I went to a comic book show in the northern burbs Sunday and leafed through some back issues in the fifty cent and dollar bins. I found a few things that I had owned before during a period where I was collecting, and thus reading, various series of Spider-Man comics. In the 2000’s, I tried collecting some semblance of a complete collection, or at least complete stories including reprints, of Spectacular Spider-Man and Web Of Spider-Man (with Amazing Spider-Man being a little out of reach because of the price of early issues). I actually had most of Spectacular and Web Of before selling both for some reason or another, because I wasn’t re-reading them.
There was a period of both titles, especially when they crossed over, that had a heavy mob-war theme. Kingpin’s right hand cronies, the Chameleon, the Lobo Brothers, and Kingpin’s son aka The Rose and his friend who impersonated him, and…Hobgoblin. It was probably the best those comics could do at the time as far as intrigue and going beyond the usual bad guys fighting good guys for no reason.
This Hobgoblin working with The Rose wasn’t the original Hobgoblin. That was a mystery being very slowly set up by writer Roger Stern, one of the best Spider-Man writers who along with artist John Romita Jr. introduced Hobgoblin in such a dramatic arc as truly one of the more interesting villains since…well, the original Green Goblin. He had a pretty grand plan in building up who the Hobgoblin would be, BUT was taken off or left Amazing Spider-Man, and the title(s) were then written by guys like Peter David and editors Tom DeFalco and Christopher Priest (under the name Jim Owsley).
A conundrum was created; supposedly Stern told DeFalco who he had intended to reveal as the real Hobgoblin, DeFalco didn’t like that, and when the other writers asked who it should be, DeFalco claims he was joking when he answered “Ned Leeds,” Peter Parker’s one time rival for Betty Brant’s affections early on in the comic’s run.
As a result:
Not pictured is Amazing Spider-Man 289, the 3rd part of this Hobgoblin reveal. I found the book on the left today for 50 cents, and the Web Of on the right sometime earlier this year also for fifty cents. These were both collectors items for a long time, with the Web Of #29 having a higher price tag from sellers often more than the #1 of this series. In it, Leeds is killed off panel and revealed to be Hobgoblin, and in Web Of the real Hobgoblin is shot and presumably killed. And probably with no consideration from the Marvel team responsible that that’s who was intended to be revealed as Hobgoblin.
Several years later, Roger Stern got to come back and set things straight.
Hobgoblin Lives lets everyone at the Daily Bugle revisit the murder of Ned Leeds, as they all think about the unlikeliness that Leeds could have been responsible for so many crimes. There’s a lot of ridiculous comic book science with mind control and people serving as decoys, and maybe some comic book retconning of plots, but it’s Stern getting to set things straight and fix what maybe all readers felt was broken. the Spectacular Spideys in the pic are a follow up to Hobgoblin Lives where Norman Osborn, that rascally old rich guy who survived being impaled by his rocket glider, got to have his revenge on the true Hobgoblin. Though this Hobgoblin had resurfaced in a few Spidey plots in recent years (including yet another fakeout death), this seemed like Stern giving this character a fate he thought the character deserved.
I struck up a correspondence with Darick Robertson around the time he started working on Transmetropolitan, and he mentioned that this was one of his recent comic books. I found #1, a tale where Peter Parker and a pregnant Mary Jane moved to Portland to stay out of the way of Ben Riley who took over as Spider-Man. That was sometime in 1996, and I never found the other three issues of this miniseries until today! The issues from what I recall looked pretty good but the coloring was a little off. There’s also a lot of inkers working on the last issue so, leafing through that particular one, it looks a little sloppy, which is a bummer because Robertson’s art is usually solid, with great simple but easily recognizable figures fitting in with well detailed backgrounds. Transmetropolitan is proof of this. Anyway, glad to finally have these after 20 years of first hearing about it.
This was probably the best pickup of the day. $5! I remember finding some Terry & The Pirates collections, with four strips per magazine size page. It was much different than usual laff-a-day strips that had a more square-shaped design to match those strips size. This reprint is normal comic-book/graphic novel size, which means that these very heavily inked strips are shrunk down, (usually) four panel strips, four per smaller page. IDW had re-released both Terry & these Steve Canyon strips, but I hadn’t been able to afford them. I’m interested in checking these out, and am already amazed by the first three panels of a dapper-dressed man looking for the main character’s office. A lot to learn about the set up and pacing of these kinds of adventure strips.
A fun haul. I’ll probably re-read those Spidey comics and then give them to the kids at work.