“Sticking up for your friends is the right thing to do. So don’t make good manners a chore. Make ‘em a Hobby!”
Hobgoblin turned hero! The Original Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley) foils crime! Helpful Hobgoblin saves children! Hobgoblin Adventure comics on fifth printing! Hobgoblin “Become a Hero” seminars standing room only! Goblin Knight still a threat? Eh. . . who cares.
ARTIST: Javier Rodriguez
INKER: Alvaro Lopez
COLORIST: Muntsa Vicente
LETTERING: VC’s Clayton Cowles
ARTISTS (pgs8&17): Will Sliney & Veronica Gandini
COVER by Javier Rodriguez
EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
SENIOR EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: The Goblin Knight is making a ruckus at a warehouse where a group of kids were playing, resulting in a media circus and a hostage situation. It’s all a scam though, as Knight just wants the event to generate enough media buzz so he can lure out Roderick Kingsley, the true Hobgoblin. Not one to say “no” to a photo opp, Hobby comes flying into the scene to rescue the kids in front of the police and press. He pins Knight against the wall with his glider, ASM#122-style, and stops to Tweet a selfie with the kids, before “Missile Mate,” one of Kingsley’s new franchised heroes, whooshes them away to safety. Flustered at the indignity of the situation, Knight tells Hobby that he is now the Goblin King (Hobby: “Really? I hadn’t heard. You should buy a copy of my book. Chapter 8 is all about promoting yourself through social media.” Lol!), and since all of Kingsley’s hero-franchises are working for a Hobgoblin, he wants a cut. Hobby invites Phil to come to his office later to discuss the situation before leaving the warehouse to fall down on top of the Goblin Knight. Back at his office, Kingsley shows his heroes another publicized super-villain hostage situation, this time with the Hypno Hustler at a school, that he advantageously turned into a PSA against bullying (see the quote at the top of this review) as a way of teaching them how to take advantage of media attention to promote a franchise. Phil walks into the room and laughingly attempts to intimidate Roddy into submitting to his new position as the Goblin King, but is stopped cold when Kingsley is defended by his newest hero, Lily Hollister, who is now wearing a negativized-coloration of the Black Cat’s old suit and is going by “Queen Cat.” Phil loses his cool, but is overwhelmed and humiliated by Kingsley’s heroes (Leather Boy sticks a gimp’s ball-gag in his mouth!). Roddy, by the way, is hilarious during this scene as he remains unflappable in the face of Phil’s threats and coaches his heroes as they punk Urich (“Nice quip Larry. Although your landing needs work.”). Phil makes a run for it out the window, leaving Lily questioning why Phil kept calling her by her name. Roddy placates her, pats his two-bit heroes on the back, and suits up to go attract some more media attention (this time it’s a hilarious throw-back to the Hostess Fruit Pies ads in the 70s Spidey-Books: Roddy takes down the Tinkerer with his “Ever-Lasting Hobstoppers”! lol!). Back at his hide-out, Phil is throwing a tantrum about his humiliating failure to get Kingsley to comply and from losing Lily, “his Queen”, but gets his smile back when a bunch of Kingsley’s abandoned villain-franchises show up at his doorstep wanting revenge on the Hobgoblin. To be concluded. . .
THOUGHTS: This book is hilarious. I laughed out loud multiple times while reading, which is something that almost never happens this side of Superior Foes. The laughs began right from the start with Rodriguez’s hilarious lay out of the hostage children looking between the two Goblins, one their kidnapper and the other their savior, and just breaking down into tears, and kept going right through the “Hobstoppers” mock-ad at the end (“Mmmm. The flavor Lasts forever.” “Good, cause that’s how long you’re going away for.”)
This issue addressed one of my criticisms of the last issue in that we never got to actually see the Hobgoblin suit-up. It’s definitely Roddy in the suit when we see the Hobgoblin this time, as he just can’t pass up the opportunity to smile for the camera. I did however, have a qualm with the opening scene: why doesn’t the Goblin Knight just Lunatic Laugh Hobgoblin into submission like he did to Daniel Kingsley back in ASM#649? He even mentions that power during the fight but never uses it. Whatever. I’m hoping for a reveal that the Laugh doesn’t work on those with Goblin Serum in their blood, as that seems like the kind of fail-safe Harry would put into the genetic-engineering of the power (after all, Phil’s Laugh never damages his own ears).
Is “controlling the media” another Goblin Power? Roddy, like Norman before him, seems to be pretty good at getting the press to eat right out of their hands. Even the police are all like “It’s OK kids: Hobgoblin’s here to save you!” Altruistic bent aside, Kingsley’s still a convicted murderer. Betty Brant got him on tape confessing to the murder of George Hill, Ned Leeds, Jason Macendale, and many others back in Hobgoblin Lives #3. And speaking of Betty, I feel like not including her in this story was a real missed opportunity. I’d like to see her reaction to the man who mind-raped and murdered her husband being lauded as a hero by the press and authorities. Among others, there could have been a great character moment between her and Ben Urich. Betty would be beside herself that people don’t seem to remember her expose that outed Kingsley as the Hobgoblin, in which he confessed to several murders, and Ben would relate because it seemed like no one in the 616 seemed to remember reading Legacy of Evil during “Dark Reign.” Anyways, I suppose there’s a bit of social commentary in the fact that the media so swiftly swings in Hobby’s favor, because it will be all that more scandalous and juicy whenever he falls. But, given that this is a 3 –issue Limited Series, we don’t really get the page-space to see Kingsley’s sinister manipulations of the press.
And this is not the only time I thought that this series could benefit by having more issues to tell its story. Last issue felt like a good set-up for a longer game. I would have liked to have seen more of Kingsley manipulations, his inner thought process as he gets the media on his side (speaking of Kingsley’s thoughts, in comparison to last issue, we see none of his interior workings here), the requirements of moving through the stages of his program, the reactions of certain Spider-Man supporting cat members towards his heel-turn, and much more. The fact that this mini-series is wrapping up in one more issue is disappointing for more than just the reason that this book is fun to read and nice to look at.
Phil may be delusional, but something he said kind of took me aback. When he was in Roddy’s office, telling Kingsley about the fear and respect he brought to the Hobgoblin’s name during his tenure, deriding Kingsley for turning the identity into a “huckster,” I was mostly with Kingsley in thinking that Phil, like Macendale before him, was a goofball loser of a substitute for the true Hobgoblin, but I was admittedly a bit shaken because of how Kingsley has been written as of late. Recently, Slott had done to the Hobgoblin what he had done to Mysterio and the Jackal by making them un-killable (any time you see Mysterio die it’s an illusion, with the Jackal it’s a clone, with Hobgoblin it’s a Winklered substitute). While part of me appreciates this because it increases the staying power of my favorite villain, it also serves to make Roderick Kingsley look weak. Seeing the Hobgoblin get his head chopped off in every other issue he shows up in by other Goblins, usually Phil Urich, has shaken my image of Kingsley as the more serious threat that he rightfully should be. So when Phil comes busting into Roddy’s office, looking pretty menacing, accusing Roddy of being so kitschy with the Hobgoblin identity, plus the aforementioned fact that he has been the one who’s been decapitating so many Hobgoblins lately, I felt kind of afraid for Roddy, like he was the more fragile Goblin of the two. And I hated that feeling. To their credit, this is not so much Shinick and Rodriguez’s fault as it is Slott’s, but I still do not like that one of Spider-Man’s A-Listers, arguably his greatest foe during the 80s, a decade when Spider-Man kicked a lot of tail, comes off so hokey and weak in the face of a joke like the Urich-Goblin. Yet another reason why I am hoping that Phil just gets embarrassingly defeated by Kingsley next issue or that he turns good again, because Evil-Phil has never really worked for me. I took the opening blurb for this post straight from the recap page of the issue as it perfectly encapsulates how I feel about Hobgoblin versus the Goblin Knight. Yet, despite his ineptitude, he still comes off as more of a threat than he should. And yes, as an side, I recognize some the potential irony in calling Phil a “pale substitute” for Roddy, but Kingsley has never been a paled comparison to Norman, but a worthy successor to the Goblin Legacy, more so even than Harry most of the time (DeMatteis and Buscema’s Spectacular run notwithstanding). All in all, I am enjoying seeing Kingsley on the side of the angels, but I’m already ready for him to be a baddie again. He can keep franchising heroes, but once Scarlet Witch and Dr. Doom’ Inversion spell wears off, I’d like to see him do it for more sinister reasons (much like Norman did during “Dark Reign”).
And Phil is definitely written consistently, at least in his contemporary interpretation. This time, instead of Meredith Campbell from Green Goblin or Norah Winters from ASM, it’s Lily Hollister. But again, while it’s nice to see how Roddy has pretty masterfully manipulated Lily into betraying Phil, in essence lying to her by telling the truth, I think the better potential character drama lies in the Kingsley-Brant story, and even between the two Urich men (it would be interesting to see, in light of SUP Annual #2, Ben having to use his reporter’s acumen to take down his own nephew). I am still very interested to see what Shinick, Rodriguez and crew have in mind for the finale though!
GRADE: B (good – very funny, and still a better comic than it has any right to be; wrapping up too soon and Roddy, cool-headed and calculating as he remains, is being played so earnest that it slightly diminishes his menace)