Appearing in "The Key"
- Spider-Man's Web-Shooters
- Spider-Man's Belt Camera
- Spider-Man's Spider-Signal
- Spider-Man's costume (both black and red)
Synopsis for "The Key"
A young thief named Marc Noletti tries to pick the lock on the front door of an apartment, complaining to himself how tricky the expensive lock is. However, Marc made the mistake of trying to break into an apartment when the tenant is still home. When the owner opens the door and demands to know what he is doing, Noletti flees the scene. Fleeing down the stairs, Marc manages to get outside, but he trips over some garbage pales on his way out. Marc gets up and overhears people talking not far down the alley. There he sees Officer Polanski telling Cheech Beldone and his gang, the Barons, to stay out of his neighborhood. Cheech and his boys claim they haven't done anything, but Polaski is not buying it as he is intent on busting them the moment they screw up. When Beldone mouths off to the officer, Polaski tries to get rough. This angers the gang who all pull out weapons and surround the officer. Before things can get any more heated, Spider-Man arrives and gets between them.
The wall-crawler easily fights off the Barons who flee the scene. When Spider-Man asks Polaski if he is okay, he gets an earful from the officer, who is unimpressed with the heroes interference. This upsets Spider-Man who wonders why he bothers and swings off. When everyone leaves, Marc leaves his hiding place. Needing fast cash, he thinks about how Spider-Man probably doesn't have to worry about money. Suddenly, he remembers a guy from Chelsea named Parker who recently bought a bunch of locks from his father's store. Going there, Marc easily breaks in and is disappointed to discover the Parker lives in a dump. Still, he searches for something of value. In the darkness, he finds a box in the closet that he assumes is filled with electronics. Suddenly, Marc hears a thud from the bathroom and decides to split, taking the box with him. This is Spider-Man returning home after a busy evening catching crooks. Turning on the lights, the wall-crawler is upset to discover that he has been robbed. Seeing his closet door is open, Spider-Man frantically searches it and confirms his worst fear, that his spare Spider-Man equipment has been stolen.
Later, in Little Italy, Marc returns home and laments that he has to resort to stealing in order to earn money. He is bothered that nobody will hire him as he is a teenager with no experience, especially since his father struggles to provide for them. Marc loves his father for looking after him after his mother died and hopes his father never learns how he earns his money. Going into his room, he hopes that the box of equipment he stole from Parker's apartment can help him finish repairing an old television set. Looking at the box's contents, he finds Spider-Man's signal belt and costume and realizes what he can do with this equipment. Putting on Spider-Man's costume, Marc begins scaling the side of a ritzy apartment building and discovers that it is harder to do than he thought. Breaking into an apartment, Marc is discovered by the tenant because of the noise he made. When the elderly woman sees that she is being robbed by "Spider-Man" she tells Marc where all the valuables are instead of calling the police. After taking all the valuables from the apartment, Marc begins scaling his web-line back down the side of the building. With "Spider-Man" gone, the old woman calls the police to report the robbery.
Unfortunately for Marc, he is unaware of the fact that Spider-Man's webbing dissolves after an hour, so he is surprised when the web-line suddenly gives sending him crashing to the ground. Knocked out from the fall, Marc is helpless as police arrive on the scene. Meanwhile, back at Peter's apartment, Spider-Man worries about what he is going to do about his stolen equipment. Suddenly, he remembers that there were spider-tracers in the box and that he can use his spider-sense to track it. As Spider-Man begins his search, the officers who arrested Marc Noletti brings him to the police station where they show his unconscious body to Officer Polaski. Polaski tells him them to leave "Spider-Man" in his office and say nothing about the arrest to anybody. Later, Marc wakes up and discovers where he is, and that Polaski has removed his mask. Thinking he is dealing with the real Spider-Man, Polaski tells Marc that he has been photographed and fingerprinted and that unless "Spider-Man" does what he is told, Polaski is going to hand over the evidence to the police. Unable to tell Pollaski the truth, for fear of what the shock might do to his father, Marc figures his only option is to play along.
Pollaski wants to use Spider-Man to deal with the Barons once and for all and takes Marc to the warehouse that the gang hangs out in. Going into the warehouse, Marc tries to round up the Barons with Spider-Man's web-shooters, however, he is inexperienced with the weapons and is soon swarmed by the Barons. Outside, Polaski wonders what's taking so long when he is suddenly ambushed by the Barons and knocked out by a brick. When the officer wakes up, he finds himself tied up in a chair at the mercy of Cheech Beldone who intends to shoot the officer in the head with his own gun. Meanwhile, Marc is locked up in a supply room and wonders what he can do to get out. Turning on the spider-signal, Marc looks through the cartridge belt in the hopes he can find something he can use to help him. He finds Spider-Man's spider-tracers and deduces what they are used for. However, he fears that the signal won't be strong enough for Spider-Man to find them in time. Searching around the room, Marc discovers a radio and uses his electronics skill to rig it to the spider-tracer in the hopes of boosting its signal.
As soon as Marc turns on the spider-tracer, the real Spider-Man is suddenly bombarded by its signal, allowing him to easily track it. Back at the warehouse, the other members of the Barons are starting to reconsider the idea of killing the police officer, however, Beldone insists that they end Polaski's life. Before Cheech can eliminate the officer, the real Spider-Man comes busting in and sends the thieves packing. After freeing officer Polaski, Spider-Man finds Marc in the back room. The wall-crawler is furious but relents when Marc confesses that he stole in order to help support his father. Spider-Man realizes that he and this boy have more in common than he thought and suggests that they talk outside. After telling Marc about his former career in showbiz, he makes up a story about giving his old costume and equipment to Peter Parker, who called him when the equipment was stolen. Marc easily buys this story, still thinking Spider-Man couldn't possibly have any money problems. By this point, Officer Polaski comes out of the warehouse and seeing the real Spider-Man next to Marc easily concludes that the boy wasn't the real hero. After hearing how Marc managed to boost his spider-tracers signal, the wall-crawler suggests that he pursue a career in electronics.
Several weeks later, Marc has started his own electronics repair business, bringing in enough legitimate money to help his father pay the bills. Later, Marc's father sends his son out to help a client who has locked himself out of his apartment. Much to Marc's surprise, it's the apartment belonging to Officer Polaski. Polaski wants to apologize for manipulating the boy into doing a dangerous job and invites him in to talk.
The penciler Joe Brozowski is a pseudonym of J.J. Birch who is spelled as Joe Brozowsky in this original issue's credits
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