Appearing in "The Thief of Years"
- New York City
Synopsis for "The Thief of Years"
The Vulture has successfully stolen a Juvinator device developed by Doctor Benita Sanchez at Empire State University. Using the device on Spider-Man, the Vulture begins absorbed the wall-crawler's life force. This causes the Vulture to become youthful and vital again, growing a full head of hair in the process. He leaves the withered body of Spider-Man behind and flies away. The wall-crawler is still alive but feels incredibly weak. When Doctor Sanchez says the police are coming, Spider-Man quickly flees the scene. Just then, a janitor enters the room and offers to clean up. Benita shouts at him to bring the authorities upstairs. At first, the janitor is indignant that she would shout orders at him, but quickly changes his tone and agrees to her request. While up on the roof, Spider-Man is winded after climbing up the side of the building. Pulling off his mask and feeling his face, he realizes that he has suddenly become old. This has horrific implications for the wall-crawler, who decides to make the slow and painful trip back home to figure out what to do next.
While across town, the Vulture flies high above the city, reveling on his regained youth. He returns to his hideout where he begins unpacking his newly created costume. Young again, and no longer riddled with cancer, the Vulture believes that nothing can stop him now.[Continuity 1] As he says this, he is unaware that he is watched by a mysterious figure in the shadows. Later, Spider-Man returns home just at the same time as his wife Mary Jane.[Continuity 2] Peter is horrified about his wife seeing him like this and tells her not to come into his private room because he is developing photos. Still, Mary Jane needs to talk after her mall appearance ended with her almost getting shot by an angry fan. But when she barges into the room, Peter is already long gone. Up on the roof, Spider-Man begins to wonder who he can go to with this recent problem.
Meanwhile, the Vulture has finished putting on his new costume, continuing to gloat over his newfound youth. Suddenly, he is struck with pain. While in Queens, an elderly Peter Parker gets off the bus. He can hardly believe the bus driver is telling him about the seniors discount when he wasn't in high school very long ago.[Continuity 3] On his way to his Aunt May's house, he is hassled by some young punks. Peter doesn't do anything about it, because he isn't sure he could teach them a lesson in his infirm body. As he gets closer to Aunt May's house, he wonders if he has been allowing prejudice toward Aunt May's age cloud his ability to believe her about his parents.[Continuity 4] He looks in on his Aunt May who is baking a pie in her kitchen when suddenly he feels a great deal of pain and runs off before Aunt May can see him. When the pain becomes unbearable, he lashes out and knocks down a lamp post with a single blow. Realizing what he has done, Peter looks at his hands and discovers that he is back to his proper age. He then realizes if this has happened to him, he wonders if the opposite is true about the Vulture.
Sure enough, the Vulture has become old again and he is furious. His raving is interrupted by the janitor from Empire State University, who is much more than he appears to be, and offers to help the Vulture fix this problem. An hour later, Spider-Man arrives at Empire State University and sees some men trying to carry the Juvinator out of the science building. Thinking they are thieves, he confronts them only to learn that they were hired to move the device by Doctor Benita Sanchez. Suddenly, Spider-Man is ambushed by the Vulture, but is able to dodge his attack thanks to his spider-sense. The Vulture is still furious at the wall-crawler denied his request to die when he discovered he had cancer.[Continuity 5] As Spider-Man is busy fighting the Vulture, the men finish loading the Juvinator and begin driving away. Unable to go after them, Spider-Man tags the truck with a spider-tracer. Once the truck has gotten away, the Vulture retreats as well. The web-slinger is about to go after him when he hears Doctor Sanchez screaming up in her office. Swinging up to help her, he is shocked when he sees Benita Sanchez being held at gunpoint by... Benita Sanchez? The Sanchez impostor tosses Benita out of the window, forcing Spider-Man to rescue her while the impostor escape. Getting Sanchez to safety, she asks Spider-Man to get the Juvinator back.
Swinging across the city, Spider-Man discovers that the spider-tracer is out of range. He has suspicions as to who the phony Benita Sanchez might be. Thankfully he was able to memorize the license plate number on the truck. With this information, Spider-Man goes to the Daily Bugle where, as Peter Parker, he asks Ben Urich to use his NYPD connections to look it up. Peter declines to tell Ben why he needs this information and tells him he'll be back for it later. Peter decides to do something he should have done a long time ago. Later, Spider-Man pays a visit to Richard and Mary Parker at his Aunt May's house. He tells them not to be afraid and reveals to them that he is really their son, Peter Parker. This comes as a shock to Richard and Mary, but they are proud of him. When Aunt May comes home, Peter asks his parents to keep this a secret from her because she has been acting strangely recently and he isn't sure he can trust her with the truth yet. With that, Spider-Man leaves, finally feeling relieved that he told his parents the truth. Unfortunately for Peter, his relief may just become a nightmare. As soon as Peter is gone, Richard and Mary suddenly change their demeanor. With sinister looks upon their face, they realize what needs to be done next, they need to kill Peter.
- The Vulture was revealed to have cancer in Spectacular Spider-Man #186–188.
- Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, years later, their marriage is erased from existence by Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple here.
- Peter Parker graduated from high school in Amazing Spider-Man #28. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, it has been roughly nine years since Peter graduated high school at the time of this story.
- Aunt May began suspecting that the people claiming to be Richard and Mary Parker are impostors since Amazing Spider-Man #382. Aunt May's suspicions prove correct, as revealed next issue. The real Richard and Mary Parker died on a government mission decades earlier as revealed in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5.
- The Vulture asked Spider-Man to let him die in Spectacular Spider-Man #188, a request Spider-Man refused.
Events in this story happen behind the scenes that affect the chronology of the following characcters:
- Page 1-19 - Spider-Man stops the Vulture.
- Page 20-22 - Peter reveals that he is Spider-Man to his parents.
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