Appearing in "Secrets"
- Jacob Conover
- Daniel Kingsley
- Lt. Marcus Stone
- Ned Leeds (Only in flashback)[Flashback 2]
- J. Jonah Jameson (Vision)
- Jonas Harrow (Vision)
- Liz Osborn (Vision)
- Gwen Stacy (Vision)
- Kingpin (Recap)
- Flash Thompson (Recap)
- The Rose (Recap)
- 1400 Club (Recap)
- Foreigner (Mentioned)
- Unnamed Agents (Recap)
- New York City
- Germany (Recap)
Synopsis for "Secrets"
Falling into the darkness, Spider-Man is haunted by visions of all the individuals he suspects might be the Hobgoblin. The include visions of Jonas Harrow, J. Jonah Jameson, Senator Bob Martin, Roderick Kingsley, and Donald Menkin. The Hobgoblin mocks Spider-Man on all the possibilities but tells him that he will never know. That's when the wall-crawler snaps out of it and realizes that he is sinking deeper and deeper into the East River and will drown if he doesn't act quick. Looking up to the surface, he sees a passing ferry and frantically swings towards it, and life. The whole time he prays to for his body to hold out as the Hobgoblin has hurt too many people already and he doesn't want the villain to harm anyone else. Most of all, he is concerned about the safety of Betty Brant.
At that moment, Betty Brant returns to her apartment with a police escort after escaping the Hobgoblin. However, no soon as they arrive in their apartment they all pass out thanks to an invisible and odorless gas unleashed by the Hobgoblin. As Betty turned on the television before she passed out, the Hobgoblin pauses to admire his work as a report comes about Spider-Man's apparent demise. He smiles to himself until a sudden newsflash about Spider-Man's survival is reported, angering the Hobgoblin who promptly blows up the television. By the time Spider-Man has arrived on the scene the Hobgoblin is long gone and emergency crews have arrived on the scene. Spotting Lieutenant Stone of Code: Blue, Spider-Man asks what happened and learns that Betty was kidnapped by the Hobgoblin. When the police demand that the wall-crawler give any information about the Hobgoblin's location, Spider-Man turns them down and leaps out the window. At that moment, the Hobgoblin has brought Betty back to his secret hideout and has detected a spider-tracer hidden in the locket around her neck. He removes it and hands it, and another deactivated tracer to Roderick Kingsley, telling him to put them in two different places to confuse the wall-crawler and prevent him from finding his hideout.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man scours the city trying to pick up the signal from his spider-tracer. He fears what the Hobgoblin might do to Betty, especially if he tries to brainwash Betty as he did to Lefty Donovan and Ned Leeds in the past.[Continuity 1] At the Hobgoblin's hideout, Betty wakes up and discovers that the villain has captured her because he was interested to know what was in Ned Leeds' notebook that she boasted about on national television. Betty tells him that she will give it to him in exchange for the truth about who he is. Since he is certain that Spider-Man won't interrupt them, the Hobgoblin indulges her and even allows her to record the conversation.[Continuity 2]
The Hobgoblin decides to begin his explanation with the first day that he met Ned Leeds. This was following his failed attempt to destroy Spider-Man with his newly acquired Battle Van. After it crashed into the Hudson River, the Hobgoblin managed to evade capture, temporarily leading Spider-Man to believe that he had died in the resulting explosion.[Continuity 3] Making his way back to his hideout, the Hobgoblin was unaware that he was being tailed by Ned Leeds. However, he quickly discovered the intruder and captured him before Leeds could discover his true identity. With Ned as his prisoner, the Hobgoblin learned how he was assigned by the Daily Bugle to track him down. By this time, Spider-Man has located one of the spider-tracers -- the one hidden in Betty's locket -- in the possession of a homeless woman. Learning that she found it in a dumpster three blocks away, the wall-crawler tries not to fear the worst and swings to that direction. Back at the Hobgoblin's hideout, the villain continues his story. He tells Betty how he used the Winkler brainwashing machine to force Ned to work for him.[Continuity 4] At first, he used the device to get important files, such as the documents that belonged to Jacob Conover. He then started using Ned as a proxy in order to convince the Rose that the Hobgoblin was his friend so the Hobgoblin could get in on his illegal activities.[Continuity 5] While the Hobgoblin got a lot of enjoyment out of it, he wagers Ned did not as the constant brainwashing and mentally conditioning changed him, made him a paranoid wreck. The horrifies Betty, because this change in behavior caused her so much grief during the romantic triangle formed between her, Ned and Flash Thompson.[Continuity 6]
Hearing Flash Thompson's name amuses the Hobgoblin greatly, as his involvement in this drama all became because of Thompson's calling the Hobgoblin a coward on television.[Continuity 7] This was his motivation for later framing Thompson for his crimes, as it also offered him the opportunity to operate in secret while the authorities thought they had the villain in custody.[Continuity 8] Having grown tired of being actively involved in a life of crime, the Hobgoblin decided to use Ned as a proxy, preferring to operate on the sidelines.[Continuity 9] However, the Winkler process made Ned difficult to control without allowing him to indulge his own desires. This is why the Hobgoblin exchanged information with the Kingpin on a story Ned was following overseas. Deciding to loosen the leash on Ned, he allowed him to go after Flash Thompson when he learned that Betty was harboring him while he was a fugitive. Although he unmasked before Betty, he used a hallucinogenic has to make her doubt what she really saw.[Continuity 10]
Meanwhile, Spider-Man has tracked the other spider-tracer and discovers that it was placed on a cyclist. Questioning the cyclist, he learns that he is a bike courier that has been cycling all over midtown making deliveries. The wall-crawler realizes that he has been led on a wild-goose chase and scrambles to try and find Betty, hoping that he won't live to regret allowing her to goad the Hobgoblin out of hiding. At his hideout, the Hobgoblin continues his tale, by telling Betty how he grew tired of being a part of the criminal underworld and decided to use Ned one last time to fake the demise of the Hobgoblin. He waited until Ned and Peter Parker were assigned to cover a story in Germany to strike.[Continuity 11] In order to complete this ruse, the Hobgoblin had a version of his costume sent to Ned by courier. Seeing the costume triggered a hypnotic suggestion that Ned put on the costume. As he did so, the Foreigner's minions came crashing in to carry out the hit that was placed on Ned by Jason Macendale when he was tricked into thinking Leeds was the real Hobgoblin.[Continuity 12] He was satisfied to let Macendale be the Hobgoblin until the mercenary brought too much shame to the identity forcing the original to come out of retirement.[Continuity 13] With his story done, the Hobgoblin demands Betty tell him what information was kept in Ned Leeds' notebook. However, quickly becomes clear that Brant made the whole thing up. But, before the Hobgoblin can eliminate the reporter, Roderick Kingsley enters the room with a gun and demands that the Hobgoblin tell the whole truth or he will shoot.
Unfortunately, this is a hollow threat, and the Hobgoblin easily incapacitates Kingsley. When Betty tries to flee in the confusion she discovers that the door is locked. Now that Betty has connected him to Kingsley, the Hobgoblin decides that she must be eliminated, but offers her to see the face being his mask before she dies. That's when Spider-Man comes crashing in through the door and knocks the villain aside. With the advantage tipped in the wall-crawler's favor, both the Hobgoblin and Roderick try to flee. However, while the Hobgoblin manages to escape on his Goblin Glider, Kingsley is quickly webbed to a wall. Telling Betty to keep an eye on Kingsley, the wall-crawler goes after the Hobgoblin. Realizing that the Hobgoblin intends to firebomb the entire building, he swings up a smokestack to ambush the villain. While inside, Betty reveals that she had a third spider-tracer hidden in her recorder and that's how Spider-Man was able to find her. She then tells Kingsley to provide the details that the Hobgoblin left out of his story. As Spider-Man and Hobgoblin battle overhead, Kinglsey explains that he was working for the Hobgoblin before anyone else, that he saw both Lefty Donovan and Ned Leeds get used up and disposed of by the villain. As Kingsley stammers, Betty realizes that this man is wearing a wig. Removing it, she realizes that this isn't Roderick Kingsley, but his brother Daniel. At that same moment, Spider-Man has managed to overpower the Hobgoblin and remove his mask, revealing that he has been Roderick Kingsley this whole time. Although Spider-Man wasn't expecting this, nor does he know which Kingsley brother this really is, he webs up Roderick and decides to clear this all up.
Soon, news of the Hobgoblin's capture and unmasking becomes the top story on all the news media. Ironically, Kingsley finds himself incarcerated and placed in the same cell where her killed his successor, Jason Macendale. Placed in his cell, Roderick finds a recorder that has a message from Spider-Man which plays the last thing Roderick said before he murdered Macendale, mocking Jason for being an embarrassment. Furious at this final insult, Kingsley crushes the recorder in his bare hands cursing Spider-Man's name. Watching this from the security control room are Peter Parker, Betty Brant, and Jacob Conover. After they are assured that the Hobgoblin cannot get out of his cell, they depart. In the parking lot, Conover thanks Peter and Betty for allowing him to tag along and filling him in on everything. Likewise, Betty thanks Peter for his help. Although it doesn't bring Ned back from the dead, Peter was glad to do something to help clear his name. Peter is joined by his wife Mary Jane, who asks Peter what he is thinking about as Betty walks away.[Continuity 14] Peter thinks about how Betty was the first girl he ever dated, and how she, like many of the other women in his life suffered so much. Between Betty, Liz Osborn, and Gwen Stacy, Peter wonders if being Spider-Man is a curse to those around him.[Continuity 15] Mary Jane reminds Peter that others were responsible for these tragedies and that it was Spider-Man who put a stop to them. Mary Jane points out all the good things that he has done in his life and concludes by saying she is proud of him and proud to be married to him. Peter is flattered and wonders how he lucked out finding such a wonderful woman in his life. She reminds Peter that she found him first and that she is the lucky one.
THIS IS IT, THE ISSUE FANS HAVE WAITED TO YEARS TO READ. THE ORIGINAL HOBGOBLIN IS UNMASKED AND HIS DARK HISTORY IS FINALLY BROUGHT TO LIGHT. AND A KNOCK-DOWN, DRAG-OUT, LIFE-AND-DEATH BATTLE, THROW IN A DRAMATIC TURNING POINT IN THE LIFE OF BETTY BRANT AND YOU KNOW YOU HAVE A "MUST READ" CHAPTER IN THE LIFE OF SPIDER-MAN.
- Lefty Donovan was brainwashed into thinking he was the Hobgoblin and was active in that guise in Amazing Spider-Man #244-245.
- Betty is depicted as using an tape recorder. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 as this is considered an obsolete technology.
- Hobgoblin's plunge into the Hudson happened in Amazing Spider-Man #251.
- This is the same device used by the Kingpin in Amazing Spider-Man #59-61.
- How Ned Leeds was used to convincing the Rose that he was the Hobgoblin was revealed in Web of Spider-Man #33.
- Betty and Ned were married in Amazing Spider-Man #156. Both Betty and the Hobgoblin are really downplaying what was happening near the end of their relationship. Betty and Ned were having problems well before the Hobgoblin got his hands on Ned. Also, to be clear, Betty started an affair with Flash Thompson, all be it a somewhat harmless one, as seen in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #109.
- Flash called out the Hobgoblin on television in Amazing Spider-Man #276.
- Flash was framed by the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #287.
- The first time the Hobgoblin employed Ned Leeds as his proxy was in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #130.
- The deal with the Kingpin, the attack on Flash, and Ned's unmasking all happened in Amazing Spider-Man #288.
- Peter and Ned went to Germany together in Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1.
- The details of Macendale's hit were detailed in Amazing Spider-Man #289.
- This would have been Macendale's recent apprehension in Spider-Man #69 until he was murdered by the real Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1.
- 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.
- Peter goes through a lot of his female relationships over the years:
- Betty Brant and Peter dated from Amazing Spider-Man #7-18. Their relationship ended because Betty was afraid Peter was taking too many risks as a photographer for the Bugle and started dating Ned Leeds. And we all know how well that went, right?
- Liz Osborn neé Allan, had a crush on Peter Parker when they were in high school but they never officially dated. She did end up going on to marry his best friend Harry Osborn. Harry went mad when he tried to follow in his father's footsteps as the Green Goblin. 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.
- Lastly, Gwen Stacy, was murdered by Harry's father Norman the original Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #121.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:
- Ned Leeds:
- Flashback: Page 11, Panel 4-Page 12, Panel 2 - Ned Leeds follows the Hobgoblin back to his lair. Is captured and brainwashed.
- Flashback: Page 14, Panel 1 - Ned is subjected to the Winkler machine.
- Flashback: Page 15, Panel 4 - Ned is made the Hobgoblin's proxy full-time.
- Flashback: Page 18, Panel 3 - Ned goes to Germany.
- On the cover it has an issue date of April, 1997, but inside it is dated March, 1997.
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