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Appearing in "The Sting of Conscience!"

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Synopsis for "The Sting of Conscience!"

The Scorpion has taken J. Jonah Jameson prisoner, and when the newspaper publisher calls the villain by his real name, the lunatic loses his temper insisting that MacDonald Gargan is dead and that there is only the Scorpion left. The Scorpion explains that he has new poison in his stinger. A single sting will cause agony, a second will cause paralysis and death within 24 hours, a third sting will kill instantly. Suddenly afraid for his life, Jonah tries to bargain with the Scorpion, however, no amount of money can top what his current employers are giving him for this job. When Jameson calls him Gargan again, the Scorpion stings him for the first time, warning him that there will be more if he continues to call him by his former name.

At that moment, at the Daily Bugle, the newsroom is swarming with rumors about who captured J. Jonah Jameson and why. When a photographer tries to gain access to Jonah's office to take photos, he is stopped by Joe Robertson, who informs his staff that nobody is going into Jonah's office until Jonah is back safe and sound. Ben Urich offers the theory that Jonah has been kidnapped in order to scare the Bugle from continuing their investigation into Rand/Meachum, although Joe can't believe this unless they have evidence. That's when they are informed that Jonah's wife, Marla Madison, as well as the authorities and both are on the way. Urich questions if the police are going to be able to do anything, Joe points out that they have nowhere else to go.

Meanwhile, in Time Square, Luke Cage returns to the Gem Theater, where his career as a "Hero for Hire" all began.[Continuity 1] Going up to the Gem's office he discovers a surprise party has been put together for him by his friends D.W. Griffith, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, and Toby -- a homeless man who frequently helped Luke on cases over the years. As he catches up, he learns that D.W. is struggling to keep the Gem open. When Colleen offers him the position in Knightwing Restorations now that Misty is working for Nelson, Murdock, and Sharpe.[Continuity 2] However, Luke turns down the offer, intending to be his own man and using his powers to help those in need. That's when a fateful call comes in offering Luke Cage a job.

Soon, Luke Cage is at a press conference at the Daily Bugle, confirming that he has been hired by the newspaper to find their missing publisher. It's in the middle of this press conference that Ben Urich gets a call back from the police lab who have determined that the Scorpion has kidnapped J. Jonah Jameson.[Continuity 3] When Ken Ellis questions Luke Cage's ability to stop the Scorpion, Cage takes offense to this. In front of the live television cameras, Cage reiterates that he is as strong as Spider-Man and as mean as the Hulk and has what it takes to take down the Scorpion. This live broadcast is caught by Ben Reilly at the Daily Grind, who thinks Cage is crazy for taking the Scorpion on alone and rushes out to see what he can do to help. Quickly changing into Spider-Man, Ben goes to the Daily Bugle to look for clues in Jonah's office that the police may have missed. There he is caught by Jonah's wife Marla Madison, who, instead of blaming Spider-Man for her husband's kidnapping asks for his help.[Continuity 4] She gives him a piece of evidence that she did not give to the police, a warning sent to her husband telling him to end investigations into Rand/Meachum. As he takes the note, the wall-crawler's spider-sense begins going off warning him of the arrival of the Scorpion, who has returned to the scene of the crime. The villain has come because he warned Marla not to go to the press about Jonah's kidnapping. While Spider-Man is busy fending off his foe, Marla rushes off to try and get some help. In the middle of the struggle, Spider-Man is tagged by the Scorpion's stinger, causing him a great deal of pain. When Gargan tries to strike Marla, the wall-crawler leaps in the way, getting stung a second time. That's when the Scorpion explains how his new toxin works and how Spider-Man will die within a day if he doesn't get the antidote. However, Gargan isn't going to give the wall-crawler the chance and prepares to go in for the third, lethal sting. With his remaining strength, Spider-Man grabs Marla and swings to safety on the street below. With NYPD's Code: Blue arriving on the scene, the Scorpion wisely flees the scene.

That evening, at the Mason Building, Luke Cage visits Misty Knight at the offices of Nelson, Murdock, and Sharpe. He has come because he has heard that Rand/Meachum might be involved in Jameson's kidnapping and needs Misty's help to get in touch with his old friend, Danny Rand. Misty can't help him there, saying that Danny hasn't been uncommunicative recently and she doesn't know why. Still, this doesn't dissuade Luke, who decides to make a personal visit to their mutual friend. He then goes to the Rand/Meachum Building where he forces his way into Danny's office. There he witnesses the Contemplator floating over Danny, but the being quickly vanishes.[Continuity 5] When Cage asks Danny what's going on, Rand explains that he hasn't been well of late and that the specter of something evil looms over him. Luke doesn't buy it, but Danny points out that while Luke has spent his time in Chicago working for a sleazy tabloid, he hasn't used his money or influence to do any good for the world either.[Continuity 6] Although Danny is willing to give up on his heroic past, but Luke won't hear anything of it. When he tells Danny about potential corruption in the company, Danny wouldn't know anything about it, deferring Cage to Jason Quartermaster -- the man who deals with Rand/Meachum's day-to-day operations. Before leaving to question Quartermaster, Luke tells Danny that he's got to choose to be a hero, that nobody can make that decision but him. Thinking to himself, Danny can't help but think that Luke is right, but after so many years of leaving the land of K'un-Lun, he feels lost.[Continuity 7] While downstairs, Luke Cage questions Quartermaster, who scoffs at the idea his company is involved in illegal activities. Still, Luke is not convinced and is not convinced and warns Quartermaster that he will keep a close watch. After Luke leaves, Jason contacts the Scorpion and tells him to deal with Luke Cage.

When Luke returns to the Gem Theater he finds the Scorpion waiting for him inside the office. The villain offers him a briefcase full of money in order to stop his investigation. When Cage refuses the money, the Scorpion lays into him, easily overpowering the hero for hire. However, Spider-Man soon comes crashing in to lend Cage an assist. Unfortunately, the venom in Spider-Man has greatly weakened him and the Scorpion easily overpowers the wall-crawler. Even though he has defeated both Spider-Man and Luke Cage, the increasingly unhinged Scorpion flees the scene anyway. After comparing notes, Spider-Man informs Luke that he is not going to stop until he finds Jonah and gets him to safety, even though he has 12 hours left to find an antidote. However, he has deduced that the Scorpion would need access to a gigantic lab to create the toxins he uses. Luke knows just the place to start searching, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Code: Blue, who arrives on the scene too late to do anything. Later, Spider-Man goes back to the Daily Bugle to look through their morgue files in the hopes of finding some clue as to where the Scorpion is hiding Jameson. However, he is shocked to discover that all of the files on his foe have been removed. The wall-crawler is about to give up when he thinks about how he let down his Uncle Ben years earlier and made his Aunt May a widow, something he doesn't want Marla Madison to experience.[Continuity 8] He is found by Marla Madison, who questions why the wall-crawler is still looking for her husband instead of trying to find a cure for himself. However, Spider-Man refuses to give up, which reminds Marla of her husband. When Marla remarks that the Scorpion was ranting about how J. Jonah Jameson murdered Mac Gargan, Spider-Man finally realizes where his foe has been keeping Jonah this whole time and leaves.

Meanwhile, Luke Cage breaks into the Rand/Meachum Building to search for a cure for Scorpion's toxin. He finds Jason Quartermaster waiting for him. Armed with a solvent cannon that sprays a highly corrosive chemical. This keeps Luke on the defensive until Misty Knight interrupts the battle. This distracts Quartermaster long enough for Luke to strike the mad scientist across the face with the chain that serves as Luke's belt. This causes Jason to lose his balance and fall into a vat of chemicals below them. With the facility about to go up, Luke tells Misty to help him find the antidote that will save Spider-Man's life. At that same moment, on Roosevelt Island, the Scorpion continues to hold Jameson prisoner. He has chosen this site because it is where Jameson and Farley Sitwell conducted their experiment that turned him into the Scorpion. Still seeing that day as the day his alter-ego died, the Scorpion reflects on his past life. How he became a private eye in the hopes of doing some good in the world, but only found himself wading through the underbelly of society. Falling into despair, Gargan gave up on life until the day that Jameson approached him for a job. Before he can eliminate Jameson once and for all, Spider-Man comes crashing into the room. However, despite his best efforts, the poison in his system is still doing its work and the wall-crawler begins to falter again.[Continuity 9] However, before the Scorpion can eliminate the wall-crawler, he is stopped by the sudden arrival of Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Iron Fist. While the Scorpion is distracted, Misty tosses Spider-Man the antidote he needs to survive.

While Spider-Man is recovering, Luke Cage and Iron Fist tackle the Scorpion, but even their combined might and the power of the Iron Fist, aren't enough to take the villain down. Still, he is weakened by the barrage that when Spider-Man joins the fight, he easily overpowers the Scorpion. Suddenly, the Scorpion drops dead, making Spider-Man believe that he accidentally killed Gargan. However, he quickly realizes that the Scorpion injected himself with his own toxins rather than allow himself to be captured. Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson is given the antidote by Misty Knight, however, he is none too happy to have been rescued by Spider-Man. Still, Jameson refuses to believe that Spider-Man wasn't involved in his kidnapping. Annoyed that Jonah still can't admit that Spider-Man saved his life, he leaves him in the care of Luke Cage, telling him to enjoy the fee that the Bugle will get charged for hiring Cage to help find him. In the aftermath of the battle, Luke suggests that he and Iron Fist work together again, however, he politely declines. He tells Luke and Misty that he has lost his way and must get back on the correct path.[Continuity 10] Eventually, Code: Blue arrives on the scene, late once more. When they recover the Scorpion's body and put it on transport, they discover that the villain is still alive. Before the officers can contain him, the Scorpion manages to break free. That's when a truck pulls up and men order the Scorpion to get in as their mutual employer seeks to make improvements to his suit so he won't be defeated by Spider-Man again.

Back in Manhattan, Lue Cage has decided to restart his business, finding it more fitting to work out of his old office at the Gem instead of a stuff office like Misty Knight. While at the Daily Grind, Ben is briefly upset when he watches a news report by J. Jonah Jameson, blaming Spider-Man for the kidnapping, saying that a glove that Spider-Man left behind in his office is proof of his claims.

Appearing in "The Descent"

See Iron Fist (Vol. 2) #1

Synopsis for "The Descent"

This story is a preview of Iron Fist (Vol. 2) #1.


Continuity Notes

The Sting of Conscience!:

  1. Luke began operating as a hero for hire out of the Gem Theater in Hero for Hire #2. He operated there until he became a fugitive of the law again in Power Man and Iron Fist #125 forcing him to relocate to Chicago and start a new identity in Marvel Comics Presents #82. He later returned to New York in Cage #20.
  2. At the time of this story, Misty Knight had recently started working for Nelson, Murdock, and Sharpe in Daredevil #353.
  3. Urich mentions how Jameson bankrolled the process that turned Mac Gargan into the Scorpion. That happened back in Amazing Spider-Man #20.
  4. Ben Reilly is surprised to learn that J. Jonah Jameson got married during his five-year self-imposed exile. Jonah and Marla married in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #18.
  5. The Contemplator has been a guiding influence for Iron Fist between Marvel Comics Presents #125136 and will continue to do so in Iron Fist (Vol. 2) #12.
  6. Cage started working with the Chicago Spectator during his time in Chicago, as seen in Cage #1.
  7. Danny Rand left K'un-Lun in Marvel Premiere #15. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, it has been roughly five years between that story and this one. He also mentions when he began working with Luke in Heroes for Hire in Power Man and Iron Fist #50.
  8. Peter Parker's Uncle Ben was killed by a burglar in Amazing Fantasy #15. Although he is a clone of Peter, Ben Reilly knows and has feelings about this because he shares all the same memories with Peter Parker up until Amazing Spider-Man #149.
  9. The Scorpion mentions his last battle with Spider-Man. This was actually with Peter Parker in Spectacular Spider-Man #216.
  10. This journey that Iron Fist needs to go on is detailed in Iron Fist (Vol. 2) #12.

Chronology Notes

The Sting of Conscience: A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:

Publication Notes

  • "The Sting of Conscience!" is reprinted in comics and books, see references for more info.[1]

See Also

Links and References


  1. "The Sting of Conscience!" is reprinted in the following comics/TPB's:
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