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Appearing in "Rags to Riches!"

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Synopsis for "Rags to Riches!"

Peter Parker is in Los Angeles on assignment for the Daily Globe, and, his work finished, he is at the gala opening of Cat's Jazz Club before returning to New York. As he observes the attendees, he is surprised to see Jack Russell, who he knows from a previous meeting is the Werewolf. Then Peter recalls the day's events, including how he talked a costumed woman out of turning to a life of crime. (He does not know that she was Spider-Woman.) As the music begins, he settles down to enjoy himself. Jack Russell is at a table with his friend Buck Cowan, quietly discussing recent events. Two days ago, a hoodlum called the Enforcer broke into Buck's apartment and shot him. Fortunately, Spider-Woman and the Werewolf caught the criminal, and the police now have him in custody. Apparently, he was not trying to kill him, because the bullet merely drugged him. Buck was given an antidote at a hospital. Jack says that Buck now has nothing to worry about, but Buck maintains that the Enforcer was working for someone. Jack can see that Buck is becoming worried, and this is exactly what he wanted to avoid when he invited Buck to the club. Actually, Buck nearly died, muses Jack, but there are no clues and the Enforcer is not talking, so there is little they can do. As time passes, Buck calms down and begins to enjoy the music. Suddenly an awful stench permeates the room, and a man dressed in filthy rags redolent of sewage enters. The club attendees are appalled at this apparition.

Calling himself the Tatterdemalion, the man scornfully apologizes for offending his "wealthy, refined friends" and declares that tonight he will revenge himself against them. Unfortunately, Peter cannot slip away to change into his Spider-Man costume, and Jack Russell cannot become the Werewolf in front of all those people. A man in the audience tells the "disgusting creep" to get out, but the Tatterdemalion slams him in the jaw. Then he burns his hand through the man's clothes. Petrified with fear, the man tells him to take whatever he wants but not to hurt him, and the Tatterdemalion grabs a woman's purse. He wants nothing from them, he says, neither their finery nor their jewels nor their money. All he wants is to deprive them of it. So saying, he opens the purse and burns the money inside with his touch. Jack Russell realizes that the Tatterdemalion is insane and could kill someone, so he has no choice but to challenge him. The criminal remembers him from an encounter years ago and says that with no full moon tonight, Russell will be easily eliminated. Jack curses himself for not thinking. Although he can now become the Werewolf at will, this ability is still a secret. But as Jack ducks out of the way of the Tatterdemalion's touch, Peter Parker jumps between them. Much to Peter's surprise, the Tatterdemalion sends him sprawling. Apparently, thinks Peter, he has a strength-booster under his rags. Then the Tatterdemalion threatens to burn through Peter's clothing, which would inadvertently expose his Spider-Man costume. Suddenly the lights go out. Cat and Mouse, who have been performing on stage, believe this is their signal to attack the Tatterdemalion, but their boss, a shadowy figure known as the Shroud, restrains them. The cover of darkness is not for them, he says, for there are two in the audience who will handle the intruder.

They have other business to take care of tonight. So saying, he departs, followed by the two musicians. Meanwhile, Jack Russell battles the Tatterdemalion in the darkness. Peter takes advantage of the gloom to quickly change into his Spider-Man costume. Russell is a decent fighter, but he is outclassed by the powerful Tatterdemalion, so soon he has to change into the Werewolf. When the lights come up, a veiled woman in the audience watches Spider-Man battle. She realizes that he took action against the Tatterdemalion in pitch darkness, so he must be able to see in the dark or has special senses. He may be just the agent she is looking for. With this thought in mind, she slips out a side door in the confusion. He could be a perfect weapon in her secret war, she thinks, and soon he shall belong to her, body and soul. Having trouble getting a grip on the Tatterdemalion's oily clothes, Spider-Man does not know that the Werewolf now retains his intelligence when transformed, so, thinking the Werewolf has gone berserk, he stops battling the Tatterdemalion. As he tries to restrain the Werewolf, he is most surprised when Jack starts talking. Unfortunately, by the time Spider-Man comprehends the situation, the Tatterdemalion wraps the Werewolf in his filthy cape and slaps his hat over Spider-Man's face. The hat contains chloroform that puts Spider-Man out of action long enough for the Tatterdemalion to knock out the Werewolf with the weighted end of his scarf.

By the time Spider-Man's head clears, the Tatterdemalion has carried the Werewolf away. The fresh air outside helps Spider-Man shake off the effects of the chloroform, and soon he finds an open manhole down which he presumes the Tatterdemalion has abducted Jack Russell. He does not know that it was the mysterious lady who made sure the manhole remained open. She intends to watch Spider-Man battle. If he defeats the Tatterdemalion, he will have removed a potential enemy, and she will know he is the man she wants. However, she does not know that she herself is being watched—by an even more shadowy figure. About a mile away, the Werewolf regains consciousness in the Tatterdemalion's lair. He is suspended by his wrists from the ceiling as the Tatterdemalion introduces some of his derelict companions. When the Werewolf calls the derelicts "bums," the Tatterdemalion replies that the rich always spit on the poor. Still, he continues, the Werewolf should have been different, even though he is the son of a wealthy baron. Like the derelicts, the Werewolf was forced to live like an animal against his will and had no control over his life. The Werewolf replies that he defeated the odds and took control, implying that the Tatterdemalion and the others lack this kind of courage. Because he is no longer an object of pity and fear, says the deranged Tatterdemalion, Jack Russell must perish. Suddenly an alarm sounds from the sewers, alerting the Tatterdemalion that someone is searching for him. As he descends through a trapdoor, he admonishes his henchmen to guard the wolf-man but not to harm him.

Minutes later, Spider-Man, about to give up the search because he feels lost in the Los Angeles sewers, senses danger. He ducks just as the Tatterdemalion's weighted scarf whips by his head. When he punches the madman, he discovers that he seems to have no more substance than a pile of rags. Then he whips the Tatterdemalion into a wall with his scarf. When he asks about the Werewolf, the Tatterdemalion replies that he is safe for now, but like all rich men he must be stripped of his wealth or his life. He does not want their money, he continues, he only wants them to be penniless and to feel as hopeless as his "brothers" feel. Then he delivers a double-footed kick to Spider-Man's chin and knocks him into the sewer water. Spider-Man responds with a slap, and the Tatterdemalion scurries up the ladder into his hideout. When Spider-Man tries to follow, the Tatterdemalion enfolds him in his cape. The stench is nearly unbearable, and his eyes start to water. The Tatterdemalion warns the derelicts that Spider-Man is about to attack, and when, after getting rid of the cape, Spider-Men climbs the ladder, one of them hits him in the face with a kettle of hot soup. The Tatterdemalion tells his men to hold Spider-Man down until the Werewolf has felt his "touch of death," but Russell kicks the Tatterdemalion's hand away and breaks the ropes that bind him. While the Tatterdemalion was gone, the Werewolf managed to weaken the ropes with his claws. Seeing the tide of the battle turn, the Tatterdemalion's derelicts desert him, and Spider-Man tries to web him up. Unfortunately, his webbing cannot stick to the ragman's oil-soaked clothes. The Werewolf leaps at him, but he ducks and hurls him at Spider-Man. Distracting the Tatterdemalion with more webbing, Spider-Man lands a kick to his face. Then the Werewolf grabs him, but the slippery criminal twists free and hurls the Werewolf at a wall. The Werewolf's extra-keen sense of smell greatly hampers him at close quarters with the filthy criminal.

As the Tatterdemalion confidently faces his two seemingly helpless opponents, Spider-Man suddenly webs up the criminal's hat. This distracts him long enough for the Werewolf to grab his scarf, unwrap it, and expose the ragman's face. Screaming that they must not look at his face, the Tatterdemalion falls victim to a single punch to the jaw by Spider-Man. The Werewolf says that someone must have outfitted the Tatterdemalion. He could not have done all this by himself. Who, he asks, helped him, and why? Spider-Man suddenly hears a sound and sees a woman disappearing into the shadows. The Werewolf does not see her and thinks he is imagining things, but Spider-Man heads out the door after her. In the street, he can see her quite plainly, and he wonders why Jack could not. Almost too swiftly for him to follow, she enters an apartment building. Wondering whether he may be entering a trap, he walks into her apartment and finds her standing before a statue of the god Shiva. Her hat and cloak lie on the floor, and she introduces herself as Dansen Macabre.


Continuity Notes

  • While Peter Parker recounts his encounter with Spider-Woman in Spider-Woman #20, Jack Russel and his friend Buck Cowan recall their last adventure with Spider-Woman against the Enforcer in Spider-Woman #19.
  • Tatterdemalion recognizes Jack Russel from their last encounter in Werewolf By Night #9.

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