Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010, Day 24, And Hobgoblin Nerd Rage

32051 / 50000 words. 64% done!

I'm posting this early because I have to get up early for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and also I wanted to discuss the latest Spider-man story arc. It's called Big Time, and it features a bold new direction for Spider-man, and the return of a classic villain: the Hobgoblin. And I'm already pissed off. Nerd rage (and spoilers) kick in below the fold.

For those who aren't familiar, the Hobgoblin was introduced as a mystery man who stole Norman Osborn's Green Goblin equipment and set out to take over New York's criminal empire. The mystery of his true identity stretched out for years and got extremely convoluted (as recounted in great detail by the MadGoblin here), but the Hobgoblin was eventually revealed as Roderick Kingsley, a greedy fashion mogul.

Sooo, yeah. Despite his start, Kingsley was actually a pretty successful villain. He took the Green Goblin's arsenal and expanded it, becoming arguably more dangerous than the original villain. This became doubly true when he took the Green Goblin formula and improved it, sparing himself the insanity that Norman Osborn suffered from. He was sane, ruthless, and unlike most supervillains, he had the good sense to retire from his life of crime when it became obvious that ruling New York's underworld just wasn't worth it.

And for years, Kingsley stayed put overseas, being wealthy and probably sleeping with a ton of supermodels. He eventually returned to the Hobgoblin identity again (mostly to kill off his incompetent successor, but also to clear up the mystery of his identity for long-time readers), but even after being unmasked he managed to escape the country and retire to a Caribbean island with no extradition treaties.

As far as the regular Marvel universe was concerned, that was it for Kingsley. But in an alternate future where Peter Parker has a teenage daughter named Spider-Girl, the Hobgoblin eventually returned, nearly murdering Parker's daughter on multiple occasions and succeeding, briefly, in running at least half of New York's crime world. He died in the end, and not well, but for months Kingsley was the same scheming, sane, and above all competent supervillain he'd always been.

Then came Dan Slott.

In the latest issue of Amazing Spider-man, the Hobgoblin returned to New York. Having lost his fortune thanks to Norman Osborn's vindictive streak, Kingsley is hoping to take advantage of Osborn's imprisonment to rebuild his fortune and reputation. He returns to the Goblin lair where he gathered his original equipment, and takes an appreciative look at the new tech Norman's been working on. And then, he finds Phil Urich hiding in a closet.

And he gets killed. Gets his head cut off. By Phil. Fucking. Urich. The fourth Green Goblin. The one who wanted to be a hero. The one who had to quit because he broke his fucking mask. The one who founded a support group for messed up teenage superheroes.

Now, I'm not opposed to Phil taking a whack at the Hobgoblin role. Sure he was a good guy, but he was getting crazy in his last appearance and could have easily gotten crazier. He's got a strong motivation (he's trying to impress a girl). He's got a killer laugh (literally). He might have other superpowers, if the whole "I need a special mask to get super-strength" thing has been jettisoned.

But damn it to hell, there was no reason to have Phil kill Roderick Kingsley. It didn't make Phil a bad-ass: he basically got lucky. It didn't satisfy fans of Kingsley, who knew how dangerous he could be from Spider-Girl. And unless the Hand is recruiting Goblins, there's no easy way to undo Kingsley's death if it turns out to be a mistake.

Marvel's tried this before, when they had Spider-man's evil twin, Kaine, kill off Doctor Octopus to show what a bad-ass Kaine was. Only one of these villains got a movie deal, and it wasn't the clone. It didn't work then, and while I'm hoping to be surprised, I don't think it's going to work now.

R.I.P., Roderick Kingsley. Here's hoping it doesn't stick.

UPDATE: Adding the link I forgot earlier. And to be fair, I will say that I've loved just about everything Dan Slott has done at Marvel. She-Hulk? Awesome. The Thing? Awesome. Brand New Day? Consistently cool. The Initiative? Still missing all those characters. Great Lakes Avengers? Fucking Squirrel Girl, come on.

Still, Kingsley got chumped. Not cool, Dan, not cool.

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