Roderick Kingsley unmasked as 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|
Mike Zeck (Roderick Kingsley)
John Romita Jr. (Hobgoblin)
|Team affiliations||Astonishing Avengers|
|Notable aliases||Hobgoblin, Devil-Spider|
|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 a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #43 (June 1980), and was created by Roger Stern, Mike Zeck and John Romita Jr. A billionaire and fashion designer who was obsessed with committing crimes, he is the first character to use the Hobgoblin alias.
In 2009, the Hobgoblin was ranked by IGN's the 57th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time. The character has been featured in various media adaptations, such as television series and video games.
Roderick Kingsley first appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man #43. The Hobgoblin was created by writer Roger Stern and artist John Romita Jr. while working on The Amazing Spider-Man in the early 1980s. Like most 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 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 Kingsley pose as him to run his corporation day-by-day.
Kingsley's activities gave him many enemies, one of which is Narda Ravanna, a rival fashion designer whose business he had ruined. Taking the identity of Belladonna, Narda 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. The thug George Hill reports to Kingsley of stumbling upon Norman Osborn's secret lair in hopes of earning a reward. Kingsley instead kills Hill to make sure that no one else gets wind of the discovery.
Upon examining the lair and gleaning its secrets, Kingsley decides to use the Goblin equipment. But arriving to the conclusion that all previous wearers of the Green Goblin mantle went mad, he instead creates a similar but different mantle: the Hobgoblin identity. Soon after adopting this new identity, he encounters Spider-Man. He uses some of Osborn's files to blackmail prominent figures, and attempts to buy Osborn's old corporation and merge with his own. These schemes bring him into conflict with Spider-Man. Among Osborn's notes, Kingsley also finds incomplete remnants of 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 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 small-time hood Lefty Donovan into administering the formula and then uses mind control to force Donovan in the Hobgoblin costume to fight Spider-Man. From a distance, Kingsley monitors Donovan's vital signs and behavior. When Spider-Man overwhelms and unmasks Donovan and the brainwashing begins to fail, Kingsley acts to protect his identity by programming Donovan's glider to crash, instantly killing Donovan. Judging the experiment a success, Kingsley immerses himself in his completed derivative of the formula and gains greater strength than the original 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 having discovered his lair. Kingsley captures Leeds and brainwashes the reporter with hypnosis and hallucinogenics into being the Hobgoblin. Kingsley discovers that Leeds had been working with Richard Fisk on a plan to bring down the Kingpin's empire as Richard adopted the Rose identity to pose 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. After Leeds gets too erratic to continue to function as a 'decoy', Kingsley arranges for Leeds to be assassinated while on a trip to Berlin, and decides to retire from his criminal identity.
During the events of Secret Wars II, Kingsley is recruited by Mephisto's 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 own father's weaponry against the Hobgoblin.
After a retirement of several years, Kingsley returns to New York. He kills Jason Macendale, the fourth and then-current Hobgoblin, in the latter's jail cell to prevent from giving the authorities information that would jeopardize his secret identity. Learning that Betty Brant has begun to investigate Ned's activities as the Hobgoblin – informed of the truth by Spider-Man after Peter Parker realized that the Foreigner's human operatives could never have killed Leeds if Leeds had been super-powered – Kingsley kidnaps Betty and sets a trap for Spider-Man. In the final fracas, Daniel is captured and the Hobgoblin is unmasked, clearing Ned's name. Roderick is taken to prison.
Furious at Norman's return and denial of being the Goblin, Kingsley spreads rumors that there exists a secret journal of Osborn's that proves beyond a doubt of being the Goblin. Although this was later revealed to be a ruse, knowing Osborn has been sending spies on him: all of the journals in his possession had been destroyed during a battle with Spider-Man years before. He offers to barter this information, for his freedom, with the District Attorney, guessing that Osborn will try to get to him first. Osborn, deciding to make a deal with Kingsley, breaks him out of prison. Kingsley is then confronted by both Osborn and another Green Goblin. Osborn provides Kingsley with new Goblin equipment, and both Goblins swoop in to collect Daniel, now in protective custody, who Roderick claims knows the final journal's location. Spider-Man defends Daniel, but is drugged and both men are taken back to Osborn.
Osborn 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 Osborn is the Goblin personally. Kingsley furiously attacks Osborn who is shocked to discover that Kingsley is stronger and thus fails at killing him. The building began to burn as a result of their battle, and Spider-Man escapes with Daniel. 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 Hobgoblin mantle, but this was in fact Daniel with Roderick still active in Ecuador under the alias Devil-Spider. Roderick learns that his brother has been murdered and plans his return to New York. Kingsley arrives in New York City and returns to the Hobgoblin role, intending to go after Urich. Kingsley attacks Urich and the Kingpin in Shadowland. After a brief battle between the two Hobgoblins, Parker and Max Modell escape with the Goblin Key (a key to one of the 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 but Kingsley stuns Urich with a taser so they can both escape. Kingsley decides to let Urich remain the Hobgoblin, but only if Urich gives him a cut of whatever profits are made.
Kingsley obtains one of Mysterio's suits which he sells 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. He is killed by the Goblin King and his henchmen are claimed for the Goblin Nation, but Kingsley was actually in Paris and his butler Claude went in his place so that his enemies could be distracted. Kingsley decides to lay low once again working on his personal empire. It was later revealed that Kingsley sold costumes and gear that made the latest versions of Hydro-Man, Tiger Shark, Squid, and Beetle.
During the AXIS storyline, Roderick Kingsley is the 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 arrives to recruit him, Hobgoblin attacks and is subjugated and forced to join Magneto's team. The Hobgoblin accompanies Magneto and the other villains recruited to Genosha. The inversion spell caused by Doctor Doom and Scarlet Witch affects not only the Red Skull but all those present in Genosha, making the super heroes present evil and the supervillains present good. Following his inversion, Kingsley returns to New York and finds himself happier with his inversion, although still motivated by greed rather than altruism. He reactivates his franchises where he leases the personas and costumes of deceased or retired superheroes to ordinary people, but remains a wanted criminal. He also enfranchises his Hobgoblin persona to various people to perform heroic deeds as Hobgoblin and publishes a comic about them for promotion. Among those who answer an ad are the amnesiac Lily Hollister and the underemployed teenager John Myers. Other attendees include a different Demolition Man, Flower Girl, Leather Boy, a new Razorback, and a new Water Wizard. He sets 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 debuts his Hob-Heroes: Lily as Queen Cat, Myers as Missile Mate, Flower Girl, Leatherboy, Rocket Head, and Water Wizard. When Urich confronts Kingsley in his headquarters, Myers is convinced by Urich's claims that the Hobgoblin will soon abandon the heroes he has trained. Missile Mate goes to Urich's headquarters and asks to join to be a supervillain. Urich is reluctant, but Myers shows also gathering all the supervillains the Hobgoblin "abandoned" after being a good guy. When the celebration of a Hobgoblin Day is being held with a parade in Kingsley's honor, Missile Mate betrays the Hobgoblin and attempts to murder him in the Goblin King's name. Roderick has already expected the betrayal and has been using a hologram decoy which takes Missile Mate's blow. As soon as Kinglsey confronts Missile Mate, the Goblin King appears with the Goblin Nation and attacks the celebration. Hobgoblin bests Urich in combat and leaves him to the authorities. After, he is 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 kill everyone on the Earth who wasn't a mutant. The Avengers team that Hobgoblin joins is called the Astonishing Avengers. After the reinversion spell is cast to restore the Avengers and X-Men members that were affected by it back to the side of good, Hobgoblin becomes evil again.
Hobgoblin starts to get his old franchises back under control. Outside of recruiting Blizzard, Hobgoblin regains his former minions Beetle, Bruin, Hitman, Ringer, and Unicorn as well as establishing his versions of Cutthroat, Diamondback, Mockingbird, and Viper. When franchisee Porcupine informs Hobgoblin of his intent to end his contract, Hobgoblin tries to kill him with a Pumpkin Bomb in order to reclaim his suit for future franchisees. In the resulting battle with Porcupine and his crimefighting mentor Spider-Woman, Hobgoblin is abruptly vaporized by Captain Marvel.
Hobgoblin turns up alive as he was seen as a member of the Sinister Six led by Aaron Davis (in a recolored Iron Spider armor). He accompanies the Sinister Six in a plot to steal a decommissioned S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier.
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 updated many of Osborn's various inventions. Kingsley was a master of hypnosis and drug induced mind control. Kingsley was skilled in the management of both criminal organizations and legally run professional businesses.
Due to the green chemical solution that he bathed in, Kingsley possesses superhuman strength on par with Spider-Man and stronger than Norman Osborn. Likewise, his reflexes, speed, stamina, and intellect were also enhanced to superhuman levels.
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.
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.
Old Man Logan
In the pages of Old Man Logan, Hobgoblin was among the villains that attacked the Avengers in Connecticut. He worked with Vulture to fight Wasp only for Wasp to use her stingers to shoot Hobgoblin off his Goblin Glider.
Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows
During the "Secret Wars" storyline in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Hobgoblin appears as a member of Regent's Sinister Six where they are tasked to hunt down Spider-Man. During the fight with Spider-Man, Hobgoblin's hand was webbed up by Spider-Man before he could throw his Pumpkin Bomb which led to Hobgoblin getting killed in its explosion.
In other media
Roderick Kingsley appears in The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series, voiced by Courtney B. Vance. This version owns a perfume factory and is African American. He successfully outbids Tombstone, Silvermane and Doctor Octopus for the Rhino's specifications. After collecting the specifications, Silver Sable and Hammerhead attempt to steal the prize for their respective employers only for Kingsley to hand over a decoy. He almost escapes but is confronted by the Rhino. Kingsley then flees due to a subsequent three way brawl between involving a short-lived alliance between Spider-Man and Rhino, which eventually results in the specifications' destruction. Unknown to Kingsley or anyone else, the real specifications never left Norman Osborn's possession.
- Hobgoblin appeared in Spider-Man and Captain America in Doctor Doom's Revenge allied with Doctor Doom.
- Hobgoblin appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man for the Game Boy.
- Hobgoblin made an appearance in Spider-Man: The Video Game, voiced by David Hadinger.
- Hobgoblin again appeared as a boss character in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Once he is defeated, Spider-Man uses his glider to pass a wall that couldn't be scaled.
- Hobgoblin appears in the PSP and PS2 versions of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. He appears as an assist character who will throw a pumpkin bomb at any enemies. In the other versions, the first appearance of the glider-bound armored enemies called Tech Flyers has Spider-Man mercilessly mocking them for their supposed lack of originality by saying things like, "You're not the Green Goblin or the Hobgoblin, you're just a cheap knock-off!"
- Hobgoblin appears as a playable character in Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2.
- Bowen Designs released a Hobgoblin bust in 2005 of the Roderick Kingsley version.
- In 2009, Hasbro released a 33⁄4 inch Hobgoblin for their Marvel Universe toyline. The packaging information signifies that the character is indeed the Roderick Kingsley version.
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