Peter Parker quickly finds that working for the Daily Bugle means that he's got to work for J. Jonah Jameson, the tyranical editor-in-chief of the newspaper. Domineering, demanding, and just plain mean, Jameson quickly makes Peter's life a living hell (just in case it wasn't already). He assigns Peter, just for the heck of it, the plum assignment of covering eccentric scientist Otto Octavius' upcoming press conference.
Peter already knows a great deal about Octavius, having read a great deal about him, plus heard almost as much from the jealous Norman Osborn, whose path to madness continues unabated. Peter justifiably distances himself from Osborn, just as a chance encounter with Octavius during the press conference reveals to the doctor the extent of Peter's own scientific ambitions. Octavius agrees to make Peter his lab assistant as he makes the final preparations for the debut of his robotic arm apparatus.
It's not all fun and games, though. He's successfully gotten Jameson the pictures he wants, but Peter is no closer to figuring out his relationship with Mary Jane, the girl whose house he's still staying at while attending high school. His investigations of Flash Thompson, the classmate who may have been responsible for the deaths of Aunt May and Uncle Ben and who has been absent from school since the new year began four weeks ago, have given Peter ample excuses to use his Spider-Man costume, and he's discovered he has a flair for heroics, because he really loves the spotlight. Jameson loves the pictures Peter captures of him, too, so he can run his ranting editorials against the wise-cracking, anti-authoritarian vigilante...Well, you can't have it all.
Peter's work with Octavius, however, helps keep him happy, and that feeling is contagious. MJ doesn't mind spending time with him at school now, and even outside of it, where they attend local theater productions, while MJ hopes that she can score some tips on breaking in from the stars and stagehands. He almost forgets that everyone he's ever called family is dead.
Osborn's slide to madness continues, and a lab accident results in a suit he was working on virtually taking on a life of its own, thanks to an AI program he'd installed. At first, he participates in the bank heists the AI deems necessary to replenish coffers emptied when benefactors finally gave up on him, but soon enough Osborn realizes he's enjoying himself, and that his next target is his rival, Otto Octavius.
On the eve of Otto's big triumph, Osborn, now calling himself the Green Goblin, attacks, forcing Octavius to activite his harness before he's made the final checks, and thus unleashing an entirely new menace. Peter arrives in the guise of Spider-Man, and finds that he can no longer distinguish between his one-time mentors.
In the ensuing battle, Octavius sacrifices himself so that Osborn can be defeated, leaving Peter with one final affirmation that the good fight will always be worth it, despite the cost.