Appearing in "The Choice and the Challenge!"
- Nathan Lubensky
- Arthur Chekov
- Rose Palermo
- Victor Palermo
- Sophie Lund
- Martha Lund
- Flash Thompson
- Sha Shan
- Betty Leeds
- Ned Leeds
- Green Goblin (Recap)
- Sin-Eater (Recap)
- Burglar (Recap)
- Liz Allan (Recap)
- Seymour O'Reilly (Recap)
- Sally Avril (Recap)
- Uncle Ben (Recap)
- Raymond Warren (Recap)
- Crusher Hogan (Recap)
- Bernard O'Brien (Recap)
- Maxie Shiffman (Recap)
- Eric Schwinner (Recap)
- Baxter Bigelow (Recap)
- Chet Huntley (Recap) (Topical reference)
- Gwen Stacy (Recap)
- Jean DeWolff (Recap)
- Beyonder (Mentioned)
- Lance Bannon (Mentioned)
- Fantastic Four (Mentioned)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- New York City (Main story and flashback)
- Queens (Main story and flashback)
- George Washington Bridge
Synopsis for "The Choice and the Challenge!"
The Hobgoblin is testing out a new device added to his arsenal, a button on his chest that makes his finger blasters fire randomly. He hopes this will give him an edge over Spider-Man's spider-sense. The Rose is happy to hear the Hobgoblin is pleased with the new weapon but reminds him that they have other priorities. The Hobgoblin assures the Rose that he won't let his personal vendetta against the wall-crawler interfere with their plans to oust the Kingpin.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker is accompanying his Aunt May back to her boarding house in Forest Hills with Nathan Lubensky who has just been released from the hospital. When they arrive they discover that May's other tenants have prepared a surprise party for Nathan's return. Among the party guests is Mary Jane Watson, who is glad she was invited. When she sees Peter sulking in another room she asks him what's wrong. He tells her how he failed to protect Nathan as Spider-Man and has decided to give up his costumed identity for good. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, some of the Kingpin's men are collecting money from one of their bookies. As they leave with a briefcase full of money they are attacked by the Hobgoblin who steals the briefcase and escapes. At that moment, Sha Shan is calling the Daily Bugle and asks to speak to Peter Parker. Her phone call is cut off by her boyfriend, Flash Thompson who hangs up the phone. He accuses her of seeing Peter Parker behind his back. She denies it, and reveals that she knows about his affair with Betty Leeds. When she asks him where his sense of shame is, he slaps her across the face. Realizing what he's done, Flash bolts from the apartment.
Elsewhere, Peter and Mary Jane are going for a walk so they can talk more about his decision to quit being Spider-Man. He tells her that another reason that has motivated him was his recent encounters with the Beyonder, which brought out a lot of old memories and feelings. When Mary Jane questions why he would after such a long time, she realises that she never been told how Peter became Spider-Man. Peter snaps at Mary Jane, reminding her that she never wanted to know anything about his alter-ego after she revealed she knew his double identity. Mary Jane admits that Peter is right, but tells him that she is asking now.
Peter then begins to tell her how he became Spider-Man...
By the time Peter is finished his story, he and Mary Jane are in Central Park. Peter explains that even though he learned a valuable lesson the night his Uncle Ben died, he still couldn't protect those he loved. He recounts how Gwen Stacy was killed during his battle with the Green Goblin, how Nathan Lubensky was recently beaten, and the more recent murder of Jean DeWolff, and how his hunt for the Sin-Eater led to people getting hurt in the crossfire. This was the final straw, he realized that while he was fighting the Sin-Eater, and people were getting hurt, he was telling jokes. Mary Jane wishes there is something she could do to ease Peter's pain. She thinks to herself that part of the reason she always admitted him was due to his commitment to responsibility. Now that he is acting more like her, running away from his problems, she wonders what this will mean to both of them.
Meanwhile, at the Daily Bugle, Betty Leeds fails to reach either Flash Thompson or her husband Ned on the phone. When Joe Robertson approaches her with some more work he can't help but notice how upset she is. He asks her what's the matter and Betty confides in him her recent marital problems. She is upset because of all the secret assignments that Joe has been giving him of late, which has taken time away from their marriage. This comes as a shock to Joe, because he doesn't have any idea what Ned's been telling her. Elsewhere, Sha Shan is packing her bags, planning on leaving Flash for good. Her packing is interrupted by Ned Leeds who has come to talk to her about her boyfriend. Learning that Flash isn't around, Ned spots a bus ticket and tells her that should she see Thompson again to tell him they need to talk about some deadly serious business. While at that moment, the Kingpin is informed of the latest theft by the Hobgoblin and the Rose. The Kingpin tells the Arranger he will do nothing for now, but thinks to himself that if the Rose is who he thinks he is, then there may be all-out war before this is all over.
At that moment, Flash Thompson is wondering where he went wrong in life. The former football star and war hero hasn't been able to have a stable relationship since he returned home and wonders who he can trust. Flash is then spotted by Ned Leeds who confronts Thompson about seeing his wife Betty. In response, Flash tells Leeds that he is the one responsible for pushing his wife away and takes him down with a single punch. As Flash runs back into the apartment he shares with Sha Shan, Ned vows to make Flash pay. Inside his apartment, Flash discovers that Sha Shan has packed up all her things and left. Moments later, the Hobgoblin appears from the rooftops, trying to contain his anger. Wanting to flush out Spider-Man, he goes to the local bus terminal. There he incapacitates the security guards and then spots Sha Shan in the crowd. He decides that she will make the ideal hostage and grabs the woman before she can run away. Back at Peter Parker's apartment, Mary Jane tries to talk Peter out of giving up being Spider-Man. When he turns on the television and sees the report about the Hobgoblin, he decides to let someone else handle his foe for a change. Horrified by this, Mary Jane asks Peter what happened to his sense of responsibility.
This strikes a chord with Peter and he changes into Spider-Man to face the Hobgoblin once again. Spider-Man tries to convince the Hobgoblin to let Sha Shan go, but he refuses since it prevents the wall-crawler from fighting him head on. When the Hobgoblin tosses a pumpkin bomb, Spider-Man dodges the attack. Realizing that the bomb will land on the crowd below, Spider-Man catches it in a web-line and tosses it high in the air where it explodes harmlessly. When the Hobgoblin attempts to use his finger blaster, Spider-Man plugs it with webbing causing it to feedback. With no other choice, the villain threatens to throw Sha Shan to her death. This brings up memories of Gwen Stacy's death, Spider-Man leaps down and catches Sha Shan before swinging her to safety, hurting his shoulder in the process. He then goes after the Hobgoblin again, and this time the villain activates his random finger blaster. However, despite the new device, the wall-crawler is still able to dodge the blasts at first. Finally, the Hobgoblin clips Spider-Man's arm and then blasts him clear in the chest, knocking Spider-Man onto his back. Stunned by the blow, Spider-Man is now helpless as the Hobgoblin moves in for the kill.
The Hobgoblin returns! Peter Parker gives up being Spider-Man! And Mary Jane won't stand for it!
- This story raises some many questions as to the identity of the Hobgoblin in this story, pointing towards Ned Leeds and Flash Thompson being possible suspects. Some facts:
- The Hobgoblin active in this story is Roderick Kingsley, the mastermind behind the whole Hobgoblin conspiracy, as revealed in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1–3.
- Flash Thompson will later be framed for the Hobgoblin's crimes as revealed in next issue.
- Ned Leeds is has actually been brainwashed into thinking he is the Hobgoblin, as revealed in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1-3. He will take a more active role in this guise starting next issue.
- Peter Parker is tired of being Spider-Man after so many innocent people were hurt on his watch:
- First and foremost, his Uncle Ben, who was shot by a burglar that Peter failed to stop in Amazing Fantasy #15.
- Gwen Stacy, who was killed during Spider-Man's battle with the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #121.
- Nathan Lubensky who was beaten up by loan sharks in Amazing Spider-Man #271.
- Lastly, Jean DeWolff and various innocent people who were harmed during the Sin-Eater's murderous rampages circa Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #107–110.
- Another motivator for Peter quitting being Spider-Man was his recent encounters with the Beyonder. Particularly the events of Secret Wars II #2, Amazing Spider-Man #273–274 and Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #111.
- The Kingpin suspects that he knows who the Rose might be. The true identity of the Rose is revealed in Web of Spider-Man #30.