Appearing in "Need to know"
- Nicole Mendez (Death) (Only in flashback)
- Rafael Mendez (First appearance) (Only in flashback) (Death)
- Mr. Yellow (Only in flashback)
- Albert (First appearance) (Only in flashback)
- Spider-Man-9815 (Peter Parker) (Only appearance)
- Authority-9815 (Tito Mendez) (Only appearance; dies)
- Humanoids-9815 (Only appearance)
- Authority-98151 (Tito Mendez) (Vision)
- Leader-98151 (Samuel Sterns) (Vision)
- Leader-616 (Samuel Sterns) (Photo)
- Hulk (Bruce Banner) (Photo)
- Skin (Angelo Espinosa) (Recap)
- Chamber (Jonothon Starsmore) (Recap)
- Hercules (Recap)
- Menagerie of Myth (Recap)
- Sandman (Flint Marko) (Recap)
- Flag-Smasher (Karl Morgenthau) (Recap)
- Man-Thing (Ted Sallis) (Recap)
Races and Species:
- Prime Earth
- Earth-9815 (Only appearance)
- Earth-98151 (Only appearance)
Synopsis for "Need to know"
After being manipulated into stopping various crisis across the world, Spider-Man has finally tracked down the mastermind of it all, the man who calls himself the Authority. This included stopping poisoned money from circulating in Los Angeles with Generation X, stopping Doctor Zeus in Greece with Hercules, taking down ULTIMATUM in the UK with Sandman, and most recently stopping the Man-Thing in Manhattan.[Continuity 1] The Authority then reveals that he could have carried out these jobs himself for a large sum of money, stating that Spider-Man owes him. As this discussion occurs, neither party is aware that they are being observed by a third individual. This individual becomes curious about the man who calls himself the Authority and uses his instruments to look back and learn what he can about this man. He replays a recording of the Authority's childhood and learns that he was Tito Mendez the son of a prominent drug lord. In this recording, Tito's father learns that one of his minions could have been a police informant and orders his death. It appears as though Tito ignores this in order to prevent the love of his father from diminishing.
Meanwhile, the Authority is showing Spider-Man around his operations which consists of a team of specialists who are all skilled in various fields. He then shows the web-slinger that he has been researching the hero for some time and has decided that Spider-Man would become his most useful operative. This comes as a shock to Spider-Man who refuses to be someone's operative. He is about to leave when the Authority convinces him to stay with a warning of a great danger that only he can stop. Curious over Spider-Man's decision to stay, the mysterious individual watching these events decides to see what would happen if the wall-crawler had chosen differently. His machine shows that had Spider-Man refused to listen to the Authority, the Authority himself would perish in Italy trying to stop a menace that would destroy the entire world. By this time, Spider-Man is shown information that the Authority has gathered on this current crisis. He tells the wall-crawler about how once, some time ago, the Leader had recruited the Hulk in obtaining the Globe of Ultimate Knowledge. However, the device put the Leader into a catatonic state. After which, the Leader abandoned the device in Italy with his army of Humanoids.[Continuity 2] He then tells Spider-Man that he must go to Italy and ensure that the Globe is destroyed.
As the Authority explains this danger, the mysterious observer continues to look into the past of this man. As an adult, Tito Mendez, ignorant of his father's work, was given a job with federal intelligence. This was all part of his father's schemes to keep his son out of the family business so he could get married and have a normal life. Tito soon married a woman named Nicole. With his job, he typically didn't want to think about the targets he was assigned to kill. By this point, the Authority has activated a teleportation device that sends Spider-Man to the Leader's base in Italy. There, the wall-crawler is swarmed by an army of the Leader's Humanoids. To his surprise, their durable bodies can deflect his blows and these androids are strong enough to break free from his webbing. As this is happening, the mysterious observer concludes his look into the Authority's past. Six years ago, Tito Mendez was ordered to plant a car bomb to eliminate another target. To his horror, he soon discovered that the man he killed was his own father. When he later confided in his wife, she revealed that she was an agent of their employer and threatened him with a gun. In the ensuing struggle, Nicole was fatally shot. Deciding that his own ignorance led him to this situation, Tito decided to never be ignorant to anything again. With the growing threats created by the superhero population, Tito used his inheritance to reinvent himself as the Authority and create his think-tank to prevent disasters before they could happen.
Back in Italy, Spider-Man fights through the Humanoids and manages to get to the chamber where the Globe of Ultimate Knowledge is being held. There he notices a pipe that carries a gas that allows him to dissolve the Humanoids. Recovering the device, Spider-Man briefly considers using the device but decides against it. However, before the web-head can destroy the device he is teleported back to the Authority's hideout. There the Authority takes the device, revealing that he never intended to destroy the device once and sought its power for his own. As the Authority places the Globe on his head, the Authority begins absorbing its knowledge. From the swirling energies, Spider-Man and the Specialists witness a vision from another reality where the Authority uses the knowledge from the Globe to conquer the universe. Seeing this as a threat to everything, Spider-Man forces his way through the energies and pulls the Globe from the Authority's head. With the danger over the mysterious observer -- Uatu the Watcher -- appears and thanks Spider-Man for his assistance as he was bound by the Watcher's vow of non-interference and could not act on his own, particularly now after he recently got into trouble for getting involved with those he watches.[Continuity 3] Realizing that the Watcher sees everything the Authority begs the alien to take him. However, Utatu knows that the Authority is a threat and uses his power to erase everyone's memories of what happened before departing. Confused as to what just happened, Spider-Man asks the Authority what happened. However, when the man who once knew everything repeatedly tells Spider-Man that he doesn't know any of the answers to his questions, the wall-crawler decides he's getting nowhere and decides to leave. As he does so, he ironically tells the Authority that sometimes a little ignorance isn't a bad thing.
- Some facts here:
- Spider-Man is recounting the events of Marvel Team-Up (Vol. 2) #1–4.
- Spider-Man states that the events of Marvel Team-Up (Vol. 2) #1 with Generation X took place in South Central Los Angeles. At the time this story was published, this region of Los Angeles was infamous for crime and poverty. However, since then, crime has significantly dropped. In 2003, the region was renamed South Los Angeles to erase the stigma of the neighborhood. As of 2018, the area has also seen a revitalization and gentrification. As such, all references to "South Central" and the socio-economic situation in that specific area should be considered topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. Modern readers should interpret this story as taking place in an impoverished section of Los Angeles, but not specifically in what is now called South Los Angeles.
- The Leader had the Hulk obtain the Ultimate Machine in Tales to Astonish #73–74. In the end, the Leader was seemingly killed although he would later resurface in Incredible Hulk #115. Incidentally, the Hulk took the Ultimate Machine with him and abandoned the device in Tales to Astonish #75 where it was recovered by the Watcher. How it ends up back in the Leader's Italian base is not really explained. One possibility is that it was one of the devices taken by Doctor Doom during Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Comics Magazine #1–12. At the end of that story, Mister Fantastic uses the Cosmic Cube to return all the stolen artifacts and wiped out everyone's memory of Doom's scheme. One could assume that Reed Richards returned the Ultimate Machine to the Leader's hideout by mistake.
- The Watcher is referring to the events of Fantastic Four #400.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters: