- Comic books! But I've never seen titles like these on the local newsstand -- Marvel Mystery, All Winners, Young Allies, Captain America and the Sub-Mariner!
- -- Peter Parker
Appearing in "Where Have All the Heroes Gone"
- Stan Lee
- Captain America (Peter Parker) (Dream)
- Human Torch (Peter Parker) (Dream)
- Vision (Peter Parker) (Dream)
- Whizzer (Peter Parker) (Dream)
- Angel (Peter Parker) (Dream)
- John Jameson (Photo)
- Martha Robertson (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Hell (Mentioned)
- Earth-97719 (Dream)
- Earth-16166 (Dream)
- Earth-12004 (Dream)
- Earth-23176 (Dream)
- Earth-11904 (Dream)
- Captain America's Motorcycle (Dream)
Synopsis for "Where Have All the Heroes Gone"
Stan Lee breaks the fourth wall by ripping through the pages of a Spider-Man comic. He tells the reading audience that the Marvel Bullpen has asked him to narrate this month to tell stories about the past of the Marvel Universe. He then presents a story about Peter Parker's past, promising that this tale will reveal secrets that were known to himself and very few others before this moment...
Years Ago[Continuity 1]
Peter Parker is helping his Aunt May and Uncle Ben clean up the attic of their home in Queens. It's here that Peter comes across a box which contains his Uncle's old comic book collection.[Continuity 2] He is surprised that none of these comics is anything like those he finds at the newsstand.[Continuity 3] Aunt May worries that Peter might get sick from the dusty comics or get nightmares from the stories; however, Ben thinks that his wife is overreacting, assuring her that these are nothing like the monster comics that he used to read and are good clean fun.[Continuity 4] Despite her reservations, May allows Peter to read the old comics which Ben tells Peter he can keep the comics after cleaning the attic and then playing a game of catch.
Meanwhile, at Rosie's Diner, Phil Sheldon complains about how being a reporter has changed since the end of the "golden age" of heroes.[Continuity 5] His colleague, Jacob Conover, just wishes he could get the lead on a good story and confides that he may have a lead on some goings-on in the criminal underworld. Their discussion is interrupted as one of the cafe owners tosses a homeless man out of his establishment, telling the bum that they don't serve the homeless.[Continuity 6] Jacob goes on to say that he has learned that some of the younger mobsters are pressuring the kingpin of the underworld to get into selling drugs and illegal pornography. This all sounds dangerous to Phil Sheldon, who warns Jacob to be careful. At that same moment, Don Rigoletto meets with his old friend and fellow mobster Vincente Fortunado. Fortunado warns that there have been threats on the Don's life. However, Rigoletto is unafraid and is willing to face any attempt on his life.
Back in Queens, Peter Parker is reading all of his Uncle Ben's old comic books and wishes that he could be a super-hero. He beings to daydream picturing himself as classic heroes such as Captain America, the Human Torch, the Vision, the Angel, and the Whizzer; however, his fantasies are interrupted when Uncle Ben enters the room and reminds Peter that they are supposed to be playing catch. While at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson is delighted to be visited by Joe Robertson who has come from Philadelphia to discuss a recent story published by the Bugle. The story was about a bar fight that involved a mobster's son in which the attacker was protected by diplomatic immunity. As they discuss it, Joe notices a picture of Jonah's son, John, and congratulates Jameson as he had heard about John being accepted into the astronaut program. Jonah then shows off his newsroom and suggests that Joe relocates to New York so he can work for the Bugle, assuring Robertson that he pays top dollar.[Continuity 7] At that moment, Jacob Conover checks his watch and notices that it is almost time for a meeting of the crime families in the city. At that moment, Don Rigoletto meets with the other bosses, who demand that they get into selling drugs and prostitution. Their major complaint is that street gangs are dominating those markets and making a lot of money. Unwilling to get involved in trades that he finds deplorable, Don Rigoletto tells his men that they won't be peddling either smut or drugs and orders them out of his room. With a possible gang war looming, Rigoletto asks Fortunato to look after his son should anything happen. Once everyone is gone, the Don asks his bodyguard, Wilson Fisk to rub his head to help relieve stress. Fisk takes this as an opportunity to snap the Don's neck as part of his plans of taking over the underworld as it's new kingpin.
In Queens, Peter plays ball with his Uncle Ben until a wild swing of his bat causes Peter to lose balance and fall to the ground. Seeing Peter get hurt causes Aunt May to dote over the boy and she convinces Ben to stop playing ball for the day. As Peter goes into the house and clean up, May scold Ben for playing too rough with Peter, reminding her husband how fragile the boy is. Back in Manhattan, Jacob Conover meets with Fortunato who tells him everything that happened during the meeting. They are interrupted by Wilson Fisk's loyal followers who have come to kill Fortunado. While they are focused on the mobster, Jacob Conover knocks over some crates. This allows Vincente to draw his gun. As Peter Parker reads more comic books and begins to daydream once more, Jacob Conver watches in horror as Vincente Fortunado kills his would-be assassins. Vincente is grateful that Conover saved his life and tells the shocked reporter that he will repay him someday. However, he knows that it is time to take a vacation, vowing to return to New York City in the future as the new Kingpin's regime will not last forever.[Continuity 8]
By this time, the Parkers have finished cleaning their attic and are carrying old clothes to the Salvation Army. On the way, a boy zips by on a skateboard knocking over Aunt May. As Ben checks to see if his wife is okay, Peter watches as the other boy skate away and wishes there was some way for him to stop the kid from getting away. While back in New York, Jacob Conover returns to work in a state of shock. When J. Jonah Jameson enters the bullpen looking for a reporter to cover a flower show, Conover shocks everyone by accepting it without protest, as he could use something safe like a flower show to cover. Later, Aunt May has returned home where her husband helps treat her twisted ankle. Meanwhile, Peter has gone up to his room where he decides to focus his attention to his scientific pursuits. Inspired by the comic books he read and his Aunt May's injuries, Peter draws up a design sketch for the web-shooters he will use in the future as Spider-Man.
Appearing in "The Secrets of Peter Parker!"
- Unidentified bullies
- Gym teacher
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "The Secrets of Peter Parker!"
This feature is a parody of "The Secrets of Spider-Man" from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1. It tells the reader about all of Peter Parker's skills and abilities before he got his spider powers. It plays a particular focus on Peter's clumsiness and lack of physical prowess, and his great intelligence. After taking a moment to make jokes about the thickness of Peter's glasses and nerdy attire, the feature closes by saying that young Peter gets the love and support he needs from his Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
- Chronologically, this story takes place between a flashback in Sensational Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #33 when Peter is stated to be 12 years old and a flashback from Amazing Fantasy #17 that states that Peter was 13 years old. As such, Peter would still be 12 years old at the time of this story. Per Civil War #2, Peter was 15 years old when he became Spider-Man. According to the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, Peter became Spider-Man during "year one" of the Modern Age. As such, this story takes place roughly three years prior to the start of the modern age.
- This story suggests that Ben collected these old comic books when they were first published in the late 30s early 40s. As a character who with a normal human life span that is tied into the Sliding Timescale, this has become an impossibility without drastically aging the character. Although Marvel has not provided a specific explanation, one could assume that Ben inherited them from an older family member much as Peter is inheriting them from Uncle Ben in this story.
- Among the comics in the box Peter pulls out: Marvel Comics #1, U.S.A. Comics #1–2, All Select Comics #2, Mystic Comics #5, Kid Komics #1, Marvel Mystery Comics #43, Young Allies #1, Captain America Comics #1 and 13, as well as Human Torch #5 (Fall) and All Winners Comics #21.
- May's worries are well-founded as Peter previously had a nightmare in Sensational Spider-Man #-1 after reading Ben's old monster comic books.
- Phil Sheldon is most famous for recording a lot of the wartime exploits of super-heroes, as seen in Marvels #0–1, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #2 verifies that Sheldon was active in the 1940s. The issues with Phil being alive during World War II eventually create implications as the Sliding Timescale bumps the Modern Age beyond the point where this is physically possible. At this time, an explanation has yet to be made. However, traditionally these anachronistic issues are usually designated to a relative, as has been the case with Wilie Lumpkin, Thaddeus Ross, Reed Richards, and Ben Grimm.
- This homeless man is the Sub-Mariner. At the time of this story he has been wandering around Manhattan after he was stricken with amnesia by the man known as Destiny in Sub-Mariner #1. Namor's memory won't get restored until Fantastic Four #4.
- Everyone in the newsroom is depicted using typewriters. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Vincente is true to his word as he will return to New York in Spider-Man #70.
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