Given the bravura performance that Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley turned in to make Double Trouble such a great read, how can they ramp up the excitement and tension? Well, Norman Osborn returns in Legacy’s super-creepy and threatening opening chapter. Allegedly no longer the monster seen in Power and Responsibility, he’s nonetheless a first grade arrogant slimeball, and more to the point, well aware that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Is Osborn cured? Well, he’s on the horribly dated cover in his monstrous identity, so probably not.

It’s a nice coincidence that at one stage in every volume to date someone has discovered Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and that run continues in a clever way that also reconfigures some of what happened in the series opener. However, that’s not half as clever as where Bendis takes the story. For those who know the moment, he revisits a pivotal event in the original Spider-Man’s history, jacking up the tension magnificently by suggesting a grim fatality is about to be repeated. It’s still an amazing scene without knowing that. It’s rather a shame that Bagley has a proportions lapse at the worst possible moment, but otherwise over three chapters this ranks with the best Green Goblin material. Although Bendis is careful never to use the name, this Goblin is an utterly terrifying creation, one we can believe is capable of any crime, and Bagley milks that for all it’s worth.

The most memorable Spider-Man stories generally have a tragic moment to them. You can reel off your own list, but Bendis sticks to that template while also twisting almost everything away from expectation. Perhaps the misdirection providing a cliffhanger chapter ending is cheap, but when published as the final page of a serialised monthly comic, which was the priority in 2002, it would have been far more effective. Public Scrutiny is up next.

This is also found in the hardcover Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2, and in paperback as Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 2.