- Sorry, M.J. and thanks. It's just that, it was bad enough when I found out years ago that my parents were government couriers, that they died on a spy mission against the Red Skull! But when they showed up yesterday alive, saying they'd been in Russian prison camps for the last 20 years -- ! Well, I guess I'm more messed up than I thought. I want to love these people, but how can I even believe them? If only I could find the Skull, have him confirm or deny their story...
- -- Peter Parker
Appearing in "Skullduggery"
- Taskmaster (Tony Masters)
- Death-Shield (Tim Karlskin) (First appearance)
- Jagged Bow (Joe Emberlin) (First appearance)
- Blood Spider (Mike Bingham) (First appearance)
- Red Skull (Johann Shmidt)
- Viper (Ophelia Sarkissian)
- U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. (Impersonates NYPD)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- Daredevil (Matt Murdock) (Mentioned)
- CIA (Mentioned)
- Richard Parker (Mentioned)
- Mary Parker
- May Parker
- Ben Parker (Mentioned)
- Daily Bugle
- NYPD (Mentioned)
- Ambassador Kuroto (Only appearance)
- Ted (a reporter) (Only appearance)
Races and Species:
- United States of America
- Alexandria (Referenced)
- Private estate
- Washington, D.C. (Mentioned)
- New York
- Russia (Mentioned)
- Japan (Mentioned)
- United States of America
- Spider-Man's Suit and Web-Shooters
- Spider-Tracer (Mentioned)
- Blood Spider's Suit (First appearance)
- Spider-Slayer Mark IX (First appearance)
- Taskmaster's Escape-Craft
Synopsis for "Skullduggery"
Spider-Man arrives on an estate near Alexandria, Virginia, investigating a secret project in the hopes it will lead him to the Red Skull so he can learn the truth about the apparent return of his parents.[Continuity 1] On the way, his spider-sense kicks in warning him of someone following him from behind. Leaping around and webbing up his pursuer, Spider-Man discovers that it is the anti-terror vigilante known as Solo. Since they are both going after the Red Skull, Spider-Man suggests that they work together, even though he doesn't like the prospect of working with a murderer like Solo. As they approach the facility, they find no guards or security systems to greet them. When they enter the building, they are greeted by the Taskmaster who informs them that they will be fighting some of his best students. He then introduces Death-Shield, Jagged Bow, and Blood Spider, warriors who have been trained in the fighting styles of Captain America, Hawkeye, and Spider-Man respectively. Solo begins opening fire, his opening salvo dodged or deflected by their opponents. Spider-Man is horrified and insists that Solo not kill anybody. Solo resigns to Spider-Man's request but makes no promises.
When their foes ambush them, Spider-Man leaps out of the way of Jagged Bow's arrows, but Solo is caught in Blood Spider's webs. This is only a minor annoyance to Solo who teleports out of the trap and ambushes Jagged Bow. Meanwhile, Death-Shield tries to crush Spider-Man by pinning him to the wall with his weapon. However, Spider-Man webs up his eyes and arms, forcing the assassin to pull away. That's when Blood Spider leaps in, but he is no match for Spider-Man. Seeing his assassins losing the battle, the Taskmaster decides that it is time for him to leave. His departure is seen by Spider-Man who tries to stop the Taskmaster from escaping. When Spider-Man begins gaining the upper-hand, he is ambushed from behind by Blood Spider. While Spider-Man is dealing with this new threat, the Taskmaster manages to escape. With the Taskmaster's minions defeated, Solo informs the wall-crawler that he discovered that the Red Skull intends to attack on Columbus Day festivities in New York City.[Continuity 2] Although he is still reluctant to work with thew wall-crawler, Solo agrees to meet with him in Battery Park the next day after Spider-Man can do some research. With that, Solo teleports away stating his slogan, "While I live, terror dies!" With that, Spider-Man heads off, satisfied that he can at least keep Solo on a leash.
Meanwhile, the Taskmaster reports his failure to the Red Skull at his hideout in the Rocky Mountains. After hearing this, Viper asks the Skull if he is canceling his Columbus Day plans. The Red Skull intends to carry on with his plans, intending to deal with Spider-Man should he interfere. The following morning in New York City, Peter Parker wakes up to find his wife Mary Jane bringing him breakfast in bed.[Continuity 3] He confides to Mary Jane that he can't trust the fact that his parents are alive after 20 years of thinking they were dead until he can confirm or deny it.[Continuity 4] Just then, the woman claiming to be Mary Parker calls and leaves a voicemail asking for Peter to join her and her husband for lunch. Mary Jane tells Peter that he's going to have to face these people soon, Peter knows, but he needs more time. While in Queens, Mary decides to ask May to come out for lunch with them instead.
Later that day, Peter Parker goes to the Daily Bugle and looks up every article about the upcoming Columbus Day celebrations but can't figure out where the Red Skull might strike. Spotting Joy Mercado, Peter asks her if she knows of anything. After agreeing to let her in on a few of his next few exclusives, she tells him what she knows. That evening, Spider-Man swings to Battery Park to meet up with Solo. He finds the vigilante waiting for him in the shadows. Spider-Man explains that a Japanese official is scheduled to making a surprise speech at the ceremonies. This is all part of meetings to begin discussions into trade negotiations to ease relations. The assassination of this official could set back relations between the two countries. Solo thanks Spider-Man for the information, telling the wall-crawler that they will meet the following day and teleports away. A half-hour later, as the delegate arrives by boat, gunmen try to shoot him. However, Solo teleports in and begins mowing down the killers with his automatic weapons. Spider-Man leaps in and reminds Solo that he promised not to kill anybody. Suddenly, a number of ULTIMATUM forces come in with guns blazing.
In the cross-fire, Spider-Man and Solo notice that members of the NYPD SWAT team is ushering the Japanese delegate into a nearby warehouse. Solo wonders why they aren't taking the official out of the combat zone. This makes Spider-Man suspicious and decides to go and check it out. As it turns out the SWAT team are actually members of ULTIMATUM in disguise. Although Spider-Man manages to spoil their attempts to kill the terrorists, one of them manages to grab the Japanese official. However, before any harm can be done, Solo teleports in and sucker punches the ULTIMATUM assassin. With the danger over, Spider-Man is about to try and apprehend Solo when he hears something on the other side of a pile of crates. Thinking they missed one of the terrorists, Spider-Man goes to see and discovers that it is only a technician looking over the security monitors. From them, he can see that the police have arrived on the scene and the situation is getting under control. Unfortunately, this distraction allows Solo enough time to recharge his powers and he teleports away. Spider-Man returns his attention to the technician and usurps his computer so he can gain access to the Red Skull's files via the internet connection. As he begins looking through the files on his parents, it appears that the Red Skull's documents confirm their story. However, before he can get all the way through the files, his spider-sense warns him of danger. He leaps out of the way just as an ULTIMATUM agent opens fire, destroying the computer.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Red Skull is informed that a data breach was prevented from the attack site. The Red Skull presumes that it was Spider-Man, but has other business to attend to and will reserve trying to kill the hero some other time. Back at the scene, Spider-Man is still present as the authorities take the ULTIMATUM members. Among the press is Joy Mercado, who asks Spider-Man when he and Solo became partners. The wall-crawler tries to explain that they aren't partners, and eventually gets frustrated trying to explain himself and web-swings away. As Spider-Man swings away, his spider-sense begins giving off a low buzz which he dismisses as the general danger of living in a city, unaware that he is being observed by a small mechanical spider.
- ↑ Peter Parker's parents were killed while on a mission for the CIA in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5. He recently met people claiming to be his parents last issue. It is revealed much later, in Amazing Spider-Man #388, that these are not Peter's parents, but simulacrums created by the Chameleon.
- ↑ Specifically, Solo states that the Red Skull was planning on attacking the "America Day" celebrations. This was a specific celebration of Columbus Day to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Columbus discovering the New World. These celebrations occurred in late 1991. As such, this reference should be considered topical per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- ↑ The original twin towers of the World Trade Center are seen among the buildings on the New York Skyline. Since the original towers were destroyed in a terror attack on September 11, 2001 and since replaced this should be considered a topical reference as well. Also, 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.
- ↑ In Civil War #2, Peter Parker states he was 15 years old when he became Spider-Man. Per the Sliding Timesacle of Earth-616, that would make Peter roughly 23 years old at the time of this story. This would suggest that Peter was around 3 years old when his parents died.
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- ↑ First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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