A very old school Hobgoblin there on the cover. This month, Jerome Moore and Scott Hanna are on inks and/or finishes (You never know with Frenz, and last issue sure did look George Perez-y). Roderick Kingsley is begrudgingly bringing a case of stuff to Hobgoblin late at night.
That Hah-HA! Feels very Phil Ken Sebben. That’s a nice segue to the Bugle staff watching the security cam footage of Hobby killing Macendale. Joe wonders how this squares with Betty having seen Ned in the suit, but JJJ says this Hobgoblin was powerful enough to break into a maximum security prison and kill Macendale, and left the cameras going for a reason. He’s fully on board with this being the real Goblin.
Good thing she doesn’t have her uzi anymore. Peter follows Betty, but she says she’s on the story no matter what. Switching to Spider-Man in a stairwell for the 2nd issue in a row, Peter thinks he’s on her side 100%. Then, outside, she has a visitor.
Bit of an issue here as this is before Norman has resurfaced after SM 75, but again, I held this til we saw the original story play out. Elsewhere, Donald Menken and Roderick Kingsley are conspiring to take over the Osborn company, with Menken setting up dummy companies trying to buy them out, which Kingsley will counteroffer. But they get a phone call from George Vandergill, who’s figured them out and also wants to take over Osborn. Suddenly a hot commodity. While that plays out, Spider-Man happens on Jacob Conover trying to get Flash Thompson to talk to him about the Hobgoblin fiasco he was a part of. Flash tells Conover off, and then Spidey drops down to chat. Flash says he knows Ned wasn’t The Hobgoblin.
Hobby kills Vandergill and picks up the phone to tell Senator Martin to back off, as well. Sure would seem to point to Menken! He seems unlikely, tho. As the news plays out this info, we see JJJ watching, Menken celebrating, and Betty ignoring it in their respective places. Spider-Man tells Betty he thinks they’ve turned up some good info, and he’s off to sleep. As he goes out the window, MJ buzzes downstairs, saying she and Peter would like to come up.
Stern has made no secret of his opposition to this marriage, but look how fun he makes them together. He’s a pro.
I had forgotten Peter acknowledging Norman killed their baby here. How does he know? I don’t get that.
We got a real mystery team coming together here. I love this. Love this use of the old cast, love the complexity Stern’s put into this, even if he does have to dredge up a bunch of characters no one’s thought about in a decade. MJ heads off to get info out of Kingsley as Peter goes to see Ben Urich. He still thinks Osborn might be behind all this, but he also wonders about Jonas Harrow, telling Ben he and Spider-Man mixed it up recently at a Roxxon facility (In TAC 236), and thinks Roxxon could be controlling Hobgoblin. Ben mentions Ned was out to take down the Brand Corporation (as seen in ASM 235), a Roxxon subsidiary, back in the day, and that Conover also worked corporate crime. Peter has a lot to think about. And he’s not alone…
It’s nice having so much stuff actually on the blog now. Harry’s death, Ned’s death, all these things I used to try to dance around. “Trouble” is an understatement, as we find Hobgoblin blowing the place to bits and laughing maniacally. Ben & Peter arrive in less than an hour, and as firefighters find part of a pumpkin bomb in the rubble, Flash passes on Liz’s suspicions about Menken to Peter. Peter thinks it can’t be Norman, as he’d never blow up his own refinery, but now Menken is looking pretty good for it. Meanwhile, Betty’s trying to get in to see Senator Martin when she catches him literally fleeing his own building clutching a box of stuff, terrified, and claiming he never knew George Vandergill, even tho they publicly worked together. Betty thinks this didn’t get here anywhere and he jumps in a car, and decides she has to take bolder action.
Spider-Man is suddenly hauling Conover out of the taxi, demanding an explanation. He says Ned stole his research on corporate malfeasance before he died, and if Betty has them, he wants them. When the cops arrive, he tells them the same thing,and Spidey’s lack of a danger buzz during all this inclines him to believe it. Betty declines to press charges, and it all seems to be dying down… until Hobgoblin throws a shower of razor bats at everyone, forcing Spider-Man to lunge them to safety.
Hey, that sucks, Spider-Man’s dead! And so close to uncovering the truth, too. Man, Roger Stern. These are the best issues of Spider-Man since he left. Next time: the for real for real identity of The Hobgoblin, after all these years.