Appearing in "When Midnight Strikes!"
- Hobgoblin (Jason Macendale) (Recap)
- Phillipe Bazin (Recap)
- Iron Man (Tony Stark) (Recap)
- Moon Knight (Marc Spector) (Recap)
- A.I.M. (Recap)
Races and Species:
- New York
- Vault, Colorado (Mentioned)
- Spider-Man's Suit
- Spider-Man's Web-Shooters
- Spider-Man's Belt Camera
- Iron Man Armor MK VIII (Recap)
- Pumpkin Bomb (Recap)
- Goblin Glider (Recap)
- Secret Empire's Hover Platforms
Synopsis for "When Midnight Strikes!"
In a secret underground bunker, members of the Secret Empire observe their latest recruit, the cyborg known as Midnight, as he fends off a number of armed martial artists. Satisfied with the demonstration Number Seven orders Midnight to stand down. Midnight is also satisfied with his new cybernetic body. Removing his mask, he identifies himself as Jeff Wilde. Number Seven reminds Wilde that he will only be known as Midnight from now on. Seven finds it interested to see that Wilde is complying without their use of a pain-inducing implant, especially since Number Seven was the one responsible for almost killing Jeff Wilde and rebuilding him as a cyborg. He is pleased that he managed to convince Midnight that the Secret Empire has kept up with the times so that it would be considered a viable threat much like its terrorist counterparts in Hydra and Advanced Idea Mechanics. He created Midnight in response to the growing number of superheroes that have appeared on the scene, and particularly since the Empire's last operation was foiled by Moon Knight, the Punisher and Spider-Man.[Continuity 1] With everything in order, the Secret Empire inform Midnight that his first mission is to break Elliot Franklin, a criminal physicist out of prison in Queens.
Meanwhile, in Queens, Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane have come to visit Peter's Aunt May.[Continuity 2] In the middle of their visit, Aunt May realizes that she is missing her television show and, much to everyone's surprise, it is a wrestling match that May is watching. Peter decides to take this opportunity to walk through the old neighborhood and leaves Mary Jane to keep May company. Once out of the house, Peter quickly changes into Spider-Man and goes swinging through the neighborhood. He soon comes upon the place where he and Darkhawk had recently battled Hobgoblin.[Continuity 3] The wall-crawler can't help but think that the novice hero is the same age, if not younger than he was when first became Spider-Man.[Continuity Notes 1] Recalling how confused Darkhawk seemed, Spider-Man still wonders what was bothering the hero.
At that moment at a nearby police station, Chris Powell has come to empty out his father's desk. He thinks about how a few weeks ago he followed his father to a nearby amusement park and witnessed him taking money from Philippe Bazin, a notorious mobster. Unsure if his father was taking a payoff or something, he did discover a mysterious crystal. Upon touching it, Chris Powell became Darkhawk for the first time.[Continuity 4] There he is greeted by Officer Jimmy Zafar, who tells Chris that the department hasn't had a chance to go through his father's desk for clues to explain his recent disappearance. Chris finds that he doesn't want to talk about the elephant in the room, the possibility that his father was a dirty cop. So when he sees some officers in tactical gear, he asks what it is all about. Officer Zafar explains that they are preparing to transfer Elliot Franklin to the Vault. Suddenly, Midnight comes crashing through the wall and begins fighting his way through the police officers. Witnessing officers getting killed by the cyborg, Chris finds a secluded spot to change into Darkhawk. Meanwhile, Elliot Franklin sits in his cell thinking about how easy it could be to break out of his cell if he still had his powers.[Continuity 5] Soon, Midnight breaks him out of his cell and tries to escape, only to be ambushed by Darkhawk.
Watching this scene unfold are operatives of the Secret Empire are told to stand back and see how Midnight operates against Darkhawk. As Midnight battles the novice hero, Darkhawk is forced on the defensive. At that moment in the Bronx, the Punisher is demanding answers of a drug dealer regarding the Secret Empire's connection to the local influx of drugs. The dealer tries to play dumb, but the Punisher recognizes the Secret Empire insignia ring he is wearing. After roughing him up a bit, the dealer caves and tells him about the Empire's plans to break Elliot Franklin out of jail to exploit his weapons expertise. Thanking the thug for the information, the Punisher decides to spare him to use for more information later. However, the drug dealer tries to shoot the Punisher from behind. Anticipating this, the vigilante manages to quickly turn around and shoot the dealer dead. Back in Queens, the battle between Midnight and Darkhawk rages on. Hearing the commotion, Spider-Man arrives on the scene. After he sets up his camera, he decides to swing down and lend Darkhawk a hand. At that moment, the Secret Empire operatives determine that Midnight is faltering and fly in to assist. Spider-Man leaps in as well. The battle takes a turn when innocent bystanders are threatened by an out of control Secret Empire flying platform. Ultimately, Spider-Man and Darkhawk take control of the situation and eventually pin Midnight to the wall. When Spider-Man pulls off Midnight's mask he is shocked by the mostly cybernetic fact that looks back at him. When Midnight refers to himself by name, Spider-Man remembers him as Moon Knights sidekick who was seemingly killed during their last clash with the Secret Empire.
Wilde explains that he survived, and while Moon Knight left him for dead, Jeff was taken in by the Secret Empire and rebuilt him as a cyborg. When this starts reminding Darkhawk of his father, it weakens his concentration, forcing him to drop his forcefield. Before Spider-Man can get him to refocus his attention, he is struck from behind by Elliot Franklin. This allows Midnight to get past Darkhawk. The pair then flee, but not before Spider-Man tags Midnight with a spider-tracer. Before the two heroes can follow after Midnight and Franklin, Midnight grabs one of the fleeing Empire soldiers from his flying platform sending it speeding toward the crowd.
- The Secret Empire met this defeat in Marc Spector: Moon Knight #19–20.
- Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, years later, their marriage was erased from existence by the demon Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple as opposed to husband and wife.
- Darkhawk and Spider-Man fought Hobgoblin in Darkhawk #2–3.
- Chris Powell's recollection is an abridged version of the events of Darkhawk #1.
- Elliot Franklin was the mystically powered Thunderball, part of the Wrecker's Wrecking Crew. At the time of this story, Franklin was stripped of his powers by Loki in Thor #430.
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