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Appearing in "Duel with Devil Dinosaur"

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  • Van

Synopsis for "Duel with Devil Dinosaur"

Peter Parker has been assigned to photograph a story being investigated by Daily Bugle reporter Noel Beckford. The assignment takes them to a city facility where the prehistoric creatures known as Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur are being held since their capture by authorities.[Continuity 1] Outside, protestors have rallied demanding that Devil Dinosaur be released. They meet with Doctor Thomas Marles who takes Peter and Noel into the facility to see their guests. Although there is a heavy police presence, Doctor Marles insists that both Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur are no threat and are actually friendly. When Peter first sees the caged Devil Dinosaur, he finds the red-hued dinosaur an impressive sight to see. Although the creatures were apprehended in the East Village, Marles isn't certain where they came from, suggesting they could be anything from temporal anomalies to clones.[Continuity 2] When Peter suggests that they could have been illegally smuggled out of the Savage Land, Thomas admits that this is another possibility. He then introduces Peter and Noel to Moon-Boy, who surprises them by demonstrating an ability to speak fluent English.[Continuity 3]

As the interview continues, Peter's spider-sense begins going off warning him of the entrance of two newcomers. They introduce themselves as Maynard Tibolt and Zelda Dubois who claim to be lawyers seeking to represent Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur's civil rights. However, Peter sees right through this deception as he recognizes both Tibolt and Dubois as the Ringmaster and Princess Python of the Circus of Crime. Although Doctor Marles finds this impossible to believe, the paperwork is official and signed by a judge. Peter is not surprised, figuring that Tibolt likely used his hypnotic power to force officials to comply with his demands. However, he cannot do anything without compromising his secret identity, so Peter is unable to stop Maynard and Zelda from taking Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur into their custody. Particularly when Tibolt uses his hypnotic power into convincing Moon-Boy into agreeing to join them. When Peter and Noel report back to their boss, J. Jonah Jameson, the publisher is astounded to learn that Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur willingly agreed to join up with a circus. While Jonah considers going for his usual "menace" angle, Doctor Marles convinces Jonah that if he cannot be allowed to study the creatures, Jameson's paper should pressure for Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur to be released into the wild instead of being exploited for economic gain. However, Peter is unconvinced that the scientist will get through Jonah's thick head. Going up to the roof of the Daily Bugle, Peter changes into Spider-Man so he can track down the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime and make sure that they are not exploiting Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur for their own ends.

Spider-Man swings over to Madison Square Gardens where the Ringmaster and his entire circus is practicing for an upcoming show. The wall-crawler wonders why they are bothering since the Ringmaster usually hypnotizes the audiences anyway. When Tibolt leaves the arena alone, Spider-Man decides to ask him one-on-one. Spider-Man warns the Ringmaster that he is keeping an eye on him and his circus. However, Maynard insists that this time he and his associates are on the up-and-up and even offers the web-slinger two free tickets to prove his intentions. When the web-slinger leaves, the Ringmaster and Princess Python don't think they convinced Spider-Man, but they also don't care.[Continuity 4] Over the next few days, the inclusion of Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur in the Ringmaster's circus has generated a lot of attention and has been met with rave reviews. Still suspicious over the Ringmaster's intentions, Peter manages to get a press pass to see the circus himself. There he is surprised to see Noel Beckford and Thomas Marles together. Marles hopes that he can speak with Maynard Tibolt and convince the entertainer to allow him to continue his studies of Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur. Joining the couple, Peter gets in line and is surprised to see both the Thing and Matt Murdock are also among the attendees.

Once they enter the arena, Peter puts on sunglasses that will filter out the Ringmaster's hypnotic powers, making an excuse to explain to his friends why he needs to wear them. However, as the show begins nothing happens even up to the point where Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur are brought out to entertain the crowd. Peter doesn't understand, as the Ringmaster had many opportunities to use his hypnotism to enthrall and rob the crowd and wonders why. Later, in the dressing room, Tibolt tells his performers that the box office receipts are the most they have ever made. However, Princess Python warns Maynard that the only reason people are coming is to get a look at Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur and that they are only part of the show for as long as the Ringmaster can keep Moon-Boy under his hypnotic control. While back at the Daily Bugle, Peter tells Ben Urich about the Ringmaster's show. When Peter asks how the crime beat is going, Urich tells him about a string of recent robberies that could have only been committed by trained acrobats. Thinking this might be the work of the Circus of Crime, Peter Parker goes out as Spider-Man that evening and begins staking out Madison Square Garden. Sure enough, a van pulls out of the arena and the web-slinger follows it to a nearby jewelry store. There he witnesses one of the Great Gambonnos and Fire-Eater breaking in and robbing the place. Spider-Man makes short work of the two thieves and demands to know what the Ringmaster's plans are. Later, Spider-Man tries to sneak into the Gardens to confront the Ringmaster. However, once inside he is spotted by Antoro, an animal trainer, who unleashes his wild cats and gorillas upon the web-spinner. This forces Spider-Man to go out into the arena where the crowd assumes that the wall-crawler is part of the show.

Spotting the arachnid, the Ringmaster orders his minions to stop Spider-Man before he ruins everything. In quick succession, Spider-Man incapacitates the Clown, Luigi Gambonno, Bruto the Strongman, Live Wire, and the Human Cannonball. Furious that Spider-Man is winning, the Ringmaster then uses his hypnotic power to order Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur to attack Spider-Man.[Continuity 5] Although Spider-Man quickly webs up Devil Dinosaur, stopping Moon-Boy proves to be a greater challenge due to the primitives superior agility. Watching from the sidelines, the Ringmaster orders the Human Cannonball to fire himself at Spider-Man. However, the web-slinger is warned by his spider-sense and dodges out of the way, making the Cannonball strike Moon-Boy instead. When Spider-Man saves Moon-Boy from a fatal fall, the primitive is free from the Ringmaster's control. Recognizing Peter Parker's scent from earlier, Moon-Boy recognizes Spider-Man as a friend and agrees to keep his identity a secret. The pair then begin taking down each of the members of the recovered Circus of Crime. However, Moon-Boy's life is at risk when Princess Python unleashes her massive snake upon him. Thankfully, Spider-Man is able to save Moon-Boy's life and the pair then knock out the Ringmaster.

In the aftermath of the battle, Doctor Marles is surprised that Tibolt was able to manipulate everyone into letting him take Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur. Now that the pair are free, Marles wonders what to do with them next. That's when Spider-Man offers the scientist a suggestion. Soon, Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur are transported to the Savage Land a place where they and live in peace and allow Doctor Marles to continue his studies. Joining them for the ride are Noel Beckford and Peter Parker to document the trip for the Daily Bugle. Once done, Peter prepares to leave with Noel when he learns that she has decided to stay with Doctor Marles to help him with his studies. Seeing that the two have begun a romance together, Peter congratulates them and wishes them luck in the future.


Continuity Notes

  1. Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur were taken into custody in Ghost Rider (Vol. 3) #82.
  2. The suggestion of clones unnerves Peter here, this is because this story takes place shortly after his own complicated encounter with clones during the Clone Saga.
  3. When Doctor Marles states that Moon-Boy learned English from watching television, Moon-Boy claims his favorite shows are Xena: Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Party of Five. These shows were popular around the time this story was published. However, these should be considered topical references per the Sliding Timescale as these series ended their television runs in 2001, 2003, and 2000 respectively.
  4. Spider-Man makes a comment to himself about Ringmaster's appeal sounds about as sincere as James Cameron's claim that he will be casting Leonardo DiCaprio into a motion picture based on Spider-Man. This is in reference to a failed Spider-Man film project that was in development by Carlco Picture. The film was to be written and directed by Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio was to play the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. However, financial and legal troubles prevented this film from getting off the ground. The references to Cameron and DiCaprio here should be considered topical references.
  5. Spider-Man quips about how he should have stayed home to watch Ally McBeal, another popular television series around the time this story was published. Like the previous mentions, this should be considered a topical reference particularly since the show ended its run in 2002.

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