The “Who is Hobgoblin” saga, and its sub-mystery, “Who is The Rose,” went on for so long that the person who created the question, Roger Stern, has long since departed when the big reveal finally happens.
Amazing Spider-Man #289 begins with Ned Leeds’ funeral. Leeds was (somewhat randomly) killed in Spider-Man vs. Wolverine #1, and this story picks up directly thereafter. In fact, Wolverine is still with Peter when the story opens, helping him solve the murder of Leeds.
Afterwards, we see Kingpin and Foreigner, with Wilson Fisk lecturing the lesser bad guy Godfather on his divide-and-conquer techniques.
Over the course of this issue, we learn, though flashbacks, that Foreigner and The Rose knew Hobgoblin’s identity.
And, more importantly, that Ned Leeds chose to become Hobgoblin because he believed Spider-Man had literally driven Betty Brant crazy.
He also liked the idea of what it would do to J. Jonah Jameson if he knew he knew Hobgoblin was on his payroll. It’s a huge stretch that an investigative reporter would be wholly unable to put some basic threads together and come to a different conclusion, and honestly it’s not worth getting into. The identity of Hobgoblin is a huge let-down, and bloggers have written doctoral theses about the internal Marvel politics that made this such a huge, confusing problem.
In the end, Foreigner killed Leeds, knowing his secret. His ally, Jack O’Lantern, even takes over the Hobgoblin suit, so Marvel doesn’t have to be without the well-designed villain. Again: Totally anticlimactic.
Then we move over to Web of Spider-Man, where Jim Owsley, who wrote the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot, picks up the threads and exposes Richard Fisk—the son of Kingpin—as The Rose. This one is a little more believable, but much less important: For the past six years, nobody was asking “Who is The Rose?” We were all trying to guess about Hobgoblin.
And then, in Web #30—three issues after he died and two issues after he was revealed as Hobgoblin—we finally get the classic unmasking shot we deserved for waiting so long for the mystery to get solved.
The resolution has Richard quitting being Rose—voluntarily—and going to work for his father, The Kingpin.
Amazing: Peter David, Alan Kupperberg
Web: Jim Owlsey, Steve Geiger