Amazing Spider-Man #260-261
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #260, Amazing Spider-Man #261
The Hobgoblin's partnership with the Rose continues to develop...
...but the Hobgoblin's mission in these issues is strictly personal. He's trying to force Harry Osborn to give up any of his father's journals that he has. To do that, he uses the Rose's goons to kidnap Harry's pregnant wife Liz. Mary Jane is captured incidentally as well. Harry even gets in on the fight, using a cache of the Hobgoblin's weapons against him (Spider-Man is afraid Harry will go the full Goblin as he has in the past, but Harry generally retains his sanity in these issues despite a lot of stress).
In the end it turns out that the journals that Harry has contain duplicate information the Hobgoblin already knows, so it was a worthless gambit for him. He escapes while Spidey helps the civilians escape a fire.
The writing is actually pretty good. I generally have a low opinion about Tom DeFalco's scripting, but no major complaints in these issues. One thing that bugs me is how, now that we know that Mary Jane knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, we suddenly see her slipping in her dialogue, like "We can split away while Pe... Spider-Man runs interference for us!". I know that's mainly done for expository purposes, but since Mary Jane was always supposed to know that Peter was Spider-Man, we shouldn't see her starting to make mistakes like that now all of a sudden.
Another thing is that Ned Leeds is now clearly being set up to be the Hobgoblin. Again, i don't really blame DeFalco for this; the mystery of who the Hobgoblin is had been going on for too long, and for whatever reason, Roger Stern wasn't saying, so DeFalco had to settle on someone and start dropping clues. The clue in question in these issues is Joe Robertson and Betty Brant talking about how they are unable to get a hold of either Ned or Peter in dialogue that extends to narration captions that overlap into a scene of Spider-Man and Hobgoblin fighting each other. It's the sort of thing that anyone who's read a comic book or seen a movie or TV show will recognize as a deliberate set-up. (Ultimately the Ned Leeds reveal will be reversed; that's why Ned Leeds isn't listed as a character appearing in this issue. According to the MCP, this is actually Roderick Kingsley. The whole Hobgoblin identity issue is a bit of a bungled mess.) Update: Seems the Ned Leeds bit was a red herring and i fell for it; see Michael's comment below. Also note that it turns out DeFalco did know Stern's intentions for the Hobgoblin, so i guess i can hold him responsible for dragging things out this long.
A better writer might have handled all of this more subtly, in any event.
As for the art, i generally like Frenz semi-retro style. I don't like the way he dresses Mary Jane...
...but the old school sort of panels like this that he throws in are pretty cool.
And any comic that has this scene is worth the cover price.
Some development regarding Spidey's symbiote costume, which Mr. Fantastic has been holding for study at the Baxter Building: In issue #260, we see the symbiote demonstrating psychic powers, which is interesting (and, i think, generally ignored) in its own right, but also cool for the way it affects Franklin in ways that will have relevance in the Fantastic Four series (and Power Pack). The psychic barriers that Reed Richards installed to prevent Franklin's mental powers from manifesting are said to begin crumbling here, due to the symbiote's attempt at mind control.
In issue #261, in a scene that is duplicated in Fantastic Four #274 (the FF are said to be "away on a mission" while this is occurring), the symbiote is freed by a mechanical probe that is investigating the Baxter Building.
Issue #261 has a weird/cool cover by Charles Vess.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Based on the generic reference to the Black Cat keeping secrets from Peter (see below), this seems to take place before the Black Cat reveals in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #98 that the Kingpin was the source of her powers. A newspaper article in Power Pack #6 seems to refer to the Spidey/Hobgoblin fight in these issues, placing this arc before Spidey's appearance in Power Pack. Due to the second scene with the symbiote costume, this takes place concurrently with Fantastic Four #274.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Tales #274, Marvel Tales #275
Inbound References (3): showAbraham Varley, Ann Macintosh, Arthur Chekov, Aunt May, Betty Brant, Daniel Johnston, Donald L. Menken, Franklin Richards, Harry Osborn, Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley), Invisible Woman, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Liz Allan, Mary Jane Watson, Richard Fisk, Spider-Man, Venom Symbiote
The symbiote's escape is revisited in 2010's Spider-Man/ Fantastic Four 2. That story complicates things greatly. In that issue, a mysterious time traveler uses the probe to free the symbiote. The symbiote's escape is depicted as occuring after Liz was sent to the hospital, not while she was being held captive as in Amazing 261, and the Fantastic Four are present at the Baxter Building, not absent as in Amazing 261. In Spider-Man/ Fantastic Four 4, the time traveler is revealed to be Kristoff, who took control of a probe sent by his younger self. Kristoff did this to acquire a sample of a symbiote, which he used to create the Venom bomb seen in Bendis's New Avengers.
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2012 9:09 PM
On the subject of Ned Leeds- DeFalco said in an interview in Back Issue 35 that Leeds was a red herring- Richard Fisk was intended to be the real Hobgoblin.
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2012 9:34 PM
Any possibility that the symbiote scenes from Spidey/FF can actually depict new scenes instead of replaying the ones depicted here, as preposterous as that would probably be? I'd be ok with glossing over minor time differences re: Liz going to the hospital and such, but having it get re-captured obviously can't work.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 22, 2012 10:33 PM
Here's a scan of the scene from Spider-Man/ Fantastic Four 2 where the symbiote escaped:
Posted by: Michael | February 22, 2012 11:15 PM
Unfortunately, Mary Jane's outfit is very much in sync with what women were wearing in 1985. We're lucky she didn't get huge helmet hair or linebacker shoulder pads as well.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 23, 2012 12:03 AM
In Fall of the Hulks Alpha (also 2010) it's implied that the Intelligencia are responsible for freeing the symbiote. I guess Jeff Parker didn't read Spider-Man/ Fantastic Four.
Posted by: Andrew | January 14, 2015 7:07 PM
Probably the last great Spidey-Hobgoblin fight until Stern comes back to revive the character.
Posted by: Chris | January 14, 2015 8:49 PM
Comments are now closed.
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