A dialogue box on the first page says this story takes place before Amazing Spider-man (Vol. 1) #289. Have lots of fun with that.
Spider-man's crashing through a wall of a building down at the Lower West Side docks, shouting for Hobgoblin to show himself, calling him a coward. He follows the sounds of his cackling laughter. Spidey says he doesn't have time for games. A single floodlight lights up, showing a battered Hobgoblin in a wheelchair, wearing a neck brace and arm sling. Hobby says before Spidey gets any ideas, touch him and Harry Osborne dies. Spidey asks if he french-kissed a mack truck.
Hobby explains that he sent Harry Osborn, devoted family man (and knowing he was the son of the original Green Goblin), a package containing a poisoned pumpkin bomb and a note saying he had just been poisoned by touching it, and that if he wants to live to send Spider-man to the dock location. And that he has 24 hours to live. Hobby says he probably used whatever contact he had in order to reach Spidey, probably that wimp Parker. Hobby says he first considered poisoning Parker but that he didn't fit the profile as well as Harry, since Peter was a loner without a lot of friends or responsibilities, that he "couldn't generate as much sheer terror from someone like him."
Hobby goes on to further explain that "a certain European mobster acquaintance" contracted him to steal a ledger book from the Kingpin, containing information on Kingpin's Euro business dealings. With it, his contractor could wipe out the competition. Hobby enters the Kingpin's penthouse, melts his way into a safe, grabs the ledger, but that the safe was equipped with a pressure plate that set off an alarm by the shift in weight. Kingpin's armed men rush in, and Hobby throws himself out the window trying to reach his hovering glider. The men fire at it, destroying it, sending Hobby flying down 30 floors.
He manages to grab an outcropping ledge, stowing his fall. His armor covers some of the impact, but he ends up face-first on the pavement. When before he was cursing his luck at being caught, he claims he's the luckiest man alive (no kidding). A doctor who deals with "unreportable" cases patched him up as best he could. Hobby wants Spidey to steal back the ledgers so Hobby can sell them back to Kingpin. He says he placed a homing device in the ledger, and tosses Spidey a mini pumpkin-tracer. Hobby says he has now poisoned Spider-man too with the pumpkin tracer, that if he had been wearing non-porous gloves like his, Spidey's skin wouldn't have absorbed the toxin, and that Spidey has just a little more time than Harry now to live. Spidey asks what's stopping him from wringing Hobby's neck--Hobby replies that he has the antitoxin, which he'll trade for the ledger and that time is wasting. Spidey swings away to his echoing laughter.
Spidey swings on over to the home of Dr. Curt Connors, where they spend many hours analyzing the poison. They learn that it would take 36 hours to come up with an antitoxin. Spidey realizes he'll have to go through with Goblin's plan. Connors says he'll work on locating an antitoxin. Spidey calls Harry at a phone booth, trying to cool him out. He uses the tracer to track down the ledger--it's on a yacht belonging to gangster Carlos D'Agostino who's at that time having a party on it. Spidey dispatches some armed guards, locates the ledger, fights some more and escapes with it. Someone is watching his escape by car, saying hold him until he arrives.
Spider-man returns to Connors' lab, to see if he's found any existing antitoxin. His spider-sense goes off as he gets near, so he stashes the ledgers just to be safe. Goons have Connors tied up to a chair with guns on him. Spidey crashes through the window taking several of them out. He soon realizes that they aren't D'Agostino's men. Kingpin enters, saying he has something of his that he wants back, as well as the location of the Hobgoblin. After an explanation, Kingpin says he is familiar with the toxin Hobby used, and can have the antitoxin within two hours. Spidey asks how can he trust him. Kingpin says he doesn't care whether he lives or dies, but with his help, he can beat Hobby at his own game. He says he'll also provide the antidote first as a show of good faith.
Hours later, Spidey gets to Harry's just in time with the antitoxin, as Harry's starting to feel the effects of the poison. He then heads back to the meeting place with Hobgoblin. Hobby, still in the wheelchair, says Spidey has mere minutes to live. Spidey says he already traded the ledgers for the antidote, and now he's ready to make Hobby wish he was never born. As he leaps at Hobby, he crashes head first into a transparent barrier. Hobby laughs at him, asking did Spidey think he'd leave himself unprotected? He says he possesses no antidote to the poison and knew Spidey would try something desperate when he told him that. He escapes into a passage in the floor, laughing away the whole time. Outside, Kingpin is waiting. He says Spidey let Hobby escape, that Hobby is a pro, and that he should have left vengeance to someone who's business it is to mete it out. Spidey says for Kingpin to feel lucky that he had something to bargain with, for if he was going to check out he would've taken Hobby and Kingpin with him, and angrily swings away. Kingpin calls him "amateur".
While I've always enjoyed this story, some of its flaws come out upon a fresh read--the main one being how selectively the writers of Spider-man choose to use his spider-sense. How the spider-sense is supposed to actually work, and how it's actually used, is a whole other topic in and of itself (does it predict danger or in effect predict the future?). If it's supposed to protect Spidey from danger, it most certainly should have went off when Hobgoblin tossed him the poisoned tracer.
Hobgoblin himself surely had all the bases covered in this tale. But I wonder exactly what substance he could have made the clear barrier out of that Spidey couldn't crash through. Granted, Spidey bashed his head on it, so he didn't really try. But again, wouldn't his sense warn him that he was about to crash like a bird into a window? The story dictates that Hobgoblin get away, so Spidey doesn't even try to tear the place apart looking for him after Hobby just descends into the escape hatch in the floor. Though he wouldn't probably feel great about wailing on a crippled Hobby, Spidey could've at least captured and uncovered his real identity at this time.
I'm willing to forgive these inconsistencies because the ish is so fun to read. The action doesn't let up for a second, and you start to wonder how Spidey's going to pull all this off. At this time it seems Harry also needs to go into a son-of-a-supervillain protection program (and that hasn't changed much for him in the current continuity, it seems).
Nothing earth-shattering, but a solid, satisfyingly action-packed tale with interesting twists from start to finish.