Appearing in "The Wages of Conquest"
- Saddam Hussein (Mentioned)
- Wild Pack
- Daily Bugle
- Phil Urich
- Mary Jane Watson-Parker
- Zefiro Clan
- Doctor Doom (On-screen)
- Doombot (On-screen)
- Nathan Richards (On-screen)
- Kristoff Vernard (On-screen)
- Dimitri Fortunov (On-screen)
- Cable (On-screen)
- G.W. Bridge (On-screen)
- Iron Man (On-screen)
- Ollie North (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "The Wages of Conquest"
Sent on assignment to Latveria, Betty Brant finds herself a prisoner of its current ruler, the Dreadknight.[Continuity 1] Despite the fact that she is an American citizen, he intends to publicly execute her in order to cover up what she learned.
In New York City, Spider-Man investigates a tip from Ben Urich and uncovers a shipment of illegal guns being smuggled into the country by freighters from Latveria. After making short work of the workers and taking photos, Spider-Man recovers his camera and heads to the Daily Bugle to develop his photos. Upon his arrival, the wall-crawler is surprised to see the lights are still on in the newsroom and decides to investigate as Peter Parker.[Continuity 2] Inside, he finds Joe Robertson, Glory Grant, Ben Urich and his nephew Phil watching the news. It has a shocking story about the conflict in Latveria between rebel forces and the government. Peter is shocked to hear the news that Betty Brant has allegedly been captured by revolutionary soldiers. Asking what they can do, Joe explains that there is not much they can do to save Betty. Not wanting to give up, Peter decides to try talking to J. Jonah Jameson, who is down in the Byline -- a pub that is frequented by Bugle staff. There he finds Jonah drinking by himself as he feels guilty for sending Betty to her death, much like he did her late husband, Ned Leeds. When Peter presses Jonah to try and do something, he explains that there is nothing they can do and tells Peter that any attempt to go after Betty is tantamount to suicide and leave Parker to think about what to do next.[Continuity 3]
Web-slinging back home, Spider-Man wonders what he can do to get to Latveria and rescue Betty Brant and comes up with nothing. When he arrives home, Peter wakes up his wife, Mary Jane who tells him that Silver Sable has been trying to get in contact with him.[Continuity 4] When Peter asks how she could know that, she turns on the television news which features a report about how Sable has been using the electronic billboards in Time Square to ask Spider-Man to meet her atop the Statue of Liberty the following afternoon. Curious, Spider-Man meets with Silver Sable at the Statue the next day to see what she wants.[Continuity 5] Sable is glad to see Spider-Man back in his original costume, making Spider-Man realize that there is much Ben Reilly didn't tell him about his brief career as Spider-Man.[Continuity 6] Sable quickly explains that she needs Spider-Man's help bringing liberation to Latveria. She then invites Spider-Man aboard her ship to be briefed.[Continuity 7]
Silver Sable explains that there has been a power struggle in Latveria since the alleged death of Doctor Doom during the Onslaught crisis. After this, Doom's heir Kristoff Vernard attempted to take control of the country only to be repelled from the country.[Continuity 8] Later, Dmitri Fortunov attempted to reclaim the family throne only to be stopped by X-Force and SHIELD.[Continuity 9] The latest man to try and claim the country is a man named Bram Velsing, once on of Doctor Doom's chief scientists. After a failed attempt to betray Doom, Velsing had a metal mask grafted to his face after which he took on the identity of the Dreadknight. Sable goes on, telling Spider-Man how Dreadknight's first attempt to get revenge against Doom was thwarted by Iron Man.[Continuity 10] Concluding her report, Sable goes on to tell the wall-crawler that Dreadknight has been involved in paramilitary work and his operations in the Latverian resistance has been financially backed by unknown parties within the United States. Spider-Man deduces that Betty probably discovered who Dreadknight's employers are and agree to join Sable and her Wild Pack on this mission.
When they arrive in Latveria, they meet with the Zefiro clan, a band of Romany who raised Doctor Doom when he was a child. They are the ones who have hired Silver Sable to remove Dreadknight from their country. Unfortunately, the meeting is interrupted when the Doombots charged with protecting the Zefiro deem Spider-Man as a threat forcing him and the Wild Pack to take the robots down.[Continuity 11] Setting up camp, Silver Sable explains the plan for the attack on Castle Doom. While the Wild Pack attack the castle from up front, Sable and Spider-Man will sneak into the castle and activate an electromagnetic pulse device to shut down Dreadknight's weapons systems and take him down. They then launch their attack an hour later. While the Wild Pack are engaging the guards at the front gates, Spider-Man and Sable sneak in the back way. It's then that the wall-crawler explains that he needs to rescue Betty Brant, and tells Sable to hold off on attacking Dreadknight until he is finished his rescue. Unaware of the efforts to rescue her, Betty decides it is time to try and sneak out and tricks a guard into checking on her. Kicking the guard in the groin, Brant tries to make a run for it.
Meanwhile, Silver Sable is setting up the EMP device when she is ambushed by a man named Linden Laswell, a former member of the CIA and American Special Forces who is representing Roxxon's interests funding Dreadknight's rebellion. At that moment, Betty Brant takes a wrong turn into an arena and is confronted by Dreadknight who intends to silence her before she can reveal Roxxon's involvement in his coup. However, when he tries to use his lance on the reporter he discovers that his weapons are no longer working. That's when Spider-Man ambushes Dreadknight, but quickly discovers that his opponent is still dangerous without his weapons. While the Wild Pack continues their assault outside, Silver Sable easily overpowers Laswell in hand-to-hand combat. By this time, the EMP device has run out of power allowing Deadknight to use his weapons again. Despite this advantage, Spider-Man manages to defeat his foe by luring him into the generator room and electrocuting Dreadknight into unconsciousness. With Dreadknight defeated, the Zifero retake Latveria and Silver Sable gives Spider-Man and Betty Brant a ride home. Although the story about Roxxon's involvement gets out in the media, the company claims that Lindon Laswell was a rogue element and disavows any of his activities. Watching this on the news upsets Peter Parker who has encountered Roxxon's malfeasance in the recent past.[Continuity 12] Still, Mary Jane points out that he still saved Betty and is a hero.
Meanwhile, the board of directors at Roxxon meet to discuss the situation, satisfied that the American public is buying the "rogue agent" spin they have given the story. Although their plans for Latveria have been indefinitely put on hold, they begin plotting their next scheme to chart America's future in their favor.
The quest for the crown of Latveria began in X-Force #64 and continues here. Reporter Betty Brant is a prisoner in the Doom-less kingdom of Latveria, now the only man who can save her from the clutches of Dreadknight is her first love, Peter Parker. Silver Sable and her Wildpack tag along just in case things go wrong, and if you know Spidey, they always do.
- Betty Brant was sent to Latveria to cover a story by the Daily Bugle in Spider-Man #79.
- Spider-Man comments about how Latveria has been a powder keg after Doctor Doom was apparently killed in the final battle against Onslaught in Onslaught Marvel Universe #1. Unknown to everyone at this time, Doom survived and exists in a pocket dimension as seen in the Heroes Reborn event. This is discovered in Heroes Reborn: The Return #1–4.
- A number of facts are mentioned here:
- Betty's late husband, Ned Leeds, was murdered while investigating a story in Germany in Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1.
- A news report mentions how Ned was once accused of being the Hobgoblin until he was recently exonerated. Ned was "revealed" to be the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #289. However, this was all a ruse created by the real Hobgoblin -- Roderick Kingsley -- as revealed in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1–3.
- Jonah suggests Peter see Doctor Kevorkian if he wants to commit suicide, this is a reference to Doctor Jack Kevorkian. At the time this story was published Kevorkian was a very well known supporter of euthanasia for terminally ill patients who wanted the right to die earning him the nickname "Doctor Death" in the press. The mention of him here should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, particularly since Kevorkian died in 2011.
- 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.
- Spider-Man mentions how the Statue of Liberty was the place where he met with the Human Torch. The pair have been using the Statue as their meeting place since Strange Tales Annual #2.
- When Peter Parker retired as Spider-Man in Spectacular Spider-Man #229 his clone, Ben Reilly, briefly took on the role starting in Sensational Spider-Man #0 until his death in Spider-Man #75. During this time, Ben encountered Silver Sable in Amazing Spider-Man #409.
- The original twin towers of the World Trade Center are depicted as part of the New York City skyline here. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. The original towers were destroyed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and have since been replaced by the Freedom Tower.
- Kristoff's attempts to claim Latveria for himself in Tales of the Marvel Universe #1.
- The Fortunov family were the ruling family in Latveria before Doctor Doom overthrew them, as first depicted in Fantastic Four Annual #2 and in greater detail in Books of Doom #1–6. Dmitri attempted to claim the Latverian throne in X-Force #64.
- Velsing's transformation into Dreadknight and his subsequent battle with Iron Man were chronicled in Iron Man #101–102.
- Spider-Man likens this battle with the Doombots to his recent clash with Sentinels. That happened in Spider-Man #72.
- At the time of this story, Spider-Man had just recently prevented Roxxon from flooding the Savage Land in order to gain access to its supply of oil in Sensational Spider-Man #13–15.