The Final Chapter

It was not easy, but Norman Osborn managed to procure all five necessary fragments to perform the ritual of the Gathering of Five.  He employed a variety strategies to reach this goal, from blackmail to straight up theft and even exploiting Spider-Man to fetch one of the shards.  A quick recap of the events from the Gathering of Five story arc, or more specifically how Norman got all five of the necessary fragments, is listed below: 

First Fragment -- Hamilton Cromwell/Technomancers' possession, stolen by Override

Second Fragment -- Morris Maxwell's possession, he plans on participating in the ritual

Third Fragment -- Osborn convinces Madame Web the ritual will bring her eternal youth, she solicits Spider-Man to get the piece

Fourth Fragment -- the daughter of Osborn's cohort "Franklin" has brought the piece to Norman despite the fact that "Franklin" himself had bailed out

The Centerpiece (aka the Spindle) – Norman has had this in his possession for an unknown period of time, he may have gotten through his contacts within the Scriers


The Final Chapter story arc is the second of two back-to-back crossover events that featured the Gathering of Five plot line.  The arc brought about the finales of the first volumes of the major Spider-Man titles (Amazing, Spectacular, and Peter Parker Spider-Man), signaling a change in the status quo for the web-swinger.  Norman's incessant torture of Peter continued throughout this arc, reaching a boiling point that brings about massive changes to both of their lives.   

The first story within the Final Chapter arc is featured in Amazing Spider-Man #441, and it was immediately revealed that is was Franklin's daughter, Martha or "Mattie", that decided to participate in the ritual.  She was first introduced in Spectacular Spider-Man #262, but her identity was left ambiguous.  The five participants (Osborn, Herd, Maxwell, Madame Web, and Mattie Franklin) are now gathered at the headquarters of Osborn Industries, garbed in robes necessary to perform the arcane ritual.  Meanwhile, Alison Mongrain is still struggling to track down Peter Parker to deliver a message to him.  She arrives with Joe Robertson at the Parker house and Peter is not there, and just as they arrive they are attacked once again by the Molten Man.  When the Molten Man crashes up through the street, a rock hits Mongrain, mortally injuring her.  The Molten Man's brainwashing appears to wear off as he slows in his attack and recalls how someone has tampered with his brain.  
In a flashback sequence, Osborn forcibly placed an implant inside Raxton's brain that caused him to irreversibly chase after his target, Alison Mongrain.  Osborn pointed out that the pain the device caused for the Molten Man would impel him to destroy the source of the pain (ie, Alison Mongrain).  

Mongrain quickly deduced that the locket Osborn had given her months ago must have been the tracking device he was using to follow her, the Molten Man destroyed the locket, which ceased his pain.  MJ was inside the house when the ruckus had broke out, she then ran out to the street and found Mongrain, Robertson and Raxton amidst the chaos.  Mongrain used her last gasp to inform MJ that May is still alive, MJ's first inclination was disbelief.  Meanwhile, back at Osborn Industry's headquarters the ritual was about to begin.  As the members gather the fragments together, the "gifts" appear to be distributed as follows:  Madame Web--Death, Martha--Knowlegde, Herd --Immortality, Maxwell--Insanity, and Osborn--Power.  Although we shall soon see that that initial analysis was not entirely accurate.  

At the story's conclusion, MJ tells Peter the news she received from Mongrain...that May is alive and Norman is holding her at his hunting lodge in upstate New York.  Peter decides, despite the potential trap by Osborn, that he has to pursue this to see if Mongrain was telling the truth.  

The story continued in Peter Parker Spider-Man #97 where Norman Osborn donned his revamped Green Goblin costume.  Osborn even allowed some of his associates (it is not obvious whether or not these are Scriers since they are wearing civilian clothes) to assist him with his costume.  After receiving their latest update on the Mongrain situation, Norman killed them with pumpkin bombs as he flew off on his glider.  After battling through some genetically altered guard dogs and mobile trees, Spider-Man confronted the Green Goblin at the upstate lodge.  When Spider-Man asked about his daughter May, the Goblin flipped Spidey a book.  Osborn told Peter about one potential plan that he did not get to use against his wall-crawling adversary.  Apparently Norman had planted a diary in his office around the time Spider-Man broke in and beat him initiating the whole Identity Crisis saga (seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #250).  Spider-Man was supposed to use the diary as evidence that Norman was the Green Goblin and then turn the book into authorities.  At that point the writing was supposed to change and reveal that Norman was not the Goblin but rather a "concerned citizen" and that Peter Parker was Spider-Man.  The diary would have explained further that Peter had poisoned his Aunt May after she had learned his identity (how would Norman have been able to prove that??).  This would out Peter as Spider-Man and frame him for murder, fortunately for Peter he never found that book.  The two then begin to trade blows back and forth, both swearing that this is their final confrontation.  The Goblin taunted Spider-Man with the certainty of the web-slingers death from his newfound god-like power, an endowment from courtesy of the Gathering of Five.  Eventually the fight made its way to Osborn's lodge where Peter surprisingly uncovered the "May" Mongrain was referring to was not his daughter, but rather his Aunt May! 

The third installment of the Final Chapter was featured in Spectacular Spider-Man #263, the final issue of the first volume of the Spectacular title.  As Spider-Man reeled from the fact that he is now face-to-face with his supposedly dead Aunt (Aunt May died back in Amazing Spider-Man #400).  But, Spidey didn't buy into the Goblin's mind game and was not convinced that this woman was his aunt.  At first the Goblin did not want Spider-Man to leave with this woman, but then changed his mind saying that he is a "compassionate deity" and that Parker deserved to be reunited with his family.  Spider-Man immediately took the woman to Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic) to determine whether or not the Goblin's claims were accurate.  Reed confirmed that she was a real human, not a clone or a doppelganger, but he could not confirm whether or not she was his actual aunt until he had a DNA sample that had not been tampered.  Peter then found an old science experiment in the attic of the Parker house and retrieved a blood sample he had taken from May when he was a kid.  After bringing the sample back to Richards, the scientist confirmed the Goblin's claims that the woman is indeed May Parker.  He also informed Peter that there is a small cylindrical device implanted at the base of her brain and if it was not removed soon her heart would shut down and she would die. 
Spidey then left the Baxter Building in a fury and confronted Osborn at his corporate headquarters to uncover the full extent of Norman's nefarious plot.  Norman, now convinced that he is a god, found no qualms with revealing his entire plan to Peter.  He then showed Spidey a group of scientists working in a lab near his office, with a click of a button on his belt, a gas was released that deteriorated the body's of the scientists.  Osborn told Peter that they are not dead, but rather reduced to their component DNA structure and that he will "reform them in to [his] own image to do [his] bidding".  

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin battle once again, with the Goblin pummeling the outmatched hero.  As the Goblin is carried Spidey on his glider through the city, he explained to him that the object at the base of May's skull is the trigger to set off the bomb's chain reaction that would wreak havoc across the globe.  Osborn further expounded that it was he that was able to fool Peter into thinking that his Aunt May had died months ago.  According to Osborn, he hired an actress to mimic May's bodily proportions, facial expressions, mannerisms, and voice inflections, unfortunately for the actress this would be her final role.  The Goblin eventually dragged Peter to the Daily Bugle where he unmasked the unconscious wall-crawler publicly.  Some of the people that witnessed the unmasking included his colleagues Betty Brant, Ben Urich, and J. Jonah Jameson.   Had the Green Goblin finally achieved one of his most precious goals, the defeat of Spider-Man?

The story arc concluded in Peter Parker Spider-Man #98, where it was revealed that the Goblin did not defeat Spider-Man, rather it was the opposite that was true.  Norman had been in such delusional state that he was convinced that the he was pummeling Spidey, but he was wrong.  Instead he found himself webbed up and rambling as the authorities prepared to take him into custody.  When a stray pumpkin bomb went off near the base of the Daily Bugle, Spider-Man managed to save the innocent civilians by supporting the building with his own strength and then employing some webbing as foundation.  Spidey then hastily returned to the Fantastic Four building to stop Reed Richards from removing the implant from May's skull, because Osborn's claim (about May being the 'trigger') could possibly be true.  Richards complied and found an alternate way to neutralize the device without removing it, saving May's life in the process.  Soon after, Peter told MJ that he was through being Spider-Man because it only brought trouble into his life.  Peter even went as far as to burn his costume.  Elsewhere, while Osborn was ranting in a padded room that he had "killed Spider-Man", a group of doctors and guards arrived to unmask him.  After they did so, they exclaimed, "Omigod, his face! He…"  But before what they saw was revealed to the reader, a group of Scriers arrived and absconded with Norman, claiming that, "Norman Osborn belongs to the Scriers!"  

Norman's plan to achieve god-like power through this arcane ritual failed, instead he was given only the gift of madness.  The remaining gifts from the ceremony were as follows:  Martha Franklin received power, Madame Web received immortality, Morris Maxwell received knowledge, and Greg Herd received death.  A more detailed look at the ramifications of the Gathering can be found in the following section.  From the moment Norman returned to "legitimacy" in Spectacular Spider-Man #250, he had relentlessly tormented Peter using subtle and not-so-subtle tactics.  It appeared as though Peter was granted a temporary reprieve from Osborn's meddling (temporary being the operative word).

There are two interesting footnotes that can be associated with this battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.  The first comes from a flashback sequence in Amazing Spider-Man (V2) #29 in which the Stalker, the man who would eventually fake MJ's death and then kidnap her (back in Amazing Spider-Man (V2) #13), is saved from falling debris by Spider-Man.  This flashback sequence depicts a conflict between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin in the skies above New York City, in which punches were thrown and pumpkin bombs were launched.  One of those pumpkin bombs hit the side of the building causing bricks to fall toward the civilians below.  As the bricks and other debris speed toward the ground, Spidey reroutes, saves the Stalker and returns to fight the Goblin.  During that brief moment of contact between Spider-Man and the man who would become the Stalker, the man formed an telepathic bond with the web-slinger in which he was able to see much of Peter's history.  Ultimately this brief interaction is what would cause the Stalker to target MJ and terrorize Peter in the process.   This event was stated to have occurred one year prior to the contemporary events of Amazing Spider-Man (V2) #29.  Based off of that timing, this event would most likely take place during the battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin in the Final Chapter story arc.

The second interesting footnote to this story is found in Spider-Girl (V2) #2 in which Anya Corazon (aka Arana) was consoled by her friend Rocky who shared the story of her mother's death.  Rocky's mother was a bike messenger in New York City and she became an innocent victim during a skirmish between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin as they battled high above the city streets.  During the ruckus, pumpkin bombs fell to the ground and although Rocky's mom was able to save a small child and her mother, she was unable to save herself.  She died instantly and Rocky described the event as having occurred 'three years ago' from the present time in Spider-Girl (V2) #2.  The timeline best fit for a public battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin that had occurred 'three years prior' would most likely be the one that occurred at the conclusion to the Final Chapter arc.  

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All five willing participants for the Gathering of Five ritual meet at Osborn's corporate headquarters, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #441 

The Molten Man recalls Norman Osborn placing a device in his brain that forces him to attack and kill Alison Mongrain, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #441 

Mongrain  uses her last living breath to tell MJ the message that was intended for Peter, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #441  

MJ and Peter argue over how to handle Mongrain's message, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man #441 

The Goblin informs Spider-Man of the diary that Spidey was 'supposed' to recover, as seen in Peter Parker Spider-Man #97

Spider-Man brings Aunt May to the Fantastic Four to see if she truly is his aunt, as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #263

What the Green Goblin believes to have occurred, as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #263

What actually happened, and that is Spider-Man defeating the Goblin outside the Daily Bugle, as seen in Peter Parker Spider-Man #98 

Goblin is taken away by the police while rambling mindlessly to himself, as seen in Peter Parker Spider-Man #98

Top: Norman is escorted away by loyal Scriers just after he is unmasked, both panels are seen in Peter Parker Spider-Man #98  
Bottom:  A flashback sequence later depicts the events that evening, Norman's face appeared to be normal...for him, as seen in Revenge of the Green Goblin #1

In the middle of his battle with the Green Goblin, Spider-Man saves an innocent civilian from the falling debris before returning to his fight with his arch nemesis.  That innocent civilian would turn out to be MJ's kidnapper, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man (V2) #29

A battle between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man inadvertently claims the life of Anya Corazon's friend's mother, as seen in Spider-Girl (V2) #2