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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 (as Roderick Kingsley)
John Romita, Jr. (as Hobgoblin)
|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 a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is the first of several characters who would claim the alias Hobgoblin. 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, Mike Zeck and John Romita, Jr., who designed the Hobgoblin. 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 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 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. A thug named George Hill reports to Kingsley of stumbling upon the secret lair of Norman Osborn 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 the secrets within it, Kingsley uses the Green Goblin's equipment to adopt the identity known as the Hobgoblin. Soon after adopting this new identity, he encounters Spider-Man. He uses some of Osborn's files on prominent figures to blackmail them, 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 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 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 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 having discovered his lair. Kingsley captures Leeds and brainwashes the reporter 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's empire as Richard 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 using his own father's weaponry against the Hobgoblin.
After a retirement of several years, Kingsley returns to New York. He kills Macendale in the latter's jail cell to prevent 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 Norman Osborn's return and denial of being the Green Goblin, Kingsley spreads rumors that there exists a secret journal of Osborn's that proves beyond a doubt being the Green Goblin. Although this later revealed to be a ruse, knowing Osborn has been sending his own 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 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 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. Spider-Man defends Daniel, but is drugged, and both men are taken back to Osborn.
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 Osborn, who 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. Other attendees include a different Demolition Man, Flower Girl, Leather Boy, a new Razorback, and a new Water Wizard. 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, Missile 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.
Hobgoblin started to get his old franchises back under control. Outside of recruiting Blizzard, Hobgoblin regained his former minions Beetle, Bruin, Hitman, Ringer, and Unicorn as well as establishing his versions of Cutthroat, Diamondback, Mockingbird, and Viper. When it came to Hobgoblin recruiting Porcupine, he found out that he went straight. In retaliation, Hobgoblin had his minions beat up Porcupine and steal his outfit followed by Hobgoblin apparently killing Porcupine with a Pumpkin Bomb.
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. Likewise, his reflexes, speed, and stamina 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.
In other media
Roderick Kingsley appears in 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 Doctor Octopus for the specifications to the Rhino 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 a very angry Rhino and fled due to the subsequent three way brawl between Hammerhead, Silver Sable, and a 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. The producers stated that if the series had continued for a third season, Kingsley would've become the Hobgoblin.
- 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 again appeared as a boss in the sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Once he is defeated, Spider-Man uses his glider to pass a wall that he could not scale.
- 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!"
- Bowen Designs released a Hobgoblin bust in 2005 of the Kingsley version.
- In 2009, Hasbro released a 3 3⁄4 inch Hobgoblin for their Marvel Universe toyline. The packaging information signifies that this is indeed the Roderick Kingsley version.
- Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #6
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- The Amazing Spider-Man #691 (August 2012)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #694 (September 2012)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #696 (October 2012)
- The Amazing Spider-Man #697 (November 2012)
- Avenging Spider-Man #26
- The Superior Spider-Man #22
- The Superior Spider-Man #25
- The Superior Spider-Man #26
- Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #1
- Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #6
- Magneto Vol. 3 #11
- Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #2
- AXIS: Hobgoblin #1
- AXIS: Hobgoblin #2
- AXIS: Hobgoblin #3
- Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #9
- Spider-Woman Vol. 6 #13
- Spider-Girl #100 (September 2006)
- The Amazing Spider-Girl #18 (May 2008)
- The Spectacular Spider-Girl #3 (July 2010)
- The Spectacular Spider-Girl #4 (August 2010)
- Old Man Logan Vol. 2 #8
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- Hobgoblin I at Marvel.com
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