How does supervillain Norman Osborn a.k.a. Green Goblin’s worthy successor The Hobgoblin fit into Marvel Comics’ overarching goblin mythology?
Spider-Man‘s history with sadistic men clad in colorful goblin attire stretches further than any supervillain he has faced in his long-spanning career. The apparent death of Norman Osborn’s maniacal Green Goblin alter ego during 1973’s The Night Gwen Stacy Died heralded the introduction of a brand new goblin into Peter Parker’s world.
Rather than revive The Green Goblin yet again for a deadly clash with Spidey, veteran comic writer Roger Stern (Superman, The Avengers) along with artists Mike Zeck (Kraven’s Last Hunt, Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars) and John Romita Jr. (The Amazing Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men) constructed the completely original antagonist of The Hobgoblin as a way to help freshen up Spider-Man’s coveted rogue’s gallery. Sharing little in resemblance to the original green variety, Hobgoblin was not an experienced scientist but initially a street-level criminal devoid of superpowers. While not nearly as sadistic as his predecessor, The Hobgoblin would quickly go on to become a major fixture in the Spider-Man universe.
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Akin to the Green Goblin’s introduction in the early issues of comic dream team Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s The Amazing Spider-Man, there was an extensive mystery surrounding the identity of this new goblin for years. There are many individuals who have taken up The Hobgoblin mantle but the first and perhaps most famous is that of successful New York City fashion designer Roderick Kingsley, who had existing ties to New York’s criminal underworld.
While evading capture from a wrathful Spider-Man in the sewers underneath the Osborn Manufacturing building, petty criminal Joe Hill happens to stumble upon one of Norman’s former secret headquarters, containing his Green Goblin tech and gear. Kingsley has the small-time Hill recover all of Osborn’s former materials before eliminating the criminal. Kingsley then proceeds to take the Goblin’s gear for himself and has the hideaway burnt down to avoid any investigation.
Now equipped with the gadgets and hardware of The Green Goblin (pumpkin bombs, electro blast gloves, jet glider) repurposed to fit his own evil liking, Kingsley’s Hobgoblin would set out to wreak havoc on Spider-Man and the entire city of New York. In order to become an opposing physical match for the super-powered hero, Hobgoblin would need a tested goblin formula of his own. Due to Norman’s journal remnants detailing several aspects of his criminal career including the formation and experience with the vicious Goblin formula, the stage was set. Kingsley became just as psychically enhanced and powerful as the classic Green Goblin, if not more so. He’s been an important Spider-Man villain ever since.
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