Squandered Legacy:

The Rise and Fall of the HobGoblin

Part Three


Goblins, Goblins, Everywhere

Prologue

This is the third part of my series on the rise and fall of the super-villain known as the HobGoblin - his beginnings, the initial suspects, where the character went wrong, the pretenders to the role, the return of the original, and whether there's a place for him in today's Spider-Man, particularly when the original Green Goblin is back in town. If you would like to read all of the gory details surrounding the origin of the HobGoblin, and how the character began to lose its way due to poor writing and editorial oversight you can check out Part 1 which takes us from the first appearance of both Roderick Kingsley and the HobGoblin to the end of Roger Stern's tenure on Amazing Spider-Man, and Part 2, which takes us through Tom DeFalco's writing stint and the "revelation," ultimately retconned, that the first HobGoblin was Bugle reporter Ned Leeds. For those who don't want to endure my loquacious analyses just yet, here's a quick recap...

Once upon a time, spider-writer extraordinaire Roger Stern decided that Spider-Man needed a new Goblin to kick around, so he created this really nifty villain called the HobGoblin, who had discovered and reconditioned Norman Osborn's old Green Goblin equipment and taken on the aforementioned identity. Stern spent the better part of a year weaving a fascinating story arc about this new Goblin - but before he really even began to build the mystery towards its ultimate resolution - he abruptly left the title. Additionally, he left without telling anyone, even his successor on Amazing Spider-Man, Tom DeFalco, that his ultimate plan was to reveal the HobGoblin as fashion designer Roderick Kingsley. DeFalco, for reasons he hasn't chosen to reveal or has simply forgotten, decided that the HobGoblin was the Kingpin's son, Richard Fisk. Only he wanted everyone to think that the HobGoblin was Bugle reporter Ned Leeds. He really wanted everyone to think the Goblin was Ned. He also was really in no hurry to wrap things up and dragged the mystery on and on and on, resulting in the once riveting HobGoblin Saga going down in flames faster than a malfunctioning goblin glider in free fall. DeFalco was then fired by spider-editor Jim Owsley (on the orders of then Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter) before he revealed that the Goblin was Richard Fisk. And then Jim Owlsey killed off Ned Leeds in Spider-Man vs. Wolverine. And then Jim Salicrup took over as spider-editor and decided that all of the "clues" that Tom DeFalco had left behind, which were really supposed to be red herrings, actually meant that the HobGoblin was Ned Leeds. Except Ned was dead by this time.

Oops.

Showing the same lack of interest in either logic or satisfying storytelling, and the propensity for illogical retcons that became Marvel's hallmark nearly a decade later with the Clone Saga, it was decided that yes, Ned was dead, but Ned had also been the Goblin, and that he had been killed in a murder for hire for the Jack O'Lantern, Jason Macendale, who then stole all of Ned's gear and - viola! - became the brand new HobGoblin.

So what if that resolution, well - SUCKED? And sucked badly - pissing all over a 4 year mystery that had once been riveting and perhaps one of the more interesting ongoing comic plots of the 1980's. Let's assume for a moment that Ned really had been and should have been the HobGoblin(just for the sake of argument). How in the world, if you're editing the spider-titles - hell, if you're the Editor in Chief himself - how can you allow one of Spidey's most dangerous and popular villains - who also happened to be one of his longest acquaintences, and the rival for the love of Betty Brant, Peter's first significant relationship - to be killed off-panel? In a flashback? Without a final confrontation between himself and Spider-Man? Howard Mackie may have been a modern master of the off-panel confrontation, but in all fairness, he certainly didn't invent it. It's been over 15 years since the events of Amazing Spider-Man #289 first debuted and it STILL pisses me off (and yes, I have a life - it's a relative kind of pissed off) - because it just so clearly illustrates what to me was a growing contempt that Marvel's hierarchy must have been developing towards the fan base and perhaps even the characters of which they were custodian. No one at Marvel obviously cared about whether or not the resolution to this story was a good one, made any sense, or provided a sense of closure to the fans - they just wanted the story to be over. Period. Everything was now right with the world. The HobGoblin was dead. Long live the HobGoblin.

O.K. - it's not like the HobGoblin was the first villain who was ever replaced by another. Not only had a tortured Harry Osborn briefly replaced his father as the diabolical Green Goblin, but Harry's shrink Barton Hamilton had also served a brief stint in the green and purple tights. Blackie Drago had temporarily replaced Adrian Toomes as the high-flying Vulture. Danny Berkhart took on the mantle of Mysterio when Quentin Beck appeared to have died in an attempted prison break (since shown to be an illusion). And after the HobGoblin story, Alistar Smythe replaced his father Spencer Smythe as the creator of the spider slayers, Carolyn Trainer replaced Otto Octavious as the new Dr. Octopus, two sons of Kraven, Vladimir and Aloysha ("Al" to Ron Zimmerman) replaced the original Hunter, and so on and so on....

Hmmm. Notice a trend? Maybe that only strengthens the argument I was about to make. Because, with the possible exception of the Smythes, who were really second tier Spidey villains anyway, each replacement was inferior to the original. How do I know? Well, none of them lasted did they? And with the exception of Kraven, Sr. - all of the originals came back - even two, Norman Osborn and Otto Octavious - who had been clearly, deliberately and at the time permanently killed off. And one reason, among many they were revived (particularly in the case of Norman Osborn) was that their replacements were quite simply inferior to them - and in a market that needs readers and needs sales - half-assed supervillains just don't cut it.

So there was nothing unusual about the mediocrity of the Jason Macendale HobGoblin. If anything, he was simply one of a long line of sad sack replacements. Unfortunately, unlike in the cases of most of the other doppelgangers, Macendale's tenure was allowed to continue for an inexplicably long period of time due to the neglect exhibited by Marvel writers and editors. For you see, the Jason Macendale HobGoblin wasn't just a mediocre villain - he really was the embodiment of what Marvel had become in the late 1980's and early 1990's - a cheap imitation of something that had once been great. How often Macendale was used, but how little he was actually developed, and just how shallow he was, mirrored the condition of the spider titles at the time. That time period wasn't about quality - it was all about quantity - and I think you'll see that as this article progresses.

The New HobGoblin Takes Flight In June 1987 with Amazing Spider-Man #289, Jason Macendale made his first appearance as the HobGoblin, and three months later, in Web of Spider-Man #30, Jim Owsley finally buried the Ned Leeds Goblin with a semi-origin tale story of the original HobGoblin and the Rose, albeit from the Rose's perspective.

Or did he? Because before we move on with the HobGoblin story, we have to deal with one bizarre little tale that seems to fit nowhere, except in that dreaded Twilight Zone of Fill-In Issues - to which Spectacular Spider-Man #130 clearly belongs. To understand how this came about, we need to understand that Peter David was close to finishing his successful run on the title in issue #129, having resolved almost all of his storylines except for one which dealt with the final fate of the Sin-Eater (the murderer of police captain Jean DeWolfe), which ultimately ran from issues #134-136. Spectaculars #131-133 were that title's contribution to two crossover story arcs, J.M. DeMatteis' classic (though not a favorite of mine) "Kraven's Last Hunt," and Ann Nocenti's "Mad Dog Ward." After Peter David's resolution of the Sin-Eater storyline, Gerry Conway took over the title for the next few years, beginning with issue #137.

But that left issue #130 needing an author and a story. Enter Bob Layton and his tale called "24 Hours," which although it was the September, 1987 issue, a footnote on page one told us that it really took place even before Amazing #289, which had been released months earlier. In it, the HobGoblin is severely injured after taking on an assignment from a "European mobster acquaintenance" to steal a ledger from the Kingpin. He poisons Harry Osborn because that would panic Harry enough to get ahold of Peter Parker who would get ahold of Spider-Man (Peter's connection with Spider-Man being well known - so well known that nobody seems to put two and two together), who would complete the second part of his "mission," which would be stealing back the ledger from the mobster and returning it to the Kingpin who would give him a reward for its return - in other words, stealing the same ledger twice and collecting rewards from each party. Why didn't the Goblin just poison Peter directly, he tells Spider-Man during one of those patented "Listen to my clever plan," speech and thus avoid taking the chance that Harry might not reach Peter? Well, because Parker "didn't fit the profile" and he would not give in to the sheer terror and panic that the more mentally malleable Harry Osborn would. I didn't understand that rationale either. So, although the footnote on page one tells us that this HobGoblin is the original one, who is either Kingsley or Leeds depending on just when the story supposedly took place, the double-dealing stupidity of this Goblin and the sheer ineptitude he displays is typical of Macendale. For example, both Kingsley and Leeds wanted to bring down the Kingpin for entirely different reasons, not extort him. Leeds in particular would not have contracted himself out - certainly not without Kingsley's direction (since as we now know, Kingsley had brainwashed Leeds into serving as his costumed double), and besides - how would this "European mobster acquaintance" have known who the HobGoblin was - or that he was open for business, so to speak? Neither Kingsley nor Leeds had contracted themselves out to another during the entire previous four years (the HobGoblin was allied with the Rose, as an equal, not a contract player), and their time as the HobGoblin was a tightly kept secret until Kingsley leaked it out to set up Leeds. Macendale's identity, however, as both the Goblin and previously, the Jack O'Lantern, and the fact that he was a mercenary for hire, were both widely known within the underworld. So, regardless of what the caption says - this was the Macendale HobGoblin.

But beyond the issue of which Goblin this was - this was simply a dopey story, and the proof of its awful legacy is the mail I received asking why this story didn't make my Ten Worst Spider-Man list, and another asking whether my HobGoblin series was going to reference this "Bizarre little tale" as one letter writer put it. There - I just did.

Macendale's blundering continues in Web of Spider-Man #38 (May 1988) which opens with him attacking the Kingpin's base of operations demanding an assassin assignment (since no one is willing to hire the bum), only to be literally thrown out the window like an amateur by the ghostly looking thug Tombstone, who recently signed on with the Kingpin. So, in order to get into the Kingpin's good graces, the HobGoblin goes after Spider-Man, who in a humourous twist is accidentally drunk due to drinking some spiked punch at his going away party in his old apartment (where he had lived since Amazing Spider-Man #139). However, conspicuously absent is any lack of rage or even acknowledgement on Spidey's part that this is the man who had Ned Leeds murdered. Must've been the punch, I suppose. Hobby is just another second-rate thug, who this time is defeated because the Goblin glider malfunctions and sends him and it flying out of control, as if Hobby were just a bumbling Keystone Goblin. As far as why Macendale has to resort to such tactics to get a contract, during the story, the Arranger, a recurring Kingpin crony at this time, tells Macendale that he is "..a boor. An idiot. An incompetent. A prattling fool who steals another man's identity," descriptions which unfortunately characterized Macendale's run as the HobGoblin. It was apparent even then. O.K. Marvel, so why was this clown the heir to Norman Osborn's Legacy? But wait - there's more!

Yet another reason that this is another cheap and meaningless tale (written by Fabian Nicieza, who wrote the considerably better Lifeline miniseries several years later), regardless of the mediocre villain it featured, is that for most of its history to this point, Web of Spider-Man had truly been the ugly stepchild of the Spider-Man universe, with no consistent creative team in its entire three+ year history. Now, not all of these stories were bad by any means - some were good (i.e. those written by Peter David), but the title was clearly without any direction or focus, and it seemed that if a writer had some free time, he (or she) wrote an issue of Web of Spider-Man.

Well, apparently someone at Marvel must have realized that the HobGoblin had indeed become a joke, rather than the fearsome heir to the Osborn Legacy Roger Stern intended him to be, and that something had to be done to step Gobby's menace up a notch.

Amazing Spider-Man #311 (January 1989),was another Spidey foray into one of those god-awful Marvel crossovers, this time called "Inferno," in which a bunch of demons tried to take over New York City and all kinds of inanimate objects started coming to life and the Empire State Building was turned into some kind of, well, never mind. On the last page of this issue, Harry Osborn is beginning to dream of the Green Goblin, while the HobGoblin hovers menacingly nearby. The story resumes in Spectacular Spider-Man #146, but doesn't kick into gear until Web of Spider-Man #47 when the HobGoblin attacks the Osborn family, demanding that Harry give him his father's formula, which gave both of their predecessors superhuman strength. In order to buy his family a reprieve and himself some time, Harry sends the HobGoblin on a wild goose chase into downtown Manhattan to find the formula, giving himself and his memory time to remember where the allegedly late Norman Osborn has hidden a cache of Goblin weaponry and costumes - conveniently overlooking the fact that in issue #261, we are told that the original HobGoblin has found and looted all of Norman's old hideouts! Aaarghh!

This led into ostensibly one of the most significant moments in Goblin history in Amazing Spider-Man #312, the alleged first meeting between the Green Goblin and the HobGoblin. Of course, it would be more accurate to say that this was a meeting between a Green Goblin, and a HobGoblin, since both of the Goblins involved were definitely the second team, neither nearly as formidable as their predecessors. Regardless of its inherent flaws and typical Marvel hype, this issue was something of a crowd pleaser at the time, turned into a collectible because it was drawn by Todd McFarlane. However, with both of these Goblins now dead, and "Inferno" another in a long line of forgettable Marvel gimmicks, this story resonates very little at the present time.

Anyway, in one of those "it could only happen in a comic book" plots, timid and inexperienced desk jockey Harry Osborn is able to hold his own against a former CIA-trained operative turned mercenary (although an apparently less than competent one), and he and Spider-Man are able to defeat the Macendale HobGoblin. I suppose that we could consider the fact that after Norman Osborn's "death" in Amazing Spider-Man #122, that Harry began training to succeed his father (which is exactly what happened according to the Clone Saga recap Osborn Journals). Since real time passed between ASM #122 and #147 (at the end of that issue, the Jackal referred to Gwen Stacy as having died two years ago), we can assume that a full year had passed between #122 and #136, when Harry first confronted Peter as the new Green Goblin, having spent all of that time training with the glider and the weapons. And I suppose that on a subliminal level, that training kicked in when Harry took on the Macendale HobGoblin, thus explaining why he was able to hold his own against him, since at that time the HobGoblin did not have superpowers.

As Jeff Goldblum says in The Big Chill rationalizations are more important than sex.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Ugliest Goblin of Them all?

Spectacular Spider-Man #147 begins with the HobGoblin doing what was an all to familiar trait of the Macendale HobGoblin - whining and boo-hooing about how unfair things are - this time that Spider-Man and Harry Osborn cleaned his clock. However, after being attacked by some of the demons infesting New York City during the "Inferno" crossover, Macendale gets an idea - to offer to exchange his soul to the master of the demons, N'astirh (who looked like some kind of horse demon or something - anyway, the X-Men had all the fun in dealing with him), for the power of a demon. Although human souls were hardly an item on N'astirh's agenda, he is amused by Macendale's request, and in exchange for making him laugh, N'astirh grants the Goblin's wish. Of course, this winds up having consequences Macendale could not have imagined, as the accompanying photo demonstrates.

Having the power of a demon did nothing to improve Macendale's attitude, as he starts out his career as the demonic HobGoblin - whining (of course), about how N'astirh tricked him. Now, it doesn't take a religious person, just one who's seen enough creepy movies, to realize that when you enter a bargain with the devil (or "a" devil, in this case), you're gonna get seriously screwed - without fail. Be that as it may, Web of Spider-Man #48 (March, 1989), features the first battle between the demonic HobGoblin and our fearless hero, a battle which Spidey wins, of course, but this time with Mary Jane's help (gotta love her)!

Why a demonic HobGoblin? Particularly since horror elements have historically not worked too well in Spidey (the first Carrion being a notable exception)? I don't know why this particular course was taken with the HobGoblin, but I can speculate. Maybe David Michelinie (then the scribe of Amazing Spider-Man) or someone else at Marvel actually realized that the HobGoblin as written was a weak and unworthy heir to the Osborn Legacy, and to rectify that situation, decided to bring back the real heir to that Legacy - Harry Osborn. I doubt that he was brought back for one appearance only - I think there were some tentative plans for him. This seemed to be confirmed in Amazing Spider-Man #318, as Harry, reflecting on how his memories have returned, begins talking about setting a "master plan" in motion as he looks upon a Green Goblin costume. However, as it turned out, Harry as Goblin didn't return until nearly a year later, in Web of Spider-Man #66, a year from the start of the "Child Within" storyline which began Harry's journey into madness and his own death. But it's apparent that there were some plans for Harry, either as a recurring good guy or bad. I think Marvel toyed with the idea of a heroic Green Goblin series with Harry (yes, before Phil Urich). I want to say that I actually read that a long time ago, but I do not remember where - so take it as a grain of salt - it might be a false memory. Regardless, either as a good guy or bad, it was apparent that Harry was now back as the Green Goblin, so to have a second villain wearing a Goblin costume, albeit with a different color scheme, may have been seen as redundant - hence merging Macendale with a demon and creating a different kind of Goblin. I suppose that if one steps back and looks at it impartially, a demonic HobGoblin wouldn't have been too bad of an idea had Harry lasted as the Green Goblin - but as we all know - he didn't.

After his dip in the netherworld pool, Hobby began to guest star in other titles. During the "Acts of Vengeance" crossover (sigh - yes, another one), Hobby took on Dr. Strange in issue #11 of the good doctor's title, and also crossed paths with Ghost Rider. But the demonic Jason Macendale didn't forget his first foe as he returned to bedevil Spidey in Spectacular Spider-Man #161 (February, 1990) when Hammerhead hired him to murder Joe Robertson. At this time, HobGoblin has a reputation as a "top" contract killer, per Hammerhead - so Hobby must have been honing his skills in the previous year or so - maybe there were some fringe benefits to this demon thing. As written by Gerry Conway, the demonic Macendale HobGoblin seems to have shed his whining and self-pitying and become a solid and dangerous, if admittedly unspectacular villain.

In June, 1990, beginning with Amazing Spider-Man #334, arch-nemesis Dr. Octopus, begins putting back together that dastardly team of supervillains - the Sinister Six - which remarkably enough, hadn't been seen as a group together since way, waaaaaaaayyyyy back in the very first Amazing Spider-Man annual in the early 1960's. However, since by this time, Kraven the Hunter ate his rifle, the good Doctor needs a new recruit since he wasn't happy with any of the evil adjectives that went with "Five." If I have to tell you who it is, then you definitely haven't been paying attention to just who this article is about. However, the HobGoblin is just a bit player in this story arc, which ends with issue #339 (September, 1990). He's acting a little bit weird when Octopus first brings him into the fold, but this is just a moderate, not disparaging or significant change in the character.

But before long, Todd McFarlane brought the character back and took him way out into left field, triggering the next notable change in the character's direction.

The HobGoblin that we meet in January, 1991's No-Adjective Spider-Man #6-7 which guest-starred Ghost Rider, isn't even remotely human anymore. The man who had been Jason Macendale seems completely overcome by the demon within him. While this was a crazy new tangent in the HobGoblin's career, it was just another one of McFarlane's horror Spidey stories which typified his relatively brief, but still-famous run on the series. This time Hobby's snatching people off the street, encasing them in icky, sticky gross cocoons ala Alien before murdering them, babbling incoherently about blasphemers and salvation, supposedly hearing voices from dead people. He has now become convinced that his mission is to do the work of the Lord, purging all evil from the face of the earth. This all occurred without any forewarning or any build-up - just boom - we have an all demonic HobGoblin. Frankly, it was pure crap, and kind of sick, too.

I suppose I don't entirely blame McFarlane for his bizarre spin on Spider-Man. After all, No Adjective Spider-Man was the fourth monthly Spider-Man title. As you can see using that fabulous 20-20 hindsight, the overkill which ultimately began to suck not only Spidey, but all of Marvel, straight down the crapper during the 1990's is beginning to rear its ugly head. It was camaflogued, however, by the fact that the first issue of No Adjective Spider-Man broke all kinds of sales records, even with 18 super glossy glow in the dark versions printed. So, getting back to the point, if you're Todd McFarlane, and you want to distinguish your version of Spider-Man from the three others out there, and your artistic style works well with creepy stories - your path seems clear. But it just didn't seem to fit Spidey on an ongoing basis. And I never liked McFarlane's writing anyway, so when he left the title in another year, I didn't miss him. Unfortunately, things didn't really improve with his departure.

On a positive note, it was the beginning of the end of the demonic HobGoblin by the time of his appearance in Ghost Rider V.2 #16-17, beginning August, 1991, by near legendary spider-writer Howard Mackie. Flaming Head still has a jonesin' for the suddenly Bible-spouting demonic HobGoblin who is trying to purge all sinners, a situation not helped by Hobby spiriting away Daniel Ketch's (Ghost Rider's alter ego at this time) mother. The conclusion to the story involves a combination of Johnny Blaize's hellfire and Ghost Rider's mystical chain clobbering the HobGoblin. As an aftereffect of this unearthly barrage, we begin to see the shifts between Jason Macendale and the demon, shifts which eventually will tear the two apart.

However, January, 1992's No-Adjective Spider-Man #18 begins a six part story "Revenge of the Sinister Six," written by Erik Larsen, which is another protracted story where Hobby, still fused with the demon, is just another bit player. This story doesn't just have Spidey, for before it's done, Ghost Rider, the Hulk, Solo, Nova, Deathlok, Sleepwalker and in the final part, the Fantastic Four all join the fray. Smarting from their betrayal at the hands of Doctor Octopus in the previous six part epic in Amazing Spider-Man, the remaining members decide to re-team to take down the Doc, who then makes them an offer they can't refuse about snatching weapons from an alien dimension and taking over Earth. It is an irrelevant appearance by the HobGoblin, who's still doing the Lord's work. Apparently, though, Larsen didn't read Ghost Rider, or he would have realized that not only had Hobby actually been incarcerated at the end of that story, he was beginning to go back and forth between human and demon.

January 1992 also saw the beginning of the Howard Mackie epic "The Name of the Rose," in Web of Spider-Man #84 which DID have a fundamental impact on the HobGoblin, as we see him currently in custody, awaiting pick-up for the Vault, with his two sides fighting each other. This, of course, ignores the end of the last Sinister Six story which had HobGoblin getting away scott-free. But, I guess since Erik Larsen ignored Howard's earlier Ghost Rider story involving the HobGoblin, Howard returned the favor by ignoring Larsen's story. Of course, we could always explain it away with Hobby escaping and being incarcerated again - off-panel, but why waste the time and effort?

The undercurrent in "Name of the Rose" is that Richard Fisk, the son of the Kingpin, and a brand new Rose (as you may recall, it was Richard Fisk as the first Rose who teamed up with the first HobGoblin Roderick Kingsley and his dupe Ned Leeds) have joined forces to bring down the Kingpin (sigh, again - the boy never learns). This time, Richard is pretending to be a willing participant in his father's organization. As a result of events occurring in Daredevil, the Kingpin is beginning to lose his grip on both the New York crime scene and his marbles, and Richard is trying to push him over the edge. At this same time, a Daily Bugle photo taken by sleazeball photographer Nick Katzenberg, but mistakenly attributed to Peter Parker, shows the Rose meeting with Richard Fisk, so Fisk puts out a contract on Peter Parker. When Spidey shows up after the first such attempt on Peter's life, it is assumed that Spider-Man is protecting Parker. Of course we learned a year later that this wasn't really Richard Fisk, but Fisk's best pal Alfredo, whom we first met during the "Gang War" story arc in Amazing Spider-Man #284-288, and who was part of the Fisk-Leeds-Alfredo troika that writer Jim Owsley stated in his attempted retcon that was trying to bring down the Kingpin in Web of Spider-Man #30. Alfredo is pretending to be Richard Fisk and the real Richard Fisk at this time is actually the Blood Rose, but not the second Rose in "The Name of the Rose" because that Rose was really a New York policeman, a Sergeant Blume, who took on the Rose identity to exact revenge on the Kingpin for having his brother, another cop, murdered. I'm feeling the lack of oxygen in my brain right now, so pardon me.

In Part 3 (issue #86, March, 1992) Fisk/Alfredo has the HobGoblin sprung from confinement so that he may kill both Spider-Man AND Peter Parker. But, just as Hobby begins to engage Spidey, the violent separation of Jason Macendale and the demonic Goblin, as depicted at the top of this article, occurs. The demonic HobGoblin is prepared to continue his holy crusade, which he intends to kick off by killing the "sinner" Macendale. It is also during this moment that Spider-Man tells Macendale that the demon is part of the twisted hatred that was dormant in him and coins a name for the new character - "DemoGoblin." Macendale, weakened by the gut wrenching separation is apprehended by the police, but later freed by Fisk/Alfredo or "Fisk," as I'll now refer to him.

During this time, we learn that "Fisk" considered Ned Leeds to be the "second best friend" he ever had, and issue #87 has "Fisk" looking at the pictures of the three people that meant the most to him, his mother, Alfredo, and Leeds. I'm not even going to consider trying to rationalize why Alfredo, if he's really Fisk, is referring to himself in the third person - since I believe that an editorial decision was made after the story saw print that this really wasn't Richard Fisk, although Mackie had originally intended it to be when he first wrote the story. It could be that someone at Marvel realized that Richard Fisk had always been portrayed as a reluctant criminal, not the vicious Kingpin-wannabe that he was written as in this story arc. ANYWAY, after freeing the mercenary, "Fisk" has Macendale brought before him, intending to exact revenge for the death of his good friend Ned Leeds. Now, isn't it funny that "Fisk" is more enraged at the death of Ned Leeds at the hands of Jason Macendale than even Spider-Man. Yes, I know the Foreigner's goons, not Macendale, killed Leeds, but Macendale contracted the hit out of spite and jealousy. Leeds was nothing to the Foreigner. Anyway, oddly enough, under the guidance of the much maligned Mackie, Macendale seems to have gotten a bit tougher and smarter, and after subduing "Fisk's" men, he makes the would be crime lord a business proposition, which "Fisk," after turning the photo of Ned Leeds over, accepts. After all business is business. A few double-crosses later, Macendale himself is double-crossed and goes after "Fisk," lots of fights ensue, etc., etc., and the story ends with the usual whimper, but none of this is really relevant to the article at hand. "The Name of the Rose" is a not bad tale, really, other than the original questionable portrayal of Richard Fisk, but it's a forgettable one. And frankly, with both the Macendale HobGoblin and DemoGoblin now dead, it is irrelevant - but for a long time, the significance of this series was the separation of the demon from Jason Macendale.

Speaking of our pal the demon, by No Adjective Spider-Man #24 (July, 1992), the Demogoblin now has his own set of colorful duds and is still hot and heavy for the blood of the sinner Macendale, who in turn wants to justifiably whack the DemoGoblin. Since this is Spidey's title, our hero naturally finds himself in the middle of this battle of the Goblins, but then there's the matter of Spidey's eight-legged doppelganger from the "Infinity War" crossover who shows up. Sigh. Let's see, isn't that the third Marvel crossover I've had to reference since this article began? Anyway, more fights and general wackiness ensues - again.

Macendale returns very soon in Web of Spider-Man #93 (October, 1992) in a story called "HobGoblin Reborn." And for the very first time, we actually begin to gain a little insight into the mind of Jason Macendale, as he reflects on his past, pondering about how killing was the only thing that seemed natural to him. As HobGoblin goes through a rigorous training exercise put on by his old pal, the Foreigner, it really does seem that Mackie is conscience of what a second-stringer Macendale has been from day one, and is trying to re-invigorate him, trying to make him a more formidable opponent for Spider-Man. In order to pay off the Foreigner for the expense of his training, the Goblin goes after Moon Knight (and later Nick Katzenberg). In order to test the HobGoblin even further, and have a little sick fun, the Foreigner subsequently tells Spidey that the HobGoblin is after Moon Knight and Katzenberg, knowing Spidey will go after the Goblin. For the first time in a long while, we hear Spidey reference Ned Leeds' death, telling the Foreigner that he "still owes him." Unfortunately, Spidey's anger over Leeds' death seems misplaced, as the Foreigner reminds him that Leeds was simply business. You'd think Spidey would have remembered that himself - that it wasn't the Foreigner who had the grudge against Leeds - it was Macendale. And you thought that continuity wasn't important to "Nu" Marvel? It wasn't important to "Old" Marvel at times. Still, Mackie, although well-known to be weak on continuity, has to be credited for actually remembering that Ned Leeds' death is still a sore point with Spidey, something other writers didn't.

Of course, since this is the 90's the decade of endless and ridiculous crossovers, Spidey and the HobGoblin can't really get any juice going in their mutual emnity because someone else always has to show up and hog some of the spotlight. First in this story, it was Moon Knight, then at the end the DemoGoblin and the Doppelganger show up, and in the next part we get Troll and Hag, a life force absorbing tandem, and an appearance by Venom (gee, now there's someone we almost never saw during the 90's). Issue #95 is the crossover with "Spirits of Vengeance," (Ack! a fourth crossover) as the DemoGoblin and the Spidey doppelganger battle with Spider-Man as he's trying to take a subdued Macendale to prison. More sinner this, sinner that, blah blah blah. But before long, Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaize show up and team with Venom (during his Lethal Protector phase, you know, when he really only killed people who deserved it) against Hag and Troll, who sucked the life force out of "innocent" Guardsmen, and the demon spawn of Deathwatch (any relation to Nightwatch - Marvel's Spawn rip-off?). We also learn that DemoGoblin has a wider agenda that just offing his old pal Jason Macendale - he ultimately wishes to rid the earth of all demons and those with demonic blood, which explains his tangling with Ghost Rider here and there in that character's own magazine (as well as Moon Knight). I guess this is why he keeps after Macendale, who in addition to being a sinner, is still tainted with a trace of demon blood.

Well, Macendale never seems to get any better at this Goblin gig, not even without the demon, so he's carted off to the big house by this tale's end. But believe, it or not, he was actually luckier than DemoGoblin, because the latter spook then had to participate in one of the all-time greatest wankfests in Spidey history. I give you - Maximum Carnage.

But before I go on, I should mention that during the time of the aforementioned slugfests, "The Child Within" miniseries ran through Spectacular #178-184 in which Harry Osborn turned the corner toward the dark side for good, ultimately ending with his death in the May 1993 Spectacular Spider-Man #200. Thus, during this time period - there were no less than THREE Goblins, with Harry as the Green one, Macendale as the Hobby one, and DemoGoblin as, well, the demonic one. Like the title says - Goblins, Goblins, everywhere. With Harry's death we were down to two, for the moment.

Back on track, it would be a waste of time to spend too much blood, sweat and tears here talking about Maximum Carnage because this article is supposed to be about the HobGoblin - but in a way Carnage reflects much of what went wrong with Spidey during the 1990's - it was the ultimate shallow, meaningless, ridiculously padded, multi-part slugfest. Beginning with the new quarterly Spider-Man Unlimited #1 (May 1993) (not to be confused with the extremely short lived and idiotic Saturday morning series of a few years later which featured a weird new costume for Spidey in his adventures on Counter-Earth) Carnage was a bloated 14-part story about Carnage and other crazies, including Shriek, the Doppelganger, and DemoGoblin, who shows up in part 3, Amazing Spider-Man #378. They go around New York and kill people and fight with Spidey, Venom, Black Cat, and an assorted group of superheroes issue after issue after issue until part 13, in Spectacular Spider-Man #213 in which the "Good Bomb" full of light, love and joy (I'm not kidding) topples most of the bad guys, and even show DemoGoblin the sin and evil in his own heart. Awww. Maximum Carnage ended with the August, 1993 issue of Spider-Man Unlimited.

In the interim, the HobGoblin had been busy, since after finishing up with the "Spirits of Vengeance," the already over-exposed Goblin took on both Sleepwalker and Deathlok. During Deathlok #25 (August 1993) we hear that the Goblin's reputation has taken a serious nosedive lately. Well, considering that he fails at every single hit he's contracted for, I'm surprised that one of his employers hasn't got tired of having their money wasted and took a hit out on him. Of course, he fails against Deathlok as well, and after this, the Goblins took a little breather for awhile - finally.

Beginning in March, 1994, the HobGoblin appeared in the three-part mini The Mutant Agenda, a series whose primary claim to fame was that it was actually a crossover with the Spider-Man newspaper strip. The plot is pedestrian, as is HobGoblin's appearance and motivations. The evil Brand Corporation, having risen from the ashes after the Tarantula fiasco in Amazing Spider-Man #236 has supposedly cracked the genetic code that will allow it to create its own race of mutants, a prospect which worries X-Man the Beast. Alas, things are not as they seem, as Brand's CEO Landon has his own personal agenda and has created a formula which will actually rid mutants of their special powers. HobGoblin, ever clever and original, stumbles onto this truth and steals the data in order to - gasp - blackmail Brand with it! How inventive! How creative! But no man can escape his past, as in issue #3, when Macendale visits a bar, he is ridiculed by several patrons as his reputation as a loser who gets beat up by every supervillain preceeds him. Geez - now even the barflies notice how bad he is.

In issue #44 of No-Adjective Spider-Man (March 1994) the HobGoblin has really fallen on hard times, having been reduced to being the strong arm for an arms dealer, and as if to punctuate his loser rep, Spidey flattens him with one punch. Makes me wonder why Roderick Kingsley waited until later to decide that Macendale had become such an embarrassment. Geez Roddy - where were you - in Belize or something?

But hold your breath folks, because now things REALLY start to get funky because if you hadn't already noticed - it's 1994 - and we are at the preliminary set-up for - The Clone Saga!

Macendale's last putzy appearance actually led into the events which occurred in issue #46 of No Adjective Spider-Man with the four-part "Beware the Rage of a Desperate Man."(May 1994), written by our old friend, Howard Mackie. DemoGoblin opens the story by reminding everyone of his mad-on for Macendale and lamenting his involvement in the events of "Maximum Carnage," (he's not the only one lamenting his involvement in that travesty). An acquaintence of Macendale's takes him to an apartment that he had burglarized which turned out to have been owned by the late Kraven the Hunter. The thief has discovered a journal with many of Kraven's secrets, and proposes to Macendale that they blackmail Kraven's son Vladimir with it (no mention of the other son, Ron Zimmerman's pal "Al"). Macendale realizes that it refers to an elixir that Kraven used on himself in order to go toe to toe with Spider-Man, and after killing the thief, proceeds to Russia to negotiate with Vladimir. The elixir for the journal. But first, he runs into the DemoGoblin and Spider-Man. Here we learn that Demo is only after Hobby to - forgive him? WHAT? Did I miss something? This occurs in issues #47-48, and after a complicated set of circumstances which introduces us to Vladimir "The Grim Hunter" whom Mackie introduced with great fanfare (only to offer him up as wormfood for Kaine later because he didn't know what to do with him), the HobGoblin finally receives those super powers he so desperately needed. Back in the city in issue #48, Spidey has his first battle with the newly energized Goblin, and we see the death of the DemoGoblin. Up to this time, Demo has been targeting punks and scumbags, "sinners" as he refers to them, slaughtering them. Demo also appears to have had a change of heart about Hobby and decides to go ahead and kill him, (the forgiveness thing did seem a little lame and out of character) but he is unprepared for the newly empowered HobGoblin. Spidey and the two squabbling Goblins take their bare knuckled brawl into a church trapping a mother and her daughter. As evidence of Spidey's approaching Alzheimer's, after being punched only a few times by the HobGoblin, Spidey proclaims Macendale "probably stronger" than Norman Osborn (oy - like I believe that for one friggin' minute). I would rant and rave about that little moment of stupidity, but I don't have to thanks to Ben Reilly, of all people, later on. The battle brings down a major pillar in the church which is about to collapse on the child, but the DemoGoblin rushes to support it to protect an "innocent," and after Spider-Man gets the child to safety, the pillar collapses on the DemoGoblin, killing him. Spidey observes that in the end, the demon was the noble one, and Macendale was even less human than the demon. And it is a far better resting place I go to than I have ever known.

But hey - we're not done yet! In issue #49, we learn that Macendale has an ex-wife (who has remarried), and a young son, Jason. Macendale proves to be as lousy a father as a super villain, treating his son like a piece of property he is owed simply because he can take it - and his actions at the end of the subsequent battle with Spider-Man nearly kill the boy. But in this story, we are almost given another clue as to why Macendale is such a louse. For those of you who know your Spidey history, "Desperate Man" was on the heels of "Pursuit," where Spidey hunted down the Chameleon to exact a pound of flesh for his participation in Harry Osborn's posthumous "Robot Parents" scheme, and where we started to get all of this "Parker is Dead. I am the Spider" crap. So, Spidey's ragging on Macendale about how he's sick of all the bad guys doing bad things to people and the HobGoblin, probably just about as sick of hearing Spidey whine and babble as we are tells him "So you're teed-off? Who cares? I've lived my entire life in a rage! Get used to it!" And earlier, when Macendale is confronting his ex-wife and her new husband over Macendale's son, the HobGoblin is almost begging Spider-Man to leave - that he doesn't want to fight him - that he wants his son to be a part of his life, and for the first time, he's finally getting his life back together. Now, of course, Macendale's take on family and "getting his life together" is twisted, self-indulgent, and evil, but there is still a hint of perhaps an understandable motivation, of childhood pain, loss and loneliness that feeds Macendale's violence. Not that I'm looking to shed a few tears for the HobGoblin, particularly this version, but still, for a villain who appeared in the titles as often as he did, and particularly for someone who wore the Goblin costume, we needed to know more about him to give his repeated battles with Spider-Man some kind of context other than just SOCK! BAM! BIFF! We know that deep down, Norman Osborn grieves for his son, Harry; that Doctor Octopus was a spoiled mama's boy; that Adrian Toomes feels like a worthless old man; and that even the Kingpin was once a "blubbery, unpopular child." But Marvel just let Macendale continue to be a straw man set up for the sole purpose of being knocked down by Spidey.

Anyway, having to re-read some of the Clone Saga stories was painful. "I Am Spider." Brrrrrr!!!! Gives me the shivers just thinking about it again. I had always planned to do my take on the Clone Saga someday, but after this, I don't know if I'll have the stomach for it.

Another fond memory left to us by the Clone Saga was the senseless, ridiculous, and needless death of Dr. Octopus at the hands of the Killer Klone Kaine in Spectacular Spider-Man #221 (February 1995). Naturally, this immediately inspired Marvel to do a miniseries (at least it didn't have foil covers) Funeral for an Octopus, which was a three-part mini beginning with the March 1995 issue. What's left of the Sinister Six regroups, including the HobGoblin, after being summoned by Octopus's cousin, Elias Hargove to retrieve the good doctor's notes and equipment, which were confiscated by the government after his death. And in the meantime, Kaine is still hunting Spider-Man's foes, since he believes that Peter Parker is a brother "clone" and wants to protect him. The best part of this series is the line the Scarlet Spider utters when trouncing the HobGoblin "I fought the Green Goblin, and you're no Green Goblin!" Exactly. Talk about standing up and cheering when I heard that line. Of course, this was right after Spider-Man put Macendale in Norman Osborn's class in issue #48. Who knows, maybe Peter really was the clone, after all, if he was dumb enough to rank Macendale with Norman.

Oh well.

Hobby's next appearance occurred in Spider-Man Unlimited #9 (May, 1995) in which Kaine continues to hunt Spider-Man's foes, including a somewhat reconstituted Sinister Six with the Shocker, Scorpia, and the Beetle, (funny how Kaine succeeded in killing Doc Ock, but none of the others, who are considerably less effective and dangerous than Ock? Please..). During his confrontation with the HobGoblin, he notes fear within Macendale, "a fear that eats into the darkest areas of his soul. The places no one wishes to look at. Killing him will end his struggles to hide from that fear." I don't want to belabor this point again, but duh, another angle not followed up.

However, within 30 days, Macendale wasn't the only Goblin anymore. In Web of Spider-Man #125 (June, 1995), the new, heroic Green Goblin made his debut. After tracking down a clone of Professor Miles Warren in New Jersey, Peter Parker (dressed as the Scarlet Spider because he was falsely accused of murder and Ben Reilly took his place in jail - it was the Clone Saga - don't ask), finds out that this clone is married to the Gwen Stacy clone that made her debut waaaaaay back during the first Clone Saga in Amazing Spider-Man #146. As a result of unimportant circumstances, the Scarlet Spider is engaged in a high speed chase of the Warren and Gwen clones, and is joined by this new Goblin, whose motives are initially uncertain, but we soon find out that he was actually trying to be one of the good guys. After a subsequent appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man #225 the new Green Goblin gets his own series. Those of who who follow Spider-Girl already know this story. Phil Urich, teenage slacker nephew of Daily Bugle reporter Bejamin Urich, stumbles upon one of Harry Osborn's secret Green Goblin hideouts - except this one had the latest modifications of both the Green Goblin formula and costume that Harry was working on. Phil is dowsed with the new Goblin formula, but rather than killing him (as a version did Harry) or even endowing him with super powers full-time, this formula gave him powers only when he was wearing the souped-up high tech Goblin mask, which included a "lunatic laugh" sonic weapon.

I won't spend too much time on the Phil Urich Goblin since that's a subject for a new Green Goblin series of articles. But, other than irritating teenage slang (not as bad as some of Stan's attempt to capture the dialect of teenagers, but still annoying) I actually liked the resulting Green Goblin series featuring Phil. Of course, it proved to be irresistable to match up this "good" Green Goblin with our old friend the HobGoblin, which occurred in Green Goblin #4(January, 1996). HobGoblin is attempting to rob a "money train" and implicate his ex-wife's new husband. The new Green Goblin is actually the one person that the Macendale HobGoblin is able to defeat but before the heroic Goblin really gets creamed, the Thing crashes the party and Hobby exits. Still, the future wasn't too bright for this Green Goblin. In issue #12, the Goblin mask is severely damaged in a fight with a Sentinel, and in issue #13, faced with being unable to repair it, the career of the good Green Goblin comes to an end. Although if Stern and Glenn Greenberg had had their way, this wouldn't have been the last appearance by Phil Urich as a Green Goblin...

The last appearance of the Macendale HobGoblin occurred near the end of the Clone Saga, beginning with Part 3 of the "Blood Brothers" storyline in No Adjective Spider-Man #68 (May, 1996). The mysterious "Gaunt" (whom we now know was a resurrected Mendell Stromm), had given Macendale and cronies cybernetic implants to make them more formidable. These did give Macendale a distinctive looking appearance. The cover proudly bleated that "This isn't your Daddy's HobGoblin!" Too bad - because "Daddy's" HobGoblin could eat this guy for lunch, cybernetic implants or not (in fact, he did just that very thing later on). Of course, Ben Reilly, who has been Spider-Man as of late, doesn't recognize Hobby - and when he first sees him, misidentifies him as the Green Goblin! Which is rather funny, since Reilly had run into the HobGoblin before back in the Funeral for an Octopus mini - so he had to know that there was such a creature as a HobGoblin, and Peter had no doubt brought him up to speed on the current slate of villains. But I guess Howard Mackie, the author of this part of the "Blood Brothers" story arc, didn't read the Octopus mini. The HobGoblin, along with others, frame Ben Reilly for torching the Daily Grind cafe, where Reilly was employed. Again, this was at the bidding of Guant to screw with the lives of Parker and Reilly. After being captured by Spider-Ben, Macendale makes one of those dumb full confessions Spider-Man #69, not knowing that Peter Parker and Ben Urich are in the shadows taping the whole thing. Macendale is hauled off to jail - and that is the last we see of him until HobGoblin Lives. His most notable scene in this story is the panel where he bemoans what his existence has become, no friends, no loyalties, an ex-wife who wants him dead and a son who hates and fears him. This should resonate some, but Macendale has been such a whiner in the past, that it just doesn't ring with any authority. This turns out to be the real end of the road for the Macendale HobGoblin. As we all know by now, the original Green Goblin was soon to make his dramatic re-appearance, but so was someone else...

NEXT TIME: Jason Macendale dies! HobGoblin Lives! In Part 4 of "Squandered Legacy" we revisit the mini-series in which Roger Stern thankfully rewrote the HobGoblin canon and restored a strong villain to his position of prominence. We look at Stern's final dance of suspects, and try to sort out just which Kingsley brother is which.


Back to Spidey Kicks Butt!

Back to the Table of Contents

Write me at MadGoblin

Or join me on the to talk about this article with the Crawlspace Crew!