Frame By Frame Review Spider-Man TAS The Hobgoblin Part 1
These reviews look at a single episode of a show, usually an incredibly silly one, and go through it bit by bit looking at each stupid moment in turn. As well as poking fun and adding sarcastic comments to the mix. This time we’re looking at the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon 2 parter, The Hobgoblin.
Some comic background: The Hobgoblin was created by Roger Stern back in the 70s as a replacement for the Green Goblin, who was dead at that point. The intention was to make him a sane version of the Norman Osborn to show how really dangerous someone with the Goblin powers would be if they weren’t crazy. His identity was a mystery for the longest time with his eventual reveal being that of Roderick Kinsley. He had hidden his identity through brainwashed proxies, such as Ned Leeds and Flash Thompson, and even faked his death by making everyone think Leeds was the real Hobgoblin who was killed by the Kingpin. Kinsley is one of Spidey’s most deadly foes as he’s cold, calculating, with all the power of the Green Goblin without the insanity that was the downfall of Osborn. The mask was then usurped by others such as Jason Macindale, who was more of a hired thug with none powers or the intellect of the original. Sadly this show was made before Kinsley was revealed as the Hobgoblin so we were stuck with the Macindale version.
There’s a little more relating the Hobgoblin to this show, but I’ll get into it next time. Right now let’s tackle:
So we open on the Hobgoblin putting on his mask and we don’t get to see his face. He finishes suiting up, puts a laser pistol into his belt instead of the purple satchel he has, and hops on his glider to fly into the city.
We cut to the Kingpin in his limo talking to Smythe, who is asking why Kingpin is doing, whatever it is he’s about to do. Fisk just says it’s to convince the press he’s “public spirited” so no one suspects that he’s the Kingpin.
We then cut to Peter walking along with Harry Osborn, who’s asking Peter to move in with him in a swanky new apartment (there’s a joke in there somewhere, but nothing comes to mind). Peter’s a bit confused at this since they, “hardly know each other” which confuses me since in the “Return of the Spider Slayers” episode when Spider-Man rescued Norman Osborn he said “I’ve never liked Osborn that much, but for Harry’s sake I’m glad he’s OK.” That suggests there’s some sort of friendship and that it’s more than “hardly know each other.” This is all in the first season and the writers are already not paying attention to character relationships and consistency. And there’s no way these episodes could’ve aired out of order to make that mistake.
Anyway enough of my nitpicking. We find out Harry wants out of his dad’s place but he’ll only pay the rent if he gets a roommate who’s responsible, so Flash is out. Norman’s going to be paying for everything so Peter doesn’t have to worry about rent, which is a sweet deal. We find out that ever since his parents got divorced Norman’s been spoiling Harry because he, “thinks he can buy a good father son relationship just like he can buy everything else.” I think that’s the only time we hear about Harry’s mother in this show. She’s not dead like the comics, just away somewhere where we’ll never hear from her. Now that I think about it there were a lot of single parent families in this show. There’s Peter, Harry, Felicia, MJ, Smythe, Kingpin (although he did have a wife for two episodes, and a son), Daredevil, Blade, Jonah, Red Skull, and there’s probably more but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head. That’s still quite a bit and means the majority of families we see on this show are single parent ones.
For a school for criminology there doesn’t seem to be a lot of police around
As Peter and Harry reach a dedication for the “Fisk School of Criminology” Harry exposits that he needs an answer right now he’s not, “privileged enough to see him everyday” it has to be now or never. You’d think that if Norman was spoiling Harry then it wouldn’t matter since he could just get him another apartment if the time runs out on it.
At the dedication we see Norman, Jonah and Robbie Robertson, as Norman gives a speech saying its part of a new ESU building and brings in Fisk as the man behind it all since he’s one of the city’s leading philanthropists. While Peter takes photos of the event he starts his innermonolog right on cue, he goes over the pros of moving to the city stuff we don’t care about.
Just as Fisk takes the standard symbolic first load of earth with his golden shovel Peter’s
Spider Evil Sense goes off. The Hobgoblin circles overhead and pulls out his laser to shoot Fisk.
Should’ve sent a sniper
I’m seeing a flaw in this assassination plan. A nut in an orange costume flying a jet powered glider, a not so quite one at that, isn’t that inconspicuous. Someone should’ve just hired a sniper, maybe a few, and placed them on the outlining buildings. Bobs your uncle and you’ve got one dead Wilson Fisk. But no, this is the Marvel universe so the nuts in orange are the saner option, apparently.
Hobgoblin takes the shot but Peter dives in and pushes Fisk out the way before the laser hits. Instead of taking another shot he just flies around for a bit, giving Peter the chance to run away to change into Spidey while saying, “Just what this world needs another nut in a costume.” See it’s funny because he’s going to change into… ah forget it.
Then we get an actual funny moment, Jameson not giving a flying fuck.
What’re doing down there? And where’s my coffee?!
While everyone else is panicking and hiding under their seats he’s still just sat there bitching and moaning. Jonah is the man who’s seen everything twice over and isn’t impressed with your newfangled flying machines or orange costumes. He’s there complaining about what Peter just did and wondering where he went, before Osborn pulls him down from getting his head knocked off by the Hobgoblin. The man’s an old school brass balls journalist.
As the Jolly One prepares to give everyone and anyone an earful Hobgoblin starts shooting at the ineffectual guards for no reason. Fisk isn’t anywhere near them so he must just be doing it for kicks. That’s interrupted by Spidey swinging on the scene, making a sensational entrance by… getting dodged by the Hobgoblin and his webline shot out. He’s not starting off very well here.
They ‘fight’ and banter a bit as Fisk gets away in his limo telling his people, or himself it’s hard to tell, to, “find out who that madman is.” And he speeds off. After Spidey continuously fails to leap at Hobgoblin he finally grabs onto the back of the glider. He doesn’t really do much, not even trying to gum up the jet with his webbing. Come to think of it shouldn’t his face be burnt off?
Is his mask jet resistant now?
Seriously what was the plan here, Spidey? Other than grab on for dear life and hope it solves the problem? Anyway after a ‘gripping’ flight scene between badly animated cgi buildings Hobby taken them into the sky and forces Spidey off by flying close to a 747. Unfortunately for him as he falls he’s run out of webbing, any Spider-Man newcomers trust me the shock wears thin after sixty years of it.
He survives by Harrison Fording it and landing on whatever he can to slow his fall. Eventually getting his leg caught in some white curtain and left dangling over some spikes.
Damnit! We where this close to a short episode.
He gets himself down and sees the Hobgoblin flying away. I suppose this is a good a time as any to talk about him in the show. As much as I poke fun at the orange I do like the design a lot more than some of the others in the show. The saving grace of the character comes in the form of its voice actor, Mark Hamill. He played the Joker in many Batman cartoons and was in some little known obscure Sci-Fi film trilogy I’m sure no one cares about anymore. It’s not his best performance and his Hobby voice is just his Joker one, but it does add a very creepy unbalanced twinge to the character. That does help prop the character up from some lacklustre writing.
Anyway we cut to Harry trying to talk to Norman as he’s leaving. Harry tries to ask if his dads alright, but all he gets is a stock, “I’m fine, just fine.” response as he gets into his car and drives off. Leaving Harry dejected that Norman didn’t wonder the same thing about him. Hmmm that seemed like a poignant moment. Nah I must be imagining things.
So we see Norman pulling into Oscorp and donning his little known lad coat of power just as the Hobgoblin flies in.
What a twist!
So it seems Norman hired Hobby to take out Kingpin due to the events of the Spider Slayer episode. What’s this? Continuity and repercussions in my Saturday morning cartoons? Say it ain’t so? I’m more surprised Norman had the stones to do this because if I remember rightly they de-balled him in later episodes to being a shrieking coward. But that’s for later.
Osborn complains Hobby failed him and he shoots back that Norman failed to tell him Spider-Man would get involved. Hello Hobby! You’re in an orange suit and mask flying around shooting at people in the Marvel Universe. If not Spidey you should’ve expected other costumed vigilantes to be coming for you. Accept your failure like a man, or at least a good Goblin. Hobby says it’s a bump in the road and that it does raise his rates, and if Norman pays he’ll take another shot at Fisk.
Osborn just fires him and demands his glider back. To wit Hobby gets angry and pulls his laser pistol on Osborn. That is a nice bit of characterisation, with him trying to rise above being a “punk” and acting like the mask and the glider makes him better than everyone else. They give him power. So Osborn demonstrating he still has power over him and that he wants to take back the only thing that made him powerful sets him off. We see him angry for once and not a laughing lunatic like before.
*Insert Clint Eastwood reference here, and we’re walking, we’re walking*
Norman’s not threatened by this saying he knows Hobby’s real identity and he’s got it where it’ll come out if anything happens to him. So Hobby flies off saying Osborn owes him and he’s talking the glider as his down payment. Not too bright there since Norman can still release the identity for taking the glider. But he doesn’t because then we wouldn’t have a plot. After everything we’re going to see Hobby do to Norman the identity doesn’t come up for another few seasons.
I suppose I should address the elephant in the room here. In the comics Hobgoblin’s existence is dependant on the Green Goblin being around before him. In this show they had a toyline they’d already put into production when replacement showrunner John Semper came on board. Semper wanted to not use the Hobgoblin since Greenie came first, but he couldn’t because of the toys. So he was stuck with doing a Hobgoblin episode, who he later hated so much he turned into a giant pussy.
Semper did try and make things slightly more manageable by having Osborn make the Hobgoblin. Which lead to a rather stupid way to have Norman become the Green Goblin later on. If he really wanted to have Norman become the Goblin then he really shouldn’t have written him the way he did. I will give a pass to Semper for having his hands tied with the first Hobgoblin appearance. But everything after that and his handling of Norman is not so easily excused.
And now back to the episode already in progress.
How did they get that footage when we saw no cameras around?
Back at Aunt May’s both Peter than her are watching the news of him saving Fisk. And of course May is complaining Peter could’ve been hurt and not saying how proud she is that he saved someone’s life. They talk a bit about him moving out and that because MJ’s also moving out of her place her Aunt Anna is going to be moving in with May. Get out while you can Peter! Anna Watson is a harpy woman who will eat your soul! She’s thankfully not in these episodes because I would’ve had to break out the alcohol to get through her scenes.
Anyway it seems Aunt May is being a bit passive aggressive about not wanting Peter to move out. Or at least she doesn’t mention anything to Peter about how she doesn’t want him to leave, but she’s actively encouraging it. And Peter says no matter what he’ll always be there for her. I’m sure none of that will come back to bite him later.
We cut to some time later as Peter’s moving in to his swanky new place. Peter’s also turned into David Banner from the Incredible Hulk as now all of his possessions can fit into one bag.
Now now boys, don’t fight. You’re all very pretty. Actually I take that back, none of you are that pretty.
As Pete opens the door there’s a house party going on and Flash is standing at the door. He’s being a dick to Peter, but Harry stands up for him since they are living together now (again I feel like there’s a joke there but for the life of me I can’t think of one). This would’ve been a good moment showing some shifting friendships, which is if we’d actually seen Flash and Harry being dick’s to Peter like in the comics. But we don’t get any of that in this show, just Harry being both Peter and Flash’s friend and Flash being a dick to Peter just because.
So Harry leads Peter away from Flash for a quick tour around the place as their house party goes on. MJ then comes up to them and Harry goes off to mingle as they flirt with each other for a bit. She leaves him in his room so he can unpack his massive amount of stuff. He looks out and sees the massive windows he has which are “perfect for webslinging” and so that makes him think moving out was the best thing he’s done. Not that he can have some privacy with MJ, no, but he can more easily get out of his windows. That’s the important thing.
We then cut to the Hobgoblin as he breaks into Fisk’s office at night. He looks around for a bit wondering what secrets he has, as “there’s money to be made in secrets.” Just as he’s fondling a wall mounted picture frame the wall opens up behind it to reveal a
lift elevator. Then he gets grabbed by an out of nowhere metal clamp.
I’ve seen this Anime before; it doesn’t end well for the victim
lift elevator brings him up to the top floor and we see it’s the Kingpin’s main HQ in the Chrysler building. As he leaves the lift elevator he’s encircled by Kingpin’s goons point laser rifles at him. Kingpin then turns around in his swivel chair and does his best “Welcome to DIE!” speech. Hobby just laughs that good ol’ Mark Hamill laugh. He flies around and goes on a bit about how he didn’t think this place existed, it being a nerve centre that controls all the crime on the planet. However all I can think about is how his cape is flapping despite it being indoors and him not moving.
Is there a massive draft in Crime Central?
They banter back and forth for a bit and Hobby offers up the name of the man of hired him. When Kingpin asks what he wants and he succinctly replies, “Money” and also while spinning around dramatically, “All of this!” Kingpin just laughs and backs his goons off saying he’s entertaining enough to keep around. He demands the name and when Hobby gives up Norman Kingpin smashes his phone in rage saying he’s going to teach Osborn a lesion while at the same time test Hobby’s loyalty.
He get’s Smythe to upgrade the Hobgoblin weapons so they’re “more in keeping” with his look. We also a reason why he dresses that, saying for centuries the Hobgoblin’s have been a symbol of terror and that he wants his face to be the last one his victims see.
We then cut to Peter waking up in his new place, obviously tired out from the night before with Harry, and their place is a mess. To make things worse Aunt May is on her way up and Peter can’t clean up in time. Oh those wacky Spider-Writers, what will they think of next. Also what the hell, May? Why is she springing a surprise visit on Peter when she didn’t even know he was going to be there? He could’ve been out taking photos of Spider-Man and she would’ve taken a trip into the city for nothing.
As Peter tries to clean up in vein his
Spider Evil Sense goes off just as the door bell rings. As he answers the door May is shocked at the mess and thankfully, for both him and us, the Hobgoblin attacks right then. Throwing a pumpkin bomb through the giant open window and attacking. See Peter giant windows lead to more Supervillain attacks.
He throws another pumpkin bomb at them while saying the cliché “two birds, one stone” line. Knocking everyone down and making away with Harry. Peter gets up to follow but sees May is unconscious and phones for an ambulance. At the hospital the doctor tells him May has had a seizure where her mind has retreated into itself during times of stress. Peter starts guilt tripping; you’ve heard it all before so let’s skip over all of it.
Back at the ill-conceived Crime Central HQ Hobby flies in with a blind folded Harry and throws him in some plastic cylinder prison cell in the middle of the room.
Why does the Kingpin have that in the middle of the room?
No seriously, why? If he had that installed just for Harry then why not put it in a more secure area that won’t compromise Kingpin’s HQ. The way Harry is tied up also means he can easily take off his blindfold and see the Kingpin. None of this seems safe. Anyway while he does this Smythe complains that he’s crazy and can’t be trusted, Kingpin just points out that all of those traits make him good for this line of work, and that he sees a lot of himself in Hobby. He also considers making him his protégé.
Hobgoblin asks for his money now, Kingpin says Hobby gets paid whenever he decides so. As in like a regular job where employees get regular pay checks, not just whenever they’ve done a bit of work. Hobgoblin’s just a bit entitled.
Back at Oscorp Kingpin sends Norman a message saying he now wants more than just Oscorp but also for him to sign over all of his to the Kingpin. Which if he owns Oscorp he should already have, but whatever drives the plot forward. We also get a shot of Harry in the cage but with his blindfold and restraints off.
I can see you guys, you know that, right?
Seems totally secure. Back at the hospital Peter’s still moping, but he’s at the anger stage now. MJ comes in and they have a chat. Peter finally figures out that the Hobgoblin wasn’t there to destroy him, which was blatantly obvious. The fact that he took Harry says as much that there was something else going on. He then leaves asking MJ to stay with May.
At Oscorp again Hobby shows up and Norman is rightfully pissed off at him. He then grabs a laser pistol and pulls it on Hobby.
Strike me down now and… Nah, this show’s not good enough for that quote
Osborn then shoots Hobgoblin, takes his stuff and redesigns it a bit, starts calling himself the Green Goblin and rescues his son while tying to kill the Kingpin. Wait no; I’m confusing what actual Norman Osborn would’ve done in this situation.
What actually happens is that Hobby proposes they help each other out and destroy the Kingpin. Smythe is also secretly recording this on one of his Spider Seeker drones. Peter’s also trying to get into Oscorp but is being denied access by the tower guard. Oscorp doesn’t have gates or easy ways in or out, you just have to shout up at the tower guard and hope he hears you. He just climbs the wall anyway, in his civvies, at a place where there are lots of cameras. Bye bye secret identity.
While that’s going on Hobgoblin has convinced Norman that he needs a better weapon and he knows that Norman would’ve built one. Then any shred of comic Norman is thrown away as he sighs, dejected, and tosses the laser away leading Hobby to his new weapon. And with the laser goes the last piece of his backbone.
He shows off the new glider attachment, coming to all good toy stores 20 years ago, that makes me wonder one thing. How did Norman make the pumpkin weapons for the toy glider before Smythe upgraded Hobby to have pumpkin bombs? I suppose “because toys and shut up!” is the only answer we’ll get.
Hobby’s laugh echoes around and Peter hears it, angrily saying, “I know that laugh anywhere!” as he changes into Spidey. Yeah I know it too, it’s the Joker, no wait Firelord Ozai, ummm Han Solo? In any case Spidey burst through the lab door and a fight scene begins.
Let’s see how quick I can get through it. So Spidey webs onto the bottom of the toy glider and Hobgoblin takes them both on a merry journey into the city. After shaking him loose Hobby does a little toy demo as he shows off all the features on the toy glider. Stuff he shouldn’t even know how to do since he only got it 20 seconds ago.
I think I’ve ran out of toy jokes
So it all ends when Spidey jumps into a condemned building and some pumpkin smart bombs follow after him exploding.
To Be Continued!
Next time on Spider-Man: more toy action, Hobgoblin betrays more people to no ones surprise, Norman still can’t find his backbone, and we find out being the Kingpin is just a game of capture the flag.
All this and more for next weeks instalment.