They called themselves the "reflection of the insanity that Spider-man had brought upon New York."
In the week following Phil Urich's attack on Lance Bannon, the city of New York was incredibly on edge. Since Peter's rise as Spider-man he had dealt with gang wars and body snatcher nonsense like Maximum Carnage and Spider Island. But these assailants were different. They didn't seem interested in personal gain nor were the even interested in controlling the city. They were terrorists, plain and simple, out to cause as much pain and misery as they could on behalf of their "king" in the name of punishing Spider-man for simply existing.
This Goblin Nation wasn't made up of mind controlled victims or petty crooks trying to make names for themselves, they were normal citizens who had enough of Spider-man's "reign of terror." Outfitted with high tech weapons and small doses of Oz by the goblins in charge they spread wanton violence and destruction with a simple message: until Spider-man gives up, no one was safe.
Least of which was Lance Bannon. He had been hired by J. Jonah Jameson, and later Wilson Fisk, to find out Spider-man's secret identity and out him. While Lance had decided against exposing Peter after he got to know him and his family and friends, the Goblin Nation had discovered his assignment and had started targeting him. Why he was being targeted was beyond Peter, though--if the Goblin Nation was being led by Norman Osborn... he already knew who he was. Osborn knew Peter was Spider-man before Peter knew. Something weird was going on.
Carlie Cooper had Lance taken into police custody to protect him, but for the police this was akin to a full time job. The Goblin Nation was everywhere and had informants (if not outright operatives) in the NYPD, so he had to be moved from safe house to safe house.
Combating the goblins had also become a near full time job for both Peter and Gwen. In one particularly bad excursion a goblin took a bus full of tourists hostage on the George Washington Bridge. This one was hopped up on considerably more Oz than a lot of the other rank and file members of the nation, and had stopped the bus with his own bare hands. Peter swung in to combat the nutcase, and it seemed like he had it under control. Police cars arrived, and it looked like the ordeal was just about over, but when the police stepped out of the car, the last officer to step out pulled his firearm on his fellow officers and gunned them down. Peter jumped away from his scuffle with the hostage taker to take out the rogue officer, but in a break in his concentration he failed to notice the hostage taker pull out a pumpkin bomb of his own and detonate it in his hands.
The hostage taker had died instantly and took the bus driver and one tourist with him to the afterlife and injured several others. Peter escaped serious harm, and pinned the rogue officer down, who grinned a menacing, Oz fueled grin. Peter webbed him down for the actual authorities, but he left completely shaken, the onlookers on the bridge yelling obscenities at him. He wasn't dealing with people, he was dealing with monsters, and the city seemed against him for it.
Peter felt so awful that he didn't even swing back to his apartment, opting to take the subway. He didn't leave his apartment for two days.
On the second day he got a visitor--or four. Aunt May, MJ, Gwen, and Carlie all came to talk to him. Peter was dismissive at first, but eventually listened to what they had to say. The whole city knew that Spider-man had stopped showing up after the bridge incident, but the goblin attacks had not slowed down. Gwen, and other heroes like Cloak and Dagger, were doing what they could, but they were pretty sure their stated goal of running Spider-man out of town was not what they were after--they wanted Lance Bannon. Which, of course, made no sense, if Osborn was actually running the operation. They had a goal that could be stopped.
But Peter just couldn't see the point. It would be better for the city if Spider-man did disappear, goblins or no goblins. That's where they told him he was wrong. Aunt May then took them all to the homeless shelter she worked for. Walking around the halls Peter saw tons of drawings by kids and written testimonials by the adults staying there in support of Spider-man, many of them owing their lives to the webhead in the past. A lot of them wouldn't be alive if it weren't for his actions in the past, be it through stopping maniacs like Cletus Kasady from taking over the city or just stopping a mugging. Carlie also told Peter that he had received tons of support at her police station with people wanting to get the police to support him against the Goblin Nation.
When the talk ended in Aunt May's office, MJ put her arm around his shoulder, and said that while the goblins had a 'nation,' Peter had a support web of his own (if you'll pardon the pun). Maybe, to beat them, he needed to use that support web instead of trying to do everything on his own. Peter sighed, and said they were right.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Peter knew what he had to do. The goblins were targeting the destitute and hopeless to join their cause the most--he wanted Aunt May to see if she could ask around the shelter to see if anyone knew of any recruiters. He wanted Carlie to get Lance out of police protection, they were clearly compromised. He wanted MJ to take him in and hide him out. After that, Carlie could use her sources to get advanced notice on any new attacks, and he wanted her to give that info to Gwen to take care of.
And then he had a goal of his own--New Horizon. The pumpkin bomb the bus hostage taker had used was some sort of new type of explosive he hadn't encountered before, it looked like something Smythe would have used in the past. He figured it had to have something to do with the Gaunt tech the goblins had gotten their hands on with the Chameleon's money stash. From previous experience he knew that the Gaunt tech outputted unique energy signatures that could be traced, but he needed help.
That's where Max Modell came in. Peter went to his boss with a "request" from their "mutual friend." They got to work right away and by the time morning broke, they had created a device to trace this energy signature. This, combined with the info Aunt May had gleaned, allowed them to discover the two primary bases of the goblins, one where they created the weapons they had been using, another where they had been giving new recruits their Oz dosage. It wouldn't be easy, but Peter and Gwen decided to hit these bases simultaneously--Peter would head to the equipment base.
There was considerable resistance in each base, but the goblins were caught completely off guard. Gwen didn't find any big names guarding the Oz base, but plenty of nutcases hopped up on the formula. Peter found Phil Urich, the Goblin Knight, at the equipment base, communing with the head technician on his weapons. The fight was difficult, but Peter was able to take out the goblin guards as well as the Knight himself.
When Peter and Gwen were about to reconvene, they suddenly got a call from Carlie. She didn't know how, but the goblins' leader had apparently found out about their plans and had found Lance. Both him and MJ had been captured and had been taken to Fisk Tower.
The two of them raced to the tower where they found the two of them being held in a room with three other people: Wilson Fisk, J. Jonah Jameson, and Norman Osborn, along with a couple goblins holding the two hostages down. Another also had a gun drawn on Jameson's head. How all three of them came to be in one room was one thing, but what they were discussing was something else. Lance was apparently Osborn's bargaining chip with Fisk. He wanted the "skeleton key," an apparent backdoor hack Fisk had paid some contractors off to install in the new maximum security prison constructed upstate the super villains had been transported to. In exchange, Fisk could have Lance, who had Spider-man's identity. Jameson, who had apparently come to warn Fisk about threatening his employees, demanded that Lance say nothing. This farce had gone on long enough, he said. He had wanted to expose the wall-crawler, but if this insanity is what had come of it, he wanted absolutely no part of it, it all had to end.
Deciding they had listened enough, Peter and Gwen crashed the meeting. Peter told Osborn off, telling him he had no idea what he was up to but that he already knew who he was, he didn't have to go through all this trouble with Lance. Osborn instructed the goblins to kill the spiders while he grabbed his subordinates gun and grabbed Jameson and held him hostage, gun pointed at the publisher's temple. Peter and Gwen made quick work of the goblins, as Peter noted that guns weren't really Osborn's style. Fisk noted this as well, and explained that he had no time to deal with pawns or pretending to be kings, as he activated a hidden switch, zapping Osborn--apparently he had tagged him with some sort of restraining device when he came into the building.
Osborn yelped in pain and released Jameson, who scuttled to the other side of the room behind the spider people. Then the charade came to an end, as his face distorted and disappeared into the blank facade of the Chameleon's, before shifting through a thousand different faces. In a myriad of voices the Chameleon spoke to them, saying it was all a game anyway. He had been hired for a job, and he hadn't shown his full hand yet. At that moment Fisk realized the Chameleon had already placed a thumb drive in his personal computer and was downloading the skeleton key.
Before Fisk could reach for it Peter and Gwen's spider sense went off and they used their combined might to pull Fisk to the ground as a pumpkin bomb went off at his window and a hail of bullets flew in--it was Menace. Now it all made sense to Peter--Osborn had been imprisoned the entire time. The whole scheme was to use Lance as a bargaining chip to get the skeleton key and free their "goblin king." As Peter and Gwen moved into combat Lily Hollister, they asked if that was true. She said it was a plan concocted by Osborn to begin with, a dead man's switch to free him. One of many. Even if they stopped this one... who knew how many others he had?
The two of them succeeded in taking down Hollister and webbing her up for the authorities. When they got back to Fisk's office, they found the Chameleon on the floor... seemingly dead? He had a hole blown through his featureless head--he couldn't fake that, could he? Fisk's computer had been destroyed in the chaos, with no sign of the thumb drive. As Peter and Gwen prepared to get the goblins and Chameleon out to the authorities, they saw MJ standing up to both Jameson and Fisk, telling them both they aught to be ashamed of themselves for what they had let happen. Jameson actually swallowed his pride and agreed, and told Fisk that if anything happened to Lance in the future he would never get away with it.
As everyone else left, it was just Peter and Fisk in the room alone. Peter looked him dead in the eyes, and walked away. Fisk asked him if he had anything to say as well, and Peter told him "the cute little red head already said everything that needed to be said."
(When Peter asked MJ and Lance how they had been captured, they said it was Carlie--or rather, the Chameleon, posing as her.)
In the end, Lance decided to break up with MJ, quit the Bugle, and leave the city. He had a lot of thinking to do, but before he left, he told Peter something he learned about MJ--she loved Peter. A lot. He felt he was breaking up with her more for her own sake, so she would stop lying to herself. And he really felt it would be for the best if he didn't stand in his and her way; besides, it'd probably be for the best if he stayed out of Peter's circle for now after it had all blown up in everyone's faces.
With Lance quitting and Phil Urich being exposed as a goblin, the Daily Bugle was suddenly missing a staff photographer, so Jameson actually bit the bullet and called Peter to have him replace Lance, as he now felt bad for how he had put Lance on the spot and the situation that led to him being hired. But with New Horizon Peter finally felt like he was doing good in the world and moving on so... nah. Jameson would have to find someone else.
So that's it for this extra. It really doesn't have much to do with the established Goblin Nation concept from the comics, which was a Superior Spider-man story, I more or less just took the concept of a big goblin gang and thought it would make for a fun story to have this dichotomy of this gang of goblins against Peter and his support network. And not even one appearance of the Green Goblin! Though it was all apparently his plan to begin with, but no goblin king for you. Yet.
Picture wise this was one where I thought "oh, that'd be easy" and then ended up vastly underestimating how long it would take to do. I kinda based it on the posters for Being John Malkovich, with all these regular ass people standing together in a group with these masks on. The masks the people are wearing are essentially what the adherents of the goblin nation would be wearing whenever they appear here, but the people wearing them are just whoever, they're not supposed to be anyone in particular. And then we got Spider-man and Spider-Gwen in the middle, looking all confused, as though the society around them has changed dramatically into something completely opposed to them. Or something.
I dunno, I'm tired.