I love and I hate Hobgoblin Lives. I love it because I hated the reveal that Ned was the Hobgoblin, and Hobgoblin Lives finally fixed that.
When I read ASM #289 it felt to me like the writers never had a clue who was behind the mask and didn't want to write about it anymore, so they revealed it was Ned and killed him just to make a problem go away. And many years later when PAD and DeFalco and Priest started blogging about it, my suspicions turned out to be right.
And not for nothing, but any story that makes you think of the writers takes you right out of the story. Creator ego should never shine through in their work, and it's the reason I eventually turned against people like Priest, Byrne, and (of course) Joe Queseda.
Why did I hate Hobgoblin Lives? Because Kingsley was such a disappointing choice. Almost any of the major suspects would have been better (except Flash). Donald Menken would have been a fun choice - a businessman with strong ties to the Osborn legacy. Roger Hochsburg had personal ties to Peter (although not very strong ones). The Foreigner would have been a great fit for most of the clues that we had prior to Leed's death. Even Lance Bannon would have been a fit.
One thing that never made sense to me is why Georgie would have gone to Kingsley when he discovered the Goblin's Lair in the first place. "Hey Calvin Klein, look - I discovered a super-villain's lair!" It only made sense if Kingsley and Georgie were sleeping together or something - but they never really declared Kingsley as openly gay. Also, Kingsley would not have had the scientific knowledge (or access to scientific resources) to modify the Goblin formula. That alone should have ruled out Bannon, Leeds, Thompson and Kingsley.
Of course in a perfect world, Hobgoblin would have been Richard Fisk, Kingsley would have been the Rose, and Macendale would still be Jack-o-Lantern. But Fisk was dead by the time Hobgoblin Lives came out, and had already been revealed to be the Rose.
Yep. I sat beside Roger Stern at a small con in Scranton, PA back in 1991 and he told me that they got it wrong and that only he knew who it was. Ever since that time, I waited for the "What If" story that he had hoped they'd let him write..... if only.