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Roderick Kingsley unmasked as the Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #4 (1997), art by Ron Frenz.
|First appearance||as Roderick Kingsley: Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43 (June 1980)
as Hobgoblin: The Amazing Spider-Man #238 (March 1983)
|Created by||Roger Stern
John Romita, Jr.
(based upon the Green Goblin by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)
|Alter ego||Roderick Kingsley|
|Abilities||Superhuman physical attributes and intellect seemingly identical to that of the Green Goblin. Utilizes goblin-theme weapons and paraphernalia.|
Roderick Kingsley is the first of several fictional characters who would claim the alias Hobgoblin that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43 then as the Hobgoblin in The Amazing Spider-Man #238, and was created by Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr. In 2009, the Hobgoblin was ranked by IGN as the 57th greatest comic book villain.
Roderick Kingsley first appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man #43. The Hobgoblin was created by writer Roger Stern and artists John Romita, Jr. while working on The Amazing Spider-Man in the early 1980s. Like other writers Stern found himself under pressure to have Spider-Man fight the Green Goblin again but did not wish to bring Norman Osborn or Bart Hamilton back from the dead, have Harry Osborn become the Green Goblin again or create yet another Green Goblin. Instead he decided to create a new character as heir to the Goblin's legacy and developed the Hobgoblin.
The character's identity was not initially revealed, generating one of the longest running mysteries in the Spider-Man comics. According to Stern, "I plotted that first story with no strong idea of who the Hobgoblin was. As I was scripting those gorgeous pages from JR [John Romita, Jr.], particularly the last third of the book, and developing the Hobgoblin’s speech pattern, I realized who he was. It was Roderick Kingsley, that sunuvabitch corporate leader I had introduced in my first issue of [The] Spectacular [Spider-Man]." A handful of readers deduced that Kingsley was the Hobgoblin almost immediately. In order to throw them off the scent, and in the same stroke provide a retroactive explanation for his inconsistent characterization of Kingsley in his early appearances, Stern came up with the idea of Kingsley having a brother named Daniel who sometimes impersonates him, sealing the deception by having the Hobgoblin conspicuously appear in the same room as Daniel Kingsley in Amazing Spider-Man #249.
Stern's original plan was to have the mystery of the Hobgoblin's identity run exactly one issue longer than that of the Green Goblin's identity, meaning the truth would be revealed in The Amazing Spider-Man #264. However, Stern left the series after The Amazing Spider-Man #252, and his successors felt Roderick Kingsley was a weak choice for the Hobgoblin's true identity. After considerable creative struggle over the issue, the Hobgoblin was ultimately unmasked as Ned Leeds in The Amazing Spider-Man #289, and a new Hobgoblin was created from the storyline of Jason Macendale's hatred of the Hobgoblin.
Stern was unhappy with the revelation that his character's civilian identity was Ned Leeds, and in 1997 he wrote a three-issue miniseries, Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives, with the retcon that Roderick Kingsley was the original Hobgoblin, and had brainwashed Leeds into serving as a fall guy. The series also reinstated Kingsley as the active Hobgoblin. After Norman Osborn returns from his apparent death, Stern followed up the miniseries with a Spider-Man storyline "Goblins at the Gate," which resulting Kingsley and Osborn becomes bitter rivals obsessed with each other's destruction over the legacy of the Goblin.
Fictional character biography
Roderick Kingsley started out as a fashion designer and billionaire, who had criminal underworld connections and had come about his wealth through unethical business practices and corporate raiding. Coincidentally, Kingsley was also the employer of Mary Jane Watson for a time. As a means of avoiding the drill of day-to-day appearances, he had his timid identical twin brother Daniel pose as him to run his corporation day-by-day.
Kingsley's activities gave him many enemies, one of which was Narda Ravanna, a rival fashion designer whose business he had ruined. Taking the identity of Belladonna, she attempted revenge on Kingsley but was twice thwarted by Spider-Man. After these incidents, Kingsley sought to protect himself and his empire by gaining more power. His chance came when a thug named George Hill discovered the secret lair of Norman Osborn after running into the sewer when Spider-Man caught all the other gang members. Hill reported his discovery to Kingsley in hopes of earning a reward, but instead Kingsley killed him to make sure that no one else got wind of the discovery.
Upon examining the lair and gleaning the secrets within it, Kingsley decided to adopt the legacy of the Green Goblin almost in its entirety. Using the Green Goblin's equipment, Kingsley adopted the identity of the Hobgoblin (which should not be confused with the second Green Goblin, Harry Osborn). Soon after adopting this new identity, he first encountered Spider-Man as the Hobgoblin. His activities included using some of Norman Osborn's files on prominent figures to blackmail them, and attempting to buy Osborn's old corporation and merge it with his own. These schemes inevitably brought him into conflict with Spider-Man. Kingsley perceived Spider-Man as a nuisance and sought to eliminate him almost as an afterthought, rather than a principal goal. Kingsley also found among Norman's notes incomplete remnants of the strength enhancing potion of Norman Osborn. He became obsessed with finding the complete formula or perfecting the incomplete notes. In his various criminal activities Kingsley repeatedly lost to the web-slinger, as he lacked the raw physical power of Spider-Man.
Persistent and extremely intelligent, Kingsley eventually recovered the strength-enhancing potion he sought. Being well aware that the formula had driven Osborn insane, Kingsley was not about to try it until he had tested it on someone else. He tricked a small-time hood in his employ, Lefty Donovan, into administering the formula and then used mind control to force Donovan to fight Spider-Man in the Hobgoblin costume. From a distance, Kingsley carefully monitored Donovan's vital signs and behavior. When Spider-Man overwhelmed and unmasked Donovan, and his brainwashing began to fail, Kingsley acted quickly to protect his identity by programming Donovan's glider to crash, instantly killing him. Though Donovan's tenure as a Hobgoblin was brief, he is considered the second Hobgoblin. Judging that the experiment was a success, Kingsley then immersed himself in his completed derivative of the Goblin formula and gained greater strength than even the original Green Goblin had. He used this newfound strength to battle Spider-Man and the Black Cat.
Now that he had become a physical match for Spider-Man, the Hobgoblin became more ambitious in his villainy. Despite his increased abilities, he was still narrowly defeated by Spider-Man. Worse still, he seemed to have attracted the attention of powerful criminal interests who perceived him as a threat, among these the infamous Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime. After a bitter encounter with Spider-Man, Kingsley discovered he had been followed by Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds, who had discovered his lair. Kingsley captured Leeds and brainwashed him with hypnosis and hallucinogenics into becoming the third Hobgoblin, who acted in concert with Kingsley. Though Leeds lacked superhuman strength, he was effective in his role due to his investigative skills (in fact, he was more effective than the next Hobgoblin, even after Macendale acquired superhuman abilities). Kingsley also discovered that Leeds had been working with the Kingpin's son, Richard Fisk, on a plan to bring down the Kingpin and his empire. Richard Fisk had now adopted the identity of the Rose and posed as a crime lord. Kingsley used Leeds to handle some of the negotiations, fooling many into believing that Leeds was the Hobgoblin. He hoped to use the Kingpin's downfall as an opportunity to advance his own interests.
After a retirement of several years, Kingsley returned to New York. He killed Macendale in his jail cell, declaring that he alone deserved the mantle of the Hobgoblin. Kingsley kidnapped Betty Brant and set a trap for Spider-Man. In the final fracas, Daniel Kingsley was captured and the Hobgoblin was unmasked, clearing Ned Leeds' name. Roderick Kingsley was taken to prison.
Not long after his arrest, Kingsley took up the mantle of the Hobgoblin once more.[volume & issue needed] Furious at the now returned Norman Osborn's denial of being the Green Goblin, Kingsley decided to spread rumors that there existed a secret journal of Osborn's that proved beyond a doubt that he was the Green Goblin.[volume & issue needed] Although this later revealed to be a ruse, knowing Osborn has been sending his men spying on him: all of the journals in his possession had been destroyed during a battle with Spider-Man years before. He offered to barter for his freedom with this information with the District Attorney, guessing that Norman Osborn would try to get to him first.[volume & issue needed] As he anticipated, Osborn, deciding to make a deal with Kingsley, broke him out of prison.[volume & issue needed] Kingsley was then confronted by both Osborn and the mysterious fifth Green Goblin.[volume & issue needed] Osborn provided Kingsley with new Hobgoblin equipment, and both Goblins swooped in to collect Daniel Kingsley, now in protective custody, who, Roderick claimed, knew the location of the final journal.[volume & issue needed] Spider-Man tried to defend Daniel, but was drugged, and both men were taken back to Norman Osborn.[volume & issue needed]
It was then that Osborn revealed the truth. He explained that he knew that Kingsley was lying about the journal and that he had completely bought Kingsley's company out from underneath him. Furious, Kingsley attacked, and a titanic battle between the two followed, Osborn as the Green Goblin, and Kingsley as the Hobgoblin, with Osborn is shocked to discover that Kinglsey's strength surpasses his own. The building began to burn down as a result, and Spider-Man was barely able to safely escape with Daniel Kingsley. All three of the villains managed to escape as well; neither Goblin having managed to overcome or destroy the other. Osborn appeared to get the best of Kingsley with his corporate takeover. Yet, Kingsley still had several million dollars hidden away in foreign bank accounts, and quietly moved to a small island in the Caribbean to enjoy his retirement, although he did wonder to himself whether someday the Hobgoblin would return.
It was initially assumed that Kingsley had been killed by Phil Urich during the "Big Time" arc when Urich took on the role of the Hobgoblin himself, but this was recently revealed to have been Kingsley's brother Daniel Kingsley, with Kingsley still being active in Ecuador under the alias 'Devil-Spider' until he learned that his brother had been murdered and planned his return to New York. Roderick Kingsley was last seen arriving in New York City, he quickly searches a warehouse where he finds his Hobgoblin mask. He then returns to the role, intending to go after Urich and "take [him] to school".
Kingsley then attacked Urich and Kingpin in Shadowland. After a brief battle between the two Hobgoblins, Peter Parker and Max Modell (who were held captive by Kingpin) escaped with the Goblin Key (a key to one of Norman Osborn's Goblin warehouses). Then Kingsley and Urich decided to call a brief truce and go after them.
After accessing the warehouse, Peter utilizes the Goblin tech to make himself a "Spider-Glider" against both the Hobgoblins and manages to escape. Urich insists on going after him but Kingsley declines and stuns Urich with a taser so they could both escape. Kingsley decides to let Urich remain the Hobgoblin, but only if he gives Kingsley a cut of whatever profit he makes.
Roderick Kingsley later obtained one of Mysterio's suits and sold it to an unnamed African-American criminal who took on the name Mysterion and ended up fighting Punisher and Superior Spider-Man (Doctor Octopus' mind in Peter Parker's body).
Roderick Kingsley later sells the Crime Master's gear to an unnamed Maggia operative who began smuggling weapons into the city until he and his men ended up fighting the Superior Spider-Man and Venom.
Roderick Kingsley later ends up in a gang war with the Goblin King's Goblin Underground where he sold equipment to low-level criminals who became the latest versions of 8-Ball, Answer, Blaze, Devil-Spider, Gibbon, Hitman, Killer Shrike, Mauler, Melter, Ringer, Steeplejack, Tumbler, and Unicorn as well as a new villain named Bruin (who wore one of Grizzly's old exoskeleton bear suits). After Goblin King had killed Hobgoblin and claimed his henchmen in the name of the Goblin Underground, it was revealed that Roderick was actually in Paris and that his butler Claude went in his place so that Roderick can keep his enemies distracted. Roderick Kingsley decides to lay low once again working on his personal empire and raising a toast to the Goblin King conceding victory to him.
Following Spider-Man's fight with the Goblin King, it is shown that Roderick Kingsley had sold gear to unnamed criminals that created Hydro-Man II, Squid V, and Tiger Shark II as seen when they alongside the other former Hobgoblin servants encountered Electro at the Bar with No Name.
Powers, abilities, and weaknesses
In the beginning of his career Kingsley had no superhuman abilities, but possessed a keen analytical intellect with enough knowledge of chemistry and biology to understand the notes of Norman Osborn regarding the Green Goblin Formula originally conceived by Dr. Mendel Stromm. Kingsley not only recreated the formula from the incomplete notes he found, but perfected it by removing its side-effects (which neither Stromm, nor Osborn had been able to do). Further, he improved many of Osborn's various inventions. He also had expertise in areas outside of the original Green Goblin's knowledge. Kingsley was a master of hypnosis and drug induced mind control. Kingsley was highly skilled in the management of both criminal organizations and legally run professional businesses. He was also a talented fashion designer.
Due to the green chemical solution that he bathed in, Kingsley possesses superhuman strength on par with Spider-Man. Likewise, his reflexes, speed, and stamina were also enhanced to superhuman levels, including his intelligence, but at an extraordinary level. He was actually physically stronger than the original Green Goblin in the beginning, because of longer exposure to the formula. It is not known if, like Norman Osborn, Kingsley possesses a healing factor. The derivative of the Green Goblin formula Kingsley used did not apparently drive him as insane as the original formula did to Norman Osborn, thanks to some certain modifications, though both Kingsley and his brother did at times worry that he had indeed developed insanity.
As the Hobgoblin, he wore bulletproof mail with an overlapping tunic, cape, and cowl. A "trademark" of this armor, and an 'improvement' over the Green Goblin's armor, is built into the finger-blasters; the computerized system cybernetically causes the blasters to randomly vary their attack vectors when trained on a particular target, with the end result being a stream of firepower that even Spider-Man has had trouble dodging. He is armed with a variety of bizarre concussion and incendiary devices and uses a Goblin glider as a personal transport. It can reach high velocities and is extremely maneuverable. It is a one-man miniature turbo-fan powered vertical thrust, cybernetically-controlled vehicle, and is heavily armored. He uses concussion and incendiary Jack O'Lanterns, wraith-shaped smoke and gas-emitting bombs, bat shaped razor-edged throwing blades, and gloves woven with micro-circuited power conducting filaments which channel pulsed discharges of electricity. He wore a shoulder bag to carry his small, portable weaponry.
Although Kingsley does not share the mental instability of the Green Goblin, like Norman Osborn, he is a malignant narcissist and many of his enemies have exploited this. His vanity impels him to irrational actions such as his decision to personally murder Macendale for tarnishing the Hobgoblin persona (resulting in his exposure). Though it would have been safe to hire one of his many criminal underlings, Kingsley could not resist the temptation to let Macendale know, in person, that he was the inferior Hobgoblin before he disintegrated the man. Another example of Kingsley's easily wounded narcissistic complex and inability to distinguish between his own identity and that of the Hobgoblin persona was when Flash Thompson insulted the Hobgoblin on national television and the Hobgoblin immediately hatched a plan to avenge himself with a level of vigor and ingenuity quite out of proportion with a mere petty insult. This neurotic feature of Kingsley's psyche existed long before he bathed in the serum.
Roderick Kingsley made his MC2 debut in Spider-Girl #97, as a hired assassin to kill many of the Spider-Girl characters, including Normie Osborn, Spider-Girl, and Peter Parker. After a fight against both Spider-Girl and her father, he came close to victory, but at the end his only success lay in killing the Venom symbiote, and also in escaping without a trace. He attempted a complex plot to become the new kingpin of crime, but was undone due to an act of treachery by his partner, the Mindworm. Killing the Mindworm, and deciding the New York underworld had become too "hot" for him at the moment, he chose to return to the Caribbean, but vowed someday to come back and finish off Spider-Girl. He is later revealed to be the instigator of a mob war against the Black Tarantula, returning to New York to finish the job. He defeated American Dream and the New Warriors. He then dropped them from a great height, planning to kill Spider-Girl as she tried to save them. However, he himself was then killed by Mayhem, Spider-Girl's half-symbiote clone.
In other media
- Roderick Kingsley appears in season 2 of The Spectacular Spider-Man voiced by Courtney B. Vance. In the series, he owns a perfume factory and is African American. He successfully outbids Tombstone, Silvermane and Dr. Octopus for the specifications to the Rhino's armor. After collecting the specifications, Silver Sable and Hammerhead attempt to steal them for their respective employers only for Kingsley to hand them a decoy. He almost got away before being confronted by the original and very angry Rhino and fled due to the subsequent three way brawl between Hammerhead, Silver Sable, and the short-lived alliance of Spider-Man and Rhino. Spider-Man and Rhino manage to destroy the case with the specifications inside. Unknown to any of them, that was another decoy that was destroyed, with the real specifications never leaving Norman Osborn's possession. He does not appear as the Hobgoblin; creator Greg Weisman says the Hobgoblin would have shown up had the show gotten a third season, but did not specify if Kingsley would have been the one in the role.
- Roderick Kingsley's version of Hobgoblin appears in Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom's Revenge allied with Doctor Doom.
- Roderick Kingsley's Hobgoblin design appears as Green Goblin's alternate costume in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2.
- Bowen Designs released a Hobgoblin bust in 2005 of the Kingsley version.
- In 2009, Hasbro released a 33⁄4 inch Hobgoblin for their Marvel Universe toyline. The packaging information signifies that this is indeed the Roderick Kingsley version.
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- The Amazing Spider-Man #649
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- The Amazing Spider-Man #697 (November 2012)
- Avenging Spider-Man #26
- The Superior Spider-Man #22
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- The Superior Spider-Man #26
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- The Amazing Spider-Girl #18 (May 2008)
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- Hobgoblin I at Marvel.com
- Hobgoblin I at the Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe
- SpideyKicksButt.com: "Squandered Legacy: The Rise and Fall of the Hobgoblin"
- Peter David site: "Foolish Consistencies and..."