Beyond it being out of character, Stern also objected to how easily Ned was dispatched by the Foreigner's men in the Priest-scripted "Spider-Man vs. Wolverine." The Hobgoblin had super-strength -- surely, he could have handled some ordinary assassins.
In order to answer this problem, Stern first raised the question: what if Ned had been "brainwashed" by the Hobgoblin to do his bidding, to the point that he actually though of himself as the villain? There was certainly a precedent. In the Hobgoblin's second major story arc (ASM #244-245) penned by Stern, Lefty Donovan, a two-bit crook, was unmasked as the Hobgoblin until Spider-Man discovered that it was all a ruse orchestrated by the real deal. In Stern's mind, "Ned Leeds was no more the Hobgoblin than was Lefty Donovan."
There was resistance from a number of Marvel editors to tackle the Hobgoblin story again, especially from DeFalco. No one touched the project until 1996. The "Clone Saga," had just wrapped, and Marvel was publishing series like Kurt Busiek's "Untold Tales of Spider-Man," which featured new stories set during the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Silver Age run. Greenberg and Tom Brevoort talked about the possibility of letting Stern finally get to tell the story he never got a chance to tell before. The way Greenberg saw it, even if nobody was clamoring for a new Hobgoblin story, it was an opportunity to get one of the best Spider-Man writers from the past 20 years to write the character once again.
It's Roger Stern back on Spider-Man," Greenberg said. "There's no reason why we couldn't do this."
Stern was on board, and Marvel's hierarchy approved the idea with one condition: the Hobgoblin's true identity would have to be definitively revealed. Ron Frenz was brought in to pencil the three-part miniseries, with George Perez providing inks. Frenz was excited, and Stern never had a doubt in his mind about the project's validity.
"Really, the secret of the Hobgoblin's identity was a cold case just waiting to be solved," Stern said. "So when Tom Brevoort and Glenn Greenberg asked me to write the story that became 'Hobgoblin Lives,' I was happy to oblige. The intervening decade didn't present a problem, since other Spider-writers of that time had obligingly reintroduced some of the prime suspects within their stories. I was easily able to bring new readers up to speed within the pages of the 'Hobgoblin Lives' miniseries. Ten years? That's just the passage of a few months in the Marvel Universe."
Beyond setting the record straight with the Hobgoblin, the miniseries also focused on redeeming Brant's character, who had to live with the guilt that her husband was a murderer for years before he was finally exonerated by Stern in a story featuring his trademark snappy dialogue and beautiful artwork from Frenz and Perez. The Roderick/Daniel Kingsley reveal -- and no, they still weren't twins, just brothers who looked alike with the help of a hairpiece -- didn't exactly set the world on fire, but the creators involved were very happy with how the mini turned out.
"It's wonderfully structured," Frenz said. "All of those characters are reintroduced in a way that wasn't confusing. It was tightly plotted. I thought it was incredibly effective. Roger pulled it off."
Greenberg called the mini a successful "character rehab" for the Hobgoblin. "It was the right thing to do, and [the Kingsley reveal] still applies today."
As a coda to "Hobgoblin Lives," Greenberg scripted a three-part story in "Spectacular Spider-Man" #259-261, "Goblins at the Gate," pitting the "original" Hobgoblin, Kingsley, against the original Green Goblin, a back from the dead Norman Osborn. The story was considered was of the last true "dream matches" in the Marvel Universe, since the entire reason for the Hobgoblin's existence was as a successor to Osborn.
Still, Marvel couldn't pass up the opportunity to introduce another goblin mystery. When the two goblins battled in Greenberg's arc, Osborn was shown out of costume alongside the Green Goblin, raising the question, who was the new Green Goblin?
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