Appearing in "If This Be Justice--"
- Sharon Banks (First appearance)
- NYPD Officers and SWAT Team
- Princess Di (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- United States of America
Synopsis for "If This Be Justice--"
The Scourge of the Underworld is dressing up like a security guard as he listens to radio reports about Flash Thompson being outed as the Hobgoblin, as well as his predecessor's recent slaughter of 18 super-villains. Scourge finishes his disguise by putting a mask over his face before looking over the most recent edition of the Daily Bugle, which has a front-page story on Flash Thompson's arrest. Also looking at this newspaper is Peter Parker, who is at the offices of the Daily Bugle. He is congratulated by rival photographer Lance Bannon for getting the front page photo of the Thompson arrest. However, Peter finds it hard to feel good about this photo considering his past history with Flash. That's when Betty Leeds tells Peter that Joe Robertson wants to see him. When he tries to give his sympathies to Betty over what happened to Flash, she snaps at him, figuring he is just another person who stabbed him in the back. Peter wonders why he feels the need to help Flash, considering the Hobgoblin has done nothing but try to kill him. When Peter enters Joe's office he sees that Kate Cushing and Ned Leeds are also waiting for him there. Kate tells Peter that since he has a history with Flash Thompson they want him to interview him. Considering the alternative, the piece being written by the less than sympathetic Ned Leeds, Peter agrees to take the job. After Peter and Kate leave, Joe reminds Ned to keep his objectivity in light of his obvious animosity toward Thompson. When Joe asks him what the deal is, Ned tells his editor that until the issue affects his work, it's none of the editor-in-chief's business. As Ned storms out of the office, Joe wonders what happened to a previously level-headed individual like Ned Leeds.
Meanwhile, at the New York Port Authority, Brian DeWolff disembarks from the bus. His future actions will cause nothing but trouble in the life of Flash Thompson in the near future. Later, Peter Parker is heading to the police station where Flash Thompson is being held. He thinks about how Flash went from being his tormenter in high school to one of his best friends in recent times. When he arrives he is greeted outside by Sharon Banks, Flash's court-appointed lawyer. As Peter and Sharon enter the prison, Peter's spider-sense goes off, alerting him to a police officer approaching the police station. Peter dismisses this warning, unaware that the isn't a real police officer, but the Scourge of the Underworld. Inside the interrogation room, Peter asks Sharon how Flash intends to plead. She isn't sure, but she hopes if he pleads innocent, he has the support of his friends. Peter is behind himself, wondering if he can fully trust Flash. If he is the Hobgoblin, Peter wonders, is he not criminally responsible due to insanity? That's when Sharon snaps Peter out of his thought and asks him if he intends to support Flash. Soon they are collecting their visitor's badges and are about to cross through a metal detector when Peter suddenly remembers he is wearing his web-shooters. Fearing they might set off the metal detectors, Peter excuses himself and rushes to the washroom.
There, he considers the idea of making his web-shooters out of something other than metal to avoid this in the future. Ducking into one of the stalls, he makes a web sack for his web-shooters and then hides them above the ceiling tiles. Suddenly, Peter's spider-sense goes off once again, however, there is no apparent danger. He figures he is probably still skittish about being in a police station after the Sin-Eater affair. Meanwhile, from a hotel room across the street from the police station, Brain DeWolff watches the officers on the street go about their business. He is angry that they are not mourning the recent death of his sister and has decided to make them pay. Blaming the police for her sister's death, he Brian puts on his Wraith costume and uses his mental powers to shatter the door to his hotel room. By this point, Peter Parker is interviewing Flash Thompson. Flash laments about how his life has gone into a downward spiral. How he lost Sha Shan, Betty, and his freedom and how the only person who is on his side is the same kid he used to torment in high school. Peter recalls how he and Flash had a talk about Thompson's bullying not that long ago. Peter admits Flash's assessment that he was standoffish in high school but reminds Flash that he made his life miserable for years. He then reminds Flash that when the two once boxed, Peter knocked him out in a single blow.
Flash asks if Peter has come to gloat, but Peter assures him that regardless of their past he is there as a friend. Flash appreciates it and hopes that Peter isn't just saying that to get a story for the Daily Bugle. He then begins detailing what had happened to him. Later, as a police officer named Jack Brennan enters the washroom, Scourge slips into the washroom after him. When Peter and Sharon are on their way out, Peter heads to the washroom to retrieve his web-shooters. When the Scourge comes out of the washroom, he triggers Peter's spider-sense again. He once again ignores it, until he finds the real Jack Brennan knocked out in the washroom. Climbing into the ventilation system, Peter changes into Spider-Man and uses his spider-sense to follow the danger. He manages to drop in on Scourge before he can shoot Flash Thompson in his cell. While Spider-Man is fighting off Flash's would-be killer, Thompson remarks how Spider-Man is still risking his life even though he knows why Flash is in jail. Suddenly, the fight is interrupted by the arrival of some police officers, who attack Spider-Man thinking he is assaulting a real police officer.
While Spider-Man is busy, the Scourge opens the prison cells and tells the prisoners who he really is. As they flee from Scourge, they run right into the fight between Spider-Man and the police, causing a full-on riot. The police begin using tear gas, allowing Spider-Man the cover needed to escape through the ventilation shaft. While outside, the Wraith incapacitates a police officer with his mental powers and is about to kill him when suddenly the Scourge comes out of one of the doors. Having heard the Wraith's death threat, Scourge shoots him dead, declaring that justice is served before fleeing into the evening. Spider-Man exits shortly thereafter finding the dead body of the Wraith as well as Scourge's discarded mask. Before the wall-crawler can figure out what is going on, the officers inside catch up with him, forcing Spider-Man to retreat. As he swings away, Flash's near brush with death makes Peter realize that Flash is his friend and needs his support regardless what the truth of the situation is.
Later, the real Hobgoblin is reading the newspaper on the patio of the Rose's penthouse apartment. When the Rose tells the Hobgoblin about the recent attempt on Flash Thompson's life, the Hobgoblin finds it amusing. When the Rose asks why the Hobgoblin chose Flash Thompson as his fall guy, the Goblin responds by saying "why not?" before flying away.
- This is not the first Scourge that has been active prior to this story, but yet another operative running under the same name. As revealed in U.S.Agent #4, there isn't just one Scourge, but a number of operatives.
- This story mentions the first Scourge's recent murder of 18 super-villains. That happened at the Bar With No Name circa Captain America #319.
- One of the headlines in the Daily Bugle in this story involves Princess Diana. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616 - particularly since the Princess died in 1997.
- Flash Thompson was "unmasked" as the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #276. The real Hobgoblin is actually revealed in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #3. Why the Hobgoblin famed Flash Thompson is also explained in that story, as he was brainwashing Ned Leeds to act as yet another fall person, and Flash's affair with Betty Leeds helped reinforce the idea that Leeds is the real Hobgoblin.
- There are multiple mentions of the Sin-Eater murdering of Captain Jean DeWolff. This and Peter's discovery of the affair between Flash Thompson and Betty Leeds also happened at the same time. Those events occurred in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #108-110. Ned Leeds discovered this affair, in Amazing Spider-Man #273.
- Although the Wraith is killed here, his spirit returns in Morbius: The Living Vampire #18-19. He is later resurrected by the Hood years later in Punisher Vol 8 #5.
- Plot by DeFalco, script by David and Duffy.
- This issue contains a letters page, The Spider's Web. Letters are published from Chris Johnson, A.B. Hassan, Rick Fedulkulous and Howard Filson.
- ↑ First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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