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Quote1 --'sheesh! Dig the decor! Looks like I made it in time for Neil Diamond! Quote2
-- Spider-Man

Appearing in "Suspended Sentience"

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Synopsis for "Suspended Sentience"

Carl Shuffler finds himself disorientated as he suddenly is no longer at work. Through eyes that can only see in red he finds himself on a bridge in the pouring rain narrowly avoiding the rushing traffic. For a brief moment, he snaps back to reality as he stands on the roof of the office where he delivers mail having a smoke. This gives way back to visions of the bridge again. This time he is hit by a passing truck and sent flying off the bridge into the water below. He miraculously survives, but when Carl pulls himself out of the water and looks at his reflection he is horrified to see the face of the Man-Thing looking back at him.

At the television station where Carl Shuffler works, his body carries on the job of delivering mail to the staff even though it is devoid of Carl's mind. Unaware of this, a reporter named Tippi is disturbed that Carl is staring at her that her boss tells Carl to get back to work. As Carl's body shuffles by he bumps into Tippi and her sports coat catches fire at a touch. Thinking that Carl had attacked his employee, Tippi's boss tries to fight off Carl but he is immolated in flames. This is because the body of Carl Shuffler is now possessed by the essence of the Man-Thing, and those who know fear burn at the Man-Thing's touch. As the rest of the newsroom watches in horror, the Man-Thing-in-Carl-Shuffler's body flees the scene. Elsewhere, Spider-Man is in the pouring rain thinking about all the strange mission he has been sent on recently. After he returned from England with the Sandman, he managed to convince his former foe to look on Silver Sable's database for clues on who is responsible. Unfortunately, the only information Sable has on this mystery man is that he is called the Authority. The web-slinger's thoughts are interrupted when a homeless man begins tossing rocks at Spider-Man's make-shift umbrella. Going down to see what the man wants, the homeless man hands Spider-Man a business car. Incredibly, it is that of the Authority, complete with his address.

At that moment, the Authority is monitoring the globe and has learned that it is raining everywhere.[Continuity 1] Ordering his assistants to learn the source of this disturbance. Although they all bicker over the direct cause of the problem, the Authority tells them to stop arguing and give him all the data.[Continuity 2] Based on his analysis, the Authority deduces that the arrival of the Norn Stones to Earth has interfered with the recent reconstitution of the Man-Thing.[Continuity 3] The Authority and his think-tank then determine that the Norn Stones will have boosted the Man-Thing's power of psychopyrochenesis threatening to set the entire world ablaze.

As this revelation is made, the Man-Thing wanders the city unseen in the body of Carl Shuffler. Meanwhile, Carl -- in the Man-Thing's body -- finds himself drawn back to New York City. Carl has this feeling that he hasn't felt since he first met his wife Helen. As he wanders the back allies of the city he thinks about how he has been invisible to everyone both personally and professionally. At that moment, Tippi is looking into the employment history of Carl Shuffler and upon learning his home address decides to pay him a visit.[Continuity 4] At that moment, Spider-Man arrives at the Authority's headquarters and dodges the outside defenses to get inside. There he is confronted by the Authority who tells the wall-crawler to do as he is told or millions will die. Meanwhile, Tippi arrives to Carl Shuffler's house where he meets his wife Helen. At first, Helen assumes that her husband is having an affair with Tippi, which explains how he seems so depressed when he is at home. That's when the Man-Thing arrives at the scene and walks past the two women to sit in Carl's recliner. Their feelings of concerns are felt by the real Carl, who is still trapped inside the Man-Thing's body. Needing to focus on his travels, Carl pushes these emotions out of his mind, sending them back to the Man-Thing. Wanting to feel the numbness again, the Man-Thing throws Carl's body out of a nearby window and starts following the emotions to their source.

As Carl and the Man-Thing find each other the pair feel an uncontrollable urge to be together to merge. Spider-Man arrives on the scene to try and stop this merger with his webbing, but the Man-Thing's body sloughs right through it. Once the pair have merged, they begin feeling emotions all around them threatening to create the cataclysm that the Authority has warned. Holding back all his fear, Spider-Man approaches the disorientated form and manages to pull the Norn Stone free from the Man-Thing's mass. With the Stone pulled free, the Man-Thing's body crumbles to nothing, leaving only Carl Shuffler, who is now back to normal. That's when the Norn Stone begins affecting Spider-Man's spider-sense. He feels that the Man-Thing has reformed at his home in the Florida Everglades. As his power ramps up he senses dangers all over the world ranging from world threatening to mundane. The sensation is too much for the wall-crawler to handle and he is forced to drop the Norn Stone.

Watching from his home base, the Authority curses Spider-Man for dropping the stone as it disappears the moment it touches the ground. The Authority vows that Spider-Man is going to do the task that he has been prepared for whether he chooses to or not.

Notes

Continuity Notes

  1. This constant rain is the result of the Celestials coming to Earth to judge Franklin Richards for his creation of Counter-Earth as explained in Heroes Reborn: The Return #1.
  2. Two specific things they mention are:
    • Spatial readings that are similar to the Onslaught affair. They are referring to the energies that were involved in destroying Onslaught in Onslaught Marvel Universe #1.
    • They also mention the destruction of Asgard. Asgard was wiped out during the events of Thor #500. Asgard will later be restored to normal in Thor Vol 2 #13.
  3. The Man-Thing was recently destroyed by Ashema in Heroes Reborn: The Return #1.
  4. Tippi's employer states that Carl has been working for the network since 1972. This date should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. Generally speaking, modern readers should interpret this to mean that Carl has been working for the network twenty-five years prior to this story as opposed to a specific date.

Chronology Notes

A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:

  1. Previous Spider-Man Next Empty

See Also

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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