answer to the Green Goblin, it arguably makes sense to play with his secret ID for a while; that end scene with the Hobgoblin taking his costume is a clear nod to the early Green Goblin appearances. Unfortunately, the mystery is extended at the expense of Flash Thompson's character and, to a certain degree, logic: by DeFalco's run alone, the only logical choice for the Hobgoblin at this point is Ned Leeds. We're clearly being set up to believe that is the case, but that apparently wasn't DeFalco's intention. And it's fine to set up red herrings, but there's really no one else that fits the bill. Lance Bannon's convenient disappearances don't provide motive and Roderick Kingsley hasn't been in the series enough lately to merit suspicion. Richard Fisk makes a certain sort of sense for long time fans (except for his hatred of Spider-Man) but definitely works better as the Rose. So it's no wonder that the whole thing will get muddled.
Trying to put all of that aside for the purposes of these issues, there are still some problems, especially with the MJ/Peter relationship where MJ is becoming increasingly sobby and irrational. That said, there are some nice Spider-Man/Hobgoblin battles and nice modern-retro artwork from Frenz.
A splash panel in issue #275 includes Ron Frenz's depiction of editor Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest in the background.
Since DeFalco and Frenz eventually make Jim Owsley a character in the Marvel universe as Aloysius R. Jamesley, a mean spirited satire that appears in several Thor issues, i'm counting this as an appearance of Jamesley.
In issue #276, we also have the Fly escaping from the mental hospital only to be killed by the Scourge.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The last page of #276 shows Spider-Man listening in while Lt. Keating and his men search Flash's apartment and find more (planted) information that Flash is the Hobgoblin. The MCP places this entire arc, except that last page, before Secret Wars II #9, and the final page after, and also after Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #113. I'm not aware of any specific dependency relating to the Secret Wars issue, so i've just placed the entire arc after that issue. This should take place before Spectacular #113, although there's a minor hiccup regarding that; more on that issue's entry. I should also mention that it's circa this appearance of Keating that he's actually been replaced by the Foreigner.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
In an Amazing Heroes preview, DeFalco stated that #275 was going to be a "big event" and was considering revealing the Hobgoblin's true identity there.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 24, 2013 6:41 PM
DeFalco intended the Rose to be Kingsley:
Posted by: Michael | November 24, 2013 6:46 PM
The "Gang War" storyline that turned out to be DeFalco's swan song (and he barely got to write even the beginning of that) presumably would have sold Richard Fisk as Hobgoblin, much as in practice, with DeFalco gone, it sold Fisk as the Rose. Fisk's appearances there and in Web around this time, penned mostly by Priest if I recall, quickly made him a compelling character. Whether DeFalco could have done it with Fisk as the Hobgoblin I'm not sure---Hobby was much more ruthless than the Rose.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | November 24, 2013 8:10 PM
Having YET ANOTHER story where Peter is tempted to give up being Spider-Man was a let down. At this stage, there was no water left in that particular well.
Also, I love the Hobgoblin as a character, but extending the mystery of his identity was beginning to get tiresome at this point. DeFalco had originally used him well, but it's been over a year since his last appearance. Poor choice of pacing. He really needed to be in a few more issues priming the pump for the big reveal. I guess DeFalco intended this to start the countdown to a revelation in Gang War, but it was too long in coming.
Posted by: Chris | November 25, 2013 9:37 PM
This appeared in a review of #275 in Comics Journal #107: "By the way, have you noticed that since she became a mature, less irrepressibly irresponsible person, Mary Jane Watson's tits have gotten smaller?"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 17, 2014 7:08 PM
What does that say about the 1990s when Mary Jane was married? Things got really bad with the crazy cheesecake shots for a while with some of that art style.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 17, 2014 8:23 PM
Lance Bannon was also considered a suspect for the Hobgoblin? I always wondered why they didn't just make him Venom rather than create Eddie Brock. It would have worked better.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 12, 2015 11:21 AM
With respect I feel the criticisms of the Peter/MJ relationship are rather unfair. It’s a soapy romance subplot. It’s obviously going to get sappy. And as for irrational....how? MJ doesn’t want Peter hurt. She encouraged him to fight Hobby. Then she had a ‘oh shit’ moment realizing what she’d done and had a visceral change of heart. It makes sense when you think about it.
Posted by: Al | December 14, 2015 11:21 PM
Shouldn't Roderick Kingsley be included as a character appearing? I realize the entire Hobgoblin identity thing is a mess by this point, but Kingsley himself appears as noted in one of your scans.
Posted by: irh13 | March 13, 2016 6:10 PM
irh13, the "Hobgoblin" tag referred to Kingsley. I've updated that tag to avoid future confusion.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 14, 2016 8:43 AM
Bob McLeod does uncredited inks in #275. I know his line work when I see it. He should have been paired with Ron Frenz more often.
The Kingsley insert should have been a hint, like it was in #250. Also, did anyone write in about Flash's costume lacking the auto-fire button that we see Hobgoblin using during the battle?
Posted by: VtCG | April 17, 2016 2:24 PM
Regarding the splash page featuring Jim Owsley, this doesn't seem to have been a dig at Owsley at this point, since the guy in glasses on the left is clearly Frenz himself. The guy on the far right looking up is presumably DeFalco (I usually picture him with a full beard, but there are photos of him with just a moustache in the mid 80s). Presumably the other guy between them is some other staffer I don't recognise.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | April 17, 2016 3:27 PM
That scene where Flash takes Ned down with one punch and bloodying his nose is where DeFalco was indicating that Ned was NOT the Hobgoblin because Flash wouldn't have been able to do that to him.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | October 11, 2016 10:09 AM
An even more obvious clue that Ned isn't the Hobgoblin is when the Hobgoblin congratulates himself on thinking of framing Flash and thinks that it wouldn't have occured to him if he hadn't seen Flash mouthing off on TV. Ned hated Flash more than anyone at this point for sleeping with his wife repeatedly and then punching him in the face when confronted. No way could Hobgoblin be Ned!
I agree that this should happen after the end of Secret Wars II and have no idea why it wouldn't since the last two issues of that follow on so closely.
Out of the suspects presented here, only Kingsley and Bannon could be the Hobgoblin, since it was established that the Hobgoblin has money and comes from a pretigious background with a lot to lose.
If Richard Fisk was supposed to be a the Hobgoblin, then why didn't Defalco mention him at all? It would have been a really crappy reveal if it was some guy who hadn't been in the comics for so many years. It seems really unlikely.
Posted by: Benway | November 8, 2016 9:13 PM
@Benway- according to DeFalco, he DID include scenes with Richard Fisk but Priest kept cutting them. If that's true, Priest got his own karmic payback years later when he wrote a Black Panther story where Killmonger collapses after consuming an herb T'Challa had earlier consumed without ill effects- Priest complained online that the editor cut the line where it was explained the herb was poisonous to most people but T'Challa's bloodline was immune.
Posted by: Michael | November 26, 2016 11:34 AM
Man I hated that shoulder button blaster enhancer thing.
The cracks in editorial really started to show around this time, IMO.
Posted by: MindlessOne | May 10, 2017 1:53 PM
Something really subtle I missed on all my read throughs until now (and fnord seems to have missed too) - the Fly subplot - when we first are re-introduced to him, it's at an institution where we get a bunch of exposition from a hospital orderly talking to a new member of staff just before they discover the Fly has escaped. I thought nothing of it, nothing of consequence seems to be in that scene beyond establishing that the Fly had escaped. But if you look closely, the new member of staff is Scourge! When we later see Scourge assassinate Fly, he is looking exactly the same (with the same specific weird red shades) and using trash to attract Fly (something the real hospital orderly had told him about).
Prior it seemed a chance encounter, as how would he know where Fly would be or that Fly would even have just broken out, but turns out Scourge was targeting Fly in the Institution and then pursued him. It doesn't really change anything (except again not muck up his M.O.) but is a great little detail.
Posted by: AF | November 12, 2017 1:10 PM
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