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Appearing in "The Spider and the Sea-Scourge!"

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  • Mr. Whitman's Freighter

Synopsis for "The Spider and the Sea-Scourge!"

Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, angrily tears open a U. S. Navy diving sphere beneath the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New York City, annoyed that his realm has been invaded. But he does not want the two divers in the sphere to drown, so he hauls them out of the water, files on winged feet to the shore, and deposits them, wet but unharmed, on a dock. He will not be so merciful a second time, he thinks. The divers watch Namor depart, knowing at last who is responsible for wrecking their underwater experimental power generators, and they will report this incident to the authorities.

That night, Peter Parker, who has an eight o'clock exam the next morning, finds it impossible to sleep. The neighbor in the apartment next to his is practicing country singing. The quality of his voice is appalling, and Peter bangs on the wall and tells him it is three o'clock in the morning. Fortunately, the neighbor stops, but Peter still cannot got to sleep. He rummages around and finds a fresh Spider-Man costume, and then he web-swings out of the apartment to take his mind off his problems for a while. He decides it is time to keep the promise he made to himself earlier and heads for the waterfront to look for Debra Whitman's uncle. Surprisingly, Mr. Whitman is awake, and Spider-Man finds him in his office confronting three burly sailors. Whitman is explaining to them that every precaution has been taken and that his ship must leave on schedule with them as its crew. He will bring in the police if necessary, he continues. This enrages the sailors, and they begin to beat up the old man. Then Spider-Man smashes in through the window and breaks up the fight. Unfortunately, a barrel breaks over him and drenches his costume in brine, giving the sailors an opportunity to escape. Whitman tells Spider-Man that he has a contract with the government to deliver a scientist and an experimental power generator to a certain ocean site. The crew are refusing to report for duty because of some trouble they had. Whitman does not explain what the trouble was, but he asks Spider-Man for help. Spider-Man declines, saying that the ocean is not his domain.

At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, Namor addresses his subjects. He tells them that the surface people are once again performing experiments that will endanger their civilization, this time by creating vast disturbances in the ocean currents. "Is this not a cause for war?" he asks the milling throng. Namor's people roar their assent.

The following noon, Peter meets Debra Whitman on the Empire State University campus. The salt water that soaked Peter's costume would not wash out, and his skin is so irritated that he is constantly scratching. Debra again expresses her concern over her uncle. She says that if her uncle cannot find anyone to captain his ship, he will do so himself, because the contract must be fulfilled. But he is old and has a bad heart, she continues, and she is afraid something might happen to him. Peter is reluctant to get involved, and after Debra departs, he goes to visit his aunt at the Restwell Nursing Home. He thinks she might be able to cheer him up. An hour later, Peter is watching Aunt May explain how to play shuffleboard to the other patients. She is in charge of the home's recreation hour, because she happens to be the person best qualified. Unless she does all that she is capable of doing, she explains, she is not being true to herself or others. Aunt May's wisdom changes Peter's mind about helping Mr. Whitman. Soon Spider-Man web-swings away from the nursing home, arriving several minutes later at Whitman's freighter. The crew are standing on the dock demanding that Whitman pay them a bonus because of the danger involved in the voyage. Whitman tells them that he has no extra money. As the crew threaten to leave, Spider-Man lands on the dock and tells them that he and Whitman can run the ship alone. He will not require a salary at all, he continues, as he begins to carry some crates onto the ship. Seeing that they are about to lose their lob opportunity, the crew decide to ship out with Spider-Man and Whitman, and they will see whether Spider-Man lives up to his claim.

Within the hour, the freighter steams out of the harbor. Whitman tells Spider-Man that their trouble comes from the Sub-Mariner, who tore apart the diving sphere with Whitman's two men inside. Whitman did not inform the government, because he was afraid his contract would be cancelled and he would be broke, but now that he has thought about it, he realizes that the government could have supplied him with some needed protection. Suddenly an alarm sounds, and the Sub-Mariner files overhead. Namor does not need his navies to battle a single freighter, he says as he tears a mast off the ship. Spider-Man snags Namor with his webbing, and their battle begins. Namor finds himself unable to break the webbing, but he manages to knock Spider-Man into the ship's funnel, and then he breaks the ship's antenna so that the Coast Guard cannot be summoned. When Namor looks into the funnel to see what happened to Spider-Man, Spider-Man springs out and slams Namor with his fist. Then Spider-Man goads Namor into attacking him, but as Namor lunges at him, Spider-Man moves aside and Namor slams into the funnel, stunning himself. Namor is weakened from being out of the water and from exposure to the ship's hot smoke. When Spider-Man webs up Namor's winged feet, the Sub-Mariner plummets to the ship's deck, nearly knocking himself unconscious. Spider-Man and the crew crowd around the undersea monarch and Spider-Man offers to call a doctor, but Namor will not stand for this humiliation. Namor again grapples with Spider-Man, telling him that Atlantis cannot tolerate having the surface-dwellers' power generators placed where they disrupt the current that operates Atlantis's generators.

Seeing that there has been a misunderstanding, Spider-Man asks what might be done. Namor replies that moving the generators two degrees south, where they will benefit from the natural flow of Earth's magnetic field, will make them operate more efficiently and will keep them from interfering with Atlantis's machines. Dr. Kirchner, the scientist aboard the ship, says that the problem requires study, but Namor's suggestion appears plausible. With the disagreement resolved, Namor leaves the ship and dives back into the ocean.

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