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Appearing in "Who Am I?"

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Synopsis for "Who Am I?"

Shot during the Chameleon's escape from Ravencroft Institute, John Jameson struggles to get up and get help before bleeding to death. His attempts is interrupted by Jack O'Lantern who has come to teach John a painful lesson. Not willing to let himself be a victim to yet another costumed lunatic, John rolls in the snow to recover his gun and shoots Jack point-blank in the head. This shatters the flaming pumpkin that serves as the villain's mask, revealing nothing underneath. Shockingly, a new pumpkin head grows in its place. Kicking the gun out of John's hand, Jack O'Lantern introduces himself, saying that he is not the same man who originally wore the costume.[Continuity 1] Deciding to help Jameson, Jack pulls out a candle that drips red wax onto John. When the wax lands on John's face, it burns to the touch and pacifies his mind.

Meanwhile, in Ravencroft Institute, Spider-Man has been told by Ashley Kafka that he is really a writer named Herbert Smith who constructed Spider-Man as an escapist fantasy after suffering a nervous breakdown. In order to prove this, Kafka has removed Spider-Man's mask, revealing the face of a total stranger, prompting Spider-Man to question his own identity. Reiterating that he is Herbert Smith, Ashley shows him a photo album showing Smith as an accomplished writer who is married his wife Karin and have two children, Kiki and Mitchel. However, the wall-crawler refuses to believe this, insists that this is all some kind of trick being put upon him by the Chameleon. To try and prove this, Spider-Man leaps at a nearby wall to cling to it but is surprised when he falls to the floor instead. Confused and disorientated, the wall-crawler struggles to make sense of the situation. He knows he is married, but not to the woman in the photos and struggles to hold onto the image of Mary Jane in his mind.[Continuity 2] Kafka tries to dismiss this, saying that "Smith" suffered a mental break down after what happened to his daughter. This causes Spider-Man to have another flash of memory. This time of himself and his wife Mary Jane preparing for the arrival of their unborn daughter.[Continuity 3] Kafka explains that Herbert and Karen Smith's daughter was hit by a drunk driver. This causes the wall-crawler to break down, accepting that he is Herbert Smith. Seeing that her patient is accepting reality, Ashley Kafka tells him to get some rest and leaves him alone in his cell. It's only once "she" is alone does "Doctor Kafka" drop her disguise. It is really the Chameleon after all, and he begins to gloat over his final victory over Spider-Man. At that moment, the real Doctor Ashley Kafka arrives with the police at the scene where the Chameleon escaped. There she is glad to see that John Jameson is alive and unharmed. Apparently forgetting his encounter with Jack O'Lantern, he is glad to see Ashley is safe. The feeling is mutual and the two give in to their feelings for one another and kiss. After composing themselves, the pair then head off to Ravencroft to figure out what to do next. As they leave, Jack O'Lantern watches from nearby, gloating to Maguire, his pet cat, that John Jameson is now under his control and he will use this to manipulate his father, Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson.[Continuity 4]

Back in Manhattan, Flash Thompson is thinking about how Spider-Man's pep-talk has lifted his spirits. After months of feeling sorry for himself, Thompson has decided to put the past behind him and move forward. Unfortunately, as he begins to think about his lot in life makes him feel depressed again and he beging thinking of himself as a loser, just like his father. Giving in to this depression, Flash goes into the fridge and gets a can of beer to drown his sorrows. After taking a sip, Flash decides against giving in to his dispair and tosses the beer out a window. He then calls Betty Brant. Even though it is after midnight, Betty discovers that Flash really needs someone to talk.

At Ravencroft, Spider-Man is struggling to remind himself that this is all a delusion. When he looks at the photo album that "Doctor Kafka" brought him, he discovers that the photos inside are not those of Herbert Smith, but those of Peter Parker.[Continuity 5] However, these images quickly change into those of Herbert Smith and his family. Even though he is being led to believe that Peter Parker's life is a delusion, he can't help but miss the people in the photographs. This causes him to lash out, prompting "Doctor Kafka" to enter the room and check on "her" patient. She tells the wall-crawler that he needs to be sedated and asks him to trust her. Remembering his past with Doctor Kafka, Spider-Man agrees to this at first.[Continuity 6] However, when "Kafka" gets close enough, Spider-Man grabs "her" and keeps her from injecting him while he clears his thoughts. Fighting the drugs coursing through his system, Spider-Man finally realizes the truth and rips off the Herbert Smith mask he was wearing to confuse him.

With his plan falling apart, the Chameleon drops his disguise and tries to flee. However, Spider-Man is furious at being manipulated by his foe again so soon after the last time.[Continuity 7] Fearing for his life, the Chameleon tries to explain that he was a pawn of the Green Goblin.[Continuity 8] Now that he knows Peter Parker is really Spider-Man, the Chameleon warns that he could reveal his secret identity to the world. Peter is too angry to care and strikes his foe with enough force to shatter part of his mask. Parker beats the Chameleon, telling him he can tell whoever he wants as he survived worse. Eventually, Spider-Man gets ahold of himself and as he controls his temper, the Chameleon manages to slip away.

Outside, the Chameleon flees through the streets of Manhattan, realizing that Peter Parker is everything that he -- Dmitri Smerdyakov -- is not. Tripping over his feet, the Chameleon falls to the ground. As he gets up, he is shocked to see someone who looks to be Kraven the Hunter standing before him. Brandishing a whip and a rifle, Kraven suspects that Dmitri has botched yet another scheme against Spider-Man.[Continuity 9]

Notes

Continuity Notes

  1. Jack is referring to Jason Macendale, who first took on the identity of Jack O'Lantern in Machine Man #19 until he co-opted the Hobgoblin identity in Amazing Spider-Man #289. At the time of this story, Macendale was murdered by Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1. The identity of this Jack O'Lantern is revealed in Spider-Man: Mysterio Manifesto #3.
  2. 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.
  3. At the time of this story, Peter and Mary Jane are still reeling from the loss of their daughter, who was stillborn in Amazing Spider-Man #418.
  4. Why Jack O'Lantern has it in for J. Jonah Jameson is that, during his previous stint as Mysterio, he was left in high and dry when Jonah hired him to capture Spider-Man back in Amazing Spider-Man #141-142. This motivation is explained in Spider-Man: Mysterio Manifesto #1-3 and Mysterio's profile in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #8.
  5. One of these photos is of Peter and Mary Jane's wedding day. In the original timeline, the couple were married in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. After their marriage was erased in Amazing Spider-Man #545, one could assume that this photo was replaced with another.
  6. Spider-Man says that he has known Doctor Kafka for years. The pair first met in The Spectacular Spider-Man #178. Per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, the pair have actually known each other for about a year. His comments here about knowing Ashley for "years" should be considered a topical reference as it as references to the years of publication as opposed to the actual passage of time in the modern age.
  7. Spider-Man is referring to how the Chameleon created simulacrums of his parents. Richard and Mary Parker died on a government mission roughly 20 years prior to this story, as seen in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5. Peter first met the impostors in Amazing Spider-Man #365 and discovered the truth about them in Amazing Spider-Man #388.
  8. The involvement of the Green Goblin in the Chameleon's last scheme against Spider-Man was revealed during the Pursuit story arc.
    Pursuit
    Spider-Man #45 The Spectacular Spider-Man #211 Web of Spider-Man #112 Amazing Spider-Man #389
  9. The sudden appearance of Kraven is a shock to the Chameleon because Sergei Kravenoff committed suicide during Kraven's Last Hunt.
    Kraven's Last Hunt
    Web of Spider-Man #31 Amazing Spider-Man #293 Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #131 Web of Spider-Man #32 Amazing Spider-Man #294 Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #132

    The true identity of this man, actually Kraven's son Alexei, is revealed in The Spectacular Spider-Man #250.

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