Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Profile: Ned Leeds

Ned Leeds

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #18, November 1964

History: a young reporter for the Daily Bugle, he dated and later married secretary/reporter Betty Brant. He was co-created by none other than Stan Lee and the late Steve Ditko.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in the mid-80s, at the time of the Hobgoblin tale, Ned, while trying to bring down the Kingpin, fell victim to brainwashing by the Hobgoblin (which damaged his relations with Betty), Rod Kingsley, and was framed as being the Hobgoblin (much like Flash Thompson was around that time). Ned was murdered by the Foreigner at the behest of Jason Macendale in the 1986 Spider-Man vs Wolverine special, and for a time afterwards, it was thought Ned was the Hobgoblin.

What's wrong with how this was done? This story turn was the result of machinations by Jim Owsley (Christopher Priest), whose work as both writer and editor have been very hit-or-miss. It was controversial at the time, with Peter David, Tom deFalco and Ron Frenz taking offense, mainly because Owsley kept it secret until the last minute. It wasn't considered very plausible either; just a cheap excuse to kill off an established co-star.

Was there any good to come out of this? A decade later, in the 1997 Hobgoblin Lives miniseries, an effort was made to exonerate Ned by retconning in-story that Rod Kingsley/Hobgoblin was the culprit all along, and had brainwashed Ned.

This year, in ASM Annual #42, Ned was revealed to be alive (it seems he was resurrected by the Jackal in Clone Conspiracy), or a clone of him turned up. I'd like to think that's good news, but coming at a time when Mary Jane Watson was still thrown out by Joe Quesada's editorial mandates, it decidedly wasn't. (With terrible scribes like Dan Slott taking charge, how could it be?) The takeaway from this is that Ned was sadly a victim of frivolous obsessions with garnering attention at all costs, no matter how poor the artistic merit could've been to start with.

To date, there's only been a few male characters I've added to this database, but I think Ned Leeds certainly qualifies, and I realize there can be advantages in keeping track of some of the men in comics too.

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