Man, I thought I’d never actually get here. If I’d realized how much filler there was in this section, I would’ve probably held the last couple ASMs from the previous block for this one, too. Been 11 issues since we checked in on Flash being a fugitive. Oh, well. The countdown to the end of the Hobgoblin mystery starts with this issue. I’ve been through this stuff before, but as with so many chunks of this material, never with the other titles. It’s taken awhile to get them all sorted, but now we can concentrate on the main deal. Such as it is. Not exactly in for a treat, here. Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz have now been sacked, Priest has been sacked, Stan Lee has forced them to start thinking about how to marry Peter & MJ. The Spider-Office is in chaos. Despite being fired as editor, Priest ends up scripting this issue and most of this story himself from plots by DeFalco, because who else is even around to do it right now? Ron Frenz just turned in breakdowns for this one, over which Brett Breeding pencils, Joe Rubenstein inks and Bob Sharen colors. To start, some goons are unloading some stuff into a warehouse, and a figure they obviously want you to think is Spider-Man, but obviously isn’t, is watching from the rafters.
It took us so long to get here that that recap is actually kinda useful.
It’s really gotta hurt to be Hobgoblin. Look at that pose in the top panel. You do that for hours at a time? Yeesh. We know Hobby’s not Flash, but is he Lance Bannon? Did that unseen photographer scurry off to switch outfits? After more than 4 years, they were running out of time to make guesses. Hobby takes off, shouting his arch supervillain dialogue that Stern never wrote, and Spider-Man is immediately pinned down by snipers when he tries to give chase. The cops show and he waits for it to be safe to leave, complaining the whole time. Time for some exposition:
That’d be some of the classic DD story Born Again, which DeFalco added his useless aside to in ASM 277.
Laying that on pretty thick. We pop over to Kingpin’s tower to see his boys getting antsy, while The Arranger assures them he’ll be back in his own time. Then we cut to Silvermane’s estate, where Jack O’Lantern has just burst in to kill guys. When Silvermane tries to fight him, being a cyborg in this period and all, Jack blows up his robot body and tells him The Arranger says “hi.” Meanwhile, Peter Parker arrives in Queens, telling himself to steer clear of the gang war, and who appointed him guardian angel and various whining. He finds May and her remaining boarders sprucing up the house to make it more attractive to prospective new tenants. He is drafted into helping paint.
Johnston and Varley have been Rose’s top guys since his first appearance. They’re not major characters, but it’s cool to see them hang in there all this time for continuity.
The effort going into trying to make Keating, of all people, seem like Hobgoblin is bizarre. Later, Spider-Man swings through Manhattan, back from helping Aunt May, looking for Flash, and instead spots Roderick Kingsley in a seedy neighborhood, getting into whose car but Lt. Keating. Spidey thinks maybe that’s where Keating’s getting all his tips from, but what would Kingsley know about the mob? I wonder if this is related to DeFalco’s desire to make The Rose Kingsley. That would make sense. But he was told he couldn’t do that, and you’d think he wouldn’t be working toward it this late in the game. Anyway, Spider-Man swings off, thinking he doesn’t do stuff like this anymore. But as he swings off, another gang skirmish breaks out near him. He dives in as usual, and they stop shooting each other to shoot at him, and he just bails, telling himself he doesn’t care. Classy.
At Kingpin’s, Arranger tells someone on the phone he needs proof Hammerhead is dead, that he may have survived that. Then he’s plotting his own rise to replace Kingpin when who but Richard Fisk should arrive wanting to see him. We don’t see that meeting, though.
The TV lets him know Hammerhead survived, but details the horrors inflicted on innocents in the hit. Peter keeps telling himself it’s not his problem, but then suddenly remembers with great power comes great responsibility, and takes off to stop the gang war, without so much as a word to MJ.
No doubt he’d show up for something like this. Is Hobgoblin dead? Seems unlikely! In the letter page, they run accusations for Ned Leeds, Lance Bannon, and Lt. Keating, responding to each by telling the writer they’ve successfully guessed who Hobgoblin is, which is pretty funny.