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Appearing in "Back In Business"

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Synopsis for "Back In Business"

Roderick Kingsley arrives at a warehouse in Lower Manhattan, cursing himself for getting mixed up by the Hobgoblin again.[Continuity 1] He delivers the compounds that the Hobgoblin has requested, however, the masked villain is not happy with how late he is. He warns Kingsley that if he doesn't perform better, he will be subjected to the Winkler Device to force him to do the Hobgoblin's bidding.[Continuity 2] Thinking how the Hobgoblin used the device on Lefty Donovan and Ned Leeds, Kingsley fears for his fate if he is subject to the device.[Continuity 3] He assures the Hobgoblin that he will do what is asked as he owes the villain his life, but questions why he has decided to take up his old costumed identity again. Removing his costume, the Hobgoblin explains that while Kingsley is ruthless in business, he knows nothing of acquiring power, and neither did Jason Macendale, reminding Kingsley that he killed the man who co-opted his identity.[Continuity 4]

At that moment, at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson has called together his best staff to go over the security footage that shows Jason Macendale being murdered in his cell. They hear as a disguised man, claiming to be the original Hobgoblin, reveals to Macendale that Ned Leeds was a dupe. Although this suggests that Ned was set up, Joe Robertson reminds Jonah of Betty's claim to see Ned unmask himself as the Hobgoblin.[Continuity 5] Jonah figures that this must be deception. All he knows for sure is that they were sent this recording by the man claiming to be the real Hobgoblin in an attempt to try and send a message, and Jonah believes that this was a big mistake on the villain's part. He doesn't believe that Ned was the Hobgoblin, revealing that, after a previous blackmail attempt by the Hobgoblin, Jonah had assigned Ned to a secret investigation to learn what he could about the masked fiend. With that, Joe Robertson sends out Ben Urich, Charlie Snow, and Angela Yin to get the story, leaving Betty and Peter Parker behind. Betty demands to know why she isn't being assigned to this story, not wanting to sit on the sidelines while others put their lives at risk. Jonah tries to explain that Betty is the story, but she refuses to do nothing and storms out of his office.

When Peter tries to stop her, Betty refuses to listen and leaves out the elevator. Not wanting Betty to get hurt, Peter rushes to the roof where he changes into Spider-Man. He knows how Betty feels, as his own parents were once accused of being traitors to their country until he was able to prove they were innocent.[Continuity 6] Spider-Man catches up with Betty and tells her he knows all about the death of Macendale. He also believes that Ned was set up, pointing out that a lot of people were accused of being the Hobgoblin, including Lefty Donovan and Flash Thompson.[Continuity 7] Betty is glad to hear this and agrees to work with Spider-Man in learning the truth. As Spider-Man heads off, he then begins to wonder if Norman Osborn could be the Hobgoblin. Osborn tricked everyone into thinking he was dead for years, making him a possible suspect as well.[Continuity 8]

At that moment, at One Osborn Plaza, Donald Menkin meets with Roderick Kingsley. The pair are plotting to use a series of shell corporations to make it look like Osborn Industries is at risk of a corporate take over. That's when they will have Kingsley International come in appear to save the company, thus covering up their illegal market manipulation and money laundering. That's when Menkin gets a phone call from rival businessman George Vandergill. George reveals that he knows the truth about Menkin and Kingsley's scheme and threatens to expose them unless they cut him in on the deal. Meanwhile, Spider-Man manages to find Flash Thompson, who is being harassed by Jacob Conover. After Thompson convinces the reporter to go away, he is delighted to see his favorite super-hero. When Spider-Man asks Flash what he thinks about Ned Leeds being the Hobgoblin. Although Flash thinks Ned was a terrible husband, but was no super-villain, recalling the time that he knocked Ned out with a single punch.[Continuity 9] When Spider-Man asks Flash to help Betty out, he gladly agrees. Meanwhile, George Vandergill has called his colleague Senator Bob Martin to tell him how Menkin handled his phone call. That's when the Hobgoblin attacks his factory, destroying it with his pumpkin bombs. Smashing into Vandergill's office, the Hobgoblin murders the man. He then picks up the phone and warns Senator Martin that interfering with his plans could prove to be unhealthy.

As this turn of events hits the news many people watch the developments. J. Jonah Jameson thinks quietly to himself, while Donald Menkin gloats that Vandergill will never interfere with him again. Elsewhere, Spider-Man and Betty Brant collect all their notes. That's when Betty is buzzed by Mary Jane down in the alley. Taking this as his cue to leave, Spider-Man exits out the window so he can change back into Peter Parker and join his wife as they go up to Betty's apartment.[Continuity 10] They are joined by Flash Thompson, who Betty is happy to see even though their relationship didn't work out very well.[Continuity 11] This also gives Peter and Mary Jane the opportunity to thank Flash for his sympathies after he learned that Mary Jane had a miscarriage. Reminded how his newborn daughter died during childbirth, thanks to the machinations of Norman Osborn, reminds Peter how important it is that he get to the bottom of this Hobgoblin mystery once and for all.[Continuity 12] the four friends sit down and go over Betty's notes. So far, she has compared the autopsy reports of the men who have worn the Hobgoblin mask. In the cases of Lefty Donovan and Ned Leeds, both men had strange brain abnormalities that were absent in Jason Macendale's reports, strengthening the theory that Ned was brainwashed by the real Hobgoblin somehow. Peter points out another interesting piece of information, George Vandergill was one of the men present when the Hobgoblin tried to blackmail members of the Century Club a few years earlier.[Continuity 13] Since Vandergill was killed earlier that day, they believe that one of the members of the Century Club are all potential suspects. That's when Flash suggests they should add Jacob Conover to the list. When the reporter was trying to interview him, Flash noted that Conover was asking a lot of suspicious questions. Mary Jane is shocked to discover that Roderick Kingsley is on the list, as she used to model for him and couldn't possible think of him ever being the Hobgoblin.

After reviewing everything, Betty thinks that they should look into the business angle as it seems the likely direction to go. Soon, everyone packs up to follow their own leads. However, before they go, Betty gives them all spider-tracers that were left with her by Spider-Man, so the hero can keep track of everyone. When they all part company, nobody is aware that Jacob Conover has been staking out Betty's apartment. Mary Jane has decided to look into Roderick Kingsley, figuring that their prior working relationship will give her an edge. Peter wishes her luck and to be careful and then ducks into an alley to change back into Spider-Man. As he swings across the city, the wall-crawler still isn't convinced that Norman Osborn is somehow involved in all of this. Still, some of his other foes have also crossed his mind. Later, back as Peter Parker, the wall-crawler meets with Ben Urich to run his thoughts of Doctor Jonas Harrow being involved in the Hobgoblin somehow. Peter points out that Harrow has a history of performing illicit surgeries on super-villains. He also points out how, recently, Harrow was involved with Roxxon. Since there is a corporate angle to the Hobgoblin's activities, Peter wonders if Harrow and Roxxon are somehow involved.[Continuity 14] Ben isn't entirely sold on the idea, however he recalls how Ned Leeds was working on an exposé on Roxxon prior to his death, that was until Jameson forced him to kill the story.[Continuity 15] Peter becomes suspicious of Jacob Conover again when Ben mentions how, at the time, Conover was competing with Leeds to get a scoop on the story.

Meanwhile, Mary Jane's dinner meeting with Roderick Kingsley, is interrupted by his brother Daniel who insists that they have important business to do.[Continuity 16] Roderick tells Mary Jane has got to go but tells her to call him on Monday. Mary Jane finds this suspicious, as she had heard of Roderick's brother Daniel, but always thought that it was Roderick who was the more aggressive brother. At that same moment, Flash is meeting with Liz Osborn -- who runs Osborn Industries -- to see what he can learn from her about the business angle of the Hobgoblin's activities. She agrees to speak with him off the record, saying that she is suspicious of Donald Menkin, a man that was hired by her late-husband's father.[Continuity 17] Their meeting is interrupted when a staff member rushes into Liz' office to tell her that someone is attacking one of the Oscorp refineries in New Jersey. About an hour later, Peter Parker and Ben Urich arrive on the scene and meet up with Liz and Flash. It is here that one of the officers on the scenes finds fragments of pumpkin bombs, proving that the attack was caused by the Hobgoblin. Hearing Flash's news about Donald Menkin, Peter begins to wonder what his connection is with all of this. Meanwhile, Betty Brant tries to get a meeting with Senator Martin. Stonewalled, she shows up at his office and catches him in the elevator down to the parking garage. Unfortunately, when she tries to question him about George Vandergill, Senator Martin is frightened and refuses to talk. Realizing that Martin won't talk, Betty decides to take bolder measures to find the truth.

To this end, Betty agrees to do a live television interview about the allegations that her late husband was the Hobgoblin. Peter and Mary Jane only learn about this when they catch a promotion for the event, prompting Peter to change into Spider-Man and makes sure she remains safe. During the interview, Betty states that for a time Ned's notes were long thought to have been destroyed, however she claims to have uncovered them and intends to use them to learn the truth about the Hobgoblin. Hearing this causes Jacob Conover to pay for his tab and abruptly leave the bar. Betty's words also raise concerns with both Donald Menkin and the Kingsley brothers who see this as a threat. While at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson are shocked by Betty's revelation and wonder what she is trying to accomplish. After the interview, Betty leaves the television station hoping this latest bombshell will get things rolling. As she enters a cab, Jacob Conover forces his way into the vehicle with her. He begins demanding that Betty turn over Ned's notes to him when Spider-Man yanks the intoxicated reporter out of the cab. When the police are called, all they learn is that Conover was only looking to get the notes that he lent to Ned Leeds before his death and never got back. Just as Spider-Man considers Conover a dead-end, his spider-sense begins going off. Spider-Man manages to shove everyone out of the way of the Hobgoblin who tosses a barrage of razor-bats.

Spider-Man then leaps up and begins battling the Hobgoblin atop his goblin glider. However, the villain is prepared for the web-slinger. Flying his glider over the East River, he then electrifies the device, jolting Spider-Man with a powerful jolt of electricity, sending he wall-crawler falling into the water below.


Continuity Notes

  1. This isn't actually Roderick, but his brother Daniel, who has been posing as Roderick as far back as Amazing Spider-Man #249. His brother, Roderick is really the Hobgoblin and forced his brother to pose as him as a deception.
  2. The Winkler Device is the same on that was prototyped in Untold Tales of Spider-Man #7 and later used in the service of the Kingpin in Amazing Spider-Man #5961.
  3. Both Donovan and Leeds were brainwashed by this device and led to believe they were the real Hobgoblin until both men died.
  4. Jason Macendale usurped the Hobgoblin identity after murdering Ned Leeds as seen in Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1/Amazing Spider-Man #289. He operated as the Hobgoblin until he was murdered by the original last issue.
  5. Betty saw Ned unmasked as the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #288.
  6. Peter's parents were secret agents that were on an undercover mission when they died. They were branded traitors until, many years later, Spider-Man unearthed the truth and cleared their names. This was all detailed in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5.
  7. Flash was framed by the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #276. He wasn't able to clear his name until Amazing Spider-Man #289.
  8. At the time of this story, everyone had believed that Norman Osborn was dead following a battle against Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #122. His survival is explained in Osborne Journals #1. Spider-Man recently discovered that Osborn was alive in Spider-Man #75.
  9. Ned Leed and Betty Brant got married in Amazing Spider-Man #156. However, their marriage quickly deteriorated leading to Betty beginning an affair with Flash in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #109. When Ned confronted Flash about this affair, Thompson laid him out with one punch in Amazing Spider-Man #275.
  10. Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, years later, their marriage is erased from existence by Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple here.
  11. Betty continues to see Flash after Ned's death, however the pair quietly ended their relationship following the events of Spectacular Spider-Man #148.
  12. The death of Peter and Mary Jane's baby as well as Norman Osborn's involvement in the matter were all detailed in the Revelations story arc.
    Spectacular Spider-Man #240 Sensational Spider-Man #11 Amazing Spider-Man #418 Spider-Man #75 Spider-Man: Revelations #1 Osborne Journals #1

  13. Again, the Century Club scheme happened in Amazing Spider-Man #250. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, those events happened roughly 3 years prior to this story.
  14. At the time of this story, Harrow was hired by Roxxon in a failed attempt to procure the Dragon Man. This plan was foiled by Ben Reilly during his short tenure as Spider-Man as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #235236.
  15. Specifically, Ned was investigating the Brand Corporation a Roxxon subsidiary in Amazing Spider-Man #235.
  16. Mary Jane has blacklisted from the modeling industry thanks to the machinations of Jonathan Ceaser in Amazing Spider-Man #314. Mary Jane has stayed out of modeling for the most part except for a brief stint modeling maternity clothing in Web of Spider-Man #128/Spectacular Spider-Man #228/Spider-Man: The Final Adventure #3.
  17. At the time of this story, everyone thinks that Harry Osborn is dead following the events of Spectacular Spider-Man #200. However, unknown to everyone at the time, Harry survived as explained in Amazing Spider-Man #581. He will resurface again in Amazing Spider-Man #545.

Chronology Notes

A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:

See Also

Links and References


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