Marvel Database
Marvel Database

Appearing in "The Coming of Hydroman!"

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  • Mr. Whitman's Freighter

Synopsis for "The Coming of Hydroman!"

Aboard the S. S. Bulldog off the coast of New York City, the crew are lowering the special power generator into the ocean as Mr. Whitman, Dr. Kirchner, and Spider-Man look on. Spider-Man's brine-soaked costume continues to irritate his skin, and the heat further aggravates his condition. As the heavy generator enters the water, one of its live electrical cables snaps and begins to slither around on deck. As Spider-Man rushes to deal with the problem, he shoves aside some crates and inadvertently knocks a crew member named Morrie Bench, who is off duty playing cards, into the ocean near the generator. Unknown to anyone aboard ship, the energy conversion reaction within the generator combines with the gases in the water to form a new kind of energy that suffuses the unconscious sailor. Spider-Man manages to cover the live cable with insulating webbing, as Whitman orders the crew to haul the generator out of the water, Bench's poker partner, who was also knocked out, comes to and tells the crew of the mishap.

Spider-Man quickly dives into the water to rescue Bench, although Bench has already been under water for four or five minutes. Spider-Man finds him about to be sucked into the ship's propeller. Before Spider-Man can act, Bench indeed passes through the propeller, but miraculously he emerges unscathed. Spider-Man hauls Bench up the side of the ship, and Bench is taken to sickbay. Then Whitman orders the ship back to port. When Whitman asks Bench, below decks, how he is feeling, Bench replies that he feels queasy. After Whitman leaves, Bench discovers that no matter how much he wipes himself with a towel, he cannot seem to get dry. This makes him angry, and when the ship docks, Bench goes ashore to look for a way to vent his frustration. At the same time, Spider-Man web-swings away into the evening twilight, arriving a few minutes later at his apartment. His singing neighbor is bawling a mournful tune, but before Peter can do anything about it, the telephone rings. It is J. Jonah Jameson, and he wants Peter Parker to shoot some human interest photographs on a freelance basis for the Daily Bugle. Glad to have a job once more, Peter accepts, and then he calls Debra Whitman, who agrees to Join Peter on his photography assignment.

As Morrie Bench sits morosely in Duffy's Pub, a dive in one of Manhattan's disreputable neighborhoods, a woman named Sadie, one of Bench's acquaintances, sidles up for some conversation. The air conditioning in the bar is off, and the city's heat wave is particularly intolerable there. Bench appears to be sweating profusely, and, annoyed, he tells Sadie to let him sweat in peace. Sadie replies that he is gushing, not sweating, and she leaves the bar disgusted. Suddenly Bench melts into a pool of water and flows out the door. Just as suddenly, on the sidewalk outside, the water purposefully rearranges itself back into Bench. When he realizes that he has become a freak, he becomes furious and decides that he will make everybody pay. As he dribbles down a sewer, he resolves to take his revenge on Spider-Man first, since Spider-Man will be the most difficult to deal with. A few minutes later, Sadie returns to the pub to forgive Bench and get him to buy her a steak and a couple of drinks, but she finds him gone. Indignant, thinking that Bench has left with another woman, Sadie exclaims that Bench is "nothing but a drip." In the days that follow, Bench searches for Spider-Man. He emerges first in the bathtub of Hy Egan, a police officer who once busted him for smuggling. When Egan fails to tell him where Spider-Man is, Bench drenches him with water.

In his quest, Bench travels through the sewers, pipes, and drains of New York, emerging from garden hoses, washing machines, water buckets, and shower heads. As Peter Parker is introducing Debra Whitman to J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle, Joe Robertson suddenly rushes in with a story about an insane person who has been sighted on the Upper West Side. The media are calling him Hydro-Man, and he is said to be searching for Spider-Man. Jameson immediately sends Peter and Debra out for photographs. But Peter tells Debra that this may be a dangerous assignment and parts company with her, much to her disappointment. Soon Spider-Man is web-swinging across the city toward where Hydro-Man was last seen. Meanwhile, in the tall midtown Manhattan office building toward which Spider-Man is headed, Hydro-Man emerges from the bathroom faucet of millionaire Easton Kibosh. Spider-Man arrives and begins checking the plumbing, and after a while, as he climbs the exterior of the building, his spider-sense starts to tingle. When Spider-Man enters Kibosh's office, Hydro-Man quickly flushes Spider-Man back through the window with a powerful jet of water. Spider-Man plummets toward the street, but he manages to snag a flagpole with his webbing and saves himself. By the time Spider-Man returns to the office, Hydro-Man has disappeared down the drain. Soon Peter arrives at Jameson's office with photographs of Spider-Man battling Hydro-Man, and a message from Spider-Man to be printed in the next edition of the Bugle. Spider-Man challenges Hydro-Man to a showdown at high noon tomorrow.

Jameson agrees to publish it, because it will make a good story and because it may also get Spider-Man out of his hair permanently. The next morning, Morrie Bench reads the challenge, and, thinking to make a name for himself by defeating Spider-Man, he arrives at the appointed time on the roof of the Katen Building. It is a hot day, and the heat wave that has plagued the city for the past several days continues. Spider-Man appears atop a cooling tower and asks Bench for an explanation. When Bench declines, Spider-Man, thinking to end the battle quickly, leaps at Bench. However, Spider-Man passes right through the watery criminal. Bench says that he has figured out some tricks while in the sewers. For example, he continues, he can shoot water at bullet speed, and he demonstrates this by firing water bullets at Spider-Man. As they battle, whenever Spider-Man tries to punch Hydro-Man, his fist not only does no harm, but the lack of resistance throws Spider-Man off balance. Realizing he is getting nowhere, Spider-Man changes his tactics and starts insulting Hydro-Man to try to anger him. Hydro-Man responds by chasing Spider-Man across the city's rooftops. Enraged by Spider-Man's insults, Hydro-Man cannot think clearly, and Spider-Man tangles him up in a clothesline full of laundry and then throws a heap of old newspapers at him. The clothing and the papers absorb some of Hydro-Man's moisture, and the loss of mass, together with the hot sun, takes its toll on Morrie Bench. Spider-Man's superhumanly strong punch splatters Hydro-Man all over the hot roof. Too weak to reassemble his molecules, Hydro-Man evaporates in a cloud of steam. By four o'clock that afternoon, a cool breeze and a soothing rain end the heat wave, to the relief of millions of New Yorkers.


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