Appearing in "Who Did Spider-Man Murder?"
- Beetle (Abe Jenkins)
- Shocker (Herman Schultz)
- Jack O'Lantern (Steve Levins)
- Scorpia (Elaine Coll)
- Boomerang (Fred Myers)
- The Pro
- Daily Bugle Staff
- Joe Robertson (Only in flashback)
- Giant-Man (Hank Pym) (Recap)
- Detective Mason (Only appearance)
- Dr. Shyam Holkar (Only appearance)
- Kaine (Mentioned)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- New York City
Synopsis for "Who Did Spider-Man Murder?"
After publishing a photo of Spider-Man in the possession of a skeleton stolen from the morgue, J. Jonah Jameson has offered a large reward for anyone who can capture Spider-Man. Jameson has come to believe that Spider-Man is an impostor who killed the original wall-crawler and taken his place.[Continuity 1] Seeing the massive billboards advertising the reward plastered all over the city doesn't sit well with Spider-Man. His concerns are valid as he is soon ambushed by the Beetle, who seeks to capture Spider-Man and claim the reward for himself. Despite this ambush, Spider-Man manages to web up the Beetle and toss him into an electronic billboard, shorting out his armor. Although police are arriving on the scene, the wall-crawler doesn't hold much hope that they will keep him contained after he got out so soon after his last capture.[Continuity 2] Suddenly, Spider-Man's spider-sense goes off, allowing him to narrowly avoid a blast from the Shocker. With too many innocent people around, Spider-Man decides to leave the scene since the Shocker can't fly after him. Still, this doesn't get the wall-crawler away from danger as he is ambushed, yet again, by Jack O'Lantern, Scorpia, and Boomerang, all are looking to capture Spider-Man and collect the reward.
Through sheer luck, Spider-Man manages to get away from his foes and retreat back to his apartment. There, he laments that his apartment is now devoid of any furniture for him to rest upon.[Continuity 3] Even here, Ben can't get away from the reward on his head, as there are editions of the Daily Bugle in his apartment. It causes him to think about the whole mess his life has become due to clones. He thinks back to how, five years ago, the Jackal created a clone of Spider-Man to try and destroy the wallcrawler. It was believed that the clone had died in that battle and Peter Parker had disposed of it.[Continuity 4] However, this clone survived and spent five years creating a new life as Ben Reilly. However, circumstances led Ben Reilly to return to New York and confront Peter Parker.[Continuity 5] However, while Ben Reilly thought he was the clone, a recent genetic test revealed that he was the real Peter Parker all along and that Peter Parker was the clone.[Continuity 6] However, this recent revelation has all been thrown into question upon the discovery of the Spider-Man skeleton that was found in the smokestack that Peter Parker attempted to dispose of Ben Reilly's body years earlier. Ben stole the skeleton in the hopes of learning the truth about it, but Peter also needed money to help support his wife and unborn child.[Continuity 7] Ben allowed Peter to take a photo of him with the skeleton so he could collect a bonus from J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle. However, this has backfired spectacularly due to Jameson's bounty on Spider-Man's head. To make matters worse, Jameson also plans on recovering the skeleton and allowing it to be examined by Doctor Shyam Holkar, a forensic scientist who uses a technique to reconstruct the face of decomposed bodies. Looking at the newspaper one more time, Ben notices that Peter Parker is given the photo credit and realizes that he is another lead on the skeleton and that others might go after him as well. He fears for Peter's safety, especially now that he no longer has any spider-powers.[Continuity 8]
At that moment, Peter Parker and his wife Mary Jane are relaxing in the hotel room they have been staying in since they came back to New York. They are interrupted by a phone call from J. Jonah Jameson who has another photo assignment. When Peter arrives at the Bugle a short time later, J. Jonah Jameson is busy defending his reward to Sergeant Mason of the NYPD who is unhappy about the money because it is bringing out all the crazies. Jameson insists that he just wants to find the truth and promises that if he gets possession of the skeleton it will be turned after the Daily Bugle has Holkar finishes his examination and promises the reward money will come from him, and not the police.[Continuity 9] After taking some pictures of Jonah's meeting with Mason, he joins Jameson and Mason down to the lecture hall where Shyam Holkar intends to run his experiment before a public audience. There, officer Mason tries to discredit Holkar's work however the scientist decides to demonstrate his machine and how it works. Peter finds himself in a compromising position when he is selected as a test subject for a machine. The scan is able to make an x-ray of Peter's skeleton which allows Holkar's computers to reconstruct his face perfectly. Peter fears that if they find the skeleton and scan it through the machine, they might make a connection between it and Peter Parker, and by proxy, Ben Reilly and Spider-Man.
By this time, Spider-Man has arrived at the Parker's hotel room only to learn from Mary Jane that Peter isn't there. When Spider-Man says he is a question about the skeleton he recently found, Mary Jane knows that Ben his hiding something from her and after he leaves, she hopes that she and Peter can get out of this city soon. Spider-Man's departure from the hotel doesn't go unnoticed as he is spotted by the Shocker who radios in the sighting to his allies. Meanwhile, Peter Parker is walking back to the hotel worrying about how accurate Holkar's process is, unaware that he has been spotted by the bounty hunter known as the Pro. The Pro grabs Peter and forces him into a nearby alley and demands to know where the skeleton is. Peter tries to convince him the Pro that he doesn't know where it is, but the Pro doesn't buy it for a moment. After beating Peter into submission, he slaps an explosive device around Peter's neck. Without his powers, Peter fears that he has no other choice but show the Pro where the bones are being kept. That's when Spider-Man happens by on his way to the Daily Bugle to look for Peter. Spotting Parker down on the streets below he also recognizes the Pro and realizes that Peter is in deep trouble.[Continuity 10] He correctly deduces that the collar around Peter's neck is rigged with explosives and begins following after them, unaware that the Beetle is following not far behind.
Peter has the Pro drive out to a graveyard on Staten Island where he digs up the skeleton. Examining the remains, the Pro confirms that it is the real thing and loads it in his car. Before, leaving the Pro is true to his word and releases Peter from the explosive collar around his neck. With Peter no longer in danger, Spider-Man ambushes the Pro's car and wrecks it. Although the Pro is stopped, when Spider-Man attempts to recover the skeleton he is ambushed by the Shocker, Beetle, Scorpia, Boomerang and Jack O'Lantern. This leads to a pitched battle as all involved parties try to claim the bones for their own ends. Ultimately, Spider-Man manages to web up all of the super-villains, but the Pro manages to get the drop on him and demands that the web-slinger hand over the bones. However, before this exchange can happen, Peter Parker sneaks up behind the Pro and hits him over the head with a shovel, knocking him out. By this point, the police have arrived on the scene and they soon surround Spider-Man and Peter Parker. Also present is J. Jonah Jameson who has been looking forward to this moment since he offered a reward for the Spider-Man's capture. Peter convinces the wall-crawler to turn over the bones to the authorities. Although Peter doesn't say why the look he gives the wall-crawler is enough to convince Spider-Man to do as he is told. Once the bones have been handed over to Detective Mason and swings away.
Spider-Man follows Jameson and his entourage as they rush back to the public gathering where the identity of the skeleton will be revealed. Peter hopes that Ben will trust him to let things play out. When the skeleton is scanned the reconstructive software creates an exact likeness of Peter Parker. This comes as a shock to everyone gathered, but not for the reason Peter feared. Instead of making a connection between Peter and Spider-Man, the public thinks that Holkar is a crackpot and his machine is not accurate. Peter's gamble ends up paying off much to the relief of both him and Ben Reilly. Later that evening, Peter, Mary Jane, and Ben have dinner together where they all have a good laugh about how J. Jonah Jameson made a laughing stock of himself once again. What makes this even more hilarious to Peter is the fact that Holkar's machine was actually 100% accurate, yet nobody could believe its results.
- This skeleton was discovered in Spectacular Spider-Man #231. Spider-Man later stole the skeleton from the morgue in Sensational Spider-Man #2. Ben allowed Peter Parker to take photos of him with the skeleton in Amazing Spider-Man #410. It is later revealed that this skeleton is actually a failed clone, as revealed in Osborne Journals #1.
- The Beetle was recently captured after a failed attempt to destroy Kaine in Spider-Man Unlimited #9.
- All of Ben's belongings were stolen in Amazing Spider-Man #411.
- The Jackal created the Spider-Man clone in Amazing Spider-Man #149. It seemingly died in that same story and Peter Parker disposed of it in Amazing Spider-Man #151.
- Peter and Ben were reunited in Web of Spider-Man #117.
- This revelation was made in Spectacular Spider-Man #226. However, it is later turned out to be a lie in Osborne Journals #1.
- Some facts about Peter Parker and Mary Jane's relationship in this story:
- 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.
- Mary Jane is also pregnant in this story, having announced she was expecting a child in Spectacular Spider-Man #220.
- Peter lost his powers in Spider-Man: The final Adventure #4. However, they will ultimately return to him in Spectacular Spider-Man #238.
- Detective Mason questions the legitimacy of facial reconstruction. At the time this story was published, this technique in forensics was still relatively new. However, the technology used in reconstructions have improved since this story was published and any questioning of it as a valuable crime-fighting technique should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. Modern readers could assume that instead of the science itself, Detective Mason is doubting the technology he is utilizing to conduct his experiments.
- Spider-Man recalls his last encounter with the Pro which happened in Spectacular Scarlet Spider #2.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters: