I just finished reading through your suspect list, and found it pretty thorough. I started collecting Amazing after issue 250, so I guess I didn't get any Stern-clues. However, my friends who collected ASM, and later me, always felt that Lance Bannon was the Hobgoblin, and when I heard that Leeds wasn't who Stern wanted to be, I was ellated. Then I found out Bannon died not too long ago. I was un-ellated.
If you have any rumour or updated info on the story, will you be updating your web page? At least, let rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe know. I lurk there.
Again, a good listing, and I'll try to remember the names when I collect the mini-series.
A couple of things have changed since the Top 10 Suspects List went up. I'm waiting until they are old news before adding them to the list, since I don't want to ruin any surprises for anyone. Having been spoiled on the newsgroup as to the identity of Gaunt, and then having someone email the ending of Spider-Man 75 to me, I've left the newsgroup and won't be posting anything there until after the Hobgoblin mini-series has run its course.
Although I think those are the names to remember, there are other possibilities. To wit:
From Greg Helton
That Menken guy is one to watch (he was seen recently threatening Liz Osborn)
From Bobby C
Jonas Harrow is the Hobgoblin. Harrow, in case you didn't know, was a disgraced doctor who was responsible for creating some of Spider-Man's more... unique villians, including the Kangaroo and Hammerhead. Don't ask me how I know this, but Harrow would have a reason for disliking the webhead. What doctor likes to see their patients getting beat up?
From Karl Hornell
The last time they met he put the blame for the Hobgoblin's break-ins on Lefty Donovan. That's what he "had heard". He wasn't very co-operative either. He demanded more details about Spider-Man's involvement in the affair. One far-fetched but possible interpretation of his thoughts is that he wanted to find out if Spider-Man too knew that Norman Osborn was the Green Goblin. (If so, he would have to be more careful when looting Osborn's hideouts.)
The problem with this theory is that Tower appears to have a water-tight alibi. Just a couple of minutes after Spider-Man had left his office, the Hobgoblin was instructing Lefty Donovan -- out on Long Island -- to go ahead with the power formula experiment. BUT (this is a big "but") the Hobgoblin was never actually seen at that moment. There were just two speech balloons and one of them could have come out of a phone. In fact, their conversation would make more sense (at least to Donovan) if the Hobgoblin wasn't on location. He had something to do and would drop by later. The Hobgoblin didn't appear in person until the experiment had progressed so far that the solution exploded. That could have taken hours and Tower might easily have had enough time to finish what he was doing in his office and get over to Long Island.
(My hyper-active imagination also considered Tower's right hand on the top panel of the third page a visual clue. It ties in with the last panel of the same issue. But I might be grasping for straws here.)
and strikes me as a possibility. Other guesses have included Keating (who turned out to be either the Foreigner or a Foreigner operative) and the Rose's right hand man Alfredo. The most suggested non-top-ten choice, however, is covered in the next e-mail:
From John Dilthey
We all know that the real Hobgoblin was spidys worst villian ... I hope that the real hobby is now the rose and he goes hobby III(Macdeail). I just wanted to point out my view on Hobby. If you have a theroy, I would like to hear it. P.S. I can't wait for the mini series.
Apart from the fact the Rose and the Hobgoblin were seen publicly together lots of times, and apart from the fact the Rose has vivid memories of Ned Leeds being the original Hobgoblin, the Rose has one fatal flaw that leaves him off the list ... he isn't a Stern creation, and he never appeared in a Stern issue of Amazing Spider-Man. (And, boy, am I going to be embarrassed if it is the Rose!)
But how is Stern going to explain the Rose's memories of Ned Leeds? Theories abound...
From Brian Kurth
.. we saw Ned changing into the Goblin only because it was Spider-Man who was reading the way Ned was killed. If the document was a fake, and it explained what happened, we would be seeing it the way spidey may have imagined it
was off someplace waiting for the right moment to re-appear. Of course, I assumed that Hobby was Leeds at the time!
Stern said the Hobgoblin is currently alive. I understand he can retcon anybody to not be dead, but I'm assuming he won't. That said, neither Bannon or Kingsley is the Hobgoblin.
You also said ... that explaining how Ned wasn't the Hobgoblin is difficult, when you consider ... WEB #30. The solution to that is simple. Ned was an OPERATIVE of the real Goblin. Hobby had use of Ned's Bugle connexions, so he offered to give him a story/way to fight crime. Ned would do most/all of the work, and no one ever suspected there was ANOTHER guy, which explains why only Ned was killed. Ned being murdered scared off the other Goblin, who decided to lie low, for awhile.
There you have it.
From Karl H.
Ned Leeds somehow discovered the Hobgoblin's identity shortly after a fake Hobgoblin had been killed in battle against Spider-Man, and threatened to expose him unless he agreed to co-operate. Rather than being convicted of murder, the Hobgoblin went along with that. As long as it didn't interfere with increasing his power and arsenal he didn't mind the occasional dirty work. Leeds had been involved with the Rose's gang for a while and realized someone like the Hobgoblin on their side would be an invaluable asset.
But there was one condition imposed by the Hobgoblin: there mustn't be traces back to his identity, or his family would risk retaliation as well as dishonor. (That's what usually happens when going up against the organized crime of New York.) Leeds didn't think there was any risk of discovery, so he had no problem with pretending to be the Hobgoblin in front of the Rose. He wouldn't be doing any super-villain stuff anyway and the Rose would see no need to investigate the identity of the Hobgoblin any further.
For a while the co-operation worked out nicely. When the Hobgoblin wasn't busy looking for more of Norman Osborn's hidden inventions, he ran errands for Leeds and the Rose. They gained a foothold in New York by taking over quite a few illegal gambling halls. But then Ned Leeds' little on-the-side job began to affect his family life. He was never home and his marriage faltered. When he found out that his wife had started seeing Flash Thompson (and he'd been punched in the face) he decided to use the Hobgoblin to get even.
The Hobgoblin disgruntledly went along with Leeds' plan to frame Thompson. He detested the idea of taking risks for the sake of Leeds' childish vendetta, but did what he was told. Leeds already had too much information on him. Then Jack O'lantern, a previous associate of the Hobgoblin's, messed it up by breaking Thompson out of jail. The Hobgoblin was then sent out to eliminate Jack O'lantern for this, but he got away and the Hobgoblin realized he had made himself an enemy who wouldn't hesitate to fight dirty. Plus, the way Leeds was getting more and more careless and personally involved (to the point of borrowing one of the Hobgoblin's body-armor costumes so he could beat up Thompson personally), it wouldn't be long before someone made the connection. And the moment Leeds got found out he'd take the Hobgoblin with him.
There was still one way out of this. He incapacitated Leeds and did what he had done to the previous fake -- gave Leeds a post-hypnotic suggestion to think he was the real Hobgoblin and essentially invincible. Then he went away, discarding his Hobgoblin identity for good and leaving the powerless and inexperienced Ned Leeds with a set of inferior weaponry. He'd surely get himself killed the first time he'd go into battle. But it didn't even come to that. The Foreigner's men surprised him in a hotel room in Germany and finished him off.
Is there anything I haven't accounted for? Of all the suspects on the list, the only one that could possibly be the Hobgoblin seems to be Kingsley. But then again it doesn't seem like his style. (And I thought he got killed, but my memory probably failed me.) One doesn't need to be a fashion designer to change the Green Goblin's costume. That old sixties relic wouldn't scare a baby.
There seems to be a popular mis-conception about Kingsley; namely, that he's dead. Although a gun was put to his head, and a quick cutaway made, we never witnessed the fatal shot, saw a body or attended a funeral. And he recently showed up at a high-society function as a sponsor in The Game, with nobody saying, "Why, ol' Reggie came out of that having-his-head-blown-off thing with hardly a scar!" So he's still around.
As for the "sixties relic" not scaring a baby; heck, if something with glowing eyes came swooping out of the sky brandishing a pumpkin bomb at me, I'd be scared!
From Isaac Pichulsky
I was just wondering who Lefty Donavin is, in the wizard magazine it says he is hobgoblin II.
the second Hobby; however, he was the Hobgoblin for just one issue, so people tend not to count him (Wizard, of course, counts every little thing so they can justify their ridiculously inflated prices ... but I digress...). Elsewhere on this site you will find the full story of Lefty Donovan.