Appearing in "The Big Question"
- Preserver (First and only known appearance)
- Max of the Heaven's Angels
- 🢐 Mayor Ed Koch 🢒 (Topical Reference)
- Ben Parker (Only in recap)
- Father Curtis (First and only known appearance)
- Kevin (First and only known appearance)
- Billy (First and only known appearance)
- Flash Thompson (Mentioned)
- Uncle Ben (Mentioned)
- New York City
Synopsis for "The Big Question"
Early in the morning, Spider-Man is trying to convince himself that he should be happy. He's decided to continue being Spider-Man, but the wall-crawler still feels as though something is missing. Swinging across the city, Spider-Man ends up in Times Square where the Mayor of New York City is giving a public address regarding the revitalization of the area.[Continuity 1] The mayor and Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson are being held hostage by a gun-toting man calling himself the Preserver. The Preserver is against the plans for gentrification, threatening to kill the mayor if they don't stop. Spider-Man quickly disarms the Preserver and discovers that the gun was unloaded. As the man is being arrested, the mayor explains that they aren't tearing down any historical buildings, but repairing them. The mayor then congratulates Spider-Man for saving them and suggests that Jameson thank Spider-Man in the Daily Bugle, much to the publisher's chagrin.
Spider-Man is surprised by this whole scenario, however, when he gets back to his apartment, he still can't feel happy. After a shower, Peter finds that nothing really interests him presently and that his apartment feels empty. Since there is only one person who knows that he is Spider-Man, Peter decides to pay a visit to Mary Jane at her apartment. Peter admits to her that after hearing Flash praise Spider-Man for never giving up, he has decided to continue being Spider-Man. However, he still feels that he still doesn't know who he is. Mary Jane suggests that he spends some time with his Aunt May as she was always good at giving him advice. As Peter leaves, Mary Jane can't help but feel a little jealous that Peter is going to another woman for advice, even if it is just his Aunt. Suddenly, Mary Jane realizes that she is putting his happiness before her own, and thinks that perhaps she is starting to grow up herself. Later in Forest Hills, Peter pays a visit to his Aunt May. When he tells her that he has been feeling directionless in life, she reminds him of some advice his Uncle Ben had, to be true to themselves. As Aunt May goes to make some tea, Peter decides to go looking around his old room.
Upstairs, Peter thinks about this is exactly where he developed his web-shooters and Spider-Man costume.[Continuity 2] When Aunt May comes up with the tea, he notices that his microscope is missing and asks Aunt May what happened to it. May explains that she donated it to a church bazaar which is trying to raise money for a new orphanage. She presumes that she must have given it away with some of Peter's old toys by mistake.[Continuity Error 1] Peter tells her that it is no big deal, but when he leaves shortly thereafter he thinks about how much that microscope meant to him back in high school. Peter recalls how devoted to science he was as a teenager, and while he still loves science, being Spider-Man has made his further education impossible.
Peter soon finds himself at the church bazaar and goes intside to visit Father Curtis. In the church, he is told to come back later to view the sceptre. Father Curtis apologizes for Max, a member of Heaven's Angels, a neighborhood program run by ex-gang members. Curtis then explains that they are displaying the Judas Sceptre, on loan from to the church. The priest intends to charge an admission fee for people to view the holy relic in order to raise funds for the new orphanage. When Father Curtis asks Peter what he wants, Peter is about to ask for his microscope back when he hears how it is being put up for auction. Peter instead tells the priest that he and his Aunt May are happy to help. Unfortunately for Peter, he hasn't sold any pictures recently and can't spare the money to buy his microscope back. As Peter leaves, one of the police guards asks Max to take it easy on people as they are professionals. Max assures them that he doesn't want to cause any trouble. Nobody is aware of the fact that Max has a gun tucked into the back of his pants. Peter then decides to walk around the bazaar where he sees a child being dragged away from the midway. He overhears the boy expressing his interest in baseball, but his father tells him that he will be an orthopedic surgeon like he is. Peter remarks about how when he was growing up, his Aunt May let him make his own decision, even if they were wrong they were always his own.
Meanwhile, back at Aunt May's house, May gets a phone call from Mary Jane asking if Peter is still there. When he learns that he has left, she tells Aunt May that it's not important and ends the call. However, she is lying to Peter's Aunt, as Mary Jane needs to talk to Peter because she feels like her life is about to explode. Back at the church, Peter scrounges his money together in the hopes of bidding for his microscope. As the auction begins, Peter overhears someone calling the alarm because a gang of hoodlums stole the money from one of the rides. At first, Peter thinks about dismissing this, but then recalls that the last time he shirked his responsibility his Uncle Ben died.[Continuity 3] Peter slips away and changes into Spider-Man and goes after them. However, before he can catch the thieves his spider-sense goes off, warning him of danger inside the church. Looking into the window, he sees Max robbing the police officers of the Judas Sceptre. Spider-Man leaps in and knocks down Max, but the officers think the wall-crawler is trying to steal the artifact for himself. When they open fire, Spider-Man leaps to safety, allowing Max to escape. That's when Father Curtis arrives and stops the officers long enough for Spider-Man to go back on Max's trail.
On the construction site of the new orphanage, Max comes across two kids and grabs one of them as a hostage. Spider-Man arrives and tells Max to let the boy go, but Max refuses. He promises that he will let the boy go if Spider-Man allows him to leave, but the wall-crawler doesn't trust him. While Max is focused on the situation, Spider-Man uses his webbing to snare some paint cans. He then waits until Max tries to go down the ladder to get off the scaffolding. In order to keep his balance, Max has to take the gun away from the boy's head, leaving him open for Spider-Man to whip the paint cans at him. When they hit, Max drops the boy and falls off the scaffold, and is quickly grabbed by the wall-crawler who knocks out the would-be theif with a single punch. In the aftermath, Spider-Man leaves Max with the police and goes out looking for the gang members who escaped with the stolen receipt. He finds them being busted by police and snaps a few photos for the Daily Bugle. Suddenly, Spider-Man remembers his microscope and quickly changes back into Peter Parker. He arrives at the auction just in time to put in the winning bid for his microscope. Later, Peter is happy he won his microscope because it is a reminder of everything he ever wanted out of life. This makes Peter realize that he has to start living a new life.
Soon, Peter arrives at Mary Jane's apartment as he wants to talk with her. However, she is busy packing for a very important trip. As she fusses over the deails, Peter can't get a word in edgewise. Peter eventuall manages to get Mary Jane to stop long enough for him to ask her a very important question: Will she marry him?
With the menace of the Hobgoblin finished, Spider-Man's life is back on track. Not even the Preserver can ruin Spidey's renewed dedication to be Spider-Man. But what of the wall-crawler's alter-ego, Peter Parker? His life now seems more meaningless than ever!
- The mayor of New York City is depicted as Ed Koch. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Peter invented his web-shooters and costume back in Amazing Fantasy #15. Peter says it was a "long time ago", but per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, roughly seven years have passed between that story and this one.
- Uncle Ben was shot by a burglar that Peter failed to stop as Spider-Man back in Amazing Fantasy #15.
- In this story, Peter states that the microscope that was given to the church bazaar was the same one that Uncle Ben gave him in Amazing Fantasy #15. However, Peter is mistaken as he left that microscope at Uncle Ben's grave in Amazing Spider-Man #181, it was subsequently picked up by the groundskeeper to give to his own son. One could presume that Peter had more than one microscope and he is confusing the two.
- Reprinted in Amazing Spider-Man The Wedding.