Appearing in "Death Toy!"
- Joy Mercado
- Joshua Wirtham (Death) (Only in flashback)
- Gunther Stein (Only appearance; dies)
- Joe Faulkner (Only appearance)
- Carnage (Cletus Kasady) (First appearance as Carnage)
- Mr. Davis (a state attorney) (Only appearance)
- Stane International
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "Death Toy!"
At the TechToy factory, Spider-Man is caught between a rock and a hard place: Does he save Cardiac from being lobotomized from the toy assembly line, or the security guard who that could fall to his death? However, he quickly comes up with a solution that will save both men. Tossing Cardiac's Beta Staff upward, it lands in the track of the crane bearing down on the security guard, stopping it before it can run over his fingers and send him falling to his death. The hero then rips up the conveyor belt on the assembly line whipping Cardiac off the belt. When the guard finally loses his grip, Spider-Man has web-swinged up to catch him in the nick of time. As Spider-Man gets the guard to the ground, Cardiac has recovered his Beta Staff and uses it to destroy the rest of the assembly line before fleeing to another part of the factory. the wall-crawler follows after him and finds Cardiac going over print-outs in a central control room. When Spider-Man asks what Cardiac has found, the vigilante explains that he has found proof that TechToys has been participating in human experiments. Before Spider-Man can clearn more, he is distracted by the sound of approaching sirens. Cardiac takes this opportunity to escape, narrowly avoiding being tagged by a spider-tracer. With the authorities arriving, Spider-Man grabs some of the evidence for himself and escapes as well.
When Spider-Man returns home, he finds that his wife Mary Jane is nowhere to be found.[Continuity 1] However, she arrives home shortly after, explaining that she had just returned home from visiting Liz Osborn downstairs who is current upset about her husband Harry.[Continuity 2] Noticing her husband looks somber this evening, she is soon brought up to the speed regarding the situation with Cardiac. Peter feels responsible for those who get hurt as Cardiac is using the exposes in the Daily Bugle that Peter photographed, and vows to stop Cardiac no matter what.
While at the secret lab of Cardiac, Dr. Elias Wirthham examines the damage done to his pseudoskin and begins going over the TechToy reports as his body undergoes repairs. He learns that the toy company has been experimenting on controlling the human nervous system.
Elsewhere in the city, Gunther Stein is returning home after a grueling night shift. When he arrives at his door, he finds a horrific creature waiting for him. Calling itself Carnage, the man-monster puts a hand over Stein's mouth. Suddenly, the hand turns into a series of tendrils that go into the mouth and nose of Gunther, suffocating him.
The next morning, Peter Parker has a meeting with J. Jonah Jameson and Ben Urich to tell them that he will no longer be taking pictures for any more exposes. He then goes down to the Bugle morgue to find out what sort of corporate connections TechToy has and discovers that it is subsidary of Stane International. His research is interrupted by Joy Mercado who asks Peter if he's working on something newsworthy. He tells her that he is looking up something for homework and quickly logs out of the computer. However, Joy is not buying this. She takes a look at the records Peter was investigating and is interested in what she finds.
While that evening at the Lincoln Center, Eli Wertham is attending a charity gala. There he talks to a councilwoman that is up for re-election. She is on the board of directors for TechToy and since he had contributed to her campeign in the past, he manages to convince her to tell him who the mysterious parent organization of TechToy might be.
Later, after midnight, Spider-Man is about to consider his stakeout at Stane International a bust when he suddenly spots Cardiac sneaking onto the property. The vigilante blasts his way into the office of Joe Falkner. As head of Stane and TechToy he holds him responsible for the nerve gas research that TechToy is involved in. Joe reveals that it is something even more sinister, not a gas, but a sonic device that is perfectly legal. Before Cardiac can eliminate Falkner, Spider-Man interferes, even though he is at odds considering what Falkner is involved in.
Cardiac tries to appeal to Spider-Man by telling him a story. Omitting his true identity, Cardiac talks about the close relationship he had with his younger brother, Joshua. Joshua fell ill of an incurable disease and died at a young age. Elias decided then to devote his life to medicine in order to save lives so nobody would have to suffer the loss he did. During his studies, Elias had learned that a chemical company had discovered a miracle cure that could have saved his brother's life. Wertham shifted his focus, becoming a leading businessman in the field of medical science. Acquiring a vast fortune, he purchased the chemical company that had developed the cure. He discovered that the company had actually created the cure years ago, when it could have saved Joshua's life, but withheld it from the public until the economic climate was such they could have reaped a massive profit. He became Cardiac to destroy those who hide behind the law to profit off the suffering and death of others. While Spider-Man is sympathetic toward Cardiac's losses, he cannot advocate the murder of anyone, regardless of the cause.
This entire distraction allows Joe Falkner to hit the security alarm. Soon the two costumed vigilantes are ambushed by the Stane International security team. Outnumbered, the pair agree to put aside their differences to deal with the security team. However, when Spider-Man begins cutting down their numbers, he discovers that Cardiac had slipped away in the confusion. Spider-Man follows Cardiac's trail of destruction, leading the wall-crawler to where the sonic missiles are being stored. As Spider-Man tries to stop Cardiac from destroying the weapons, they suddenly hear the sound of police sirens. Although Cardiac thinks he has lost this battle, the police have come with the district attorney. As it turns out, Joy Mercado investigated the connection between Stane International, TechToy, and their production of the sonic weapons. The DA has come to shut down operations so they can be investigated. When Spider-Man tries to show Cardiac that they can fight unscrupulous corporations through legal means, he discovers that Cardiac is gone. The vigilante had also left a note that reads "one down, a world to go." Spider-Man is disappointed that he cannot convince Cardiac to fight on the side of the law, but resigns to their differences for now and heads home.
- Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, years later, their marriage is erased from existence by the demon Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545 as such they should be considered a common-law couple here.
- Harry had recently become the Green Goblin again, leading to his defeat at the hands of Spider-Man and being incarcerated. This occurred in Spectacular Spider-Man #178-183.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:
- Page 13, Panel 4-7 - Elias watches as his brother becomes sick and dies.
- Page 14, Panel 1-5 - Wirtham starts his own company and discovers that a drug could have saved his brother's life had it not been for greed. Decides to become Cardiac.
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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