Appearing in "Look Before You Leap!"
- Daredevil (Matt Murdock) (Recap)
- Fantastic Four (Mentioned)
- Doctor Doom (Mentioned)
- Galactus (Mentioned)
- Rosie Patilio (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Homo sapiens (Main story and recap)
- Hades (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Look Before You Leap!"
The story opens to the exterior of the Baxter Building. A smiling Human Torch flies around the building and performs other aerial maneuvers. He is feeling "antsy" and just trying to let off steam. He suddenly notices a crowd of New Yorkers cheering him on and waving at him. He contemplates that "after all these years", New York City is still in awe of the Fantastic Four. The Torch feels proud, because he and his team have repeatedly risked their own lives to save these people from the likes of Doctor Doom and Galactus.
The Torch then starts feeling nostalgic about the early days of the Fantastic Four. They were at the time a new and unknown commodity, still uncertain about themselves and their powers. But they had a bright-eyed innocence, which in his opinion has since been lost. His thoughts are interrupted by angry cries. A gang consisting of four armed men has just robbed a liquor store, and the store's owner is calling for someone to stop their escape. The Torch decides to intervene.
The Torch chases the gang and is about to talk them into surrendering when he hears someone else issuing a warning to them. He turns and sees Spider-Man standing near him and talking to the gang. The gang members feel quite intimidated after noticing two super-humans threatening them. The Torch turns off his powers and protests that he had the situation under his control. Spider-Man mocks him for being only interested in hot rods and girl-chasing. The two heroes start exchanging insults and seem to pay no attention to the gang members.
The gang members take advantage of the arguing to escape and split into two groups. The Torch goes after one of the groups and berates them for underestimating the two heroes. He melts the handgun of one of the crooks and arrests both of them. He lifts them both up and flies away with them. Rocky, the red-haired crook, jokes that their mistake was getting out of bed that day.
The other two gang members have climbed to the top of a building and try using a door to enter the building itself. They find Spider-Man waiting for them behind the door, and try to run away from him. He points out that he had predicted their every move. The blind running of the crooks leads them to a well-placed net of webbing that Spidey had set as a trap for them. They are trapped and helpless. Spidey lifts them both up and delivers them to the police, who have already taken custody of the Torch's prisoners.
Spider-Man attempts to personally deliver the stolen money to the owner of the liquor store. His spider-sense suddenly alerts him to danger, and someone running at super-speed snatches the money from Spidey. The thief reintroduces himself as Speed Demon. The Demon knows that Spidey's spider-sense warned him about his attack. But claims that warnings are not enough to stop someone with his speed. While running circles around Spider-Man and the Human Torch, the Speed Demon claims that the money he stole means nothing to him. He just wanted to inform his old foe Spider-Man that he is back in business. The Demon then runs off into the distance, laughing. The heroes are too slow to react.
Spider-Man is quite surprised that Speed Demon is back on the streets since he had personally captured the villain only a few weeks ago. A police officer suggests that Speed Demon escaped from prison, and claims that it is "mighty hard" to hold onto a villain like this. The Human Torch counter-claims that it should be easy for someone with his own experience and powers. He activates his flames and flies away after the Speed Demon, assuring Spidey that he will single-handedly capture the villain. Spider-Man is ticked off at the Torch's arrogance. He uses his webs to follow the Torch. The police officer tries to stop him, pointing that the Torch can handle the situation alone. Spider-Man replies that the Torch can not even handle his own ego.
The gathered crowd of New Yorkers watches the heroes leave, and some of them are smiling. But among the crowd is former super-villain Vincent Patilio and his young son Eugene. Vincent is angry at those show-off superheroes, who in his view have no respect for the little guy. He starts loudly ranting about his hatred of all the costumed characters. The crowd is staring at him, while an anxious Eugene tries to calm down his father. The boy manages to pull his father away from the crowd, leading him towards their home. Belker, a young police officer, points to his colleague Francis that Vincent looks like trouble to him and suggests stopping him for questioning. The older and more experienced Francis replies that they can not stop every nut who looks like trouble.
Eugene and Vincent are now calmly walking towards their home. Eugene berates his father for publicly embarrassing him like that, claiming that he could have crawled into a hole and died to escape the crowd's scrutiny. Vincent apologizes but explains that he gets crazy whenever he sees these so-called superheroes. They remind him of his own humiliating past. Eugene reminds his father of Vincent's own advice to him. That he should let go of the past and keep his eyes on the future. Vincent accuses himself of making a total mess of his own life and that of his son. He suggests that his wife is better off dead, because she is unable to witness his failures.
Vincent is soon lost in his own memories and a flashback begins. The flashback begins with Vincent as a "small-time loser". He had some skills as an inventor and dreamed of making it big. But all his inventions were failures and never got past the patent office. Then he designed power-pack driven, leaping coils. They were his most successful invention, but he did not even bother with getting a patent for them. He designed a costume for himself and started a life of crime as the Leap-Frog. But his super-villain career ended when he was defeated by Daredevil. The flashback ends.
Vincent is still lost in his memories. He served his time in prison and was eventually released. He then returned to his wife Rosie and young son Eugene. Rosie Patilio was the breadwinner in the family and her salary had kept them afloat financially. But then Rosie died because of her cancer. In need of financially supporting his family, Vincent got a job. He sold inferior merchandise on the East Side of Manhattan. The earnings were barely enough to pay the rent for their home. He could not afford anything else. His teenage son Eugene is still in school, but had to get his own job to help support the family. Eugene works his tail off after school and has less time for studying. Vincent worries that his son is living an inferior life and that he can not help him.
As Vincent struggles with his feelings of despair, Eugene tries to comfort him and tells him that they will make it through their troubles. Vincent turns around and slaps Eugene for saying that. Realizing that he has just abused his son, Vincent is in tears. He apologizes and explains that he did not mean to do it. He claims that he is haunted by the Leap-Frog, the cause of everything wrong in his life. Vincent decides to go rest and instructs Eugene to prepare his own meal.
With his father leaving, Eugene stands alone. His attention turns to an open hall closet. He starts quietly searching through the closet, careful to not be overheard by his father. Under years of junk, Eugene finds what he was searching for: a version of the Leap-Frog's Suit. Eugene takes the suit to his own bedroom, then starts wearing it. He believes that there is only one way for his father to stop being haunted by the ghost of Leap-Frog. And this way is for someone else to take over the identity and use it as a powerful symbol for good. He feels this mission belongs to him. Wearing the costume, Eugene becomes a new Leap-Frog and declares that there is a new superhero in town.
Eugene leaps out of his bedroom's window and into the street. He warns crowds of New Yorkers to move out of his way. As he clumsily leaps along, Eugene has trouble actually avoiding collisions with pedestrians. People see him as a maniac who is close to trampling them. The constant leaping causes Eugene to feel stomach-sick. He contemplates that he has practiced using the flippers of the suit before, though he still seems inexperienced. He decides to tackle the Speed Demon, feeling that a victory over a super-villain would let everybody know about the new Leap-Frog.
The scene moves to Human Torch and Spider-Man, who are arguing again. The Torch insists that he can handle Speed Demon on his own. Spidey insists that the Demon is both tough and fast, making him a dangerous opponent. The Torch ignores the warning. In his view, Spidey has had trouble with the Speed Demon, but the super-villain would be an easier opponent for the Human Torch. The spider-sense suddenly warns of danger. Spidey leaps to safety and tries to warn the Torch. The Torch is soon caught in what seems like a whirlwind. His flames are snuffed out and he falls from the sky. The whirlwind effect was caused by a running Speed Demon, as an attack. The Demon points that Spider-Man's warning came too late to be effective. He appreciates, however, that Spidey is aware of the danger the Demon poses it and tried to explain it to that "numbskull" (the Human Torch). The Demon starts running in circles around a grounded and dazed Human Torch.
The Torch soon recovers and activates his flames. He uses rings of fire to attack the Speed Demon. The Demon effortlessly moves through the fire without being singed. He is too fast for the Torch's attack to have any effect. The Demon then counter-attacks and gets the upper hand in the fight. Spidey, previously a spectator, decides to intervene in the fight. He unleashes web fluid towards the Speed Demon. The Demon easily evades the attack, and the web fluid strikes an innocent pedestrian. The Demon taunts Spider-Man for being a klutz. He feels that his previous defeat by Spider-Man was only a lucky break for Spidey. The Demon intends to use their rematch to prove that he is the "top dog". The Demon runs away and is chased by the two heroes.
The scene moves back to the new Leap Frog. He has yet to locate Speed Demon, but he has noticed a trio of muggers who are attacking an old woman. He decides to intervene and to make this the first time he stops crime. He miscalculates when leaping, bouncing over the heads of his targets. He barely avoids a collision with a nearby building. Having lost his balance, he lands bottom-first on the ground. He almost fell on the muggers, who decide that the situation has got too weird for their taste. They run away from the novice superhero, leaving empty-handed.
Getting back on his feet, Leap Frog kisses the old woman's hand. He claims that he does not need her words of thanks. The woman instead attacks him. In her view, she was ready to defeat the muggers on her own and he spoiled her chance. She is angry at the superhero and calls him a "commie", a "pervert", and a "bum". Leap Frog realizes that some people have no sense of gratitude. He claims that she will come to regret her attitude. His determination to fight crime has not diminished.
As Leap Frog leaps his way over traffic, he starts realizing why his father was defeated by Daredevil. The springs in the suit make it almost impossible to stay in a straight line. He notices a traffic jam on the streets. The jam is caused by the police car transporting the gang members to prison. Police officer Belker had forgot to refuel the car. The car is out of gas and stuck on the street, ahead of an extensive line of cars. In the car is Rocky, the red-haired crook. Rocky notices Leap Frog, and figures that the man is his former cell mate Vincent Patilio. He calls to Leap Frog, hoping that the super-villain will help him escape.
Leap Frog realizes that someone is calling him from the police car. He theorizes that the police has learned of his victory over the muggers and wants to deputize him as an agent of the law. He starts approaching the police car. Rocky brags that his "personal friend", the Leap Frog, is coming to his rescue. The police officers are alerted. Police officer Francis steps out of the car, pulls out his weapon and threatens to send Leap Frog to the city morgue. Leap Frog is intimidated, but can not stop leaping. He lands on the roof of the police car and wrecks it. Francis starts shooting at him, while Belker calls for back-up. Frog Man escapes into the distance, while a single thought keeps repeating in his mind: "They're gonna kill me!"
The scene shifts back to Speed Demon. He is exiting a store while having his hands full of loot. He is robbing stores and enjoying himself, while the Human Torch and Spider-Man keep chasing him. They are both too slow to catch up to him. Spidey creates a wall of web ahead of the Demon, hoping that it would be enough to stop the super-villain. The web has no time to harden, as the Speed Demon tears through it. However, his loot gets stuck in the web, leaving the villain empty-handed. The Demon does not really mind, as he can always steal more loot.
The Human Torch is getting fed up with Speed Demon's smugness. He increases his own speed and asks the villain to realize that he has been holding back all this time. He can generate enough raw heat to melt down both Speed Demon and the entire island of Manhattan. Speed Demon replies that he is aware of what the Torch can do with his flames. But he is counting on the fact that a goody-two-shoes like the Torch would never french-fry an opponent. While speaking, Speed Demon grabs a lamp post and uses it to maneuver himself away from the Torch. The Torch is unable to stop, colliding with a truck and melting its contents.
Spidey catches up to the Torch and asks him if he is OK. The Torch is uninjured, but claims to be mad as Hades. They notice that Speed Demon has stopped running. He claims to be tired of the two heroes. He kneels and his hands approach the asphalt. He starts giving karate chops at super speed, dislodging pieces of the asphalt. He then uses the pieces as projectile weapons, throwing them at the heroes.
The Human Torch is certain that he can melt down all the projectiles. He melts several of them, but a large piece of asphalt collides with his body. His flames die down and the Torch falls from a great height. Speed Demon gleefully expects the Torch to die, hoping that killing the superhero will boost his own reputation. Spidey swings on his web and rescues the Torch. He calls to him but realizes that "Johnny" is unconscious. Speed Demon prepares to attack Spider-Man next, promising to leave him comatose.
Spider-Man replies that he is mad at the Speed Demon because he came dangerously close to killing the Torch. And the Torch happens to be a good friend. With a feat of strength, Spidey lifts the metallic surface that the Demon was standing on. Carried by his own momentum, the speeding villain collides with a nearby window. With the villain temporary out of action, a worried Spider-Man tends to the injured Johnny Storm.
The scene shifts to Vincent Patilio, who is running in the street. He is searching for his son. He discovered the empty box on his son's bed and has realized that Eugene is wearing the Leap-Frog's Suit. He is worried that his son is going to get hurt or killed. Meanwhile, Speed Demon confronts Spider-Man again. He notes that Spidey's previous move almost injured him. He takes control of the disk-like tops of nearby trash cans and starts throwing them at Spider-Man. Spidey uses his own speed to evade one of these disks and notes that its velocity cut down a metal post. He worries that the next disk could decapitate him.
The next disk is melted on the air by the Human Torch. He has sufficiently recovered to rejoin the fight. He suggests using teamwork against the super-villain. As the two seem to be gaining the upper hand in the fight, the new Leap Frog covertly approaches. He feels he has a chance to take down Speed Demon and prove himself a hero. He clumsily leaps into battle and distracts the Human Torch. Speed Demon thanks him for the distraction, for giving him a much-needed respite. The villain starts breaking loose from the heroes' traps while pulling a confused Spider-Man behind him. Meanwhile, Leap Frog loses his balance and leaps uncontrollably.
The police are witnessing the fight, and believe that the Leap Frog is working with Speed Demon. Rocky the red-haired crook takes a closer look at this Leap Frog. He concludes that the man in the uniform is not Vincent Patilio after all. Vincent is also witnessing the fight and notices that Speed Demon has sent his son flying. He expects to witness Eugene getting killed. However, Eugene lands safely on an awning. Eugene is temporarily out of the fight.
Speed Demon has Spider-Man and his web attached to his back. He pulls the hero in various directions until Spidey's head collides with a lamp post. Spider-Man is knocked out. The Torch starts attacking Speed Demon with his flames. The hero is in a blind fury and does notice where his flames land. When the Demon evades one flame attack, the flames a fire hydrant. The water emerging from the hydrant blasts the Torch. The soaking wet hero can no longer use his flame powers and falls on the ground. Speed Demon stands triumphant over the two knocked out heroes and laughs. He intends to finish them off.
The scene shifts to Leap Frog on the awning. He feels sick and tries to stop himself from throwing up. Feeling that he let his father down, he decides to shut down the power-pack of his suit. However, he does not look at which switch he is hitting. He hits the wrong switch and the suit is now out of control. Leap Frog is now leaping and bouncing at every direction. A worried Speed Demon tries to avoid a collision, but soon realizes that there is nowhere to run. The Leap Frog lands on Speed Demon and knocks the villain out. The landing stops the suit's uncontrollable leaping. A dazed Eugene is congratulated by his father for saving the day. Vincent is now proud of his son.
The story skips ahead in time after some explanations have been given. The crowds have dispersed and a placated police have left the new Frog Man alone. Only Spider-Man, the Human Torch, the Frog Man, and Vincent Patilio remain on the streets and talk. The Human Torch advises Eugene to retire from his career as a superhero, as this is a deadly business and should not be entered lightly. He claims that Eugene is lucky to have survived his first battle.
Eugene rejects the advice, reminding the Torch that he is the one who defeated Speed Demon. He succeeded where the two veteran heroes failed. He congratulates himself and chooses a new codename: the Fabulous Frog-Man. Vincent is slightly confused at the change in codename, but not adverse to it. Eugene explains that he was looking for a name with more pizzazz than the "Leap Frog". An amused Vincent asks what is he going to do with a son like this. Eugene smilingly asks his father to love him. Father and son step away in a cheerful mood.
Human Torch and Spider-Man do not find Eugene's decisions wise. But the Torch appreciates that the young hero is willing to put himself on the line for his father. He considers that Eugene could be a good friend. Spidey intends to catch up with his own friend, Johnny Storm. He invites Johnny to a meal, suggesting that they could reminisce about their past while eating burgers.
- Vincent Patilio recalls his shortlived career as the Leapfrog, which began in Daredevil #25–26. He last put on the costume in Daredevil Annual #1.
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