Appearing in "The Arranger Must Die!"
- Spider-Man's Web-Shooters
- Spider-Man's Black non-symbiote costume
Synopsis for "The Arranger Must Die!"
Having survived an assassination attempt on him by the Arranger, Hammerhead has come to the Rose to seek an alliance and destroy their mutual enemy. The Rose considers the idea as their operations have never been in conflict. However, Hammerhead has the idea that he would be the leader of this new organization and would make the Rose his second in command. The Rose tells Hammerhead that he will consider the offer. Before leaving, Hammerhead warns the Rose to make up his mind soon, as he will not be able to maintain his neutrality as the gang war will soon affect him as well. After Hammerhead leaves, the Rose and his lieutenants agree that siding with Hammerhead could be beneficial especially if he and the Arranger kill each other. However, the prospect of being second in command under Hammerhead is unappealing. That's when they get a phone call informing them that one of the Rose's gambling operations was hit by the Blue Boys. The Rose tells his men to contact the Hobgoblin to deal with the Blue Boys. Going into his private room, the Rose laments about being dragged down to the level of the other crime bosses. Attempting to figure out how to navigate this situation, the Rose decides the best way to do this is without his mask.
Meanwhile, on the Lowest East Side, the Blue Boys are smashing up another one of the Rose's operations. This is when Spider-Man comes smashing in to break things up. During the ensuing battle, two of the Blue Boys get the drop on the wall-crawler. Spider-Man leaps onto the ceiling to evade them when suddenly someone from across the street guns down the two gangsters. Spider-Man leaps outside to identify the shooter. He spots the Punisher on the roof across the street. Spider-Man tries to catch the vigilante, but the Punisher bolts. As the wall-crawler gives chase, he recalls how he and the Punisher had recently clashed with the Kingpin, and wonders if the vigilante had anything to do with the recent disappearance of the Kingpin. When Spider-Man tries to point out the hypocrisy of the Punisher's mission, the Punisher counters by saying Spider-Man only chooses to save certain people. He points out the fact that the wall-crawler is letting the two members of the Blue Boys bleed out in order to chase the Punisher. Spider-Man realizes that the Punisher is right, and webs one of the vigilante's arms to a chimney stack. Spider-Man doubles back to the arcade and does what he can for the two injured crooks.
When the police arrive, they order Spider-Man to back off or he will be arrested under orders of Kris Keating. Spider-Man is fine with this and is about to leave when his spider-sense begins going off. Spider-Man goes back up to the rooftops and discovers that the Punisher has escaped. Across town, the Hobgoblin is racing across the city. He has just realized that the Punisher is back in town and wants to avoid conflict with the vigilante, as it would interfere with his ultimate goals. While at a nearby junkyard, Jack O'Lanturn has come to educate the owners on what happens when they stop paying the Kingpin's organization. That's when Hammerhead and his minions come out of hiding and chase Jack away. While at the Kingpin's skyscraper headquarters, his minions are in a meeting with the Arranger and are demanding to know when the Kingpin is going to return. They are upset that the addition of the Punisher in this gang war is cutting into profits. Just then, the Arranger gets a phone call informing him that Richard Fisk, the Kingpin's son has arrived. The Arranger ends the meeting to meet with Fisk, who has come to visit his mother, who is still recovering. Left alone with Vanessa Fisk, he learns that his mother still doesn't recognize him. Richard tells her that he is involved in a most dangerous game, but assures his mother that everything will be okay once it is over.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man lands on the roof of the Daily Bugle and changes back into Peter Parker. He is worried about the escalating gang war and the return of the Punisher. When he tries to sell the photos of the arcade shootout to Kate Cushing, she tells him that she will take a look, as he took too long to get the photos to her and she has a stack of UPI photos to choose from. As Peter heads out, he discovers that Ann Macintosh is filling in for Betty Leeds. Apparently, she called in sick, although Ann didn't buy the excuse, and figures her recent marital problems are the reason why she isn't in. She notes that Ned Leeds, Betty's husband, is currently getting reamed out in Joe Robertson's office. Inside Joe's office, Robertson tells Ned that he hasn't been producing any quality work. He also reveals that he knows Ned has been lying about assignments that he claims to be working. Ned admits it, and says that he has been feeling inadequate compared to the Bugle's star reporter, Ben Urich. He explains that he has been working on a Pulitzer worthy story about Soviet spy operations during the 1960s. However, he doesn't have all the facts to prove the story he's following just yet. That's when Ben Urich comes in to tell Joe the news that Hammerhead has put out a contract on the Arranger. As Peter Parker listens in, Urich suspects that after the Arranger is eliminated, Hammerhead might go after the Rose next. This causes Leeds to become grim as he considers this situation.
Later, Spider-Man is back swinging across the city, wondering when and where Hammerhead will try and take out the Arranger. He briefly considers leaving Hammerhead to complete this task, given how many people the Arranger murdered on behalf of his boss, the Kingpin. He can't bring himself to step aside, fearing that such a clash could cost innocent lives. Later still, Hammerhead learns that the Arranger is calling a meeting of all his top generals that evening. Hammerhead hopes the information is accurate. As Urich theorized, Hammerhead plans on taking out the Rose after dealing with the Arranger. While at a seedy hotel, the Punisher has also heard about the Arranger's meeting and is preparing to interrupt it himself. He hopes that Spider-Man doesn't interfere, but has a special surprise arranged for the wall-crawler should he do so. As the Punisher begins taking out guards outside the Kingpin's headquarters, Spider-Man has spent a fruitless evening searching for sign of Flash Thompson or the Hobgoblin. He suddenly spots the guards taken out by the Punisher and decides to investigate. Inside, the Rose and his men wait for their meeting with the Arranger.
Outside, the Punisher attempts to fire a bazooka into the building, but his aim is ruined by Spider-Man. When the rocket blows up harmlessly in the sky, it alerts all the mobsters inside the building. This gives Hammerhead's representative to try and take a shot at the Arranger. However, both Jack O'Lantern and the Hobgoblin come out of hiding and kill him. The Arranger is thankful for the assist and he and the Rose agree to work together. The Rose then orders the Hobgoblin to shake hands with Jack O'Lantern, much to the chagrin of the Hobgoblin. When the Hobgoblin demands to know what is going on, the Rose tells him they will discuss it later. Meanwhile outside, the Punisher is furious with Spider-Man interfering in his plan and opens fire on the wall-crawler. Spider-Man throws off the Punisher by smashing a chimney, showering the roof with bricks. This allows Spider-Man to get closer but the Punisher is ready for this. Slamming his fist against his chest, the Punisher activates a device that sprays Spider-Man with knockout gas. As Spider-Man blacks out, the Punisher tells Spider-Man that he can't let the hero capture him, as he must take his personal war to the mobsters, and leaves.
- There are multiple references to the Kingpin being absent from the New York City crime scene. This was after his minions lost confidence in him due to his obsessions with Daredevil, as seen in Daredevil #233.
- Spider-Man recalls that the Punisher had recently gone after the Kingpin. This occurred in Punisher #1-5.
- Ned Leeds is getting trouble from Joe Robertson due to his marital problems. His wife, Betty Leeds, had been cheating on him with Flash Thomspon since Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #109, Ned discovered this in Amazing Spider-Man #273. Joe confronts Ned about the bogus assignments he's been telling Betty about. Joe learned about these in Amazing Spider-Man #275. In reality, Ned has been brainwashed into thinking he is the Hobgoblin, as revealed in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #3. Ned's assertion that he has a story about Soviet spies is true, the details of which are explored in Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1.
- Spider-Man has been searching for Flash Thompson, who was framed for the Hobgoblin's crimes in Amazing Spider-Man #276. He was broken out of jail by Jack O'Lantern and has been on the run from the law since Amazing Spider-Man #281.
- No letters page is published this issue.
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