Evil Geek Book Report – The Origin Of The Hobgoblin
I love 80’s Spider-Man comics. He was a character that I never had any interest in. Last summer that all changed when I picked up a trade called, ‘The Birth Of Venom’. I had wanted to learn more about Spidey’s spiffy black costume. Needless to say, I was floored. The trade strung together issues and isolated pages that pertained to the Alien Costume Saga as well as several of Venom’s first few appearances. I liked that Peter was no longer a High Schooler but not a full fledged adult; he was at an interesting point in his life that made for great situations. More importantly, I was very impressed with the writing and how every issue could be accessible to a new reader right away without it being dumbed down. The ability though to thread along subplots into the overarching storylines is what really sold me. They didn’t need to be wrapped up to fit into a trade paperback; they could go on for as long or as little as needed. It’s something of a lost art in the way modern comics are presented.
I wanted more 80’s Spider-Man and other than the ‘Birth Of Venom’ TPB and ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’ I didn’t know where else to go, so I picked up ‘The Origin Of Hobgoblin’. Throughout the entire 1980’s one of the biggest thorns in Spidey’s side was the Hobgoblin but his identity was kept a mystery with lots of scattered clues and red herrings.
It unfolds with a street punk discovering one of the old Green Goblin’s secret underground hideouts while on the run from Spider-Man. This criminal tells or presumably sells the information to someone who begins to use all of the Green Goblin’s resources. His weapon’s arsenal and technology first and foremost, but also his detailed journals describing almost everything from his strength serum down to his personal secrets. Norman Osborne had found out lots of dirt on many prominent men in society including Spider-Man’s secret identity (which may or may not be in the journal) and many other things that could be used as blackmail. It’s with this bag of tricks an altered color scheme on the Green Goblin’s costume that our shadowy figure becomes the Hobgoblin.
It’s really a stroke of genius on the writer’s part who were no doubt persuaded to resurrect the long dead fan favorite, Green Goblin back to the pages of Spider-Man. This is a quasi-realistic way to incorporate him without having to retcon a major death (which would of course eventually come later). This trade collects all the early appearances of old “Hobby” (as Spider-Man refers to him as) but since it’s the ‘origin of” it never actually delivers the big reveal so it leaves you a little unsatisfied. The last issue included is Amazing Spider-Man #251 which the Hobgoblin is presumed dead after Spider-Man and him battle it out eventually spilling into the river. The striking cover is very misleading; making it seem like his identity will definitively be revealed. Poor Spidey only comes up with a discarded mask and nothing more. The end of that issue leads right into the beginning of Secret Wars which dovetails nicely with ‘The Birth of Venom’ trade where the first issue is Spider-Man returning from the Secret Wars, black costume in tow.
The collection includes three earlier issues focusing on fashion designer, Roderick Kingsley. It’s my understanding he is the Hobgoblin presented here (why else would they include them?) but it never really tied together. You also miss out on any issues where there may be a panel here or there where Peter has a passing thought or showing him trying to connect the dots on who the real identity of the Hobgoblin is since this only focuses on the handful of full issues where he first appears. It leaves you without anyone you can speculate on.
Cover to cover it was a pretty engaging read and I’m glad I picked it up. What should I tackle next to round out 1980’s Spider-Man? ‘Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut’? ‘The Death Of Jean DeWolff”? Let me know!
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