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Appearing in "Punishment and Crime"

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Synopsis for "Punishment and Crime"

In a warehouse, the Shocker is caught dead to rights by the Punisher. In a state of panic, the Shocker tries to activate his vibro-gauntlets only to discover that they no longer work. Attempting to flee the Scourge of the Underworld also joins the chase. Not watching where he is going, the Shocker runs into a brick wall, leaving him at the mercy of both vigilantes. However, before he is murdered, Spider-Man swings in to stop the two gunmen. After the Punisher and Scourge are subdued, Spider-Man unmasks the Shocker, grabs him by the throat. Transforming into a monstrous form, Spider-Man expresses his intent to kill the Shocker himself. Suddenly, Herman Schultz wakes up in his cell, the whole experience was nothing more than a nightmare. Herman's cellmate is unimpressed that he has had another nightmare, but Schultz can't help it. With killers like the Punisher and Scourge killing super-villains, he fears for his own survival. A few hours later, the Kingpin is informed by his assistant Pembroke that Abner Jenkins, aka the Beetle, is being paroled from prison later that day. The Kingpin tells Pembroke to proceed with plans, intending to use the Beetle as a pawn. As Jenkins leaves prison, he is already thinking of his next big heist to get himself some much needed money.

Three days later, Jenkins pays a visit to the Tinkerer to get a new suit of Beetle armor.[Continuity 1] After testing out the armor's capabilities, Jenkins is satisfied that it is in working order and thanks the Tinkerer for his work, promising to pay him after he completes his next job. A few days later in Washington Heights, the Beetle has called together his allies in order to reform the Sinister Syndicate. Speed Demon is the last one to arrive for the meeting. The Beetle's planning is quickly interrupted by Boomerang, who points out that their last mission got them all defeated and wants to be the new leader of the Syndicate. However, before they can come to blows, the Rhino disarms Boomerang, telling him that he is willing to give the Beetle a chance since he needs the money to have his armor surgically removed.[Continuity 2] Both Hydro-Man and Speed Demon also agree to follow the Beetle's lead on this caper. Going to their van outside, they meet Leila, the woman who is dating Boomerang and is also acting as their driver. The Beetle decides to give her one chance to prove herself and allows her to get in on their plan.

As they drive through the city, they narrowly avoid hitting a young man. This young man turns out to be Peter Paker who, unknown to them, is secretly their mutual foe Spider-Man. Thankfully for Parker, his spider-sense warns with enough time to leap out of the way. Although the members of the Syndicate are surprised with how the young man managed to leap out of the way of the speeding van, but pay it no mind. Recognizing the passengers in the van, Peter decides to follow after them as Spider-Man. A short time later, the villains arrive at the Federal Reserve where the Rhino charges through the front gate. Inside, Boomerang blows the safe wide open. As the villains begin cleaining out the valuables inside, they are interrupted by guards. The Beetle and Hydro-Man attempt to dispatch them, they are ambushed by Spider-Man. This upsets the Beetle, who just wanted money and not have to deal with a super-hero. Still he orders the other members of the Sinister Syndicate to attack. The news of the battle soon reaches the Kingpin, who asks Pembroke to inform him if anyone is killed. Meanwhile, Spider-Man considers that perhaps he is in over his head fighting five villains all by himself. When Speed Demon tries to attack him from behind, the wall-crawler's spider-sense allows him to leap out of the way just as Hydro-Man attacks, hitting his ally instead.

Although Spider-Man puts up a good fight, he is eventually incapacitated. When the others move in for the kill, the Rhino stops them. He explains that he wants to retire once getting his armor removed and doesn't want a murder charge to turn him into a hunted fugitive. Boomerang balks at this, telling him that they are a team and they need to vote on the issue. Seeing that the Rhino will be useful to him, the Beetle orders them to take the money and flee, sparing Spider-Man's life. However, Boomerang goes back against orders to try and kill the wall-crawler. However, Spider-Man redirects his explosive boomerang, causing it to harmlessly explode on the ceiling, burying Boomerang under debris. As Spider-Man is digging him out of the rubble, the police also begin arriving on the scene. When Leila tries to go back for Boomerang, the Beetle pulls a gun on her and says they're leaving him behind because he disobeyed orders. As they flee, Speed Demon decides to make a play of Lela now that Boomerang is out of the picture. Back at their hideout, the Beetle calls in his lawyer, Steve Partridge, who assures her that he will get Boomerang out of prison. As the villains celebrate their victory, the situation has been soured when Pembroke and some men come to collect the money. The Beetle explains that the Kingpin paid for his release from prison and financed the bank heist in exchange for all of the stolen money. Naturally, the rest of the Sinister Syndicate are upset, but the Beetle convinces them that going up against the Kingpin would be foolish and that while they are giving up all their money now, all future jobs the Kingpin will only be taking a 10% take.

After Pembroke leaves, the other members of the team demand answers from Beetle, particularly why he kept the Kingpin's involvement a secret until now. The Beetle explains that they wouldn't have helped had he told them the truth. He then points out that despite Spider-Man's interference, they were a good team and work well together and they can still make it rich. The Rhino is upset but agrees that the Beetle's plans were successful and decides to give him a second chance. However, the Beetle's teammates warn him that if he betrays them a second time, they will kill him. Later, at the Tombs prison, extra security has been put in place to prevent any attempts to break Boomerang out of prison. Also on the scene is Spider-Man, who passes by the Shocker's cell and notes that the villain is afraid for his life. He also spots the same van that the Sinister Syndicate used in the heist. Inside, the Beetle points out to Leila that there it is too dangerous to break out Boomerang. Leila is convinced and agrees to leave. As they pull away, the Beetle spots Spider-Man and manages to blast him with a sonic cannon. It strikes the wall-crawler causing him to fall to the ground. The speed away, leaving the hero for dead.


Continuity Notes

  1. Jenkins mentions how his last suit was destroyed during a battle with Spider-Man, as seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #164.
  2. The narration makes a point of stating that this story takes place prior to Amazing Spider-Man #344 when the Rhino had this armor removed by Justin Hammer.

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