SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #259-261 (1998): Goblins at the Gate

The first Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) vs. Roderick Kingsley–the man who was supposed to have been the first Hobgoblin (but due to editorial twisting it’s not clear that he was). And Roger Stern–the undisputed creator of Hobgoblin and one of the best Spider-Man writers of all time–returns to plot-out this three-page slugfest.

Here’s the big picture story: Norman Osborn has been back for a bit now, and he’s been messing with Spider-Man, very publicly.

Roderick Kingsley is in prison, but he knows that Osborn was the first Green Goblin and baits him by leaking to the underworld grapevine that he’s got one of Osborn’s old journals. Norman has been trying very hard to keep his evil identity a secret, so he arranges to get Kingsley out of jail for a meet-up.

Spider-Man is present during the break-out, but Kingsley doesn’t want his help. He wants to meet up with Osborn.

Note that Kingsley is the flamboyant, foppish version from the old Roger Stern scripts–this aspect of his personality was effectively forgotten by later writers who used the character.

Also note that the Green Goblin up there is NOT Norman Osborn. It’s his genetic construct of Green Goblin.

Of course there is no journal. It was all a trick to get Norman to free Roderick from prison. But to get to that conclusion, there’s a ton of devious power plays between the now-freed millionaire Kingsley and the “legit power broker” Osborn. Along the way, Kingsley keeps trying to unmask Spider-Man, while Osborn doesn’t need to–he already knows Peter Parker’s secret.

Lots of scheming and fun. Kingsley puts on the old Hobgoblin suit, but Norman Osborn is a “legit business man” now and doesn’t want to wear the Goblin mask.

It all comes to a head in the final issue, when we finally see the two villains lay hands on each other. Spider-Man intervenes and stops them from killing each other, and “unmasks” the genetic construct…

But due to smoke, we don’t get to see his face.

Osborn has to leave before the authorities arrive. The only way for him to escape…

…Is by becoming the Green Goblin again!

Nice touch. That feels decidedly like something Roger Stern included in the plot.

It ends with Kingsley on the run and Osborn having taken his fortune.

I like that they use Luke Ross for art on this. He’s not cartoonish and doesn’t draw hugely overmuscled men–both of which are the bane of this era of comics. His art is straightforward and in service to the story.

Excellent arc!

Leave a Comment