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Appearing in "With Foes Like These..."

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Synopsis for "With Foes Like These..."

Accused of being the Hobgoblin, Flash Thompson has been on the run since he was broken out of prison by Jack O'Lantern. He wants to find Spider-Man, but fears that his hero might think he is actually the Hobgoblin. Flash thinks about how his life has turned upside down, from high school football start to wanted fugitive. Having faith that Spider-Man will help clear his name, Flash attempts to leave the alley he is hiding in to find the hero. Unfortunately, that's when a police car speeds by with its sirens on. This takes all the bravery out of Flash Thompson and he crumbles into a fetal position on the filthy floor. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is swinging across the city searching for Flash Thompson. However, he has grown tired of swinging across the city, especially after he failed to save the life of a child recently. He wants to retire his career as Spider-Man, but can't bring himself to do so until he finds Flash and helps clear his name. Spotting a police car speeding by, Spider-Man decides to hitch a ride on top to see where it's going. Hoping for news photos, the wall-crawler attaches his camera on top of the police car's flashers.

The police car arrives on the scene where officers are attempting to stop Titania from robbing a jewelry store. Spider-Man remembers her from his time during the Secret Wars and how she had beaten She-Hulk within an inch of her life. Still, the wall-crawler leaps into battle to stop her. Seeing the hero, Titania becomes scared because Spider-Man was the only person who was able to defeat her since she was given her enhanced strength. She grabs her stolen loot and then tries to escape. As she flees she wishes she had listened to her partner, the Absorbing Man, and laid low. When Spider-Man chases after her, she tosses a van at him. Spider-Man dodges the van and it crashes into the side of a building. While Spider-Man is busy webbing the van in place so it doesn't fall, Titania manages to slip away. After recovering his camera, Spider-Man picks up the trail on Titania, as she left a path of destruction along the way. Meanwhile, Titania has slipped into some civilian clothes and manages to slip away from the police. However, she hasn't eluded Spider-Man who uses his spider-sense to follow her back to the hotel where she is staying.

Titania finds Crush Creel -- the Absorbing Man -- waiting for her. He wants to know where she went, as they are supposed to be laying low. She tells him that she needed some fresh air, but when reaching into her purse, his powers turn him into diamond and Creel realizes that Titania went out on a heist. As Spider-Man listens from outside the window, he warns her that this could jeopardize their heist at La Guardia airport that night. Spider-Man decides to go and warn the Avengers but is seen leaving by the Absorbing Man. When he asks Titania what the wall-crawler was doing in the area, Titania admits to what happened. While at the 23rd Precinct, Kris Keating demands his officers to finally find Flash Thompson, as his escape made the department look stupid. As the officers shuffle out they wonder why Keating is taking such a personal interest in Thompson. Overhearing this, Kris thinks that they will never understand how much this case truly means to him.

Elsewhere, Peter Parker calls the Avengers hotline and reports his sighting of the Absorbing Man and Titania. Considering his responsibility done, he can sell his photos to the Daily Bugle and continue his search for Flash. Later, at the Daily Bugle, Kate Cushing accepts the photos but critiques his style. On his way out, Peter can't believe he misses selling photos to J. Jonah Jameson who would have accepted the photos without any question. When he spots Betty Leeds looking down, Peter asks her what's the matter. That's when her estranged husband, Ned Leeds, pipes up about how she was having an affair with Flash Thompson before he was arrested. Strangely, Leeds kicks off Peter's spider-sense. When things get heated, Peter gets between the couple. He tells Ned to back off, which puts Leeds on the defensive. When Ned asks Peter if it was okay for his wife to cheat on him, Peter doesn't think so but won't let Ned harm Betty. The intense situation is broken up by Joe Robertson, who tells them to act like adults or take their fight outside. Ned Leeds storms off, warning Peter that he hasn't heard the last of this. Again, Ned sets off Peter's spider-sense, leaving Peter to wonder what it means.

While back at the Saint Lauren Summit hotel, the Wasp has come to investigate the report on the Absorbing Man and Titania. However, by that time the two criminals are long gone, much to the relief of the owner. With the other Avengers tied up in a situation, the Wasp takes off to help her teammates. At that moment across town, the Absorbing Man and Titania have relocated to a seedier hotel to lay low until they make their latest heist. Titania insisted on it after Spider-Man followed her back to the Summit. Creel tells her that she shouldn't let the wall-crawler rattler her. Titania explains that she was scrawny Skeeter MacPherran before Doctor Doom gave her power during the Secret Wars. She thought she was unbeatable at that point, that was until Spider-Man was able to land her a humiliating defeat. The Absorbing Man comforts Titania, telling her that sometimes you lose some battles because there is always someone stronger than you out there. When Titania asks Carl if he could defeat Spider-Man, he figures he could. This gives Titania an idea on what to do next to rid herself of Spider-Man forever.

At that moment at Kingsley Limited, Peter Parker has arrived to visit Mary Jane Watson for lunch. As they leave, Peter walks past Roderick Kingsley's office Peter's spider-sense goes off again. Peter wonders what is going on, but doesn't want to freak Mary Jane out by acting on the impulse. They leave, unaware that the Hobgoblin is demanding that Kingsley provide him the weapons he promised. When Kingsley offers him a new cache of pumpkin bombs, the Hobgoblin swats them out of his hands. He demands more powerful weapons, things which he can use to destroy Spider-Man once and for all. As the Hobgoblin leaves, Kingsley fears that the Hobgoblin is becoming unhinged with his obsessions over destroying Spider-Man, and decides to make some precautions to ensure the Hobgoblin doesn't turn on him. Later, as Peter and Mary Jane are having lunch, Peter tells her about the situation with the Absorbing Man and Titania and how he passed it off on the Avengers. When Mary Jane asks why Peter reminds her that he want's to quit being Spider-Man once he finds Flash Thompson and captures the real Hobgoblin. Although Peter admits that he feels like he is copping out on his responsibility. Mary Jane is happy to hear that Peter is going to quit being Spider-Man and tells him that he has shouldered his responsibility too long, and that. Peter hopes that he is doing the right thing, and Mary Jane puts her hand on his and tells him that he needs to trust in himself. There is an awkward moment of silence between the two of them until Peter breaks contact and suggests they should go. As they are paying for lunch, Peter overhears a radio report about a disturbance at Avengers Mansion.

Realizing that nobody will be at La Guardia to stop the Absorbing Man and Titania, Peter has no choice but to go out and stop them as Spider-Man. There, Titania and the Absorbing Man are disguised as chauffeurs and are waiting for a new recruit into the Masters of Evil to clear customs. When Titania spots Spider-Man swinging toward the airport, she slips away to attack him. Hearing the commotion, the Absorbing Man strips off his uniform and runs to Titania's side. The trio's battle takes them crashing into the airport. As the battle rages, the Master's new recruit observes the fight. This being has no interest in joining the Masters of Evil, as he was only looking for a means to get smuggled into the United States, and leaves as the battle rages on. Meanwhile, Spider-Man's speed and agility prove too much for the Absorbing Man, who takes too many blows and is knocked out. Seeing her love fall, Titania overcomes her fear of Spider-Man, due to the harm that might come to Creel. As Spider-Man turns his attention to Titania, the Absorbing Man gets up, having feigned defeat to encourage his girlfriend to fight. With Spider-Man winning the battle, the Absorbing Man lifts up an airplane and orders the wall-crawler to stop fighting immediately. He warns Spider-Man that if he doesn't let them go, he will smash the plane, killing all the passengers and flight crew onboard. With no other choice, Spider-Man stands down, allowing the two crooks to escape.

Later on his way home, Spider-Man is convinced now more than ever that it is time to quit being a super-hero. The next morning, a morning commuter reads the latest criticism of Spider-Man's actions in the Daily Bugle and disposes of his paper when his bus arrives. The wind blows the paper into the alley where Flash Thompson has been hiding. Reading the story, he can't believe that Spider-Man is a coward and that he faces his problems no matter what. Flash takes inspiration from this and decides to have courage in himself as well.


Continuity Notes

  • Titania and Absorbing Man mention how they recently joined the Masters of Evil. That happened in Avengers #273.
  • Peter's spider-sense is triggered by Ned Leeds, and later at Roderick Kingsley's modeling company. These are clues to the identity of the Hobgoblin. Ned Leeds was being hypnotized into believing he was the Hobgoblin by the true villain. The man who appears to be Roderick Kingsley in this story is actually his brother Daniel, as the Hobgoblin was really Roderick. These details are all revealed in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #3.
  • The Wasp is concerned about her teammates as this story takes place during the events of Avengers #274, when Avengers Mansion was under siege by the Masters of Evil.
  • Spider-Man makes a few mentions about his decision to quit being a superhero. He made this decision in Amazing Spider-Man #275.
  • The mystery person that the Absorbing Man and Titania were meeting at the airport was the Mongoose, as revealed in Thor #391.

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