Appearing in "...In Love and War!"
- 🢐 Steve Hopkins 🢒
- Daily Globe
- Walter Hardy (Only in recap)
- Thing (Ben Grimm) (Mentioned)
- J. Jonah Jameson (Mentioned)
- Lazlo Bellflower (First and only known appearance)
- Security guards Lou and Bud
- New York City
Synopsis for "...In Love and War!"
It is 6:03 a.m. A cold winter breeze blows at Spider-Man through the window he broke to get into the Hendricks Museum of Musical History in lower Manhattan. All night long he has maintained a vigil, waiting for the Black Cat to strike. A museum guard patrols in the gallery below. Spider-Man now knows that the Black Cat did not drown after she fell from the cliff when they battled near her home. She has returned to a life of crime and for some reason, she has been stealing artifacts associated with romance. When the Hendricks Museum announced the display of a one-of-a-kind wax recording of Enrico Caruso singing a love aria, Spider-Man knew it would be her next target. But now it is almost dawn, and she has not appeared. Spider-Man drops from his vantage point and lands on the floor in front of the two guards. They draw their guns, but he web-swings up to the ceiling, and after firing a few rounds, the guards realize they cannot shoot him for fear of destroying valuable exhibits. Spider-Man leaves the museum and heads for his apartment for a shower and coffee before going to classes. When Peter Parker arrives at Empire State University's Science Building, half an hour later, he meets Steve Hopkins and Dawn Starr.
Dawn again tries to pressure Peter into a love affair, but Peter insists that it is not ethical for an instructor to date a student. When Dawn throws her arms around him and kisses him, however, he begins to reconsider. Dawn then invites him to picnic with her on Sunday, the day after tomorrow and Steve congratulates Peter on his new girlfriend. That night, Spider-Man again web-swings to the Hendricks Museum. He discovers that the window he broke is boarded up, but his spider-sense begins to tingle. Smashing through the boarded-up window, Spider-Man finds the Black Cat stealing the Caruso recording. The guards, Bud and Lou, are tied up on the floor in front of an antique steam organ. When Spider-Man tries to capture the Cat, his web-shooters jam. He and she begin to battle, but suddenly the organ breaks loose from the wall and starts to tip over onto the helpless guards. Apparently, the Black Cat's "bad luck" power is at work. Spider-Man is forced to let go of the Cat to keep the heavy instrument from crushing the guards. He holds it up and orders them to roll out from under it. Then he somersaults away and the organ crashes to the floor. As Spider-Man unties the guards, they apologize for shooting at him the night before. Unfortunately, the Black Cat has made a clean escape with the recording, so Spider-Man, weary, web-swings across town to his apartment. The next day, Peter arrives at Barney Bushkin's Daily Globe office. Bushkin motions Peter inside and introduces him to the paper's society editor, Pamela Dean, who is telling Bushkin that Lazlo Bellflower, an erotic-art collector, has recently returned from an extensive European buying tour.
Bellflower has the largest collection of romantic artifacts in the world, she continues, and it would make a good story. Peter requests the photography assignment for that story, and Bushkin agrees. Then Peter takes a bus to Empire State University. When Peter opens the door to his office, he sees a woman rummaging through his files. After quickly changing into his Spider-Man costume, he confronts her, thinking she might be the Black Cat. But she turns out instead to be Dawn Starr. When Spider-Man asks what she is doing, she replies that she has a date with Peter Parker, and Steve Hopkins let her in so she could wait for him. But Spider-Man knows that her date is not for that evening, and he accuses her of lying. It becomes clear that Dawn broke into the filing cabinet looking for science exam forms. Spider-Man realizes that that is all Dawn ever wanted from Peter all along, and he orders her to leave. She departs in tears, and Spider-Man rues another love affair gone sour. Later that evening, Felicia Hardy appears at the East Side estate of Lazlo Bellflower. She tells him that she has three valuable romantic artifacts to trade for the Helen Epistle, the only known love letter written to Paris by Helen of Troy. Felicia hands Bellflower the Rajah Ruby, the Golden Lovers statue, and the Caruso recording, and Bellflower gives her the letter.
As he pours them drinks to seal the bargain, Felicia asks whether he would mind if she slipped into something more comfortable. Bellflower eagerly agrees, but then he finds himself facing the Black Cat in costume. Pointing a pistol at him, she tells him she wants all four artifacts for herself. When Peter arrives at the gate of the Bellflower estate, the guard turns him away, but Peter's spider-sense tingles and he deduces that the Black Cat is already inside. As Spider-Man leaps the fence, the guards send a pair of dogs after him. The guards open fire, but Spider-Man web-swings out of reach onto the roof of Bellflower's mansion. Surprised to find a swimming pool on the roof, Spider-Man enters Bellflower's private elevator and he finds the Black Cat just as she is packing up her treasures. She vaults up to a chandelier and swings directly into Spider-Man with both feet. As they battle, the chandelier suddenly snaps and falls. Fortunately, Spider-Man leaps out of the way, but by the time he recovers, the Black Cat has escaped through the window. Bellflower is annoyed that his chandelier is destroyed and threatens to sue. Spider-Man departs with a promise to Bellflower to recover the artifacts.
Tracking a spider-tracer that he planted on the Black Cat during their fight, Spider-Man follows her to her studio apartment. Through the skylight, he sees her admiring her booty. He crashes through the skylight and tells her that he has come to retrieve the stolen items. But surprisingly, the Cat says she will not stop him, because she stole them for him. Then she shows Spider-Man around her apartment, which is decorated with photographs and posters of him. She explains that when she returned after their first battle, after her father's death, her mother made her promise to obtain professional help to stop living a life of crime. She decided that there could be no better professional help than Spider-Man, on whom she already had a crush. She stole the artifacts to symbolize what he means to her, she continues. As the Black Cat embraces Spider-Man, he reflects that her father's death must have shattered her emotional balance. She really needs psychiatric help, he thinks. Then Spider-Man asks her to do something for him: he says he knows some doctors, and he would like her to talk with them. He will see, he continues, that she gets all the help she needs.
- Spider-Man recounts his last encounter with the Black Cat, where she seemingly perished trying to escape him. That happened in Amazing Spider-Man #194–195.
- The Hendricks Museum security guards Bud and Lou are caricatures of classic comedians Abbott and Costello, including their traditional line "I'm a baaaad boy" (also styled "I've been a bad boy" in their movies).