#1: The Deadliest Game, Part 1 May 12, 2019 12:59:41 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on May 12, 2019 12:59:41 GMT -5
Issue #1: “The Deadliest Game, Part 1: The End of the Beginning”
Written by Brian Burchette
Cover by Roy Flinchum
Edited by Charles Wilkins
Peter Parker lifted his head up as the minister delivered the eulogy and felt the warmth of the sun on his face. Spring hadn’t officially arrived yet, but it is the first time he had truly felt the heat from the giant star in many months. It had been a very cold and long winter on so many levels.
Why Uncle Ben? Why didn’t he stop the robber when he had a chance? He was stupid- cocky, arrogant, and stupid. That spider that bit him gave him more than the powers of an arachnid. It had given him the personality of Flash Thompson, and now one of the people he loved so dearly had paid the ultimate price for it.
He felt the thin, frail arm of his Aunt May entwine in his and he clasped her hand gently, feeling it shake underneath his. There was no way to ever make this up to her, or to his Uncle, for that matter.
It was a small gathering, for they had no family and very few friends. May’s good friend, and neighbor, Anna Watson, stood to May’s left, supporting her other arm. How his Aunt May was holding up was beyond him.
After the burial, they walked back to the car, both of them lost in their own thoughts. Peter wanted to say something, to tell his Aunt the truth, but he couldn’t. She had been through enough at this point, and trying to explain the events that had brought them to this point was not in the cards. The only thing he knew for sure was that his days as a wrestler were over.
It was obvious what his Uncle was trying to tell him right before he died. The words would haunt him for the rest of his life. No, his wrestling career might be finished, but they would be replaced with life devoted to saving those who needed protection. He would still call himself Spider-Man, but now he would help the innocent and make sure that what happened to his Uncle Ben, never happened to anyone else.
His Uncle had been right: With great power, came great responsibility!
“Well look at old four eyes!” Flash Thompson called from the high school hallway, two weeks later. He was standing next to a young, short haired, blond woman, who seemed embarrassed at the mean spirited comment.
“Flash, stop,” she whispered.
“Aw, come on Liz, ol’ four eyes can take it. He’s probably so wrapped up in some kind of science problem that he don’t even hear me.”
Peter kept on walking, staring straight ahead and hoping to pass by without an incident. He was not in the mood for the jock, or his nasty disposition. He just wanted to get to his last class and get it over with. He had to get home, back to Aunt May.
As he walked past his nemesis he felt that familiar tingle in the back of his head that seemed to warn him as some kind of danger was about to happen. His eyes moved back and forth, looking for the danger, and at the last second he saw Flash’s leg move out in front of him, aiming to trip him up.
He had to do it, Peter thought to himself, even though he knew he could have avoided that foot with ease. Instead, he forced himself to let his legs get entangled in the foot and fall forward, causing his books to go flying as he tried to catch himself. He did a half hearted attempt, allowing himself to strike the floor much harder than he really wanted too.
Flash Thompson burst out laughing while his girlfriend, Liz Allen, looked away in shame.
“Big dumb jock picks on guy half his size, proving once and for all that he’s nothing more than a pile of dog turds,” came the angry voice from behind them all.
Peter turned to see his only friend, Harry Osborn, heading down the hall, his hands clenched into fists. Right behind him was his on again, off again, girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. The sight of her always made Peter feel a bit weak. Harry always got the most beautiful girls.
“You stay out of this,” Flash said. However, the football star stopped moving towards Peter, and instead walked away, glaring at Harry.
After Flash had rounded the corner, Harry and Gwen went up to him, helping him up and collecting his books.
“You okay, buddy?” Harry asked with genuine concern in his voice.
“Yeah, thanks Harry. Could this school have a bigger jerk?”
Gwen gave him a small hug. “Don’t worry about him; you’ve always got Harry to watch your back.”
Her smile always blinded him; made him feel like he was the only person in the room, heck, in the entire world. He gave a little smile back, pushing away the thoughts that were running through his mind. She was his best friend’s girl; he was ashamed of himself.
“Gwen’s right, pal” Harry said as he slapped Peter on the back. “I’ll always be watching out for you. You’re like the little brother I never had.”
“Yeah, Harry, same here; like a brother I never had. I, umm, I got to get to class,” he said and hurried away.
“What was that about?” Gwen asked, stunned at the abrupt end to the conversation.
Harry frowned. “Family. I mentioned family. I am so stupid.”
Gwen smiled and gave him a firm hug. “No, you’re not. You are the most caring, thoughtful man I’ve ever met. Peter is lucky to have you as his best friend. It’s just going to be hard for him, for a while.”
The moon was bright, casting its radiant white light down onto the buildings in Manhattan. It gave them an almost unnatural look, as if the skyscrapers, themselves, were glowing.
At the intersection of forty-second street and Lexington, on the East Side of the city, stood the Big Apple’s third tallest building: The Chrysler Building. Approximately one thousand feet up, perched on the head of a metal eagle that jutted out from the building, crouched Spider-Man. He was silhouetted not only by the moon, but the lights of the building that glowed white behind him.
He stared out at the skyline that lay before him. The twinkling lights of the cars down below, like a mirror image of the stars that twinkled above him. The idea that he was over one thousand feet up, his feet stuck to the metal frame of the building was overwhelming, and exhilarating. He felt as though he was on top of the world.
His eyes scanned the concrete jungle below him. He was shaking and wasn’t sure why. Part of it, admittedly, was that he was still getting used to his powers, and the fact that he was crouched on the tip of New York City’s third largest building was still unnerving, to say the least. That wasn’t all of it, though. He was in the city tonight to start his job… no, his duty… his responsibility.
A picture of Uncle Ben’s face seemed to appear before him, in his mind, and that’s all it took to send him forward into his destiny. He let out a whoop and leapt off the side, his arms stretching out to the sides as if he were an Olympic swimmer, taking his final dive.
He had practiced this move at much lower heights, and felt he was ready to take the big plunge. As he began to build momentum, his body hurling towards the cement below him, he wondered if possibly he was really ready after all. What if his webbing decided not to work at that moment? Would May ever forgive him for dressing up in a blue and red costume just so he could plummet to his death? Of course the logical answer, he realized, was that he should have asked those questions before he jumped off the skyscraper. It was kind of a moot point now.
He spied the flagpole on the building across the street, took a deep breath, and fired his webbing. It left the cartridge on his wrist and hit solidly in the middle of the pole. He let out a cry of joy as he swung away from the Chrysler Building and down Lexington Avenue. Peter reached out with his left hand and fired more webbing, one after the other, traveling at a rapid pace above the street and towards the Upper East Side.
Peter hit the side of two buildings as he tried his best to swing around a corner and into an alley. He let out a grunt, feeling a small pain shoot up his left arm. He was beginning to wonder if he perhaps he should have done a bit more practicing when he heard the woman’s scream fills the night air, cutting through the sounds of the street traffic below.
Spider-Man looked up in time to see figures on a penthouse balcony. There seemed to be some kind of scuffle taking place.
He swung to the side of the building and made his way up, crawling rapidly with all four appendages as voice began to drift down to greet him.
“You’re going to pay, Jameson! You hear me! I’m tired of your kind thinking you can have it all by stepping on the rest of us. Here’s your headline for tomorrow: Local Publisher Takes Flying Leap Off of Penthouse.”
“Please, please let him go!” The woman’s voice again. She was pleading, desperation pouring from every word.
“Kiss your husband goodbye, Mrs. Jameson,” the angry man shouted and then there was another piercing scream.
Spider-Man looked up in time to see a body hurtling towards him. It was a man in his mid to late forties; his flat top hair cut already graying. The man looked vaguely familiar, though at the moment his face was contorted into panic as he was heading face first towards a very abrupt ending.
Peter pushed himself off the building, arching his back as he did so and for a moment he looked again like a diver, suspended in mid-air, as he maneuvered his body into a free fall. His timing was perfect as he grabbed the man with one arm, wrapping it around his waist, while firing a web line with the other, snagging the corner of a building.
“Don’t worry Mister, I’ve got you.” He said as he swung them around and back towards the penthouse.
“You’ve got me?!” The man bellowed with noticeable cigar breath. “Who’s got you?!”
“Tell me you didn’t just say that.”
He brought them back up onto the terrace where the woman stood sobbing. It was cut off when she saw the red and blue hero drop down with her husband in one arm.
“Oh Jonah, I thought I had lost you.”
As she went to embrace him, he moved to the right and she grabbed at air as Jonah Jameson walked up to the young man who had just saved his life.
“Who the hell are you?”
“No need to fear, Sir. I’m as friendly as they come. My name is Spider-Man and I just happened to be in the neighborhood. What happened to the guy who tried to kill you?”
“He ran out as soon as he threw my husband over the balcony,” Joan Jameson said, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“I might be able to still catch him. Who was he, what was his name?”
J.J. waved his hand in dismissal, “Just some guy who thinks he’s a photographer; not important. You! You’re important! Spider-Man, eh? Wait! Don’t move a muscle; I need to get a picture of this. Just let me get my camera. Damn, there’s never a photographer around when you need one.”
As Jameson ran into his penthouse to retrieve his camera, his wife walked up to Spider-Man. “Thank you. Thank you for saving his life.”
Peter was getting nervous. He wasn’t in it for the adulation; he just wanted to do the right thing. He nodded his head slightly. “Not a problem. I was just hanging around, anyway.” He gave her a small wave of the hand and jumped off the balcony, catching the side of a building with his webbing and swinging away.
Jameson came back out, panting at the exertion. “Where did he go?”
His wife pointed towards mid-town Manhattan. She continued to stare down the street while her husband swore like a sailor and took out his anger on the now crushed camera.
Peter looked around the hall of the school, looking to see where the voice was coming from. He recognized it, but didn’t know from what direction he was being called.
“Up here, goofball,” Harry Osborn shouted from the second floor stairwell. “Boy it’s true what they say about New Yorkers, we never look up.”
Peter grinned as he walked up the steps to join his friend. “What’s up, Harry?”
Harry pulled a copy of the Daily Bugle from his backpack and shoved it at his friend. “Looks like the Fantastic Four have some competition.”
The headline read: A New Hero in Town? Peter skimmed the article. The story told the tale of how J. Jonah Jameson, Publisher of the Daily Bugle, had been fighting off a would be intruder who had gotten the drop on him, only because Jameson’s wife had distracted him. Jonah had been thrown off his balcony when suddenly he was rescued by a costumed figure in red and blue, with a spider insignia sewn onto his chest. After putting the Publisher and Editor in Chief down, he announced that he was “The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” and swung off into the darkness again.
“'The Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man'?” Peter muttered to himself.
“Yeah, what a dorky thing to say; anyway, read down at the bottom.”
Peter read the last paragraph. The Bugle would pay top dollar for any photos of this mysterious new hero.
“I could make me some extra dough, if this guy is legit and I could find him,” Harry said. “And if you’d show me how to take photographs,” he also conceded.
“Sounds like a bunch of malarkey if you ask me,” Peter said. “Anyway, what do you need extra money for; your father is one of the richest men in the world. Which still makes me wonder how you ended up in a public school to begin with.”
Harry’s face turned as read as his hair as he took the paper back. “I told you, I don’t want to talk about that, and who says malarkey anymore, anyway?”
This time it was Peter who blushed; my Uncle Ben did, he thought to himself. “Well, I don’t mind showing you, I guess. It’s really not that hard. You just point the camera and shoot.”
“I’ve done that, but none of my shots ever come out as good as yours do.”
“Hi Harry, hi Peter,” Gwen Stacy shouted as she ran up to them, bumping into several classmates.
“There’s my girl,” Harry said grinning. “You’re looking especially beautiful this morning.”
“Oh stop it; I already said I’d go to the Prom with you. Hey, Peter, are you going with us to the Prom. Harry’s dad is letting us take his private limo.”
For the second time in less than a minute, Peter’s face grew red. “I don’t think so. I really don’t want to leave Aunt May alone for that long. She’s not doing real well.”
Gwen touched his arm and for a second he got goose bumps from her warm touch, “Oh Peter, I’m so sorry. If there’s anything we can do to help.”
“Umm, thanks… We’ll be, umm, fine. I’ve go to run before I’m late for Chem. Catch you both later.”
As Peter hurried away from them Harry turned to his girl, “I don’t think Peter’s problem is leaving his Aunt. I don’t think Peter has a date.”
“Really? Well if that’s the problem, we can fix that.” Gwen smiled and her eyes twinkled mischievously.
Harry chuckled. “I know what you’re thinking, Miss Matchmaker… and count me in.”
The final bell rang and Peter Parker made his way out of the school and to his bus. On the ride back to his home, his mind couldn’t help but replay the moment that changed his life forever. It wasn’t the spider bite, not really. It was allowing the robber to run past him and escape. All because he was angry for being cheated out of his share of the wrestling money that he deserved.
He placed his head on the dirty window as he watched the rows of houses pass him by. He heard the kids around him talking and laughing, enjoying life; enjoying the last few weeks of school.
Peter couldn’t feel any of that excitement. All he felt was loss and pain –sorrow and guilt for what had happened. He wondered if he would ever be happy again…
The Mustang convertible swung around the street corner as Harry Osborn grinned at his girl in the passenger seat. She was beautiful, and all his. He couldn’t have felt better about life at that moment. The fact that his girl, Gwen, had a friend who had agreed to meet Peter, possibly go to the Prom with him, was icing on the cake of this fantastic day.
“So what is this Peter like, anyway,” the girl asked from the back seat.
Gwen turned to her friend. “He’s adorable, but really very shy. He’s extremely smart, too.”
“Oh great, you’re setting me up with a nerd,” the girl said.
“Absolutely not,” Harry chimed in. “Anyway, I think the PC phrase now is geek.”
Gwen slapped her boyfriend in the arm. “Harry, that’s not nice! Anyway, Peter is not a geek, he’s just… He’s… He’s Peter.”
The car pulled up alongside the curb in front of the Parker residence. Harry saw from his rear view mirror that Peter’s bus was coming up the street behind them.
“Wait a minute, this looks familiar,” the passenger in the back said.
The bus pulled up, and four kids got out, Peter being one of them.
Harry jumped out of his car. “Hey Peter! Pete! Wait up; I got someone I want you to meet.”
“We have someone we want you to meet,” Gwen chided with a grin.
Peter turned and looked at his two friends, and the red headed young lady who was standing behind them, leaning up against Harry’s car.
She looks familiar, Peter thought for a second, trying to remember where he had seen her before.
Harry broke his train of thought, “Peter, Gwen and I would like you to meet Mary Jane Watson. She’s agreed to go to the Prom with you!”
The grin on Harry’s face grew exponentially, “I knew you’d be surprised.”
“But… but… I told you I wasn’t going to the Prom.”
Mary Jane Watson came forward slowly, a smile of her own crossing her face. “Of course you are. You need a date and I’m always up for a good party. And let’s face it, Tiger, you just hit the jackpot.”
TO BE CONTINUED
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