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Roderick Kingsley unmasked as the Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #3 (1997), art by Ron Frenz.
|First appearance||As Roderick Kingsley:
Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43 (June 1980)
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|
|Team affiliations||Astonishing Avengers|
|Abilities||Master of hypnosis and drug induced mind control
Highly skilled business and criminal organizer
Talented fashion designer
Superhuman physical attributes and intelligence
Use of 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 give him many enemies, one of which is Narda Ravanna, a rival fashion designer whose business he had ruined. Taking the identity of Belladonna, she attempts revenge on Kingsley but is twice thwarted by Spider-Man. After these incidents, Kingsley seeks to protect himself and his empire by gaining more power. A thug named George Hill reports to Kingsley that he has stumbled upon the secret lair of Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, in hopes of earning a reward. Instead Kingsley kills him to make sure that no one else gets wind of the discovery.
Upon examining the lair and gleaning the secrets within it, Kingsley uses the Green Goblin's equipment to adopt the identity of the Hobgoblin. Soon after adopting this new identity, he encounters Spider-Man. He uses some of Norman Osborn's files on prominent figures to blackmail them, and attempts to buy Osborn's old corporation and merge it with his own. These schemes bring him into conflict with Spider-Man. Kingsley also finds among Osborn's notes incomplete remnants of the Green Goblin strength enhancing potion. He becomes obsessed with finding the complete formula or perfecting the incomplete notes. In his various criminal activities Kingsley repeatedly loses to Spider-Man, as he lacks his raw physical power.
Kingsley eventually recovers the strength-enhancing Goblin Formula. Aware that the formula had driven Osborn insane, Kingsley opts to test it on someone else first. He tricks a small-time hood in his employ, Lefty Donovan, into administering the formula and then uses mind control to force Donovan to fight Spider-Man in the Hobgoblin costume. From a distance, Kingsley monitors Donovan's vital signs and behavior. When Spider-Man overwhelms and unmasks Donovan, and his brainwashing begins to fail, Kingsley acts to protect his identity by programming Donovan's glider to crash, instantly killing him. Judging the experiment a success, Kingsley immerses himself in his completed derivative of the Goblin Formula and gains greater strength than the original Green Goblin. He uses this newfound strength to battle Spider-Man and the Black Cat.
Despite his increased abilities, he is still narrowly defeated by Spider-Man. Worse, he attracts the attention of powerful criminal interests who perceive him as a threat including the Kingpin. After a bitter encounter with Spider-Man, Kingsley discovers he had been followed by Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds, who had discovered his lair. Kingsley captures Leeds and brainwashes him with hypnosis and hallucinogenics into becoming the Hobgoblin. Kingsley discovers 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 has adopted the identity of the Rose and poses as a crime lord. Kingsley uses Leeds to handle some of the negotiations, fooling many criminals into believing that Leeds is the Hobgoblin. He hopes to use the Kingpin's downfall as an opportunity to advance his own interests.
During the events of Secret Wars II, Kingsley is recruited by Mephisto into his Legion Accursed, a team of ninety-nine supervillains who try to destroy the Beyonder. The Hobgoblin later kidnaps Harry Osborn. He battles Osborn, who uses his father's weaponry against the Hobgoblin.
After a retirement of several years, Kingsley returns to New York. He kills Macendale in his jail cell to prevent him from giving the authorities information that would jeopardize his secret identity. Kingsley kidnaps Betty Brant and sets a trap for Spider-Man. In the final fracas, Daniel Kingsley is captured and the Hobgoblin is unmasked, clearing Ned Leeds' name. Roderick Kingsley is taken to prison.
Furious at the now returned Norman Osborn's denial of being the Green Goblin, Kingsley spreads rumors that there exists a secret journal of Osborn's that proves 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 offers to barter for his freedom with this information with the District Attorney, guessing that Norman Osborn will try to get to him first.[volume & issue needed] Osborn, deciding to make a deal with Kingsley, breaks him out of prison.[volume & issue needed] Kingsley is then confronted by both Osborn and another Green Goblin.[volume & issue needed] Osborn provides Kingsley with new Hobgoblin equipment, and both Goblins swoop in to collect Daniel Kingsley, now in protective custody, who, Roderick claims, knows the location of the final journal.[volume & issue needed] Spider-Man defends Daniel, but is drugged, and both men are taken back to Norman Osborn.[volume & issue needed]
Osborn explains that he knew Kingsley was lying about the journal and has bought Kingsley's company out from underneath him; the purpose of helping Kingsley escape is for Osborn to eliminate the one person who possibly can prove that he is the Green Goblin personally. Furious, Kingsley attacks, which Osborn is shocked to discover that Kinsley is stronger than he is and thus fails of killing him. The building began to burn as a result of their battle, and Spider-Man escapes with Daniel Kingsley. All three of the villains managed to escape as well. With several million dollars hidden away in foreign bank accounts, Kingsley quietly moves to a small island in the Caribbean to enjoy his retirement.
Kingsley is seemingly killed by Phil Urich, who takes on the role of the Hobgoblin, but this was in fact Daniel Kingsley, with Roderick still active in Ecuador under the alias 'Devil-Spider'. He learns that his brother has been murdered and plans his return to New York. Roderick Kingsley arrives in New York City and returns to the Hobgoblin role, intending to go after Urich. Kingsley attacks Urich and Kingpin in Shadowland. After a brief battle between the two Hobgoblins, Peter Parker and Max Modell escape with the Goblin Key (a key to one of Norman Osborn's Goblin warehouses). Kingsley and Urich decide to call a brief truce and go after them. After accessing the warehouse, Peter utilizes the Goblin tech to make himself a "Spider-Glider" and manages to escape. Urich insists on going after him but Kingsley stuns Urich with a taser so they can both escape. Kingsley decides to let Urich remain the Hobgoblin, but only if he gives Kingsley a cut of whatever profit he makes.
Kingsley obtains one of Mysterio's suits and sells it to a criminal who takes on the name Mysterion. He sells the Crime Master's gear to an unnamed Maggia operative. He ends up in a gang war with the Goblin King's Goblin Nation, selling 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 wears one of Grizzly's old exoskeleton bear suits). Goblin King kills Hobgoblin and claims his henchmen in the name of the Goblin Nation, but Kingsley was actually in Paris and his butler Claude went in his place so that he could keep his enemies distracted. Kingsley decides to lay low once again working on his personal empire. It was later revealed that Roderick Kingsley sold costumes and gear that made the latest versions of Hydro-Man, Tiger Shark, Squid, and Beetle.
During the AXIS storyline, Roderick Kingsley becomes Hobgoblin again as he appears as a member of Magneto's unnamed supervillain group during the fight against Red Skull's Red Onslaught form. When Magneto arrived to recruit him, Hobgoblin attacked him and was subjugated and forced to join Magneto's team. Hobgoblin accompanied Magneto and the other villains recruited by him to Genosha. The inversion spell caused by Doctor Doom and Scarlet Witch affected not only the Skull but all those present in Genosha, making the super heroes present evil and the supervillains present good. Following his inversion, Roderick Kingsley returned to New York and found himself happier with his inversion, although still motivated by greed rather than altruism. He reactivated his franchises where he leasing the personas and costumes of deceased or retired superheroes to ordinary people, but remained a wanted criminal. He also enfranchised his Hobgoblin persona to various people to perform heroic deeds as Hobgoblin and published a comic about them for promotion. Among those who answered an ad are an amnesiac Lily Hollister and an underemployed teenager named John Myers. He set a three phase program including a book and various articles with his brand and underground speeches named after Ned Leeds for people to make their own franchises in exchange for a share of their profits. Hobgoblin debuted his Hob-Heroes which consisted of Lily Hollister as Queen Cat, John Myers as Missile Mate, Flower Girl, Leatherboy, Rocket Head, and Water Wizard. When Phil Urich confronted Roderick Kingsley in his headquarters, Myers was convinced by Urich's claims that the Hobgoblin would soon abandon the heroes he had trained. Missile Mate went to Phil Urich's headquarters and asked him to join him to be a supervillain. Urich was reluctant, but Myers soon showed him that he had also gathered to join his cause all the supervillains the Hobgoblin had "abandoned" after becoming a good guy. When the celebration of a Hobgoblin Day was being held with a parade in Roderick Kingsley's honor, Missle Mate betrayed Hobgoblin and attempted to murder him in the name of the Goblin King. Roderick had already expected the betrayal and had been using a hologram decoy which took Missile Mate's blow. As soon as Roderick Kinglsey confronted Missile Mate, the Goblin King appeared with his Goblin Nation and attacked the celebration. Hobgoblin bested Urich in combat and left him to the authorities. After excusing himself from the authorities, Hobgoblin was approached by Steve Rogers to become part of a team of Avengers with the objective to stop the inverted X-Men from detonating a gene bomb which would've killed everyone on the Earth who wasn't a mutant. The Avengers team that Hobgoblin joined was called the Astonishing Avengers. After the reinversion spell was cast to restore the Avengers and X-Men members that were affected by it back to the side of good, Hobgoblin became evil again.
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, but perfected it by removing its side-effects. Further, he improved many of Osborn's various inventions. 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 physically stronger than the original Green Goblin in the beginning, because of longer exposure to the formula.
As the Hobgoblin, he wore bulletproof mail with an overlapping tunic, cape, and cowl. A computerized system cybernetically causes the finger-blasters to randomly vary their attack vectors when trained on a particular target. He uses a Goblin glider, a one-man miniature turbo-fan powered vertical thrust, cybernetically-controlled vehicle. It can reach high velocities and is extremely maneuverable. 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 (resulting in his exposure). 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.
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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- Hobgoblin I at Marvel.com
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- Peter David site: "Foolish Consistencies and..."