Appearing in "The Skull Jackets"
- Paul Proust
- Loop (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Jason Havershaw (Only appearance)
- Andrea Havershaw (Only appearance) (Death)
- Seward Trainer (Mentioned)
- Aunt May (Mentioned)
- Galactus (Mentioned)
- Peter Parker (Mentioned)
- Chameleon (Mentioned)
- New York City
- Vermont (Only in flashback)
- Ravencroft Institute (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "The Skull Jackets"
Spider-Man is reading the latest edition of the Daily Bugle which features a cover story about the murder of Andrea Havershaw, a woman from his past. He thinks back to when he was an assistant to Seward Trainer in Vermont years ago when he was on the road.[Continuity 1] In those days, he made extra money tutoring students from the local college. One of these kids was Jason Havershaw, Andrea's son. He got along well with the Havershaws, as Andrea reminded Ben of his Aunt May, and Jason -- who lost his father in a plane crash when he was young -- reminded him so much of himself. Deciding that Andrea Havershaw deserves justice, the wall-crawler decides to bite the bullet and go to the only person he can get a lead from -- Ken Ellis, a reporter at the Daily Bugle. While at the 44th Precinct, Detective Marcella Cellanos leaves for lunch, telling the desk sergeant to contact her if the Havershaw lawyer calls. She then goes to a restaurant downtown to meet with Ken Ellis. She owes him a favor after he helped her crack a case and get promoted to detective. As such, she is providing him with information on the Havershaw case, even though she doesn't like it. Still, she hands him over photos from that security took on the night of the murder that reveals a potential suspect: Felicia Hardy, aka the Black Cat. However, this is only circumstantial evidence, particularly since the Black Cat had reformed and started her own detective agency.[Continuity 2] Moreover, the investigation so far has discovered that Andrea Havershaw was actually employing Hardy and her agency at the time of her murder. After this exchange of information, Cellanos ends their meeting and goes back to work. Ducking into the washroom, Ken suddenly feels strange and wonders what happened to him.
Later that afternoon, Detective Cellanos and her partner, Sean Murphy are tailing Paul Proust -- one of Felicia's employees -- to Brighton Beach. They find it suspicious that Proust is going into a bar that is run by the Russian mob.[Continuity 3] Inside, Proust buys a drink, drawing the attention of some hired muscle who look as if to tell him he doesn't belong there. Getting the message, Paul leaves with the two detectives following after him. While at Cat's Eye headquarters, Felicia Hardy has gotten in touch with Loop, her resident hacker. He has managed to get into the NYPD database to see what the police have on the Havershaw murder. Things aren't looking good for Felicia because the murder weapon has been identified as metallic claws. Felicia, meanwhile, keeps on rubbing her neck. When Loop brings this up, Hardy dismisses it as a bee sting -- even though it's not in season. That's when Paul enters the room with similar pain. When Paul admits that he also started feeling this pain since Saturday morning, Felicia thinks there might be more to these mysterious injuries than a simple unseasonal bee sting.[Continuity 4]
Meanwhile, Spider-Man has arrived outside the church where Andrea's wake is being held. He has decided to say goodbye and ducks into an alley to change into Ben Reilly. Inside, Ben becomes paranoid. Although he has bleached his hair, he is still nervous that someone from New York might recognize him as Peter Parker.[Continuity 5] However, he is relieved when J. Jonah Jameson shoves past him without even acknowledging him. Satisfied, Ben finds a free seat among the mourners. Soon, Jason Havershaw takes the podium and delivers a heartfelt eulogy for his mother. The whole time, Ben can't help but focus on J. Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson, who are sitting not far ahead of him. Hearing Jonah's usual grumbling makes Ben realize how much he misses his old life as Peter Parker. He wishes he could just tell everyone, but he knows he can't because he has to be Ben Reilly now because of circumstances, for Peter's sake. After the service is over, Ben gives Jason his condolences. Jason almost doesn't recognize Ben with his new hairstyle. The pair catch up for a bit before Jason has to head to the cemetery and as he goes, Ben is left wondering why this situation is setting off his spider-sense.
Later that day, J. Jonah Jameson and Joe Robertson return to the Daily Bugle to check on things. They are joined by Ken Ellis who tells them that he is still working on a lead in he Havershaw murder, but he has nothing that is worth publishing at this moment. Robertson tells Ken to get back to work on it. When Ken returns to his desk he gets a phone call from Spider-Man who asks him to meet. He is surprised the wall-crawler has reached out to contact him, especially after he had been investigating the disappearance of the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man starting to wear a new costume.[Continuity 6] When the web-head arrives on the scene, Ken Ellis shares with him the lead that he is going to try and make the front page of the next edition of the Daily Bugle: The revelation that the Black Cat is the prime suspect in the murder investigation. During this encounter, Ellis makes mention to not remembering his encounter with Detective Cellanos and the pain in his neck. Deciding that he needs to pay the Black Cat a visit, Spider-Man realizes that this is going to be an uncomfortable encounter since the Cat used to have a relationship with Peter Parker and even knew his double-identity. Although she isn't aware that he has taken over as Spider-Man, Ben figures she'll figure it out pretty quickly.[Continuity 7] Swinging to the offices of Cat's Eye Investigations, Spider-Man listens outside the window as Paul Proust and Loop discuss their ongoing investigation into the murder of Andrea Havershaw. He overhears that Jason, apparently, was indebted to a Russian mobster named Valeri Kasatanov. Kasatanov used to be a part of Russian intelligence and dealt with a number of black ops in the Middle East and elsewhere before entering organized crime.[Continuity 8] That's when the Black Cat comes up behind Spider-Man, setting off his spider-sense. When he instinctively dodges out of the way, the Cat knows why and asks the wall-crawler why he would consider her a threat.
Spider-Man explains that it is because she is suspected of murder and tries to convince her to turn herself in to the police. The Black Cat points out that Spider-Man must know that she's not guilty of murder, reminding him how he has always been hounded by the police for crimes he did not commit all through his career. She is almost insulted that the wall-crawler would think that she would allow herself to be captured on tape if she was responsible for a murder. However, more to the point, she points out that Peter would know that the Black Cat never kills. The fact that Felicia knows that he is not Peter Parker comes as a surprise to Ben. She then points out that if anyone's trust should be up to debate, it should be Ben Reilly's as she isn't convinced that he has earned the right to wear the webs. She then reminds him that when Peter Parker was Spider-Man, they had a unique bond of trust. She now hopes that Ben can extend that same courtesy now. This whole time, Ben is struggling with how attractive he finds Felicia and tries to keep his mind on the task. Getting to the point, the Black Cat explains that she was hired by Andrea Havershaw to investigate her son who has been stealing money from her. The investigation uncovered that Jason owed Valeri Kasatanov a great deal of money in gambling debts, enough to commit murder. Noticing that Felicia seems to be nursing pain in her neck. Remembering what Ellis told him earlier, Spider-Man asks Felicia if she has had a lapse in memory recently that was followed by the pain in her neck. When Spider-Man suggests that this might be the work of the Chameleon, the Black Cat reminds him that the Chameleon is imprisoned at Ravencroft.[Continuity 9] However, the two agree to work together to get to the bottom of this mystery.
At the Havershaw home, Jason is quietly celebrating the windfall he has made following his mother's death. This is interrupted by the arrival of Ben Reilly, who asks to talk. Jason would invite Ben in, but there are still traces of his mother's murder and suggests that they go for a walk. It's here that Ben offers his help in trying to learn who murdered his mother. Jason appreciates the offer but points out that there is not much Reilly can do that the police are already doing and leaves in a cab. Jason then pays a visit to Valeri Kasatanov, to tell him that if the mobster gives him more time, not only will he be able to pay back the debt he owes, he will be able to make him even more money than he ever imagined. Leaving the mob hideout, Jason is unaware that he has been followed by Spider-Man who wonders what Jason's ties to the mob are, he also wonders if Jason is capable of murdering his mother. When Jason takes a taxi cab back home, Spider-Man decides to follow him. However, the man who everyone thinks is Jason Havershaw is actually an impostor. When he returns to the Havershaw residency, he goes to the room where he has the real Jason Havershaw locked up. As it turns out, Jason is a drug addict that this man has been impersonating Jason in order to get access to the family fortune. Changing back to his original shape, this man turns out to be an armored individual calling himself Skull-Jacket.
At dawn, Spider-Man meets with the Black Cat on the roof of the Chrysler Building to exchange information on the Havershaw case. When telling her about Jason's connection to the Russian mobs, he believes that he murdered his mother in order to inherit her fortune. On top of this, even though the cops have a powerful motive, they are still considering the Black Cat as a suspect. This upsets Felicia, who up until this point was flirty with Spider-Man just to get a rise out of him. When she thinks she is still not above suspicion, she tosses Spider-Man a copy of Cat's Eye Investigation's files on the murder and abruptly leaves. Looking at the files, Spider-Man discovers that Cat's Eye has been tailing Jason and has photographed him purchasing drugs from the Russian mob. He turns this over to the police who sends Detectives Cellanos and Murphy to the Havershaw home. While they are invited in, Spider-Man watches from a distance, also unaware that the Black Cat is also watching from close by. Inside, Detective Murphy keeps "Jason" busy while Cellano slips away and searches the house. Finding the real Jason Havershaw, Cellano orders Murphy to arrest the man in the kitchen. With his cover blown, Skull-Jacket drops his holographic disguise and shoots Murphy with a dart that knocks him out and takes out the other officer that came with them. When Cellanos tries to shoot Skull-Jacket he sends her fleeing with a barrage of bullets. He then removes the dart from Detective Murphy's neck which allows him to project a hologram that makes him resemble Murphy. Hearing the shots, Spider-Man comes crashing in, fearing that Jason may have been shot. At first, Spider-Man falls for Skull-Jacket's illusion, but his spider-sense soon tips him off to the deception.
Force to drop his disguise, Skull-Jacket gets upset when the wall-crawler compares him to the Chameleon. As it turns out, Skull-Jacket is the product of Russian science that continued to perfect and implement technologies to replace the Chameleon after he defected.[Continuity 10] This gives Spider-Man the edge to take down Skull-Jacket and find the real Jason Havershaw. Still, despite the victory, Spider-Man blames himself for what happened to Jason, thinking he could have done more to prevent him from getting into this situation. That's when the Black Cat joins him and points out that he had managed to shut down a Russian mob and a major extortion racket. Despite Skull-Jacket's attempts to confuse everyone investigating this crime, it could not account for Spider-Man's strong sense of responsibility to uncover the truth. As they swing away to some nearby buildings, the wall-crawler realizes that this is the first time that Felicia has called him Spider-Man the whole time they have been working on this case. The Cat explains that this is the first time she feels that he earned the right to the name. Removing his mask, she kisses Ben Reilly on the lips and swings away.
Appearing in "Night Work"
- Joe (Only appearance)
Synopsis for "Night Work"
At a run-down apartment, a man named Joe gets ready for a late night shift, telling his wife that it will be a short one. At the same time, Peter Parker is changing into his Spider-Man costume in order to go out on patrol.[Continuity2 1] He tells his wife Mary Jane that he is only going out on a short patrol in order to get some pictures for the Daily Bugle in order to earn them some much-needed money.[Continuity2 2] At that same time, Joe insists to his wife that his job earns them much needed money to support their family, which includes their infant son. He assures her that this time he is not going out to hurt anybody. As both men prepare to leave their homes, they both tell their wives not to wait up for them.
Joe soon joins a group of men who are transporting stolen goods. The boss overseeing this operation is unhappy that Joe is late, but he doesn't expect any interruptions and the police have been paid off. However, the situation quickly changes when Spider-Man arrives on the scene and quickly rounds up the thieves. The last person that gets webbed up by the wall-crawler is Joe, who begs Spider-Man to let him go, telling him that he has a wife and kid at home. Hearing this doesn't elicit much sympathy from the wall-crawler, who tells Joe that he should have thought about that before he went out that evening. With the police arriving on the scene, Spider-Man heads for home. His return wakes up Mary Jane who asks him if J. Jonah Jameson will be happy with his pictures tomorrow. Peter reminds her that Jameson is never impressed with anything he brings in. Noticing how exhausted Peter looks, Mary Jane asks him if he wants to talk about what happened this evening. Peter crawls into bed with his wife and tells her not to worry about, insisting that it is nothing to lose sleep over. As he tells her this, Joe's wife wakes up and notices that he is not home. Looking at the clock she notices how late it is and begins to worry. She then picks up her child out of his crib and begins cradling the boy, assuring him that his father will be home soon. However, she begins to cry as she the truth of the situation begins to sink in.
The Skull Jackets:
- Ben Reilly's time in Vermont was chronicled in the Exiled story arc.
The Exiled Web of Spider-Man #128 Amazing Spider-Man #405 Spider-Man #62 Spider-Man Unlimited #10
- Felicia started the Cat's Eye Detective Agency in Felicia Hardy: The Black Cat #4.
- Murphy tells Cellanos to "get with the nineties". This statement should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- Paul compares how he feels to Tonya Harding's "singing gig". At the time of this story, former figure skater Tonya Harding attempted a singing career after her skating career ended in scandal. This reference should be considered topical as well.
- Ben Reilly is actually a clone of Peter Parker created in Amazing Spider-Man #149. However, around the time of this story, he had been convinced he was the original Peter Parker in Spectacular Spider-Man #226. In reality, this was all part of a massive manipulation created by the Green Goblin as explained in Osborne Journals #1. Further to this situation, the real Peter Parker has relocated to Portland with Mary Jane in Spider-Man: The Final Adventure #1. In order to prevent people from confusing him for Peter Parker, Ben began bleaching his hair in Sensational Spider-Man #0.
- Ken had been following the Scarlet Spider's career since Web of Spider-Man #118, even giving the hero his trademark name in Spider-Man Unlimited #7. Recently, the Scarlet Spider was forced to give up his identity in Spectacular Scarlet Spider #2. Since Peter Parker retired as Spider-Man in Spectacular Spider-Man #229, Ben Reilly took up the identity instead. Ellis began briefly investigated the disappearance of the Scarlet Spider and the appearance of this new Spider-Man in Spider-Man: The Final Adventure #1–4.
- Peter Parker and Felicia Hardy dated from Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #75–100. During this period, Peter revealed his secret identity to her in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #87. Although Felicia Hardy knows about Ben Reilly and his relationship to Peter Parker, she isn't aware that he became Spider-Man. She learned all of this during the Trial of Peter Parker story arc.
The Trial of Peter Parker Web of Spider-Man #126 Amazing Spider-Man #403 Spider-Man #60 Spectacular Spider-Man #226
- Valeri Kasatanov is stated as being a former member of the KGB "before the fall of the Soviet Union" and was involved in Soviet operations in many regions, particularly in Afghanistan and East Germany, two regions that the Soviets were involved in prior to the end of the Cold War. All of these references should be considered topical references per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616.
- The Chameleon has been incarcerated since he was defeated at the hands of Peter Parker during the Pursuit story arc.
Pursuit Spider-Man #45 Spectacular Spider-Man #211 Web of Spider-Man #112 Amazing Spider-Man #389
- When the Chameleon first battled Spider-Man back in Amazing Spider-Man #1, he was an operative of the Russian government.
- The narrative of this story states that this story takes place prior to the Clone Saga. Specifically, this story takes place after the events of Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #14.
- Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, years later, their marriage is erased from existence by Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple here.
The Skull Jackets: A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters: