Appearing in "Skullwork!"
- Red Skull (Johann Shmidt)
- Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian)
- Sweat Shop
- Taskmaster (Tony Masters)
- Solo (James Bourne) (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Captain America (Steve Rogers)
- Red Skull (Albert Malik) (Recap)
- Richard Parker (Recap) (See Continuity Notes)
- Mary Fitzpatrick (Recap) (See Continuity Notes)
- Ben Parker (Recap)
- Burglar (Recap)
- Sid (Director on Secret Hospital)
Races and Species:
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
- Rocky Mountains
Synopsis for "Skullwork!"
Having come to his Aunt May's house, Peter Parker has been introduced to two people who claim to be his long-dead parents, Richard and Mary Parker, a revelation that Peter finds difficult to believe. After going to the bathroom for a drink of water, Peter returns to the living room where he admits to everyone there that he is having a hard time processing this recent development. Auny May explains that she called the State Department, and they have confirmed that these are his parents as their identities were confirmed when they were debriefed in Germany. Feeling the same stress as her husband, Mary Jane goes to light up a cigarette until Aunt May reminds her that there is no smoking in the house.[Continuity 1] Still, Peter finds this difficult to believe because he had heard his parents died in a plane crash.
That's when Richard sits Peter down and tries to explain what happened. He reminds everyone how he and his wife Mary were agents for the government. It was a job that took them overseas a lot. However, before they could get reassigned state-side, they were approached by the Red Skull, who attempted to recruit them as counter-agents. The pair reported this to their superiors, who insisted that they join up with the Skull as double-agents in order to get evidence to take them down. He explains that the Red Skull became wise to them and sent them on a mission shortly after they arrived in Algeria. However, the Russians were also interested in getting a line on the Red Skull, and unaware that Richard and Mary were double-agents working against the Skull, kidnapped then and faked their deaths so they could be interrogated on Russian soil. They were prisoners of the Russians for years, and after Richard hit one of their interrogators for harming Mary, they were intentionally lost in the system. It wasn't until a recent change in the government that allowed Richard and Mary to be rediscovered and released from prison.[Continuity 2] After finishing his explanation, Richard cannot believe all of the things that have changed since he has been gone, especially the news that his brother Ben was killed by a burglar. Peter thinks about how he caught the burglar as Spider-Man, and wishes he could tell them this, but can't.[Continuity 3] Peter tells them that he has a lot to think about and decides it is time to go. When he asks Richard and Mary where they will be staying, Aunt May explains she has opened her doors to them because they are family.
Outside, Peter tells Mary Jane to head home because there is something that he needs to do. He quickly rushes off to the bushes to change into Spider-Man and swings off. Mary Jane thinks about how Peter always keeps part of his life private, even from her, because he is Spider-Man and reminds herself that this is what she signed up for when she married him. She then lights up a cigarette before continuing on her way home. Meanwhile, Spider-Man arrives at Avengers Headquarters to try and locate the Red Skull and see if he can verify the story told by the people claiming to be his parents. Captain America allows Spider-Man to use the Avengers database and the news is not good. Not only is the Red Skull reportedly dead, he wasn't even the one who tried to recruit his parents. The wall-crawler learns that there was a communist agent who took on the Red Skull's identity after the war, and it was he who kidnapped his parents, and that he too is also dead.[Continuity 4] With no further avenues to pursue, Spider-Man leaves Avengers Headquarters, wondering what he would do next. Over the next few days, life tries to go on as normal. Aunt May tries to get used to living with her in-laws, realizing how much about them that she has forgotten. While Mary Jane is having a hard time performing her role on the set "Secret Hospital". While Peter can't follow focus on his classes.
Eventually, things reach a point where Peter wants to be certain of what the truth is. Peter tries going through official channels but is stonewalled by typical government bureaucracy. He then tries going to the Daily Bugle. Although J. Jonah Jameson finds it an interesting story, tells Peter that research takes time. With no other options, Peter decides to change into Spider-Man and web-sling for blowing off some steam. He later comes to the aid of a window washer when his scaffold breaks. After completing this rescue, he suddenly thinks how a dead body was found at the Red Skull's hideout, but they weren't able to confirm if it was truly the Red Skull. Since the authorities couldn't confirm this, Spider-Man wonders if he can determine it himself. Peter Parker travels to Washington, D.C., and swings past the building that served as the Red Skull's hideout. As he does so, his spider-sense goes off, and he presumes it is because of building security and heads off. However, his spider-sense was warning him that he was being observed by someone in the employ of the Red Skull. From his headquarters in the Rocky Mountains, the Red Skull and his ally, the Viper, learn about Spider-Man's presence in the area. The Red Skull remembers his last encounter with the wall-crawler and has some orders for his minions in Washington to follow in regards to the hero.[Continuity 5]
Later, Spider-Man breaks into the office building and finds a group of the Red Skull's Sweat Shop operatives. The wall-crawler gives them chase and easily wraps them all up. Unfortunately, he learns that the data he is looking for was recently stolen by Solo, who had attacked the facility recently. Frustrated by this setback, Spider-Man demands to know where the secret operation that Solo is going after and leaves.
While back in Queens, Aunt May finds Richard going through Peter's old bedroom looking at a high school yearbook. Discovering that May is watching, he begins to cry over how much of his son's life that he had missed. While back in the Rocky's, the Red Skull is informed that Spider-Man took the bait. To ensure that the wall-crawler has a warm reception, the Red Skull assigns the Taskmaster to eliminate the hero.
- 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. Mary Jane had started smoking to deal with the stress of dealing with the dangers Peter faces as Spider-Man starting in Amazing Spider-Man #361.
- Part of this is true. Peter's up until the point where their plane was hijacked by the Russians. As explained in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 that is exactly how Richard and Mary Parker were killed in action while working for the CIA. However, the rest of this story is a fabrication. As revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #388, this is not Richard and Mary, but lifelike simulacrums created by the Chameleon. Also, all references to the dissolution of the Soviet Union should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Uncle Ben's murder and the capture of his killer happened in Amazing Fantasy #15.
- At the time of this story, the Red Skull had faked his death in Captain America #394. The communist Red Skull operated in the 1950s starting in Young Men #24. Surviving into the modern age, he was murdered by the original Red Skull in Captain America #347.
- The Red Skull clashed with Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #325.