Amazing Spider-Man #289
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #289
I'll talk about the various candidates and my preferences below and in the Web of Spider-Man #29 entry (and i'll leave the twin stuff until i get to Hobgoblin Lives, which allowed Roger Stern to return to restore his original idea to the extent it was still possible), but the bigger issue here is that DeFalco allowed the mystery to drag on. The problem is that, the longer you go on with the mystery, the more of a let down it's going to be, unless it turns out to be someone really significant like Aunt May. I say "DeFalco allowed" but i don't know if there were editorial decisions involved in this; Amazing Spider-Man had been edited by Danny Fingeroth but the Spider-titles were later consolidated under Christopher Priest (as Jim Owsley). By all accounts Priest and DeFalco didn't get along, and this was complicated by political battles going on at a higher level. Priest has said that he was ordered by Jim Shooter to fire DeFalco, and that after he did so he found out that he had put a target on his own back. But during that period after DeFalco was fired, Priest wrote the Gang War story in Amazing Spider-Man and took DeFalco's Hobgoblin candidate, Richard Fisk, and revealed that he was the Rose instead. And at the same time he took Need Leeds, who was being used as a red herring suspect for the Hobgoblin, and killed him in the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine oneshot. It was about this point that Christopher Priest was fired, and so now we have Peter David, who has been writing Spectacular Spider-Man, writing the final (for now) Hobgoblin revelation in Amazing.
It all sounds like a big mess that poor Peter David inherited, but David seems to have made some odd decisions also. Or, again, it was the editor, now Jim Salicrup, who per the CBR article i linked to - and i sympathize - "wanted to move the books on from the past few years of drama as desperately as possible". But just looking at it from the standpoint of the writers, we now have four writers, each of whom have had their own ideas about who the Hobgoblin should be. It's worth noting that Priest brought some focus back to Kingsley in Gang War, so he was available as a candidate again. But i suspect that Priest intended Lance Bannon to be the Hobgoblin.
There's logic to the choice of Bannon. It wouldn't be my first preference but given where we are it might have worked. Bannon was introduced as a rival photographer for Peter Parker whose photos were always better than Peter's. Now, i'd like him to be just that and only that. He's better than Peter or at least he gets better pictures because he's actually a professional photographer and not just webbing a camera to a wall. But he'd been acting suspiciously during the DeFalco run and Priest showed him in Gang War with a series of photographs of the Hobgoblin that apparently would have given away a secret if anyone saw them. Nothing came of that. And i think the idea was that he was a mirror image of Peter Parker. He got the good pictures of Hobgoblin the way Peter got the good shots of Spidey. Especially with Priest writing Peter's ability to get pictures of crime victims in the Wolverine oneshot as "ghoulish", you can see how having a dark side reflected in Bannon might have allowed for some interesting themes in future stories.
To be clear, again, i'm not pushing the idea that it should have been Bannon. The point is that David had at least two potential living options to choose from (according to CBR again,
Instead, Peter David went with Ned Leeds, the guy that was already dead.
Talk about a let down. Ned Leeds' off panel death was bad enough. But revealing that the Hobgoblin died off panel in a story that wasn't even about him... holy cow, that sucks!
And again, that's on Peter David. It wasn't Christopher Priest's intention to kill the Hobgoblin. In fact, while it seems pretty well confirmed that Priest killed off Leeds out of spite towards DeFalco, that spite was due to the press conference where DeFalco told a group of comics reporters that Leeds was the Hobgoblin to throw them off the scent after Priest was pressuring DeFalco to wrap the story up already. Not defending Priest here if it was out of spite; the point is that killing Leeds shouldn't have affected the real Hobgoblin reveal. Killing Leeds eliminated a red herring character.
I'm not blaming David. He's getting thrown into this out of the blue. But i also don't blame Priest for getting fired before he could make his reveal (you can blame Priest for killing Leeds out of spite and for mismanaging DeFalco as editor). The real problem here is that this story has passed hands between four different writers, each of which disregarded the plans of the previous.
We do get a hint of what Roger Stern must have thought of all of this from Priest's website, where he writes "Oh, and suddenly, Ned Leeds was the Hobgoblin, a move that infuriated Roger Stern, but one that I had absolutely nothing to do with." This was around the same time Stern's Avengers vs. X-Men story was changed at the last minute and not long before he was fired from the Avengers. Must have been a fun time for him.
Peter David's reasoning for making Leeds the Hobgoblin hinges in part over what may have originally just been a mistake regarding Betty Brant's mother. In Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #109, part of Peter David's Sin Eater story, Betty mentions writing her mother a letter. But way back in the Lee/Ditko days, Betty's mother was said to be dead. So to cover up for that reference, and one other like it in Amazing Spider-Man #284, we now see that Betty is going crazy.
She's also showing signs of memory loss. We hear from Flash Thompson that Betty let out a scream and then disappeared after the Hobgoblin showed up at her apartment during Gang War.
And, in the flashback that shows Leeds getting killed, we learn that Leeds sought the power of the Hobgoblin because Betty has apparently been waking up in the middle of the night screaming about Spider-Man.
In the same story that revealed that her mom was dead, her brother was killed, and she blamed Spider-Man for it. It's quite a reference, nearly 20 years in the making, but Betty has been shown to be unstable in earlier stories as well (although never to this degree).
I really don't like making Betty crazy to serve this mess of the story.
But at least it gives us some kind of explanation for why Ned Leeds, of all people, would become the Hobgoblin and have a grudge against Spider-Man.
You can also use the clues that were originally meant to be red herrings, like the fact that the Hobgoblin went after Flash Thompson, who had been having an affair with Betty. Priest will also reveal in Web of Spider-Man #29 that Leeds was partnering with the Rose so that he could get a big story about the Kingpin getting taken down, similar to what he might have done with Bannon.
I should also note that Priest seems to have gotten the memo that Leeds was going to be revealed as the Hobgoblin by the final issue of his Gang War series, which has the Hobgoblin getting a list of KGB names from the Kingpin as a lead in to the Wolverine oneshot, but remember, that came out after the oneshot was published. But Leeds' interest in the KGB story doesn't make a lot of sense in the context of him being the Hobgoblin; would he really abandon his big Kingpin takedown story to focus on the KGB killings?
The Spider-Man vs. Wolverine story is changed in other ways as well. In that story, Leeds was killed by KGB agents because he was investigating the deaths of the agents by Wolverine's friend Charlie. In and of itself, that made perfect sense. But for random KGB agents to be able to kill the Hobgoblin doesn't make sense. So Peter David concocts a story here wherein Jack O'Lantern, who has had run-ins with the Hobgoblin before, goes to the Foreigner, and hires him to kill the Hobgoblin.
The Foreigner is Peter David's pet villain at this time. He's an uber-competent mystery villain that has beguiled the Black Cat, been fawned upon by Sabretooth, and been rude to the Kingpin and gotten away with it. If he had personally assassinated the Hobgoblin, i still wouldn't have liked it but it might have been understandable given David's clear desire to make the guy seem as awesomely awesome as can be. Instead, the Hobgoblin is killed by a bunch of the Foreigner's costumed goons.
It's a really sad showing for the Hobgoblin...
...who by the end is crying "It's not fair!" and begging for Spider-Man to come help him (as you can see from scans above, Leeds has no idea that Peter is Spider-Man and there's no reason for him to expect Spidey to be around).
It's a sad, sad end to the original Hobgoblin, who had super-strength and a lot of experience fighting Spider-Man. That was certainly Roger Stern's opinion, leading to the retcon that Leeds was actually just a brainwashed dupe of the real deal.
It's also worth noting that in Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, Peter and Wolverine found ordinary, non-costumed goons in the room with Ned. I guess we have to assume that they came in after the Foreigner's men.
The situation also makes Jack O'Lantern look like a wimp that can't fight his own fights.
It's also worth realizing that the fact that Leeds was the Hobgoblin means that the Hobgoblin really was dead. But he was a popular villain, the best addition to Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery in some time. So this issue also has Jack O'Lantern giving up that identity and becoming a new Hobgoblin, who has a more demonic appearance but doesn't get any more respect, at least from the Kingpin. At least we're not kept in suspense about who the new Hobgoblin is.
The Kingpin has no respect for Jackogoblin, but the Foreigner has no respect for the Kingpin. Kingpin is not happy that Foreigner had the Hobgoblin killed without getting an ok from him. Foreigner basically tells him to stuff it (and beats him at chess! Isn't he awesome, you guys?).
You'd think that this would cause the Kingpin to declare all out war on the Foreigner, but he's somehow neutered in this story. All he does instead is tip off Spider-Man, letting him know that Leeds was the Hobgoblin...
...and telling him that the Foreigner and Jack O'Lantern were the ones responsible for killing him. Spider-Man is unable to locate the Foreigner, something that Foreigner comes back to gloat at the Kingpin about later.
But Spidey does run into Jackogoblin.
In part thanks to the fact that it's raining, which plays havoc with Spider-Man's adhesiveness...
...Spider-Man is unable to defeat Jackogoblin, either.
But during the fight Flash Thompson, still on the run from when he was thought to be the Hobgoblin, helps Spider-Man, and therefore clears his name.
Spider-Man also had evidence from the Kingpin that would have proven Leeds was the Hobgoblin, but it gets destroyed in the fight with Jackogoblin. Peter is ok with that since Flash is cleared anyway and this way it doesn't hurt Betty any more by dragging her husband's name through the mud.
Also in this story, the Rose finds his agents Johnston and Varley have been killed by the Jackogoblin, but Jackogoblin chooses not to kill him as well. Priest will focus more on the Rose in his contribution to this wrap-up in Web of Spider-Man #29 and #30.
One last thing, and that's the question of guilt. This issue doesn't look at all at Spider-Man's killing of Charlie in the Wolverine oneshot, but it does load Peter up with guilt over Ned Leeds' death. There's a further turning of the screw when JJ says that he feels guilty over Ned's death and says it's the one time he can't blame Spider-Man, who wasn't supposed to be anywhere near the scene. Except we know he was.
But that's all dumb. It's correct for Peter to be upset, and he was rightfully rattled immediately after he found Ned dead. But he can't seriously blame himself for Ned's death. Was he supposed to be guarding Ned the entire time they were in Berlin? As far as Peter knows at this point, Ned was killed by KGB operatives while in pursuit of a story. What if Ned had brought a different photographer with him? I get that Peter has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility (something that Priest will actually address in Web Of #29), but it's overdone here. That's especially disappointing because Peter David is usually pretty deft with scripting and making angst "work", so to speak. He does find a nice ironic twist with JJ's comment but it doesn't work to me because i don't accept the premise.
So it's all pretty terrible, not helped with the stiff, almost plastic looking art (it's a double-sized issue with two artists that was probably rushed into production after the revelations in Gang War and Spiderman vs. Wolverine, so you can't really blame Kupperberg or Morgan)...
...but you can definitely see Salicrup's edict to get this thing finished already working. We have an explanation for the Hobgoblin. We have a new Hobgoblin that can just be a regular villain. Flash is cleared (Ned Leeds' death also ends Betty's marriage strife, and the fact that Flash hit Sha Shan is being swept under the carpet). At the end, the Black Cat gives Spider-Man some new black costumes after his last one was destroyed fighting Jackogoblin. This also ends Peter's internal debate on whether or not to continue being Spider-Man.
A new beginning. We had to make Betty crazy and retroactively kill off the main villain of the past few years to do it, but it's done (at least for now...). Time to move on. Technically David Michelinie becomes the writer for Amazing next issue, but he'll be interrupted by a pair of cross-Spider-title stories before really beginning in earnest with #296.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place soon after the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine oneshot, with Peter watching Ned Leeds' corpse unloaded from the plane that (i assume) took them both back from Europe. Web of Spider-Man #29 takes place concurrently with this issue and repeats some scenes.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (10): show
This has to be the most confusing story I've ever read. I didn't get it when it 1st came out and 27 years later I still don't get it. Hobgob one of my favourite villans of all time dies so pathetically by the hands of some no mark goons. Hobgob! Really?!
At 1st I thought it was a frame up, they got the wrong guy. Ned Leeds wasn't the Hobgob but no it was him. The story is an absolute mess.
Posted by: jsfan | March 26, 2014 1:17 PM
Also, I thought Jack O (I'm on friendly terms with them) was a badass.He looked like a wimp in this book.Pah!
Posted by: jsfan | March 26, 2014 1:20 PM
"according to CBR again, David apparently first wanted to make the Foreigner the Hobgoblin but that got rejected. I mean, give it a rest already with that guy, huh, Peter?"
"By that point, Priest wanted to reveal the Foreigner --a master assassin introduced by David in "Web of Spider-Man" -- as the Hobgoblin. David vehemently disagreed with the idea, claiming that the Spider-writers had long agreed that the Hobgoblin would be revealed as a character who had been around since his introduction in ASM #238. That would immediately discount the Foreigner, who debuted about a year prior to ASM #289 being published."
Posted by: Robert | March 26, 2014 2:51 PM
Oh, thanks, Robert. I read that wrong, and that makes me feel a little better about David's hyping of Foreigner.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 26, 2014 3:00 PM
Anyone read Spidey Kicks Butt? Long article on the Hobgoblin there.
On the bright side at least Stern was able to do a miniseries revealing at long last who he wanted the Goblin to be.
Posted by: David Banes | March 26, 2014 3:19 PM
According to DeFalco, Priest fired him because he wanted the book to be more "grim and gritty":
Posted by: Michael | March 26, 2014 8:45 PM
I don't think you apportion enough blame for the Hobby mess to Stern, Fnord. Kingsley is as bad an idea as any of the other candidates, he's a lousy caricature if a character to begin with, and the whole twin brother thing (who isn't really a twin) is such a goofy idea no subsequent writer can be faulted for not going with it. There wouldn't have been a mess if Stern hadn't been replaced by DeFalco, and Stern might have made the Kingsley Brothers more plausible if he'd had time--he was clearly working in it--but it wasn't an intrinsically good set-up, so I can see why others turned to different candidates.
I may be misremembering, but I'm pretty sure PAD has said the Leeds reveal wasn't his idea. As another commenter has mentioned, the "meaningless death" angle is characteristically Priest-ly. I think Leeds was Hobby by the time of Priest's interim run, and PAD was stuck with it.
It's possible Priest had decided Ned would be the one even earlier, while DeFalco was still on the book, if my hunch that Alfredo--a very Priest-ly character, normal guy who tussles with supers, a bit like Gordy from PM&IM--was originally meant to be Richard Fisk, in Alfredo's first appearance in that issue guest-starring X-Factor. Even if that's not so, Alfredo seems more like a Priest creation than a DeFalco one, and that suggests Priest had been taking a hand in the Rose/Hobby identity question a year before this.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 26, 2014 9:39 PM
I agree with everyone - this is garbage. Looking back to even ASM #270. this used to be a good, fun title. Certainly it could still be considered great by ASM # 261 which was the last good Hobgoblin story. It's a year and half to two years later, and the title is utter dreck. Despite a couple of good issues here and there, it's been a depressing, incoherent mess.
It doesn't take much to derail a title. At least Salicrup was right, this needed a soft reboot ASAP.
Stern can really do no wrong in my book. I agree with Walter that Kingsley, as written in Stern's day, was too minor a character to truly be considered a suspect, but so was Norman Osborn in the old days! But I think it would only need a few issues establishing the character in a prominent way to take care of that.
Three years is about the longest a long time story arc can be done. I can't remember the person who first explained the rule, but it had to do with the average time most readers bought comics and then moved on to other hobbies. But I think it's about right. It's a good guideline. Long enough to build suspense, but not too long before it gets frustrating. As such, the Hobgoblin mystery should have been resolved around #275. Instead, it staggered on corpselike for more than a year.
Posted by: Chris | March 26, 2014 9:55 PM
This issue has been an albatross around Peter David's neck ever since(even knowing that he was the last writer in line here), and it only got worse by his relentless attempts to put a positive spin on it.
First, In his BID column, he attempted to put at least some blame on Priest for the Leeds identity. Priest apparently disputed that rather harshly online, so then Peter changed his tune and claimed that fan reaction to the scene was all wrong, and that it was an exciting, logical way for it to play out. Roger Stern utterly shot that down point by point in Back Issue by referring to the actual printed pages(something Peter apparently hadn't referred back to in a while), and Peter replied with a weak "I still maintain it was the best I could do under combat conditions". A while later, in some unrelated comments to a topic in his blog around Feb. 2012, Peter changed tune again and admitted it was a weak, unexciting scene, but it was all Alan Kupperberg's fault. He didn't actually say Alan's name(he just said "the artist"), but it's difficult to think of anyone else he could have meant. I don't think Alan has ever responded to this, but if he does, I fully expect Peter to change tune again and blame the colorist(or maybe the letterer). You'd think somebody would tell him that you just can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear...
Peter has attempted to defend this mess with the line "Nobody had done it before, and nobody's done it since!" That's because everyone before suspected something like this was a bad idea, and everybody after has had that belief confirmed.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 27, 2014 7:40 PM
Joe Casey also tried to blame the artist for his infamous "Hulk-is-knocked-out-by-a-snake" story. Neither man seemed to understand what readers had problems with was the actual concept, not the way the artist drew it.
Posted by: Michael | March 27, 2014 8:24 PM
@Walter, it seems it was Jim Salicrup who decided that Ned Leeds was the Hobgoblin (you can see it in the Spidey Kicks Butt article that David and Michael reference, and Priest also maintains he didn't know anything about it until after the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine). Priest works in some clues for that in the latter issues of Gang War, but remember those came out after the Wolverine onehsot was published, even though they're in a different order on my site.
Afredo definitely becomes more Priest-ish in Gang War. In his prior two appearances he was just a love interest for Mary Jane. I don't like or see the point of the character at all, and your suggestion that he was originally intended to be Fisk is interesting, although if it was re-scripted on Priest's orders it doesn't seem to be because Priest wanted to make Leeds the Hobgoblin.
I agree with everyone that Stern's almost-twin brother idea is not a good one (although i also agree with Chris that Stern could have made it work). I wonder if that was really Stern's intention all along, or if he came up with that due to a miscommunication with JRJR who drew Kingsley into a scene with the Hobgoblin, or if Stern hadn't yet decided on the Hobgoblin's identity yet.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 28, 2014 3:24 PM
I'm gonna side with Stern, I think he would have made the twin thing work. I mean I figure the two would be introduced with a plan instead of 'last minute reveal' that so many movies do.
I think there was one early clue he was able to put in, the fashion industry brother would say 'gahd!' rather than 'god!'
Posted by: David Banes | March 28, 2014 9:13 PM
This is interesting: Owsley apparently wanted to kill Ned Leeds at the Hobgoblin identity climax as far back as June 1986, per Amazing Heroes Special #3, which quoted him: "Somebody who's been around for 20 years is going to die!". The story was initially announced for ASM #286 or 287.
When Owsley was asked if Parker was going to die, he actually replied "It almost was!" Apparently, Al Milgrom suggested killing off Parker and replacing him with a new Spider-Man. Owsley and Shooter agreed, but DeFalco sternly vetoed it. However, Owsley may have been BS'ing the reporter...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 31, 2014 9:39 PM
Just to add to the confusion, some publications listed Owsley as the writer when this issue was announced.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 31, 2014 3:31 PM
Call me crazy, but I think that in the long term, the whole Leeds fiasco actually benefited Kingsley's character. Once HOBGOBLIN LIVES cleared everything up, it established him as one of comics' most pragmatic and careful villains, a master manipulator who was intelligently cautious but by no means cowardly. I think that's responsible for his recent resurgence in popularity, both in the comics themselves and in fandom. This doesn't excuse what happened as it was happening, but it's funny how things can work out.
Posted by: Thanos6 | September 9, 2014 8:53 PM
Oh man I love Spidey Kicks Butt. I think I'm glad I had the identiy of the Hobgoblin identiy spoiler years before I started reading his introduction. I think it's better to read the long essay on it than reading the issues since it became a mess.
As for the blame game, well, I do like Defalco and I can understand why he'd dislike the twins thing but Stern was clearly not going for 'oh yeah he has a twin.' I believe Stern was going to leave clues and knew from the start there were brothers. It's a shame, I started reading of the Hobgoblin a few years ago, introdution and having one of his thugs pretend to be him, and they were great and showed a clear idea of plotting.
At least Stern got the chance to set all things right years later.
Posted by: david banes | September 11, 2014 8:20 PM
I enjoyed this story way back then - Leeds as the Hobgoblin was cool. But, alas, I'm in the minority.
Posted by: Jack | January 28, 2015 7:29 PM
I don't know. This was all clearly badly handled. If Leeds was the Hobgoblin, his super-strength should have easily dispatched Foreigner's men. It's almost like it was done subconsciously so that someone could easily ret-con it away later.
But, I have now read the whole "Origin of Hobgoblin" trade. As much as I love Stern on Avengers, I think Kingsley is a terrible idea, even before you bring in the whole "not quite a twin brother" idea which makes it worse.
To me, the problem was that Richard Fisk was clearly perfect to be either the Rose or the Hobgoblin and he couldn't be both.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 19, 2015 8:07 AM
How about the Hobgoblin is Richard, which makes total sense, I agree, although Hobby immediately turning the GG's outfit into a different color is probably proof enough that Stern intended his fashion designer character to be involved from the start. And then make the Rose someone who's been using a voice modulator and special clothes to make her look more like a man, explaining why a full facemask was so necessary, Vanessa Fisk. Family business indeed ☺
Posted by: PeterA | July 20, 2015 2:29 AM
I rather liked the way Betty was in denial. It is a real concept and it really does happen. Sucks for Betty sure, but she's a fictional character, and that's the point. We like her and care about what happens to her. So does Peter. [Although I question his choice of MJ as the one who should be sent to comfort Betty; they were hardly close friends, were they?]
In a genre where people die and come back to life so often, it's a pleasant change to see realistic human reactions to it. Elektra had been long-dead by the time I read Frank Miller's "Daredevil," so the death itself didn't have much impact on me, but the following issue [a superhero version of 'denial,' for those who haven't read it] is one of the most gripping, creepiest comic books I've ever read, and I am not someone who is easily disturbed by fiction.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 20, 2015 3:57 PM
But the problem is that Peter David implied that Betty had been crazy for MONTHS BEFORE NED DIED (i.e. thinking her mother was alive), so it was just another "womens be crazy" story.
Posted by: Michael | December 20, 2015 4:17 PM
Or maybe it's just a lie she automatically tells, for whatever reason. It's not flattering to Betty, but it's still a believable human behavior. I've known people like that, and you probably have too. Peter might be one of the few who ever got close enough to her to learn the truth. [I still think Ditko intended Betty to be Peter's ultimate love interest.]
I'm not an expert in this "Spider-Man" era, and it's a distant second from one the one era I do know well [Lee/Ditko] so maybe she made regular reference to her mother being dead. Seems unlikely, but it's possible.
And with the behind-the-scenes office politics going on - I've been reading a few of the links to the articles on this page - it's not clear when exactly Ned was pegged, or who made the actual decision. It's quite possible Peter David was told well in advance of how it would end, or when the "Spider-Man/Wolverine" book would be out, or he just forgot. Or any number of other explanations.
Too many contradictions in the Hobgoblin story to ever be resolved, but it doesn't detract from how well-done Betty's suffering from denial was.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 20, 2015 4:51 PM
Or not even a lie, just a calming mechanism or way to think things out for herself. "Writing a letter" has been recommended by psychologists or people with professional credibility as a way to resolve problems. Wasn't her marriage to Ned having problems during the other references to her mother? When she hit denial, she hit it hard.
I'm just coming up with ideas, by the way, feel free to disagree.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 20, 2015 5:13 PM
By the way, now that Peter is patching things up with MJ [which will result in a quickie marriage] maybe he should hook her up with Felicia who obviously has a talent for designing and making clothes. Both girls would benefit, and so would Peter.
Posted by: ChrisW | December 20, 2015 6:23 PM
Regarding PAD having 2 living people to choose from instead of Dead Ned... Kingsley had already been shown on at least 3 occasions talking to or in the same room as the Hobgoblin. We now know those Kingsleys were not Roderick, but if PAD had tried to reveal that this issue, I think it would have gone down even worse than Dead Ned. I agree that Stern might have made the "brother" thing work if he'd had the chance to set it up, but with no set-up for it, PAD would have been absolutely slaughtered if he'd tried to sell "There are 2 Kingsleys" as a reveal at this point.
It really was a choice between Bannon and Dead Ned, everyone else had been eliminated. Not PAD's fault that Ned had been killed & Fisk revealed to be someone else and everyone else has appeared in a scene with the Hobgoblin. And I think Bannon would have been a fairly disappointing choice too... at least Ned has a reason for the Hobgoblin's crazy hatred of Flash, I'm drawing a blank on why Bannon would have had a grudge against Flash.
Whichever way this mystery was solved it would be underwhelming. I think PAD was in a pretty impossible situation here, I really don't see a good solution.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | September 19, 2016 3:53 PM
Incidentally, here's PAD's side of this issue's orgins right here:
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 18, 2016 8:56 AM
I guess I was the only person who thought Hobgoblin was Lance Bannon.
Posted by: kveto | December 18, 2016 9:48 AM
I think the lesson we can learn from this whole debacle is that waaaaaay back in 1982 when Roger Stern first proposed the whole Hobgoblin secret ID mystery, right then & there Tom DeFalco should have looked him right in the eye and told him "I am not going to give you the okay to do this unless you first tell me who the Hobgoblin is supposed to be." If DeFalco had done that, then later he could have stopped Stern from introducing Kingsley's near-identical brother to throw readers off the trail, something that DeFalco felt was a cheat, and which is what started the whole "let's make Hobgoblin someone else" debacle that led to this issue.
Posted by: Ben Herman | December 19, 2016 1:50 PM
I thought he was Lance Bannon for a while. Stern never got the chance to explain how a photographer like him always drove around in a super nice car. He seemed like he may have had more money than it appeared, like an inheritance or something. Then, at the end, when we saw Lance in his apartment with all those photos of the Hobgoblin, I knew he was just working on a major expose on the Hobgoblin, but this was after Stern left.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | December 19, 2016 4:26 PM
I thought it was Bannon too.
Posted by: Benway | December 22, 2016 1:00 AM
In the DeFalco issues featuring the Hobgoblin, I always felt Lance Bannon was an obvious red herring. There were scenes when people were asking "Hey, has anyone seen Lance?" while Hobgoblin stuff was going on, and even one scene where Robbie wonders where Parker and Bannon are, then we immediately cut to a Spidey/Hobby fight scene. Really blatant stuff. I think DeFalco set up Ned as a secondary red herring with more subtlety, but then of course he became the "actual" Hobgoblin... until Hobgoblin Lives, anyway.
Posted by: mikrolik | January 12, 2017 11:40 AM
Actually, now that I've been thinking about this issue and reading the comments, I got a weird idea; I don't know if it's a good idea or not.
What if after killing Leeds... the Foreigner became the new Hobgoblin? Since he is a master assassin, I'd be interested to see how he'd handle the costumed identity, and how he'd fare.
That, and we could keep Macendale a Jack O Lantern, who I liked better in that identity anyway.
Posted by: mikrolik | January 12, 2017 1:31 PM
Of course, one "T" that Stern didn't cross in Hobgoblin Lives was... why DID the Foreigner send a bunch of non-powered goons after the Hobgoblin? Did he seriously not know that Hobby had super-strength? And if so, why didn't Jack O'Lantern tell him? If either of them consciously withheld that info, then what result were they expecting other than mashed goons and a pissed-off Hobgoblin?
Posted by: Dan H. | April 30, 2017 10:01 PM
Yeah there wasn't a great solution using any of the usual suspects. I always thought Mendel Stromm would have been a cool choice, or perhaps a previously unknown son of his. He had ties to Osborn.
My question is, was Hobgoblin worth having around once his identity was known? If not, how could that have been avoided? There were a couple of things he had going for him aside from the identity mystery. The concept of a super villain crimelord was good, played against the Kingpin. Digging up Osborn's secrets was fun and dropped too early...Pete's secret identity could have been in one of them.
Posted by: MindlessOne | May 15, 2017 10:24 PM
HOBGOBLIN KIVES fixed almost everything.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | July 3, 2017 3:58 AM
Jesus, was there ANY story left un-retconned? I'm reading Marvel Comics in publication order and it seema like every time I finish a story and check this website or another, I learn the story was retconned some time later. It's really hard to respect this medium where literally nothing's sacred.
Posted by: will | October 8, 2017 11:53 AM
Comics as a medium are way bigger than superhero comics, which is simply one genre among others. And retcons aren't quite as common in other comic book genres. So you can still respect the medium while disliking superhero comics.
Posted by: Tuomas | October 12, 2017 5:31 AM
It helps to think of comics as a medium like Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff. He always comes back. All you have to do is draw the next panel.
Posted by: ChrisW | October 12, 2017 11:21 PM
Most comic book readers I know, talk of a time that they were passionately involved in the superhero medium, but after a while they would become disenchanted. No matter, how big the story, sooner or later the re-set button would be pushed and the character would return to their original status quo. If Iron Man can become so overwhelmed with alcoholism that he can lose a billion dollar company and end up on the streets, then it is demanding a lot from your audience to believe that he can recover, regain his billions and go back to the same person he was before in the space of a few short issues.
I honestly believe that if DC and Marvel had allowed their characters to permanently change, to grow old, retire or die and get replaced by newer characters. Then they would not have driven so many of their readers away and the comic book industry would be in a better place right now.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | November 13, 2017 8:14 PM
I have always thought Peter David did a pretty good job with the cards he had to play. The Hobgoblin's secret identity had to be a) a fairly major character from Parker's social circle, b) fit all of the clues that a host of writers had dropped regarding his identity and c) surprise the audience. Ned fits the bill perfectly. He is a pretty major character, all of the clues point to him and because he was dead, he was unsuspected.
I rather liked the bathos of his death too. I appreciate many fans would have preferred a more traditional conclusion - Spidey and Hobgoblin engage in one final battle - but the story had been dragged out for so long, and Hobgoblin had become so over-exposed, that I was pleased that David tried to do something a bit different.
Posted by: Bernard the Poet | November 13, 2017 8:17 PM
I honestly believe that if DC and Marvel had allowed their characters to permanently change, to grow old, retire or die and get replaced by newer characters.
But it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. When a long-running character drastically changes, someone's always gonna complain that so-and-so ruined their favorite character. Also, the comics industry has been a farming ground for Hollywood wanna-be blockbusters for how long now? DC got away with rebooting Superman's universe a few times, but it's not likely the corporate ownership would accept Clark Kent being written out of the comics for good.
Posted by: iLegion | November 14, 2017 1:28 AM
It's worth noting that this doesn't seem to work for any other long-running characters, either. Sherlock Holmes doesn't die off and get replaced by his kids, and characters like Dick Tracy and James Bond just go on and on even though their past adventures have lots of "real-time" references.
The vast majority of readers casually follow familiar characters, not fictional universes themselves. It's why spinoffs usually don't thrive, or at least don't last as long as the original show. I suppose the whole "regeneration" angle in Doctor Who is a way to have your cake and eat it too: the character can grow old and even die, and is replaced by a different character...but also sort of doesn't and isn't.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 14, 2017 6:49 AM
Holmes and Bond are more iconic, archetypal characters than anything else, and with Tracy and Bond we accept that we're not supposed to think too much about what their past adventures were and when they took place. But superhero comics try to have their cake and eat it too: they want us to believe that all of a character's past adventures, and even those of other characters, form this rich tapestry that informs their lives today and will continue to do so into the future, but they also want to hold on to the archetypal nature of those characters. It worked in the 60s when Reed Richards and Sue Storm could get married and have a kid, Peter Parker could graduate high school, etc., but since then DC and Marvel have tried to present the image of universes that can undergo real change like that without actually being willing to face the consequences thereof.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 14, 2017 5:24 PM
Tracy doesn't fit that mold, though: he's had a number of specific, lasting continuity changes, like Junior Tracy growing up, Tracy himself marrying and having kids, and so on. And going back to Max Allan Collins's run as the first post-Gould writer, the strip weirdly calls attention to its timeline issues by having Tracy re-encounter old villains, including Nazi villains from the war who make direct reference to battling Tracy in the 1940s.
More generally, it's hard to identify a successful example of serial fiction, especially heroic serial fiction, that genuinely "retires" its characters in this way or uses a real time to move between generations. Reboots are far more common than multigenerational sagas, and where multigenerational sagas are found, hey tend to be single-creator universes.
Again, the bulk of the evidence seems to me to show that audiences, even fan audiences, like specific characters as much or more than settings. And so nearly every such long-running serial cheats in much the same way as the Marvel Universe does. the sole exceptions seem to be single-creator works, but those tend to simply end. But shared universes or even very long0-running, multiple-creator serials that use a real-time, real aging and replacement model are pretty thin on the ground.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 14, 2017 7:45 PM
Anyway, this is all probably way off-point for these two issues, which have their own distinct set of concerns.
Though I suppose one "illusion of change" from this story has stuck: Ned Leeds has stayed remarkably dead all this time, and I;d say Betty Brant's character was permanently marked by these events and their aftermath, moving from "the love interest" towards her role as a more tenacious, if haunted character who took up the mantle of investigative reporter.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 14, 2017 7:49 PM
This should probably go to the forum at this point, but I'm not sure what you say about Dick Tracy necessarily contradicts what I said; the answer to "how is Dick Tracy facing these Nazi villains today while acknowledging that he faced them in the 1940s" still sounds like "don't think about it too hard". I do think you hit on the point that the lack of long-running serials with genuine change across generations has more to do with the creative side than the fans, with the lack of a single vision bringing all the threads together into a cohesive whole. Fans may well find those kinds of stories more engaging, it's just that they're rare and hard to pull off well. Holmes (at least his modern adaptations) and Bond are explicit about not being anything more than the adventures of a single, archetypal character that audiences can pick up and enjoy in any time period, yet Marvel and DC at least pay lip service to being something more despite the impracticality of it without a Lee, Shooter, or Gruenwald at the helm. If they were to just go back to Archie- or Silver Age DC-style unconnected stories based in iconic archetypes and vague setups, that'd be somewhat disappointing but at least honest and fine on its own standards, but instead they present the "illusion of change" and the promise of a living, breathing universe without wanting to face the consequences of actual change.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 15, 2017 1:49 AM
This is probably a better explanation of this point of view than I can give, though I'm not sure I agree that true real time is the only solution (the main argument seems to be to retain the fidelity of cultural, political, and technological references, which, while arguably important to 60s Marvel and 70s "relevant" comics, seems hollow applied to comics that have come out since then, and can be somewhat alleviated by adopting the Reverse Sliding Timescale): http://dcu.smartmemes.com/_DCTL_MainIntro.html#Time (And the point I've been making is not dissimilar to fnord's own Archer Solution.)
Posted by: Morgan Wick | November 15, 2017 2:00 AM
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