(Los Angeles, California)
Phil Urich (Green Goblin) recounts what happened previously in a letter to himself. His Daily Bugle reporter uncle, Ben Urich, once wrote, 'Madness consumed every Green Goblin.' Every single one of them... but him. Long ago, Phil had told himself that he'd break the curse by being a Goblin, not becoming one. He refused to be haunted by the ghosts of the past. After his Goblin costume was destroyed, he moved out here to LA to start fresh. He quickly found out that he wasn't alone - he hooked up with Mickey Musashi, another ex-New Yorker and ex-super hero trying to start over.
While trading vigilante war stories, the two were reminded of how often they did more harm than good. Increased membership into their group meant increased temptation... some members felt the urge to put on their costumes again. Phil, being the only one without his costume, admits to himself that it does bother him. It actually hurts more when they lie about it.
Phil is pretty sure it was Darkhawk, Spider-Woman and Ricochet who went out and busted up the MGH lab; he saw the looks on their faces when he brought it up at the meeting. He knew that Mattie must have 'charmed' Chris and Johnny to do her dirty work, but he worries if Mickey might go. Would she lie to him? It couldn't be Julie - her lights would have been a dead giveaway. Phil worries that he thinks the others feel sorry that he can't do what they do. Phil goes into a stream of bitter thoughts... let them keep their secrets. He doesn't need their pity. He knows they're weak. That's it... they're not as strong as he is. They can't put their pasts behind them. Him? He's in control... like when he was the Goblin. The ghosts that haunted the previous Green Goblins never got the better of him! He knows how to handle them. He's locked them away inside, never to be seen again. The joke's on Excelsior. Phil ends off his letter by repeatedly writing a maniacal "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
(A hospital bathroom - night)
As Phil vomits into the toilet, he thinks to himself - if there was one word he'd use to sum up his life, it'd have to be control. He likes having it... but hates losing it, like how he is right now (he vomits more). Getting up, he begins to pull himself together. He kept a tight reign upon his life; there should be no reason a little stress right now should freak him out. However... confrontation of any kind always sickens him. When he knows there's a fight coming, he can feel himself slowly slipping away. As he washes his face beside the sink, he realizes he must pull himself together - after all, how can he lead a group of misfit ex-super heroes when he can't even control the demons that lurk inside of him? The devilish spirit of the Green Goblin stares out at him from the bathroom mirror.
Phil leaves the bathroom, all the while thinking of the enemy within him. The skeleton in his closet - the devil inside. Phil can call it whatever he wants, but just when he thinks he put a wall between him and his past... his past always comes back to haunt him. As Phil walks down the hospital hall, he reflects on how he used to call himself the 'Heroic' Green Goblin. He didn't have any powers of his own, just what came with his the costume that he inherited. After the suit was destroyed, he told himself he was finished with the superhero life. A reason why he's been doing his best to help others follow in his footsteps. Because, if there is one thing he has learned from being a super hero, it's that no matter how hard you try to do the right thing, someone always gets hurt. And the last thing anyone needs is more blood on their hands... quite unlike Johnny Gallo (Ricochet) who has blood spattered all over him. Phil has arrived in the lobby of the hospital, where Johnny, Mickey (Turbo), Mattie (Spider-Woman) and Chris (Darkhawk) are sitting. No Julie Power (Lightspeed).
Phil storms angrily over to Johnny, who is still in his Ricochet gear. Phil is enraged with Johnny's betrayal - going behind their backs and re-donning his costume. Has he even been listening for the past months? He grabs Johnny's bandage angrily and shows him how someone could have gotten hurt. Phil tells Johnny that this is what happens when he puts on his mask - Mickey, however, stops the fight by reminding them that this still is a hospital. She tells Phil that there will be time for lectures later; Johnny already feels bad enough about what happened to...
At the same time, a Dr. Steeves drives Julie Power by in a gurney. Julie is sick and pale. Although Excelsior immediately rush towards her, Dr. Steeves backs them off, telling them that Julie made it through surgery and is in a stable condition. Fortunately, the lacerations she suffered were clean - almost surgical. Steeves gives them a hardened look and asks what happened to her. Chris, Mickey, Phil and Mattie sheepishly make up excuses, but Johnny remains silent. Steeves knows they are lying, but leaves them to it. She does, however, mention that with all the new registration laws (the Superhuman Registration Act), he is legally obligated to report it to the authorities. Phil immediately tells Steeves that Julie is registered - but retired. Phil turns to the rest of Excelsior and bitterly adds to Dr. Steeves, "They're all retired". Mickey asks what Phil means by 'They.' Dr. Steeves is relieved to hear that Julie is registered, but he plans on informing her parents of what happened to their daughter. Even though he doesn't have all the answers they'll be looking for. Once Dr. Steeves leaves, Excelsior turns upon Johnny, and Phil asks Johnny for answers they'll all be looking for. Johnny finally explains.
(flashback - MGH base of operations)
Hollow steps out of her experimental pod, flexing her claws at Ricochet, all the while fearfully looking around the room. With a frightening monstrous appearance, she stands the same size as Ricochet, even though she is crouching down. Hollow makes eye contact with Ricochet, and immediately lunges at him; Ricochet knocks her back inside her crashed pod. Just before Hollow steps back out, in a swirl of rainbow colors, Lightspeed bursts into the room. Lightspeed's lights dazzle Hollow, and is almost lured into a false sense of security. Lightspeed comforts Hollow by putting her hand on her shoulder. For a second, Hollow stares morosely down at the end. She then glares at the hand, and quick as a flash, she lunges her claws straight through Lightspeed's chest. Ricochet catches Lightspeed before she falls, and grabs her and runs to the hospital. Hollow sees them run off, a tear slowly trickling down her monstrous face. As Phil listens to the story, he thinks, "Once a monster, always a monster."
(The hospital lobby - now)
Johnny finishes his story. Chris comforts him, and tells him he did the right thing bringing her to the hospital. Mattie also agrees - there was nothing he could have done. Phil, however, asks what was he doing in a Fujikawa lab in the first place. A horrible realization comes to Johnny - Hollow wasn't the only woman in an experimental pod. Johnny tells Excelsior there are other women there, being held captive just like Hollow. He manages to rush outside the hospital, but Phil, Chris and Mickey hold him back. Standing in the parking lot, Phil tells Johnny that he's had no idea what he's gotten himself into. Staying out of this kind of trouble is exactly why they formed this group. Mattie, becomes enraged - she immediately sides with Johnny; when you have powers, responsibilities come with them. They have to save those innocent women. Phil snaps at Mattie, and tells her he is sick of hearing what she has to say. How do they even know that the women are innocent? For all they know, Johnny could have even broken into a legal operation. If they call the cops, they themselves may get arrested. Despite this, Mattie still feels it was a MGH operation. Phil ignores her, and asks if Mickey has anything to say. With the groups pressure on her, Mickey sides with Johnny and Mattie - they need to find out who did this to Julie. Chris says they don't have to look that far ... Hollow is standing there at the other end of the parking lot.
Johnny becomes shocked - he doesn't know how she found them. Mattie suggests it may have been a tracking ability; she followed the smell of blood. Although Phil warns the group not to do anything, Chris immediately activates his Darkhawk amulet and Mattie's spider-legs emerge from her back. Phil wonders if anything he says sinks in. The monstrous Hollow fearfully backs away from Excelsior. But as Phil stares at Hollow, he wonders ... "Once a monster, always a monster?" Despite Excelsior's warnings, Phil walks towards Hollow, realizing he knows what it's like to feel misunderstood. About not judging somone by their appearance. Phil and Hollow, two monsters often misunderstood stare at one another, understanding each other. Hollow slowly pulls him into a kiss, and after pulling away, she whispers "Like". Suddenly, there is a loud hissing noise from behind them. As Hollow shields Phil protectively, a voice calls out "I see your senses are as keen as ever, Hollow".
Materializing from invisibility is a Japanese woman, the assassin Delilah, and several other gun-weilding men. The Japanese woman is Miss Fujikawa, the head of the MGH dealer's operation. Fujikawa walks towards Excelsior and Hollow and tells them that Hollow running away has cost her a substantial amount of money. Fujikawa walks towards Hollow, but Phil smacks her away. Fujikawa warns Phil not to touch her again. She knows who he and Excelsior are; they've been a thorn in her side for a while. Since Excelsior had stopped Nekra, she had been forced to release all her other donors from her old lab. She does not plan on losing Hollow. Although Phil tells her that it wasn't them who stopped Nekra, Miss Fujikawa tells him to keep better watch on his teammates. Spider-Woman snaps, and calls Fujikawa a twisted witch for harvesting innocent people for her sick MGH experiments. Fujikawa tells Mattie she doesn't care; it's profit to her. She does not let morals get in the way of her business. Right before Spider-Woman and Darkhawk attack Fujikawa, Mickey stops the fight. She is bitter with the secret Darkhawk, Spider-Woman and Ricochet had kept from the rest of Excelsior. Walking towards Miss Fujikawa, Mickey speaks to her in Japanese, so both of them can settle matters. Fujikawa agrees. Mickey and Miss Fujikawa walk off, ready to settle problems.
Sometime later, the two finish their conversation, bowing to one another when finished. Miss Fujikawa, Delilah, and the other gun-weilding men soon disappear, even without taking Hollow. Spider-Woman asks Mickey what she said to Fujikawa to make her go away. Mickey responds by saying it's all done. She made their problems go away ... but that answer isn't good for Spider-Woman. She pressures Mickey into spilling the details about the deal she made with her, but Mickey angrily starts yelling at Mattie. Mickey was the one who cleaned up Spider-Woman's mess. Mickey looks around her and roars at Spider-Woman, Darkhawk and Ricochet. They're at a hospital. They're no longer super heroes. This whole thing would have spun out of control; people would've gotten hurt. But she settled the matter for now; she isn't happy about it, but she made the best of a situation that they should never have been with. Mickey ends her tirade by saying if they aren't happy with that, they should feel free to leave. Darkhawk attempts to comfort Mickey, but she rejects him.
(Phil Urich's apartment - Sometime later)
Excelsior's lives have a habit of losing control, and Phil hates it. He walks around his apartment, to where Hollow is sleeping on the living room floor. As he covers her with a blanket, Phil accepts that even though he hates losing control, he knows that life goes on - and they have to move on. He does know that losing control has a way of showing everyone's insecurities; but no matter what, whenever he looks in the mirror, he's forced to confront the demons lurking within. Whether it's the pain of regret (a scene cuts to a lonely Mickey in her bed), the need for vengeance (Mattie sits by herself at a bar), the guilt that eats them up inside (Johnny in his apartment, holding his Ricochet outfit), the secrets they run from (Julie, in a swirl of rainbow light escapes the hospital), the anger they hide (Chris, pouding against a wall) or the pasts they deny (Phil stares at the spirit of the Green Goblin, in the mirror). Phil understands that some of them are just better at locking away their true natures.
- The cover to this issue is an homage to the movie poster, Weird Science.