Over sixty years of high-flying adventures, the Amazing Spider-Man has seen nearly every single person in his orbit become a hero or villain. Only a select lucky few have escaped Peter Parker’s life with their humanity intact. Unsurprisingly, not everyone has taken these developments particularly well. In fact, the one person who was changed the most by her experiences adjacent to Spider-Man has just returned, and this time Lily Hollister is properly poised to prove herself a hero.
When Liz Allan, the host to the Misery symbiote, got attacked by the Life Foundation’s new hybrid symbiote known as Madness, she ended up in a comatose state, struggling to find her way out of a sea of her worst memories. Though the Misery symbiote itself was there to offer her what help it could, Cult of Carnage: Misery #4 (by Sabir Pirzada, Francesco Mortarino, Java Tartaglia, Protobunker’s Dono Sánchez-Almara, Fer Sifuentes-Sujo, and VC’s Joe Sabino) finds an enigmatic figure doing just the same from the outside. Upon breaking free from the Life Foundation’s trap, Liz is greeted by this shadowy ally, who makes it clear from the start that they are fighting on the same side. As surprising as that is on its own, the fact this mysterious new friend is Lily Hollister takes things to a whole new level, especially since she is still sporting the heroic look that no one was sure would stick.
Who is Lily Hollister – And How Is She Connected to the Green Goblin?
When Lily Hollister was introduced in “Spider-Man: One More Day, Part 4” (by J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada, from the pages of 2007’s Amazing Spider-Man #545), she was the socialite love interest of the then recently resurrected Harry Osborn. Initially, it seemed as if Lily was destined to avoid all the same tragedies that Liz had suffered through while married to Harry prior to his death. However, things were infinitely worse for the former. Rather than being in love with the actual Harry Osborn, Lily was in love with a clone of Harry crafted by an artificial intelligence based on Norman Osborn. Fortunately, this Harry had no memories of his experiences with or time as the Green Goblin, though that hardly prevented that villainous legacy from worming its way into his life.
Rather than the cloned Harry picking back up the mantle of the Green Goblin, Lily happened upon one of Norman’s secret rooms hidden within their home thanks to clues left in an old journal of Harry’s. When exposed to Norman’s old stock of chemical agents, Lily was imbued with ability to transform into the grey goblin known as Menace at will, as well as all the violent proclivities associated with Marvel’s Goblins. At first, there was little reason for anyone to suspect the two were connected, although once it became clear they were the same, it was only a matter of time before the Goblin legacy sent things spiraling even further.
How Lily Hollister Reinvented Spider-Man’s Goblins
Despite Lily’s Menace ultimately falling into the realm of obscurity compared to other Goblins, she quickly established herself as one of the worst. Apart from wanton murder and rampant destruction with nearly every single appearance, Lily preyed upon the fears of those closest to her. When her father was running for the office of mayor in New York City, Lily used her Menace form to obliterate his advertisements and even accost him in his own home, all while playing the doting daughter in her daily life. As bad as this was, the worst came when Lily realized she was pregnant, which provided an opportunity to showcase both her depravity and cunning. Believing the child was Norman’s, Lily set about convincing Harry that the baby was his, all to manipulate him into carrying out hers and the elder Osborn’s bidding.
While this worked for a time, Lily’s plan fell apart once young Stanley was born. She learned Stanley was, in fact, Harry’s son. However, Lily abandoned her newborn child entirely, albeit hoping to keep him safe from the life thrust upon her. This proved a decent decision, because Lily’s part in the rise of the Goblin Nation was among the bloodiest affairs she ever took part in. It was also among the last, since she was effectively cured of the effect the Goblin Serum had on her psychologically without stripping her of the powers it bestowed. This made it that much easier for Lily to be trained in the vein of Black Cat after being stricken with a perfectly timed bout of amnesia. Although it hasn’t helped her stick her landing as the Queen Cat.
How Lily Hollister Could Finally Cement Her Legacy as Marvel’s Queen Cat
Between being a convoluted, unremarkable villain as Menace and being a near carbon copy of Felicia Hardy as the Queen Cat, Lily Hollister hasn’t ever developed a personality of her own. For so much of her comic book career, she has either been reduced to a filler character in someone else’s story or been represented by a literal evil alter-ego whose inception came from the same chemicals that created the Green Goblin. If anything, Lily Hollister’s story has been a series of things that happened to her, stripping her character of the agency she would otherwise have.
Now that Lily Hollister has returned and is helping Misery, she might finally have a shot at cementing her place as a hero in the Marvel Universe. Without Harry or Norman to help steer her trajectory or any needlessly complicated plots sending her tumbling in various directions, Lily can officially take hold of her own life for what might be the very first time. With any luck, she will spend it making up for all the terror she wrought during her time as Menace, or at the very least, for all the fans let down by her aimless story.
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