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Appearing in "The Price!"

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Synopsis for "The Price!"

Reading the newspaper, the Absorbing Man tells his wife Titania about the front page story which shows Spider-Man punching Norman Osborn.[Continuity 1] After getting stiffed by the Juggernaut and the New World Order, he is looking for a new plan to earn them some fast cash and suggests that they try to cash in on the million dollar reward that is being offered for the wall-crawler's capture.[Continuity 2] Although they both hold a grudge against Spider-Man, Titania points out that -- as criminals -- they could never claim the reward.[Continuity 3] However, Carl Creel has an idea to get around this. He shows her a photo of the new super-heroes calling themselves the Thunderbolts and explains that they have given him a great deal of inspiration.

A few nights later, Spider-Man stops a pair of crooks from committing a break and enter. Due to the wall-crawler's bad press, the crooks run in fear from Spider-Man alerting a police office. Instead of helping to capture the crooks, the officer tries to arrest Spider-Man instead, forcing the web-slinger to make a hasty retreat. When Peter returns home and tells his wife Mary Jane about what happened, she reminds him that she told him so.[Continuity 4] She points out that the million dollar reward will make anyone try to capture him for the money.[Continuity 5] She also points out that Norman Osborn knows Peter's secret identity and is using this to work against him.[Continuity 6] She is concerned with his safety, especially after what has recently happened to Daredevil, and reminds him he promised her that he would stop being Spider-Man for a while unless it was absolutely necessary.[Continuity 7]

While at the Robertson apartment, Joe tells his wife Martha that he can't understand why J. Jonah Jameson would sell half of the Daily Bugle to Norman Osborn. This on top of how Osborn has been using it as a platform to promote vigilantism doesn't sit well with him.[Continuity 8] This leads to Martha reminding Joe that he only works for the Bugle and he should stop letting it run his entire life. While across New York, members of the super-powered community read about Spider-Man's current troubles. While the X-Man doesn't understand why Spider-Man would intentionally attack an innocent man, Doctor Octopus and Carolyn Trainer gloat over the wall-crawler's misfortune, while Wolverine and Beast of the X-Men are too busy fighting over the funnies to concern themselves with Spider-Man's plight. While at the home of Matt Murdock, the blind lawyer assures his business partner Foggy Nelson that he will take it easy. However, when he is alone he changes into Daredevil so he can go out and learn Spider-Man's side of the whole Osborn assault, despite the fact that he is still recovering from a recent gunshot wound.

At the Daily Bugle, Joe Robertson tries to talk sense into J. Jonah Jameson who is unwilling to listen. That's when Norman Osborn tells the two men to meet him out in the bullpen. There he introduces Jonah and Joe to two new costumed heroes Thunder Girl and Lightningbolt who have recently announced their intentions to capture Spider-Man. Unknown to everyone gathered is that these "new heroes" are actually Titania and Absorbing Man in disguise. By this time, Peter has finished walking Mary Jane to her classes at Empire State University where she once more reminds him that he promised not to be Spider-Man. Peter can understand Mary Jane's position since it seems that his old villains seem to be coming back with no end in sight.[Continuity 9] That's when his spider-sense detects someone leaping across some nearby rooftops. Unable to identify who it was, Peter rushes off to change into Spider-Man to investigate, slipping away from his bio-chem teacher Professor Mark Howards in the process.

Up on the rooftops, Peter quickly changes into Spider-Man, worrying that his wife will be angry with him if she finds out that he went into costume so soon. He soon finds the man who has been trailing him and it turns out to be Daredevil who wants to hear Spider-Man's side of the story regarding the attack on Norman Osborn. Since Daredevil knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and tells his ally that Norman Osborn knows this as well and that he was also the original Green Goblin.[Continuity 10] Although Spider-Man has no proof that Osborn is the Goblin, and hearing why he attacked Osborn, Daredevil believes him due to the fact his powers allow him to detect if someone is lying or not. That's when the pair are spotted by a traffic helicopter. Back at the Daily Bugle, "Lightning Bolt" gloats over how easily his sceme to fool people into thinking he and "Thunder Girl" are heroes. He explains that the recent loss of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and the public's instant acceptance of the newly formed Thunderbolts gave him the idea.[Continuity 11] That's when Norman Osborn enters the room and tells the two "heroes" that Spider-Man has been spotted near Empire State University. After the pair rush off to face the wall-crawler, Norman Osborn tells J. Jonah Jameson that he saw through Absorbing Man and Titania's pitiful disguises and alerts the authorities that they are back in town.

Back on campus, Spider-Man uses the public's fear of him to force the helicopter pilot to explain why he has been following the wall-crawler. After the interrogation is done, the pair are ambushed by "Lightning Bolt" and "Thunder Girl". As Spider-Man and Daredevil defend themselves from their attackers the pair quickly deduces that they are really facing Absorbing Man and Titania. With their disguises blown, Absorbing Man drops all pretenses and begins using his powers to boost his strength. As the battle rages, Professor Howard tries to clear out the hallways of the school. When news of the battle reaches the radio, the broadcast is overheard by Joe Robertson who realizes that this battle was instigated by the Daily Bugle. Fearing fallout against the newspaper, Joe tries to rush off to do damage control. However, he is stopped by Martha who asks Joe when he will stop allowing himself being pulled into the madness created by the paper. As the battle rages on, Mary Jane learns that Spider-Man is involved and is not happy to hear it. While back at the Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson is happy to see Joe arrive with his wife Martha. However, Joe informs Jonah that he has only come by to tell him that he is taking the rest of the day off so he can reflect on working for the Daily Bugle in the future.

By this time, Spider-Man's fight with Absorbing Man has been taken outside, where the villain damages the traffic helicopter. This prompts Spider-Man to leap up and rescue the pilot before the helicopter can crash. Inside, Titania tries to lunge at Daredevil, but he is able to sense her movements and leap out of the way. This sends Titania crashing through a window and puts her directly under the crashing helicopter which explodes on impact. Seeing this happen, the Absorbing Man fears for his wife's life and tries to rush into the flames to save her even though his body has taken on the properties of wood. To make matters worse, he starts taking on the property of the fire, making it impossible for him to save Titania. Seeing that a life is on the line, Spider-Man webs up his body and leaps into the flames. Daredevil watches this from nearby and fear for their safety but is relieved when Spider-Man emerges unscathed with Titania in his arms. With Titania needing immediate medical attention, Absorbing Man surrenders to the authorities. Meanwhile, Spider-Man slips away to change back into Peter Parker and find his wife. When he does find Mary Jane, she tells Peter that she is angry and very disappointed in him and walks away before he can get in another word.

Notes

Continuity Notes

  1. Spider-Man punched Norman Osborn in The Spectacular Spider-Man #250.
  2. The Absorbing Man was a member of the New World Order in Incredible Hulk #457.
  3. Both Titania and Absorbing Man have had a grudge against Spider-Man since Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8. Further clashes with Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #283, Web of Spider-Man #59, 64-65, and Thor #447-448 have done little to endear the wall-crawler to them.
  4. 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.
  5. Mary Jane mentions how she is tempted to cash in on it since she heard that actor Brad Pitt is currently available. When this story was published, Brad Pitt had just ended his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow. Obviously, this should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
  6. Norman Osborn has known Peter Parker's secret identity since Amazing Spider-Man #39-40.
  7. At the time of this story, Daredevil had just recently been shot by the Black Widow in Daredevil #368.
  8. The Daily Bugle was having financial problems since Amazing Spider-Man #416 until Jameson was forced to sell half of the business to Osborn in The Spectacular Spider-Man #249.
  9. Peter lists off a number of his villains who have recently returned from the grave or cheated death:
    Kraven's Last Hunt
    Web of Spider-Man #31 Amazing Spider-Man #293 Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #131 Web of Spider-Man #32 Amazing Spider-Man #294 Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #132

  10. Daredevil learned Spider-Man's double identity during the events of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110.
  11. Some facts about Absorbing Man's scheme here:
    • The Avengers and the Fantastic Four seemingly perished during Onslaught Marvel Universe #1. However, unknown to everyone at the time, they survived and are living on in a pocket dimension. They will be returned to Earth in Heroes Reborn: The Return #1-4.
    • Ironically, Creel's scheme is similar to that of the Thunderbolts, who are actually the Masters of Evil in disguise as revealed in Thunderbolts #1. The truth about thier scheme is revealed in Thunderbolts #11-12.

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