- Good. Nothing's damaged... except my pride. Char-broiled by a kid. Maybe I'll prove how tough I am by slaughtering a troop of campfire girls.
- -- Spider-Man
Appearing in "Ashes To Ashes"
- Alex Woolcot (Apparent death)
- Foreigner (See chronology)
- 1400 Club (First appearance) (Mentioned)
- Daily Bugle Staff
- Randy Robertson
- Amanda Robertson
- Steven Estevez
- Fritz Woolcot (Recap)
- Joy Mercado (Recap)
- Ronald Reagan (Mentioned)
- Foreigner's ex-wife (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Ashes To Ashes"
A homeless man waltzes into the office of Wilson Fisk, the man known as the Kingpin, and asks to see him. His receptionist tells the man that Mr. Fisk is busy, but the homeless man insists on being allowed in. That's when the Kingpin's security comes to escort the man out. Before they can, the Kingpin calls down and tells them to let the man in. Up in the Kingpin's office, the "homeless" man doffs his disguise, revealing himself to be the Foreigner.[Continuity 1] The two are old friends, and the Kingpin was not fooled by the Foreigner's disguise as he was aware of his arrival in New York the moment he arrived. The Foreigner asks Fisk if he has seen Spider-Man about recently, and is told the wall-crawler had disappeared recently.[Continuity 2]
The Foreigner decides not to explain why he is seeking out Spider-Man, then comments on how Nuke's failed attempt to destroy Daredevil has been a serious blow to Kingpin's reputation.[Continuity 3] The Kingpin is unconcerned as he will make sure that witnesses will disappear when it comes time to go to trial. The Foreigner offers his services should the Kingpin need them. The Kingpin then asks why his friend is so interested in Spider-Man, as the wall-crawler is useful to his businesses. Suddenly, the Kingpin looks out his window to see an explosion downtown and wonders what the cause was. That's when the Foreigner picks up the Kingpin's phone to ask his ex-wife if she enjoyed the orchids he sent her.[Continuity 4] Having grown tired of the Foreigner's foolishness, the Kingpin demands to know what he intends to do with Spider-Man. The Foreigner explains that by the time he is done with the wall-crawler, Spider-Man will be working for him.
At the Daily Bugle, Peter Parker is disappointed that Joe Robertson is uninterested in buying any of his Spider-Man photos. It's then he is approached by Steven Estevez, the teacher who had the Bugle investigate the abuse allegations of his student Alex Woolcot.[Continuity 5] He tells Peter that Alex has gone missing and asks if he has some way to contact Spider-Man for help.[Continuity 6] Peter tells him that he has no means of getting ahold of Spider-Man, and asks why he doesn't go to the authorities. Steve explains that Alex is likely with his father, and since Fritz Woolcot and his wife are still married the authorities aren't concerned for Alex's safety. Peter thinks to himself how he doesn't want to get involved as Spider-Man since he has intended to retire his costumed identity once he finds and helps his friend Flash Thompson.[Continuity 7] When Peter asks why Steve is looking for Spider-Man, the concerned teacher explains that Spider-Man seems like the only person who cares and wants to do something before Alex becomes just another picture of a missing child.[Continuity 8] Steve's devotion for Alex's welfare convinces Peter to do something to find the boy, but wonders how he can find the boy as he can be anywhere in the city.
Incidentally, Alex Woolcot is actually on the street in front of the Daily Bugle. He considers going into the newspaper and telling his story, hoping that he can explain to the public that the death of his father was an accident caused exposure to his father's experimental disintegration ray.[Continuity 9] Suddenly, Alex's hand begins to glow and he decides against it. As he walks away he notices a police car and wonders if the officer's noticed his glowing hands. However, while the officers didn't notice his glowing hand, they did notice that he is a young child who is not at school and assume that he is a truant student. When they try to stop Alex, he fires a blast from his hands, blowing up their squad car and flees. The officers call in the situation, and thinking Alex is a mutant suggest that X-Factor is called in.[Continuity 10] The report is overheard by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, who decides to handle the situation, informing the local authorities that they are taking the initiative to apprehend this super-powered youth.[Continuity 11] A few moments earlier, back upstairs, Peter Parker recalls how his spider-sense warned him that something was wrong at the Woolcot residence, but he doesn't know what. That's when Joe Robertson arrives to give his son Randy and his wife Amanda a tour of the Daily Bugle. That's when Alex blew up the police car and, hearing the explosion, Peter slips away to change into Spider-Man.
Down on the street, Spider-Man confirms that the police officers are safe and learns what happened. He then heads off in the direction Alex fled after he blew up the cop car. He finds Alex fleeing down the street and tries to carry the boy away. However, the boy slips out of his jacket, and tells Spider-Man to leave him alone. Alex unleashes his powers, forcing Spider-Man to make an impromptu landing on a web-cushion hastily made on the ground. While Spider-Man recovers from the fall, Alex manages to flag down a taxi cab. However, before the boy can escape, Spider-Man tags him with a spider-tracer. Suddenly, the wall-crawler's spider-sense goes off, alerting him of the arrival of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Spider-Man and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents pursue Alex, who abandoned the taxi after it got caught in a traffic jam. In order to deal with the boy, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents send in an army of Mandroids to apprehend the child. Spider-Man questions Agent Fred Helms use of such firepower against a boy, and tries to convince them that he can calm Alex down. However, Helms explains to Spider-Man that their mission is to neutralize the child. Meanwhile, Alex uses his powers to blast one of the Mandroids, thinking it is a robot. However, he quickly discovers that it was a man in a suit of armor and is horrified by the fact that he has taken another life.
Seeing this, Helms orders the Mandroids to use deadly force. Spider-Man protests this action, but Agent Helms refuses to rescind his order. By this point, Alex tries to convince the Mandroids that he has more control over his powers, but they refuse to listen. That's when Spider-Man swings down to try and help Alex get away. Spider-Man distracts the two remaining Mandroids long enough to grab Alex and swing up onto the rooftops. Unfortunately, Spider-Man has climbed up to the top of the Flatiron Building, leaving them surrounded. Alex explains that his powers were an accident and how he accidentally killed his father. Spider-Man tells Alex that it's not his fault and goes down to and disables the last two Mandroids. However, things turn tragic when Spider-Man returns to the rooftop. He arrives just in time to witness Alex get shot down by snipers. As the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents arrive on the scene, Agent Helms tells Spider-Man that they had to end it this way. However, Spider-Man isn't listening, as all he can do is cradle the boy's lifeless body in his hands.[Continuity 12]
- The Kingpin lists the various other disguises the Foreigner had used in the past. One of these disguises was of Ronald Reagan, who was the President of the United States at the time this story was published. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. Particularly since Reagan died in 2004.
- Unknown to the Kingpin at this time, Spider-Man was missing in action following an explosion in Virginia in Web of Spider-Man #17. He resurfaced in the following issue of that series.
- Nuke was seemingly killed in battle against Daredevil and Captain America in Daredevil #233.
- The Foreigner's ex-wife is Silver Sable. The details of her getting the orchids, rigged with a bomb, are detailed in Amazing Spider-Man #279.
- Steve Estevez, Peter, and Joy Mercado confronted Fritz Woolcot about the abuse allegations in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #115.
- Alex ran away from home after his newfound powers accidentally incinerated his father in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #116.
- Peter had decided to quit being Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #275. However, his retirement has been delayed since Flash Thompson was framed for the crimes of the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #276 and went missing after he was broken out of jail by Jack O'Lantern in Amazing Spider-Man #278.
- Steve Esteves specifically says he doesn't want to see Alex on a milk carton. In 1985, a number of dairy producers printed advertisements reporting missing children on their milk cartons. This practice became obselete since the implimentation of the Amber Alert System in 1996. As such, this reference should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Alex gained his powers from the device in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #113.
- At the time of this story, X-Factor operated as mutant bounty hunters as a public ruse in order to find new mutants and secretly train them on how to control their powers. They started doing so in X-Factor #1.
- Agent Freddy Helms states that Nick Fury, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., is out of town. At the time of this story, Fury is on the west coast, as seen in West Coast Avengers (Vol. 2) #11.
- Although he appears to die here, Alex Woolcot survived and was taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, as revealed in Incredible Hulk #339.
Events in this story occur behind the scenes that affect the chronology of the following characters:
- Page 1-3, Panel 3 - The Foreigner calls Silver Sable.
- Page 3, Panel 4- - The Foreigner tells the Kingpin that he intends to make Spider-Man work for him.
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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