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Comics You Should Own flashback – Amazing Spider-Man #238-251

Yes, it’s time for another trip down memory lane with Comics You Should Own, as I reprint a post I originally wrote back in February 2005 on my far-less-popular blog. So let’s look at the original Hobgoblin Saga, shall we? Complete with big-time SPOILERS!

Amazing Spider-Man by Roger Stern (writer, issues #238-251), Tom DeFalco (scripter, issue #251), John Romita Jr. (penciler, issues #238-250), Ron Frenz (penciler, issues #248, 251), John Romita Sr. (inker, issues #238, 247), Frank Giacoia (inker, issues #239, 241), Bob Layton (inker, issue #240), Kevin Dzuban (inker, issue #242), Dave Simons (inker, issues #243, 245), Klaus Janson (inker, issues #244, 250-251), Dan Green (inker, issues #246, 249), Brett Breeding (inker, issue #248), Terry Austin (inker, issue #248), Joe Rosen (letterer, issues #238, 240-241, 243-251), Diana Albers (letterer, issues #239, 242, 248), Andy Yanchus (colorist, issue #238), Glynis Wein (colorist, issues #239, 241), Bob Sharen (colorist, issues #240, 242-249), and Christie Scheele (colorist, issue #248, 250-251). Marvel couldn’t keep a finisher, it seems!

Marvel, 14 issues (#238-251), cover dated March 1983-April 1984.

(You know you want the “free Lakeside Skin Tattooz” offered on that cover! Way to mess up a dramatic cover, Marvel!)

These 14 issues are the first part of the mid-1980s Hobgoblin Saga, and begin what I would call the high point of Spider-Man between, let’s say, the death of Gwen Stacy and J. Michael Straczynski’s renaissance of the past few years [Remember, I wrote this in 2005, when JMS’s run hadn’t gone off the rails yet]. It’s pretty shocking that for ten years (essentially the 1990s) Marvel would treat their flagship character with such disrespect, but that’s the way it was, true believers. Let’s look at better days, shall we?

The Hobgoblin Saga has been covered, better than I ever could, in these articles. It’s highly recommended reading about how the editors of Spider-Man allowed this great villain to descend into stupidity. Since I’m dealing with just stories before he became lousy, I won’t get into the whole thing. However, I’m sure I’ll repeat some of the things said in those articles.

So: Stern on Amazing Spider-Man. In need of a “Green Goblin” type villain, he creates the Hobgoblin. Here’s generally how the issues break down:

#238-239: Introduction of the Hobgoblin. We don’t know who he is, but he’s scary!
#240-241: A two-part Vulture story. Remember two-part stories?
#242: Spidey fights a robot belonging to the Mad Thinker. Remember one-part stories?
#243: Mary Jane returns to Peter’s life! Yippee! And Peter quits graduate school.
#244-245: The Hobgoblin returns, and Spidey is supposed to believe that he dies. Peter’s not buying it!
#246: J. Jonah Jameson, Felicia Hardy, Mary Jane, and Peter all daydream about their perfect lives. Holy cow, a one-part story about daydreaming!
#247-248: Thunderball returns. Spidey beats him. The second part of issue #248 “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man.” Many people have a soft spot in their hearts for this story. I am not one of them.
#249-251: A Hobgoblin trilogy! Holy crap – it’s decompressed storytelling, 1980s-style! Included in this is the “Special Normal-Sized 250th Issue,” as the cover tells us, with Hobgoblin himself in the corner logo telling us to steal the book. Remember when Marvel had a sense of humor?

So those are the stories in this little collection. Stern and Romita, ably assisted by a cast of thousands of inkers (or finishers, as they are usually credited), bring us some brilliant stories. But why should you buy them?

Well, the interesting thing about these stories is how Stern is able to build on the past without wallowing in nostalgia. These days, comics seem to give us nothing but nostalgia (which seemed to start with Busiek’s Marvels, a great comic that spawned an annoying trend). There’s nothing inherently wrong with nostalgia, but when it gets in the way of the growth of an artistic medium, it tends to strangle anything else in the cradle. I don’t mean that all of comics do this, but many do, especially those put out by the Big Two. When a writer tries to break free of the past, he gets excoriated in some circles. Then, to appease the fans, writers who do push the envelope retreat into some extra-special wallowing in past glory. In 1983, Marvel hadn’t really developed the cult of Lee/Kirby/Ditko yet, so its talent was free to build on the past without slavishly aping it. This is what we get with the first part of the Hobgoblin Saga – Stern respects the past and uses it, but at no time does the Hobgoblin kidnap Mary Jane and take her to the top of the George Washington Bridge (which apparently is in the contract of every writer who pens a Spider-Man story these days).

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I’ll get back to this idea. Let’s look at what Stern is doing in these stories. The Spider-Man books back then were a ridiculous convoluted soap opera, with all kinds of crossovers, but what was nice was that you could only read one title without worrying about what was happening in the other. Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat) spends all 14 of these issues in the hospital because of injuries she sustained in Spectacular Spider-Man. We don’t need to read the other title, because Stern reminds us how it happened more than once. Meanwhile, in Amazing, we get Spidey fighting bad guys while life goes on around him. Aunt May is seeing someone (I don’t remember whatever happened to Nathan Lubensky) and turning her home into a boarding house. A bad guy eludes Spidey and then stumbles upon a secret lab of the Green Goblin. The punk tells a shadowy figure about it, and this mysterious man becomes the Hobgoblin. Peter relives the guilt he felt about letting the burglar who killed Uncle Ben go all over again. It sucks to be him, as usual.

The Hobgoblin immediately begins looting all of the old Green Goblin hideouts, and he starts making improvements on the Goblin’s weapons and formulae. He experiments on a small-time hood named Lefty Donovan, injecting him with the Goblin’s strength serum and sending him out to fight Spider-Man dressed as the Hobgoblin. Donovan dies, but the Hobgoblin gets all the data he needs. Finally, he tries to blackmail Jameson, Harry Osborn, and a group of elite businessmen whose secrets he discovered in Norman’s journals, but Spider-Man (with some help from Wilson Fisk) thwarts him. At the end of #251, the Hobgoblin is presumed dead at the bottom of the river, but Spider-Man knows better.

The idea of the past intruding on the present is different from nostalgia, and Stern uses the continuity that Peter and his gang have with the past to his complete advantage. This is a time when the Marvel Universe was only 20 years old and was still relatively simple enough that you could keep track of everything. Today, this kind of storytelling is quite impossible, and I would argue that comics are cheaper for it. Stern takes an idea that has bothered Peter for years – letting the man who killed his uncle go, and instead of rehashing that old chestnut, he finds a way to put a new spin on it. Peter did all he could to get the bad guy, and he’s not presented as a jerk, like he is in the original story. Here, it’s just life – the man escapes into the sewers, and Peter thinks the cops will be able to find him. It’s a much more complex take on the “with great power comes great responsibility” theme, since in the first instance, Peter was just being a jerk. Here, he’s already a hero, but one with a life, after all. He agonizes a bit about it later, but he’s mature enough to deal with it.

The Hobgoblin is obviously a homage to the original Green Goblin, and it’s an interesting choice by Stern to create him rather than bringing Norman Osborn back from the dead. I haven’t read many comics prior to the 1980s [This has changed in the past four years, but it’s still somewhat relevant], so I don’t know how often people were resurrected in those days, but today, the writer would just be lazy and bring the original Norman back (I can write this because that’s what Marvel did in the mid-1990s). It’s so much more interesting to watch the Hobgoblin go through the various stages of his development. We don’t know who he is, but Stern had his ideas, and he dropped plenty of hints. The Hobgoblin is someone with a family and a decent career, because he thinks about them occasionally. He is also convinced he’s not crazy like Norman Osborn was, and it’s fascinating to watch how he eventually becomes as crazy as Norman was (he’s not really nuts by issue #251, but he’s getting there, and later writers ran with it, although not as subtly as Stern does). The mystery of the Hobgoblin is fun because it takes the original Green Goblin concept and deepens it – Peter’s always wondering not only who the Hobgoblin is, but if his existence will make Harry remember all about the Green Goblin, as well as if the Hobgoblin is going to find Spider-Man’s secret identity in Norman’s journals. Stern balances the sense of Spider-Man’s history without devolving into self-indulgent nostalgia, which is not as easy as it sounds.

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He does the same thing with the minor stories in this arc. The Vulture story is interesting because it gives us an origin of the villain (I don’t know if we’d ever gotten one before) and it also gives us a plausible reason for where he is and why he returns. The Mad Thinker story, even though it’s lightweight, flows naturally from the events occurring in the greater Marvel Universe, as does the Thunderball story. These days, using an old villain, it seems, is cause for more and more hype that ultimately fails to deliver, and using villains from other “corners” of the Marvel Universe is almost unheard of. These stories show, once again, that Spider-Man does not exist in a vacuum, and it’s nice to see.

Another big event in this arc is, of course, the return of Mary Jane Watson, which would eventually lead to her marriage to Peter. Stern is excellent at juggling the many storylines weaving their way through both Spider-Man books, and bringing MJ back is a stroke of genius. She is another example of honoring the past without dwelling on it. Peter mentions his marriage proposal to her, but Stern doesn’t linger on it. MJ is presented as a party girl, but Stern lets us know that she has more depth without beating us over the head with it. MJ immediately causes Peter some consternation, since he’s supposedly in love with Felicia at this time, but since Felicia only knows him as Spider-Man, he’s conflicted. The soap opera aspects of Peter’s personal life are not obnoxious and not fantastical. They don’t need to be, since he’s a freakin’ superhero, after all. His “Peter Parker” life moves along like real life, and offers a nice balance to the antics when he’s in his costume. This is why some superhero comics are so frustrating today – things never actually happen (a process Dave Fiore, with his maddening genius for things comic-booky, has called “dynamic stasis” – a great term). But in Peter’s life back in these days, things did happen. He quits grad school because he can’t make all aspects of his life work, and grad school is the odd man out. Obviously, he breaks up with Felicia later and marries Mary Jane, but that’s down the line. Aunt May is also moving on with her life, and even J. Jonah Jameson steps down as Editor-in-Chief because of his involvement with creating the Scorpion (it’s why Hobgoblin is blackmailing him, and JJJ confesses in the newspaper rather than pay). Harry and Liz have a house-warming party at their new place, and the romance of Lance Bannon and Amy Powell moves on as well. These are all people who have a significant impact on Peter’s life, and Stern realizes that they are going to change and move on. When Amy is putting the moves on Peter, we know it’s because she wants to make Lance jealous and not because she’s a crazy bitch-queen. Real people, doing real-life things. In a superhero comic book.

It’s really fun to read these books, because they are done with such lack of ironic detachment that seems to be the norm in many books today, and also without the “we’ll never write stories as good as Lee and Kirby, so let’s just retell those” mindset that also seems prevalent these days. These are stories that you can read with no knowledge of Spider-Man beyond “He was bitten by a radioactive spider and got powers.” They can also be enjoyed if you know everything about Spider-Man. Some of this has been collected in a trade – it appears that the issues solely devoted to the Hobgoblin (issues #238-39, 244-45, 249-51) are in one book, but I don’t know if it’s out of print or not. Stern left the book with #251, and the Hobgoblin began a weird slide into craptitude before it was revealed that he was Ned Leeds (that’s not who Stern said it was, but he was long gone, so he had no input) in a story written by Peter David, of all people (who has also weighed in on the subject), but for these 14 issues, he was a true inheritor of the Goblin legend, and I would argue, the last time the Goblin motif was used in any kind of good way. These days it’s all recycled, and Spider-Man’s world is a bit poorer for it.

I haven’t gone into the clues Stern drops about the Hobgoblin, but like I said, there’s that great article I linked to above. It’s really interesting reading, I swear! And, as always, you can peruse the Comics You Should Own archive. Do you really have anything better to do?

(Why Spider-Man kicks ass, Exhibit A.)


Nathan Lubensky died in a later issue of ASM. Somewhere around the 340s or 350s. Erik Larsen drew it. May have featured the Vulture.

Anyway, this was a great run of comics and I think I need to pick up an Essentials book of it, which surely must exist.

My first comic subscription was to ASM, given to me by my brother. First issue was 238 (sadly no tattoo in it). This is one of my favorite ASM runs, but I’d go farther up… probably to the end of Gang War (ASM 289 give or take) for the complete saga.

One of the first comics I bought as a serious collector was ASM #248, and was immediately hooked. Great stuff, but I do think Tom deFalco did a very good job too after Stern left.

Bernard the Poet

November 24, 2008 at 1:49 am

“……But in Peter’s life back in these days, things did happen.”

That’s not how I remember it at all. We never learn Hobgoblin’s identity, or even given any significant clues to who he might be, Mary Jane returns, but then just floats around in the background without any purpose. Nothing happens. On top of that , the Vulture’s origin is very ordinary, the daydreams issue was completely self indulgent and the ‘Kid who collected Spiderman’ manipulative.

Personally, I thought Al Milgrom was doing far more interesting things in Spectacular Spiderman at about that time. A great gang war between the Owl and Dr Octopus, which culminated in the mother of all battles between Spidey and Ock. Peter revealing his identity to Black Cat was a genuinely shocking moment – had he ever done that before? In fact, the whole Black Cat relationship was nicely handled. I particularly liked the way Peter tried to invest an ultimately shallow, purely physical relationship with higher spiritual meaning. Just like Peter always looking a gift horse in the mouth. There were a few funny moments in there as well – Debra Whitman’s psychiatrist, the creation of Spot, the Hembeck issue. All good stuff.

Of course, Migrom’s art was eye wateringly bad, whereas Romita jr and Frenz probably did their best work on Amazing, but nonetheless, I ‘d say Spectacular was a superior comic.

I was just about to say the same thing- the Spectacular Spider-Man issues of the same time, written by Bill Mantlo (Al Milgrom only started writing it around Secret Wars, and the quality level went down.), were much better than the Stern issues. He was doing experimental things like the gun issue and the issue which focuses on a kid who wants to be a super-villain, as well as telling the excellent long-term Black Cat story. No disrespect intended to the Roger Stern run on Amazing, he was very good. But he wasn’t nearly as good as Bill Mantlo.

I just looked through my collection again. I’d almost forgotten just how many great stories were there. Cloak & Dagger back when they were interesting, the bizarre resolution of the Debra Whitman storyline, the big battle between Doctor Octopus and The Owl, The Spectacular J. Jonah Jameson, the Punisher on trial. Spectacular Spider-Man 64-89 is one of the best runs the character’s ever had.

Bernard the Poet

November 24, 2008 at 4:11 am

That Punisher story was very very good.

Apologies to Mr Mantlo, I’d forgotten his involvement – in my defence, it was twenty five years ago. So was he writing Hulk, Rom and Spectacular all at the same time, while still holding down a full time job as a lawyer? Makes you feel inadequate doesn’t it.

I re-read that stretch of Spectacular Spider-Man a couple of years back. I have to disagree with you guys. The Black Cat romance was awkward and annoying, Deb Whitman was pathetic, and who was this character calling himself the Punisher? Was his insane (even for him) behavior ever explained in another comic? And the Milgrom involvement in the art… ‘Nuff said! The Stern run is much more palatable.

The combination of Hobgoblin’s first appearance and that tattoo giveaway led to some pretty ridiculous discrepancies in back issue pricing during the ’90s, based on whether or not the tattoos were intact.

As I do these in alphabetical order, y’all will just have to wait and see what I think of Spectacular Spider-Man at this time!

Pj Perez: Thanks for the information about Nathan. And no, an Essential volume does not exist for this yet. Marvel has not gotten to issue #200 yet on the Essentials, and it’s been a while since a volume came out, so we’ll see if they get to this time or not.

DubipR: I enjoy the comics after #251 through even the silly Hobgoblin reveal, but they’re not quite on par with these issues. Still, they’re fun to read.

Sorry, Bernard, but I disagree. But that’s why we have opinions!

This run in Amazing together with the DeFalco/Frenz run that followed are two of my all-time favourites. I also really liked the Mantlo/Milgrom PPSM. I felt the two titles complimented each other perfectly at the time. Roger Stern tried to sort out the mess regarding the identity of Hobby in Spider-man: Hobgoblin Lives and did a reasonable job I think. I certainly never bought the Ned Leeds is the Hobgoblin story.

I remember liking both Amazing and Spectacular in the 1980s. I’ve recentely re-read the former, and thought it was even better than I remembered. One of these days I’ll have to re-read Bill Mantlo’s stories too. I think his Incredible Hulk is great and under-appreciated, though.

THIS is the Spider-Man I miss. I was rereading these issues recently, and they still hold up beautifully.

I’ve met Roger Stern a few times, and he & his wife Carmella are two of the nicest people you’d ever care to meet.

So why exactly did Roger Stern leave ASM with issue #251, before he got around to revealing who the Hobgoblin really was? And I cannot help thinking that perhaps Stern really ought to have told his editors who he intended Hobgoblin to be, so that we could have avoided them having to make a blind guess, erroniously picking Ned Leeds *after* they killed him off, which led to Macendale as Hobgoblin, and the downward spiral of the character.

Ben, I think Stern left Spidey because he started to write the Avengers.

“and who was this character calling himself the Punisher? Was his insane (even for him) behavior ever explained in another comic?”

In the first Punisher mini series they retconed it by saying that one of the mobsters put drugs in his food before he broke out.

I remember picking up pretty much the entire Stern plus much of DeFalco’s run on ASM during one convention (thank you half-off boxes). I didn’t even know who was writing or drawing the stuff, I just figured I’d get on the 80’s Spidey boat. Glad I did.

I’m convinced the multiple inker thing had to be an experiment they were doing on purpose. Like, “See who inks JR JR this week!” I just can’t imagine it being that hard to get someone to ink a flagship like Amazing Spider-Man on a regular basis.

Greg I’m sorry if you’ve been over this or feel that it’s not worht going over, but why are there big time spoilers in your “Comics You Should Own” articles? I figured I’d ask since this is current. I like your pages, and I love Peter Milligan, so I read the Enigma one you did and I can’t help feeling like the story has been ruined for me (I admit to not catching the warning). I have the trade but I can’t get myself to pick it up. Even if I see your spoiler warnings ahead of time I’d probably still really want to read the article to uh, see if I should own the comic.

Izzy: Sorry about the Enigma one. I do regret that. I still think it’s very much worth your while to read it, though.

There are two reasons I don’t shy away from spoilers in these posts. One, the comics are often quite old and have been discussed many other places, so I think (I could be wrong) that most people know some of what’s going on. It’s the old “Citizen Kane” trap – how long does something need to be around before you can discuss it without worrying that you’re spoiling it? I think these have been around long enough. Two, I’m trying not to simply review these comics, even though many people might think I’ve failed. I’m trying to examine what the writers and artists do in the comic and how it speaks to deeper themes, and that’s tough to do, occasionally, without spoiling things. As with Enigma (and some of the other comics I’ve looked at), the big twist doesn’t ruin anything at all – I actually like Enigma more now that I know the big twist, because I can focus on other things.

Thanks for reminding me about the spoiler warnings, though. I need to go back and put them in some of the older posts, where I didn’t do it. When it’s not relevant to what I’m writing about, I do try to avoid them, but occasionally I can’t. Again, I apologize.

Buy Enigma! It’s really good!

I know that I’m going to sound provocative, here, but I can’t read those old issues and I was wondering…
Doesn’t the last Spider-man run, since Brand New Day, give the same feeling (or at least tries very hard)? I’m asking this because I find strange to read things such as “remember one-part stories?” when the answer is “yes, last week spider-man”. I don’t know, it seems to me that they have tried very hard to give this comics the same taste that you seem to be missing. There isn’t any forced crossover anymore (the new avengers appeared once, and there was the big event this summer where one needed to know who Venom and Norman Osborn were — not really such a big deal); stories are independent (I know that I don’t buy it every week and manage to follow everything). I have used this “new” spider-man to motivate some kids that I keep and couldn’t get motivated enough to learn anything in English before, and it is quite efficient on those new readers — much more than the Ultimate Spider-man I had tried a year ago. So, if we put aside the forced retconning that we can maybe learn to forgive, what do old fans have against current ASM? Again, I’m really asking, as I have no way to get those issues for a reasonnable price.

I can’t say these Spider-Man issue were bad (they were pretty entertaining) , but if you take the ‘Who is the Hobgoblin?” mystery seriously, as Young Beta Ray Steve did those many years ago, you can understand why the train-wreck of an ending might piss off someone to the extent that they wouldn’t by any Spider-books to this very day. The mystery dragged on for two years and the resolution was pitiful. It utterly destroyed any faith I had that the people running Marvel a) knew what a good story was or b) gave a crap. This was Amazing Spider-Man, a flagship Marvel comic, being treated like the Defenders. It’s why I follow creators rather than characters or companies.
On the plus side, quitting Spider-Man made me miss the cheesefest that was the Marriage and the crapfest that was Clone disaster.
Now that I think of it, was anyone in management actually reading Spider-Man comics?

joso: Remember, I wrote this in 2005, way before the new direction with Spider-Man. 2005 was kind of right at the end of the great decompression phase in comics, so one-part stories were in short supply back then. I don’t have anything against the new Spider-Man, except for the fact that I simply don’t want to buy three issues a month. I have heard good things about it, but that’s too much coin.

Steve: I think if Stern had stayed on the book, it would have resolved far sooner. I don’t have a problem with Stern dragging out the mystery for 14 months, but then, when he left, Marvel decided the mystery was more important than any resolution. That was kind of annoying, and that’s why the issues after this, which are fun, are not Comics You Should Own!

“In the first Punisher mini series they retconed it by saying that one of the mobsters put drugs in his food before he broke out.”

Thanks for the info. I never read that mini-series, so I wondered if they just ignored the PPTSS story or they explained it away somehow in a story I missed.

[…] Amazing Spider-Man #238-251 by Roger Stern and (mostly) John Romita Jr. – the first part of the Hobgoblin saga.  […]

In my opinion, Ron Frenz is one of the most under-rated Spider-man artists of all time.

I love that Hobgoblin makes a reference to “jet age plastic” in a comic from the mid-eighties. For fact-fans out there, the first working jet engine built in 1939.

This set of issues got me back into comics.
And Spidey specifically.

It is a classic run.

Classic run. My young self became a Spider-Man fan for life (well, as long as JMS is not writing) thanks to the Stern run.

Oh, and I thought at the time and STILL think now that Amazing was the superior book at the time. It’s not even a question of “book”, since I read it in Brazil and got both stories on the same book. The ones by Stern were consistently better, even though I didn’t knew at the time they were being made by different teams. So there.

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

When I first read the Hobgoblin reveal issue, I was mortified, truly angry- not only does he go down, he goes down like a punk- this guy, who can fight Spidey to a standstill, pisses in the Kingpin’s cereal, and makes quite an organization for himself, gets taken out with little to no effort, and worse, the guys carrying it out barely register the hit- its business as usual.

And that’s how it was for weeks with me.

And then I took another look, thought about it, and frankly, I found it to be one of Marvel’s ballsiest moves ever- even if it was a throw-away wrap up of a plotline.


Ned wasn’t a poor candidate- as anyone who reads the Spideykicksbutt page can attest, he technically wasn’t the best, but he was hardly out of the running. And he was indeed an amateur who simply stumbled on Norman Osbournes stashes (which evidently didn’t bug Norman in the least, who has the largest amount of “stashes” in NY ever seeing how many people including himself still find them).

So killing him off so suddenly, with such contempt, while it rankled me at first, it also did four things:

– made me aware for the first time in comics that the truly dangerous criminals weren’t the flamboyant ones- they were the ones behind the scenes that met their goals without interference or foolishness.
– made me have sympathy for the Hobgoblin- who up till then I found truly hateful- always evading Spidey and pulling something suitably malicious and horrible
– made me realize that the Foreigner’s goons were right- Hobgoblin was, at his core, an amateur, and Spidey had been going easy on him all this time- evidence? Every time the Hobgoblin actually pissed Peter off (see the kidnapping of Norm, Liz and MJ), Peter would break through his defenses, ignore his “super strength”, and beat the living shit out of him. Only Peter’s “good guy” code routinely prevented him from crippling Hobby- the Foreigner’s men had no such restraint.
– made me absolutely loathe the Foreigner even more (I was already upset at seeing Felicia playing Peter and jumping between two beds), but Foreigner taking the hit and carrying it out as an afterthought….

The whole thing chilled me- it was one of the first times the “real world” infringed on the fantasy world- one of these costumed guys with no professional training might just rub someone the wrong way and then they would be dealt with- not battling it out on a rooftop, but invaded when they least expected it, casually disarmed, and taken out not with a bang, but a whimper- the “Spider Man help me!” was haunting- even appropriate- Hobby knew if one person would give him a chance, it would be Spidey.

So though there was short term disappointment from me, in the long term, I found it a very compelling, fascinating choice- I understand if you would continue to loathe it, and frankly reading Christopher Priest’s account of the whole mess behind the scenes (I too thought Frenz was drawing Peter’s head really square) really drove home how there was literally no one at the wheel oftentimes when decisions needed to be made- but I found it a happy accident, where it ended up being so much more than a simple climactic fight- I had seen those before- I had never seen anything like this- the closest being Guardian killed in issue 12 of Alpha Flight, the first time in the series since the first issue where Alpha Flight actually battled as a team.

So for me, the Hobgoblin saga ended right then and there, and I never followed up on Stern’s retelling or anything else. I even liked watching Jason Macendale tool it up until the Hobgoblin was a joke, beaten and thrown out of Fisk tower (note: I prefer to leave Macendale at that point, as then we get into the whole Demogoblin stupidity).

So Menace could be fun (though I can’t stand the costume)- its re-inventing the wheel again, but the added bonus of having Norman around to contend with makes this new Goblin an interesting idea- particularly since he’s under the same impression as the original that he won’t go crazy and will maintain control.

Marc: Personally, I don’t mind the issue in which it’s revealed that Ned was the Hobgoblin. I was reading these well after the fact, so I actually read that some time before I read much of the rest of the saga. What I didn’t like was that Marvel seemed to have no idea who the Hobgoblin was from the beginning, so they kept flailing around for a while before they finally decided on Ned. Story-wise, that issue is pretty good for the reasons you mentioned. But after issue #251, it became clear that Marvel editorial was asleep at the wheel, and that’s why it’s kind of a mess.

I just want to echo what Greg and Marc wrote. Peter David handled the Hobgoblin finale about as well as he could under the circumstances.

In the four years that the Hobgoblin saga ran for, Stern, Defalco and the rest of the Spiderman writers never bothered to stockpile a decent number of suspects – heaven knows why not. Ned Leeds was literally the only person it could be. So killing him off a couple of months before it was revealed he was the Hobgoblin was the only way to create any sort of surprise.

And I really liked that Ned died crying for Spiderman, it added pathos.

Absolutely Greg- which is why I mentioned Chris Priest’s site for the “Why I Don’t Talk About Spider-Man” – its a fascinating read about exactly what was going down at the time (actually, there’s not a single post on Priest’s site that doesn’t make for a good read). As for Marvel having no idea as to who Hobby was supposed to be, well, as “Spideykicksbutt” pointed out, there was also a time where Marvel didn’t know who the Green Goblin was going to be (actually, there was a moment he might have been Ned as well!)- that excuses nothing of course- (and the creators were able to finish Green Goblin’s arc to everyone’s satisfaction) if you write a story the writer or writing team should have ideas in place for the eventual climax. I simply found Marvel’s way of dealing with Hobby’s identity rather bold and creative by virtue of the fact that his demise was cold blooded, ignoble, and until Kingpin allowed Spidey a look at the dossier, anonymous.

In fact, it spoke more about the Kingpin as a ruthless adversary that he used the information to twist the knife in Spidey – over an enemy no less- Kingpin knew Hobgoblin being killed but not brought to justice would pain Spider-Man as much as a physical blow- another nice detail that added to the story.


Frankly I’ve had a look at the “clues” Stern wrote that supposedly pointed to Roderick Kingsley (also found on Spideykicksbutt), and man o man, you would have to be a deductive genius of the first water to get those. Personally, I found Ned a better if not more logical choice, because there was more emotional resonance to be found in his history than Kingsley’s, who was a bit too much of a background character with no real connections to the cast proper to really bring it home as a stunning reveal (the fact that back in the day, the same argument could be applied to Norman Osbourne is not lost on me by the by).

Oh and thank you Bernard- I had responded to Greg but had not seen your post- and I’m glad you see what I mean- sure, Hobby could battle it out with Spidey in some huge cathartic beatdown atop the NY skyline, but honestly, is there anything more heart-rending than Ned Leeds, the horrible Hobgoblin, rendered impotent by faceless goons, dying badly and alone in a dingy Berlin hotel room, his last words a desparate pleading for his enemy to help him? To me, that’s when a comic takes a step from fun to great.

Marc Kandel pretty much nailed my reaction to those books–right from the Spidey vs Wolverine story to Macendale to the Demogoblin.

I couldn’t have written it better myself.

In my comics world the retcon of Hobgoblin;s secret ID never happened. (I’d stopped reading by that time anyway.)

Which goes to show you that the Hobgoblin’s greatest weakness is biased and crappy writing which he has been subjected to for years. To make matters worst, they brought back Norman Osborn and turned him into a Lex Luthor wannabe and gave the traits of the original Hobgoblin and Jackal to him, rendering both villains into limbo.
It would have been better if they had used both the original Green Goblin and Hobgoblin at the same time and see how they would play off against each other and how much of a threat they would be to Spiderman. Unfortunately, Marvel decided to glorify Norman up to the point of obnoxiousness-To me this is a form of lazy, desperate and biased writing and I think they need to get over their mancrush on Norman and give the Hobgoblin the attention he deserves. However, Marvel seems to want to follow DC Comics’s example and give preferential treatment to certain characters they like.
I do hope that the real Marvel Comics will return soon and that this DC Comics fanbase that currently exist goes away once the editorial staff changes-Maybe then the Hobgoblin won’t be subjected to more biased writing.

i am currently in posession of a 1984 printing of ASM issue #251.
it is in great condition, how much is it worth?

Roughly $4.00.

i have a asm #238 with tatoo how much is it worth?

Depending on condition ASM 238 runs for about 100+ for a NM- a good VF copy would be 50+.

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