Appearing in "I, Robot Master!"
- Arthur Stacy
- Ashley Kafka
- Daily Bugle
- Doctor Susan Weaver (Only appearance)
- Timmy (Only appearance)
- Norman Osborn (Only in flashback)
- May Parker (Mentioned)
- New York City
Synopsis for "I, Robot Master!"
Just before dawn a mysterious figure leaves a box at the front door of the Manhattan Hospital and disappears before he can be spotted by any eyewitnesses.
Hours later, Spider-Man is rushing across the city as he is running late to take photos for a story being covered by Betty Brant due to the fact he had to stop and thwarted a bank robbery. Arriving on the roof of the Manhattan Hospital, the wall-crawler quickly changes into Peter Parker and meets up with Betty who is unhappy that Peter is running late again.[Continuity 1] They meet with Doctor Susan Weaver who brings them to the children's wing of the hospital. There they witness the children playing with sophisticated toy robots that were left at the hospital earlier that day. This is but one of many hospitals that have been gifted these toys by a mysterious benefactor. Peter finds himself drawn to a young boy named Timmy who reminds him so much of himself when he was the boy's age. Taking a look at the toy robot the boy is playing with, Peter is shocked to discover that it looks exactly like Mendel Stromm, aka the Robot Master.[Continuity 2] Concerned about this, Peter asks to borrow the toy and rushes out to look into who left it at the hospital. With Peter's abrupt departure, Betty thinks that it was having to be around so children so soon after his wife Mary Jane had a miscarriage and feels awful for being so insensitive.[Continuity 3]
Having changed into Spider-Man once again, the wall-crawler swings across the city searching for signs of Mendel Stromm and wonders if this is yet another scheme being played out by Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin. As he swings, Peter's mind thinks back to how Mendel Stromm used to be partners with Norman Osborn until he was caught embezzeling money and was arrested. Once released from prison, Stromm became the Robot Master in order to try and get revenge against Osborn, but suffered what appeared to be a fatal heart attack.[Continuity 4] However, Stromm survived and resurfaced recently as the cyborg known as Gaunt, assisting Osborn in his latest vendetta against Spider-Man. He didn't learn that Gaunt was Mendel Stromm until much later when he fought Stromm alongside his clone Ben Reilly.[Continuity 5] He figured that Ben turned Stromm over to the authorities after his defeat but this turns out not to be the point. Spider-Man fears that Mendel may deduce that Peter is Spider-Man again and needs to stop him from threatening his family agian.[Continuity 6]
Meanwhile, Arthur Stacy has arranged a meeting with Joe Robertson at the Daily Bugle. Stacy has come to discuss what Robertson knows about the death of his brother George, and his niece Gwen.[Continuity 7] Robertson doesn't have much to tell, but Arthur -- a private investigator -- thinks there is more to their deaths than what doesn't add up. Overhearing this, J. Jonah Jameson enters the room and introduces himself, offering all the Bugle's resources if it helps prove his long-standing opinion that Spider-Man is a menace. He then calls in Peter Parker, as he has taken more photos of Spider-Man than anyone and could be a help in Stacy's investigation.[Continuity 8] Peter really doesn't want to have to deal with this because the death of the Stacy's is an old wound and he has to look for Mendel Stromm. When he tries to talk himself out of it, J. Jonah Jameson tells Peter to put off his current assignment and go to lunch with Arthur on the Daily Bugle's dime. With no other choice, Parker takes Arthur to a nearby restaurant and has a hard time talking about the subject.[Continuity 9] Peter tells Arthur that he doesn't have much to say because it happened so many years ago and manages to pique Stacy's interest in his investigation into the hospital benefactor. Listening to all the clues, Arthur deduces that this benefactor has been delivering toys to hospitals that have wards for sick children and figures that the next visit will be to the Centennial University Hospital. Thanking Arthur for his help, Peter heads out to look into this lead. Arthur is amused by Peter's attempt to change the subject and assures himself that his conversation with Peter Parker is far from over.
Going home for some rest, Peter wakes up at 3 am and discovers that his wife, Mary Jane, has been up all night studying for school. Before Peter leaves, she expresses her concern over Peter since he hasn't really processed the death of their child due to Norman Osborn's machinations. She figures that Peter is going after Stromm because Norman Osborn is supposedly dead and warns him to keep his head together and not let his unchecked emotions make him sloppy.[Continuity 10] After assuring his wife he will be careful, Peter finishes putting on his costume and web-slings back into the city. Sure enough, he catches Mendel Stromm -- apparently cured of his degenerative condition -- delivering toys at the Centennial. Confronting him, the wall-crawler quickly learns that Stromm has been stricken with amnesia. Hearing his name gives Stromm a sense of relief that is genuine as the web-slinger's spider-sense isn't warning him of any danger. With some reluctance, Spider-Man agrees to return to Stromm's lab to talk in the hopes that Mendel can remember who he is. As the pair leave, they are unaware that they are being followed by Arthur Stacy, who is curious to know why Spider-Man is interested in the hospital benefactor.
Soon, Spider-Man finds himself back in Mendel Stromm's original lab where he asks the scientist what he can remember. Mendel can only remember waking up in in the ruins of a school house and wandered the streets of New York until he recognized his old lab. There he discovered that he was skilled in robotics and began working on making toys for sick children as he can recall being a sickly child with an unhappy childhood. Although the toys give the sick children some measure of joy, Mendel admits that he wishes there was more to do. Seeing how much his old enemy changes, Spider-Man wonders if he should bother restoring his memory if this is what he has become. Still, despite his indecision, the wall-crawler asks Mendel if he remembers who Norman Osborn is. Mendel rushes out of the room, claiming to having a headache, however hearing Osborn's name causes his memory to return. Putting on a robotic suit of armor, Mendel attacks Spider-Man with a number of his robots. The battle causes a fire and partially collapses the building. Seeing this, Arthur Stacy rushes inside to try and save Spider-Man and Stromm. Inside, he finds Spider-Man holding up flaming debris to keep Stromm from harm. Although this gives him an opportunity to grill Spider-Man over what he knows about the death of his family members, Arthur pulls Mendel to safety allowing Spider-Man to get away. As the authorities arrive, a tip from Spider-Man brings Betty Brant onto the scene and she is joined by Peter Parker who has come to photograph the scene. Arthur finds it suspicious that Parker is here since he didn't see the photographer staking out the hospital like he was.
Later, Spider-Man pays a visit to Doctor Ashley Kafka to get a status update on Mendel Stromm. To his relief, Stromm doesn't remember anything that happened to him over the last nine years, making Peter Parker's identity a secret once again. However, Stromm still has a pathological hatred of Norman Osborn, and doesn't believe Kafka when she tries to convince him that he is dead.[Continuity 11] Later, Peter Parker returns to Manhattan Hospital to see Timmy. Although his toy was destroyed during the battle with Mendel Stromm, Peter tries to placate the child with an autographed poster signed by Spider-Man. Although he prefers the Spider-Man costume that Ben Reilly wore when he was Spider-Man he accepts the poster. Leaving the hospital, Peter cathces up with his wife and tells her that it is great to finally be closing up some loose ends so they can focus on the future.
- Peter makes mention of his history with Betty Brant:
- That they used to date. The pair had a romance from Amazing Spider-Man #7–18.
- He also mentions how Betty Brant used to be J. Jonah Jameson's secretary until eventually becoming a reporter. Betty has been Jameson's secretary on-and-off over the years since Amazing Spider-Man #4. She started her career as a reporter in Web of Spider-Man #91.
- Peter recounts his recent battle with Stromm during the Revelations story-arc.
Revelations Spectacular Spider-Man #240 Sensational Spider-Man #11 Amazing Spider-Man #418 Spider-Man #75 Spider-Man: Revelations #1 Osborne Journals #1
- Some facts about Peter and Mary Jane's relationship here:
- 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.
- After learning that she was pregnant in Spectacular Spider-Man #220, Mary Jane tragically gave birth prematurely to a still born child in Amazing Spider-Man #418.
- Some facts about Stromm here:
- How Stromm survived was revealed in Osborne Journals #1. He resurfaced as Gaunt during the Blood Brothers story arc. Ben and Peter later learned Gaunt's true identity during Revelations.
Blood Brothers Sensational Spider-Man #4 Amazing Spider-Man #411 Spider-Man #68 Spectacular Spider-Man #234 Sensational Spider-Man #5 Amazing Spider-Man #412
- Some facts about Peter's last battle with Gaunt:
- At the time, Peter had recently retired as Spider-Man in Spectacular Spider-Man #229. His clone, Ben Reilly took up the mantle in Sensational Spider-Man #0 until his death in Spider-Man #75.
- The reason why Reilly did not turn Stromm over to the authorities is because after Peter left the scene of the battle in Amazing Spider-Man #418, Ben was ambushed and captured by Norman Osborn.
- George Stacy died saving a child during a battle between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus in Amazing Spider-Man #90 while his daughter Gwen was murdered by the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #121. Recently in, Spider-Man #70, Arthur decided to return to New York and investigate these deaths.
- Peter and Arthur mention that they have already met, that happened in Spider-Man #77.
- Peter can relate to Arthur's situation, recalling his own similar investigation into the death of his parents. Peter's parents were government agents that there killed on a mission. Peter learned this in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5.
- At the time of this story, the Parkers think Norman Osborn died in an explosion in Spider-Man #75. However, he survived as revealed in Spider-Man: Revelations #1. Peter and Mary Jane will learn of Norman's survival in Spectacular Spider-Man #250.
- Like most of the general public, Ashley Kafka believes that Norman Osborn died circa Amazing Spider-Man #122. However, she will learn that he is very much live when Norman publicly announces his survival in Spectacular Spider-Man #250.
A flashback in this story affects the chronology of the following characters:
- First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks
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