Appearing in "Give Me a Hand, Future Max"
Synopsis for "Give Me a Hand, Future Max"
Spotting a broken window outside of a jewelry store, Spider-Man swings inside to stop a robbery. Inside, much to his surprise, Spider-Man discovers that the robbery is being committed by a number of small humanoid robots. Chasing after the machines, Spider-Man watches as they begin to combine into a single large robot. When the masked hero tries to stop it, the robot begins to emit a high pitched noise that makes it hard for Spider-Man to concentrate. Through a force of will, Spider-Man is able to snare the robot with a web-line and the pull the robot to the ground. However, this only makes it worse, as the robot begins to flail around. The machine then rights itself, and with the sonic attack taking its toll on Spider-Man, the robot ropes him out and sprays him with knock out gas before fleeing the scene. Spider-Man manages to fight off the effects of the gas and breaks free from his bonds, and is able to sneak up on the robot and knock it out with a single punch. Recovering from the effects of the gas, Spider-Man recovers the robot's severed head as a souvenir. As he leaves, the wall-crawler blames himself for not taking pictures of the battle as he could have sold them to the Daily Bugle. Examining the robot's head, Spider-Man is impressed by its design and it reminds him of his of his days as a high school student. He then begins to chastise himself for allowing his identity as Spider-Man has been taking more priority to that of Peter Parker.
Elsewhere in the city, a young boy named Max is throwing out old sports equipment and toys into a nearby dumpster. A task made more difficult because of his leg braces and that his hands begin to cramp up. He suddenly hears a bunch of noise behind him, and when he turns around, Max discovers that some of his classmates have tied tin-cans to his legs. The kids chase Max, forcing him to run for it. When the intelligent child hurls insults at the other kids. Unable to understand Max's vocabulary they threaten to beat him up, but he manages to flee the scene and get back home. Inside, Max has an advanced workshop where he conducts his experiments. Turning on his computers, it activates a robot that Max called "Future Max". Max tells his robotic invention that his nervous system is slowly failing him, Max tells Future Max that he will eventually use mechanical parts to replace his own nervous system. Suddenly there is a tapping noise that comes from a brick wall. Max rushes to it, it is the girl who lives next door named Beatrice. He tells her about his day, making up a story about playing ball with his friends. Unaware of who Max really is, she hopes he wasn't playing with the local bullies who she saw bullying a handicapped child. Beatrice then shows Max a surprise by pushing out one of the bricks that she chiseled loose so they can hold hands together. The idea of Beatrice learning the truth about him frightens Max. When she asks him to touch her hand, Max tries but his hands cramp up again and he accidentally hurts her. He apologizes but convinces her that he needs wants to keep the mystery of their friendship. Beatrice can't understand it, but Max assures her that they can finally meet soon, but has to get back to work on his science fair project. It's then that Max's combining robots return home, and as he goes to work on repairing the damaged machine, he puts aside a letter from Reed Richards, declining his request for nerve restoration research due to time constraints.
The next day, a street hustler named Alexis Sharp decides to play a small con by offering to walk an elderly woman across the street in order to pick her pockets. Unfortunately, the plan backfires when her pet poodle bites Alexis' finger, forcing him to punt the dog across the street and flee. Checking out the newspaper, he finds an article about an upcoming science fair and decides to use his con-man skills to find an inventive child with a wealthy family to bilk on false promises of marketing their child's invention. Later, at the science fair, Max is setting up his science fair project. He crosses paths with his intellectual rival, Chester, who has assistants to help him set up his own project. However, these assistants are more interested in playing video games and eventually abandon Chester, leaving him to set up alone. Also present is Peter Parker, who is impressed with the imagination and ingenuity the children have put on display. Peter is impressed by Max's invention, a device that increases the strength of your grip. Peter introduces himself to Max, who is excited to meet Parker, as he knows that Peter used to attend the same school and won his share of science fairs. As they begin talking about Max's invention, the boy is happy to finally speak with someone who understands him. Peter offers to try and convince his editor at the Daily Bugle to do an article on Max and his inventions. Max is briefly interested but soon becomes engrossed in his work.
No sooner is Peter gone, Alexis Sharp approaches Max's display and is impressed by what he sees. Trying to convince the boy that he is an agent, Max declines his representation. Sharp isn't ready to give up and spots a love letter to Beatrice and another from Reed Richards that gives him an idea on how to manipulate the boy to suit his needs. Alexis then tells the boy that he is a colleague of Reed Richards, and that he works with people on an exchange basis. He convinces Max to build an exoskeleton that Alexis can wear to prove that his invention works. This finally gets through to the boy and he accepts Sharp's card. Later that evening, Max is working on his exoskeleton, having to cannibalize Future Max in order to construct it. Max hopes that Reed Richards is impressed with is invention and agrees to cure him so he can finally reveal himself to Beatrice. As he works, Max accidentally bumps a water tank, spilling water on his mechanical arm brace. This causes a jolt of electricity that Beatrice hears from the other side of the wall. Beatrice asks Max if he is okay, and suggests that they meet up the following day. Max tells her he can't for now, telling her to trust in their love for each other.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man returns home to his apartment and discovers that a local stray cat has managed to get into his apartment again. As it rubs up against the severed robot head, it suddenly calatters to life. Peter examines it more closely and realizes that it is build using the same principals as Max's grip enhancer at the science fair. Putting on his mask, Spider-Man decides to make a social call to young Max. At that moment, Max is putting the final the final touches on the exoskeleton for Alexis Sharp, who helped fund the construction by calling in some underworld markers. As Alexis begins to test out the suit, Max begins to become suspicious of Sharp's credentials. Suddenly, the doorbell rings and Max goes to answer it. It turns out to be Spider-Man who has come to talk to the youth. Seeing the robot head, Max tries to explain his situation. Hearing about Sharp's alleged relationship with Reed Richards, Spider-Man asks Sharpe if he had heard about what happened with Richards' daughter. This is a trick, as Reed doesn't have a daughter, and Spider-Man catches him in a lie.[Continuity 1] Realizing the jig is up, Alexis Sharp tries to escape in the suit.
Spider-Man follows after him, and Sharp decides to fight back. Seeing that the battle suit is heavily armed, Spider-Man lures Alexis to an area that is scheduled for demolition. With no innocent people around, allowing the pair to cut loose. Down below, Max arrives and attempts to use a device to deactivate the armor, but it short circuits. An officer arrives on the scene and gets the boy to safety as Spider-Man and Sharp fight on. As the battle rages on, Max manages to slip by the police and get close enough to Spider-Man to tell him about the exoskeleton's vulnerability to water. Spider-Man tells Max to get to cover and then uses this knowledge to lure Sharp to a nearby water tower. Knocking the crook into the water shorts out his armor, leaving him immobilized. Spider-Man then webs up Sharp and leaves him hanging for the police. The next day, Peter Parker arrives at Max's house to take photos of him for the Daily Bugle article. Max tells him that he can't take the photos as he has a date with Beatrice. Admitting that he is nervous, Peter reminds him that he helped Spider-Man that he is more brave than he thinks. Sure enough, when Max goes to visit Beatrice, they hit it off immediately.
Spidey has kayoed kingpins of crime, mopped up mobsters and gotten J. Jonah Jameson's goat countless times. But now he faces his greatest challenge of all when he must stop a young, crippled, science whiz-kid from becoming the next mastermind of crime!
- ↑ At the time of this story, Reed Richards and his wife Sue were expecting their second child. However, Sue suffered a miscarriage, as seen in Fantastic Four #267. This child is later resurrected years later in Fantastic Four Vol 3 #50.
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