Appearing in "Humbug!"
- Humbug (Buchanan Mitty) (First appearance)
- United States of America
Synopsis for "Humbug!"
Spider-Man is swinging across the city looking for a fight. He is concerned that there is something wrong with his spider-sense after someone shoved him onto the subway tracks without triggering them.[Continuity 1] Eventually, he comes across a smuggling operation on the docks and decides to use it to test the effectiveness of his spider-sense. Unknown to the wall-crawler, a new costumed villain calling himself Humbug is also watching and intends to steal the entire van full of smuggled goods once they have been loaded. When Spider-Man interrupts them, he offers them a chance at a free shot and turns his back on the thieves. When one of them tries to hit him from behind, Spider-Man's spider-sense goes off as usual, much to his relief. He easily dodges the blow. He easily knocks out most of the thugs, but as one tries to flee the wall-crawler attempts to throw a box at him. That's when the security guard tells him the crates are full of expensive black pearls, he changes his strategy and webs up the fleeing crook instead. Seeing this all, Humbug decides to retreat, vowing that the world hasn't heard the last of him. Meanwhile, Spider-Man takes down the last of the thugs by quickly grabbing his gun out of his hand. However, still wanting to be certain that there is nothing wrong with his spider-sense, the web-slinger hands the gun back the crook and gives him a chance to shoot him while his back is turned. Once again, Spider-Man is warned by his spider-sense and he is easily able to dodge the bullet and knock out the crook.[Continuity 2] Convinced that his powers are working properly, the wall-crawler web-slings away.[Continuity 3]
Terrorists have seized a building in Berlin and taken a number of hostages.[Continuity 4] As authorities surround the building, the terrorists inside prepare to strike. Suddenly, a heavily armed man teleports into the room and mows them all down. When the authorities burst into the room, they find all the terrorists are dead. Among the dead bodies is a note signed by someone calling himself Solo. The sign reads "While I live, terror dies!".
At the offices of the Daily Bugle, Peter Parker and Joy Mercado meet with Now Magazine publisher J. Jonah Jameson. With terrorism making the headlines, Jameson wants to send the pair to cover a speech on terrorism being given by the British Prime Minister in light of recent terrorist activities in Northern Ireland.[Continuity 5] When Peter asks why he is being assigned to this story, Jameson explains that he wants his skill as a photographer in case there is any danger. Peter thinks about turning down the assignment after everything that has been going on in his life but decides to take it when he sees that Jonah is sending them first-class and covering all of their expenses.[Continuity 6] After the meeting is over, Joy asks one of the staff to go through the morgue files on the Roxxon Energy Corporation, as she suspects that they might be involved in the situation in Europe.
At that moment, at a converted loft in SoHo of Buck Mitty, one of his neighbors threatens to sue him if he doesn't keep the noise down. Inside the loft, Buck Mitty -- secretly Humbug -- is busy working on recording and amplifying the high pitch sounds so he can weaponize the sounds.[Continuity 7] Mitty is angry that his funding at Empire State University has been cut and has become Humbug in order to find a new source of funding. Looking at the latest edition of the Daily Bugle, Humbug notices a front page story about a government cash transfer and decides to target this. While in Queens, Peter has used some of his expense money to buy Aunt May a large bouquet of flowers. As he arrives at her boarding house in Queens he notices movers loading furniture into a truck. As it turns out, following the home invasion at Aunt May's home, Martha and Sophie Lund are moving out as they no longer feel safe in the boarding house. Victor Palmero scoffs at them, unwilling to be driven from his own home. Aunt May is thankful for the flowers, but fears that the Lund sisters aren't going to be the last ones to move out after the incident. She tells Peter that asked her fianceé, Nathan Lubensky, to leave after he callously opened the blinds allowing a police sniper to kill one of the invaders. She isn't sure how she feels about Nathan after he acted so coldly. She invites Peter in for dinner, however, he has to decline because he has to sort out paperwork at the passport office.
As he leaves, Peter thinks that this assignment in Europe will be a blessing in disguise as Now Magazine pays much better than the Daily Bugle and he suspects that Aunt May will need more financial help than ever. Soon, Peter finds himself in a long line at the New York Federal Building, wishing he brought something to read in order to pass the time.
Hours later, Humbug stakes out the Federal Building waiting for the crash transfer. When the money is being moved into an armored truck. Activating his recording device, he blows out a tire on the armored vehicle with the amplified pinging of the eye-spotted moth. Then, he uses the sound of the imbricated snout beetle to blast open the locks on the back of the truck. When the guards spot Humbug they prepare to open fire. In response, Humbug panics and accidentally hits a button that plays a recording of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", the deafening sound bowling him over. Quickly regaining his bearings, Humbug then uses the buzz from a leafroller to make the guards start laughing uncontrollably. When word of the robbery reaches inside, Peter is finally at the front of the queue, but his sense of responsibility forces him to leave the line to deal with the problem. By this time the NYPD has arrived and had Humbug surrounded. In a panic, the villain attempts to flee in the armored truck but remembers he popped the tires. That's when Spider-Man arrives on the scene, frightening Humbug, who unleashes a sonic blast through the windshield to try and get at the wall-crawler. However, he misses and tries to flee. As Spider-Man pursues his foe, Humbug begins to panic uncertain what sort of insect sound to use against his attacker.
When one such attack causes all the windows nearby to shatter, Spider-Man becomes furious that innocent people were endangered. He gets close enough to grab Humbug's gloves and turn the sonic blast they emit against each other. This causes enough feedback to blow out the Humbug's record devices. With Humbug defeated, Spider-Man suggests the ridiculous villain find another line of work. Changing back to Peter Parker, he returns to the line inside the Federal Building and is mortified to discover that it is even longer than before. Later that evening at the Daily Bugle, Peter meets with Joy Mercado to tell her that he has his passport in order. She tells him that they are heading out to England in the morning. While in London, members of the Irish Republican Army are planning a terrorist attack by planting a bomb at heathrow airport.
Spidey goes toe-to-toe with the weirdest foe he's ever faced ... the Humbug!
- This happened last issue. It is revealed that this was Eddie Brock in Amazing Spider-Man #388.
- Spider-Man was concerned that the explosion he survived in Appalachia somehow affected his spider-sense. He experienced that explosion in Web of Spider-Man #17.
- Among the buildings in the New York City skyline are the original twin towers of the World Trade Center. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, as these towers were destroyed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and a new tower has been built in their place.
- This story states that these events are happening in West Berlin. This should also be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. Germany was split in two at the end of World War II. However, the fractured country reunited as one in 1989 following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- The British Prime Minister is identified as Margaret Thatcher. This is another topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, particularly since Thatcher stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990 and has subsequently died in 2013.
- Peter is concerned about the then-recent accusation that Flash Thompson was the Hobgoblin and the fact that Aunt May is still recuperating in her home after it was invaded by a gang of thugs. Flash was accused of being the Hobgoblin in Amazing Spider-Man #276, however, his name will eventually be cleared in Amazing Spider-Man #289. His Aunt May's home was invaded in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #113.
- Humbug is depicted as using a series of tape recorders to utilize these sounds, this technology should be considered topical as tape recorders are an obsolete technology.
Events in this story occur behind the scenes that affect the chronology of the following characters:
- Page 1-6 - Spider-Man tests to see if his spider-sense is working.
- Page 7-22 - Spider-Man battles Humbug.