“May I remind you that I’ve spent the last few weeks being a savior to the city? . . . So I ask you. . . Isn’t this a face you can trust?”
Hobgoblin and Goblin Knight throw down as the mini-series that was so much better than anyone thought it ever deserved to be ends way too soon. But is Roderick Kingsley truly a changed man? Read on and find out!
WRITER: Kevin Shinick
PENCILER & COLORIST: Javier Rodriguez
INKER: Alvaro Lopez
LETTERING: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER by Javier Rodriguez
EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
SENIOR EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: Roderick Kingsley is being honored by New York in the celebration of “Hobgoblin Day” at Gracie Mansion. While Roddy panders to the crowd, Missile Mate, one of his Hob-Heroes-turned-traitor, nervously thinks over Goblin Knight’s plan to publicly shame and kill Hobgoblin. Phil is going to allegedly give Missile Mate a position of honor in his criminal organization because the latter delivered Lily Hollister, who has apparently betrayed Kingsley for Phil. Missile Mate sweats bullets in anticipation and makes his move as Hobgoblin publicly unmasks, but when he tries to kill Roddy with Phil’s fire-sword, Roddy reveals that the Hobgoblin figure on stage was a hologram. Goblin Knight shows up with Kingsley’s former villain-franchises and a battle breaks out. When Phil tries to call a cease fire so that the two leaders can duke it out (a la Superior Spider-Man #26), Hobgoblin completely overwhelms and humiliates Goblin Knight, shattering his mask with his own sword and impaling him through the gut with Hobby’s glider (“Still so desperate to become Norman Osborn huh? Well. . .why don’t I help you?!”). Adding insult to injury, Hobgoblin reveals that Lily had never turned to Phil’s side, as Lily no longer feels any loyalty to Phil whatsoever and is genuinely grateful to be able to start her life over. But when a disenfranchised (in more ways then one) Missile Mate threatens to vaporize Kingsley’s heroes using incendiary devices he hid on their persons, Hobgoblin seemingly turns on his men and fries them with his Pumpkin Bombs. However, this was yet another ruse as Kingsley claims he used his holo-tech to replace his people during a lull in the fight, allowing the authorities to arrest Phil and his goons. The policemen present are still skeptical towards Kingsley’s newfound altruistic bent, but Hobgoblin insists that his recent track record should speak for itself. As the dust settles, Steve Rogers joins the crowd of admirers at Hobgoblin Day, telling Hobby that he now knows Kingsley to be a changed man. Pulling rank, Steve passes Kingsley’s group of Hob-Heroes to Lily, and consoles an indignant Kingsley by offering Hobby a place in the Avengers (to deal with the events in AXIS), a position Hobgoblin graciously accepts.
THOUGHTS: I was so happy with this issue that I got up and did a full-body fist-pump when I finished reading it. I have literally been waiting for this fight for four years, ever since Phil usurped the role of the Hobgoblin at the beginning of Slott’s solo run. It’s no secret that Kingsley’s Hobgoblin is my favorite Spider-Villain, and this issue shows why. Roderick Kingsley is presented as a cold-hearted, clear-headed, opportunistic tactician who is not afraid to both get his hands dirty and swallow his pride by manipulating others to fight in his place. His fight with Goblin Knight was so satisfying and, for this Hobby-Fan and others, I’m sure, was a long time coming.
The shaming defeat of Phil Urich at Kingsley’s hands echoed the death of Jason Macendale from Hobgoblin Lives #1. (Like the rest of us) Kingsley had become so fed up with a loser shaming his identity that he took matters into his own hands, killed Macendale, and reclaimed the mask of the Hobgoblin for himself. Ever since Phil chopped off the Hobgoblin’s head in ASM#649, I have been waiting for Phil to receive similar comeuppance. Although Roddy returned in “Danger Zone,” his fight with Phil was pretty unsatisfying as the latter fared way too well against Kingsley. Phil has never been all that convincing as a credible threat, as he’s too much of a yutz, a quality that makes you kind of root for him as a hero, back in his Green Goblin days, but despise him when he’s written as the kind of threat that can shame both Hobgoblin and Spider-Man, in the same issue no less. Still, I wonder what will happen with him next, as Phil is assumingly going to be a part of Gerry Conway’s five part “Spiral” story this coming spring in ASM(2014)#’s16.1-16.5. And I wonder if, in light of their recent attempts to diversify their presence on the shelves, Marvel will try and give us a Lily Hollister: Queen Cat ongoing in the near future? (Sorry guys, I know I shouldn’t give them any ideas)
(Lol! When I was telling my wife about how happy I was with this current issue, she remembered me complaining about the aforementioned issue of ASM back in the day when it first came out! This is actually the story of how I first found the Crawlspace, as we were studying abroad in Italy at the time ASM#649 was released and I simply couldn’t wait to find out what happened as my favorite baddy was returning to the pages of Spider-Man for the first time since “Goblins at the Gate.” And since the late, great samruby.com was no longer putting up synopses of new issues, I found this site and have been a Crawlspacer ever since! So you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered what Slott had done to Roddy. I apparently made quite a fuss about it as my then-girlfriend-now-wife can recall my complaints from four years ago as we walked around Florence together! To quote Bruce Almighty: “Yes folks, behind every great man there’s a great woman, rolling her eyes.”)
Anyways, I will say that the only thing lacking from this comic was the some of the humor that characterized it over the past two issues. But, honestly, that does not detract from my enjoyment of this book a single iota, as one of my complaints last time was that Roddy was getting a little too hokey. Notsomuch here. By the current issue’s end, one legitimately wonders if Hobgoblin is beginning to revert to his old self, which Rodriguez totally sells as the Hobgoblin sinisterly grins at the authorities, saying “Isn’t this a face you can trust?” Oooo, that was so good it was chilling. And the way Hobgoblin was one step ahead of everyone around him was simply delicious. This issue leaves Roddy in the opportune position for the future, as he could either revert to villain-status in Amazing Spider-Man, or spin off into his own ongoing (you heard it here first, Marvel: drop Silk and give us Hobgoblin!)
All-in-all, Shinick and Rodriguez have crafted a thematically and visually satisfying conclusion to one of the greatest Spider-Man mini-series in recent memory.
GRADE: A- (great – though somewhat lacking in the humor that ingratiated itself with fandom, this mini-series ends on a high note with plenty of fantastic action, subterfuge, and forward motion for the one, the only, the greatest. . . Hobgoblin!!)