Appearing in "High Stakes"
- Victor Palermo
- Rose Palermo
- Mr. Johnston
- Mr. Varley
- Joy Mercado (Recap)
- Owen Briosky (Only appearance)
- Benson (Only appearance)
- Gerhard (Only appearance)
- The Magnificent Manfred (Only appearance)
Races and Species:
- Spider-Man's Web-Shooters
- Spider-Man's Black Suit
- Vulture's Wings
- Venom Symbiote (Behind the scenes)
Synopsis for "High Stakes"
Peter Parker has accompanied his Aunt May and her tenants on a trip to Atlantic City. In one of the casinos, Peter and May watch as Nathan Lubensky gambles. Peter's Aunt is worried about Nathan's gambling, an obsession she hadn't seen before. Losing money, Nathan insists to May that he needs to win back the money he has already lost, saying he will catch up with her and the others later. May is upset by this, but Victor Palmero tries to cheer her up. However, she can't stop moping since she told Nathan to find a new boarding house to live in, but even though he can't afford to move here he is gambling away what little money he does have.[Continuity 1] Peter tries to convince himself that he won't give into the lure of gambling since he only budgeted a dollar to do so. However, when he wins a jackpot at one machine, he decides to continue gambling until, twenty minutes later, he had blown all his winnings. Having learned his lesson, Peter suggests that they get some ice cream and go for a walk along the boardwalk. Aunt May likes this idea, but the Palmeros decide to stay at the casino to see if there are any bingo tables.
Meanwhile, 30 floors above, owner Owen Briosky is playing a game of tennis when he is interrupted by the Vulture. The villain has come to offer Briosky the opportunity to become the most wealthy casino owner in the United States. He shows them some dice made out of a special plastic of his own design. He explains that the dice can be manipulated by certain sonic frequencies so that the casino can control their outcome. He goes on to tell Owen that the plastic can be used in roulette wheels and slot machines as well. However, Briosky becomes disinterested when the Vulture offers to see this plastic to him for a million dollars and orders his men to kick him out. At that moment on the boardwalk, Aunt May is telling her nephew how much she appreciates all the time he has been spending with her recently. Suddenly, Peter's spider-sense goes off turning his attention to the upper floors of the casino. He sees a chair fly out the window and crashes on the ground below. Peter considers going to investigate but decides against it since he is going to be retiring from his career as Spider-Man.[Continuity 2] However, he realizes that he can't ignore it when he sees someone getting forced out the window. Needing a quick excuse, Peter tells Aunt May that he needs to find a washroom and takes off. Seeing her nephew's hasty departure, Aunt May just can't understand him.
With no time to change into costume, Peter scales up the side of a building just as the man is tossed out of the window. Unable to swing out and catch the man without compromising his identity, Peter wraps the man in webbing to cushion his impact. Deciding to go up to the top of the building to web up his face in a make-shift mask, Peter is shocked when somebody opens a window and grabs his ankle without tripping off his spider-sense.[Continuity 3] The mystery attacker then tosses Peter off the side of the building. Avoiding panic, Parker manages to twist his body around and grab hold of a ledge to stop his fall. This is the second time in recent history that his spider-sense has failed him, leaving him to wonder if he is losing this ability.[Continuity 4] As Peter worries who is attacking him, Peter overhears Briosky tell his men to beef up security following the Vulture's departure. Later, Peter returns to his Aunt May, telling her that he went back to his hotel room to get his camera and snaps a photo of her.
Meanwhile, at the south end of Atlantic City, the Vulture has returned to his home and notices that his medication is running low. He muses that he has to take care of himself in his waning years as he has much to do before he dies. He begins thinking about his eventual funeral arrangements, which will be quite costly. He has come to the decision that he wants his body taxidermed and put on display in the Museum of Natural History or the Smithsonian. He thinks of his good fortune at the recent passing of his friend Randal Reese, leaving him with his current safe house as well as the plastic formula. However, the notes are not complete so he can only use this compound for cheap parlor tricks. After being refused by Briosky, the Vulture is determined to make him pay for the insult and settles down for a nap. Later that night, Peter joins his Aunt and her tenants to watch a magic show being performed by the Magnificent Manfred. While his Aunt is delighted by the show, Peter finds the entire spectacle ridiculous. While at the front doors of the casino, the Vulture slips in past security, prompting an alert being sent to Briosky. With his spider-sense going off, Peter begins looking for a way to slip away without worrying his Aunt May. The opportunity comes when Manfred is looking for a volunteer for his next trick. Peter volunteers and is placed in a glass box that is covered with a cloth. Manfried then tries to do a trick where Peter suddenly is transported into another identical box, but when the cloth is pulled, both boxes are empty.
Changing into Spider-Man, Peter swings out onto the casino floor where the Vulture is trashing the place. Two guards try to catch the villain, but he easily swats them away. That's when Spider-Man catches up to the villain. While they are sparring, the Vulture picks up a roulette table and tosses it at the wall-crawler. He dodges it, but it strikes a massive slot machine being used by two patrons who did not have the sense to flee. While the wall-crawler is bracing the slot machine. Although the two patrons manage to flee, the momentary distraction allows the Vulture to strike the hero. Soon, their battle is interrupted by the arrival of the Hobgoblin, who was hired by Briosky to protect the casino. The Hobgoblin's surprise attack strikes fear in the Vulture who flees for his life. The Hobgoblin then turns his attention to Spider-Man, but before he can attack the hero, he is stopped by Mr. Varley and Johnson, the assistants for the Rose. They remind the Hobgoblin that they are here to do a job and that he should save his personal vendettas for when they return to New York. The Hobgoblin complies, warning Spider-Man that he will kill the wall-crawler when next they meet. Recovering from the Vulture's attack, Spider-Man is humiliated that he was saved by one of his greatest foes and wonders what the Hobgoblin is doing in Atlantic City. Not far away, Briosky thanks the Rose for his assistance. The crime boss assures him that the Vulture will not bother him further and that Spider-Man's involvement was merely a coincidence. With their job over, the Rose collects his minions and head back to New York.
The next day, Peter and his Aunt are taking a bus back to New York. On the ride back, Peter can't help but think about the troubles he's been having with his spider-sense, his recent argument with Joy Mercado, and his questions as to why the Hobgoblin was in Atlantic City. He fears that all of this will come to a head sooner or later. He tries to be optimistic, thinking that maybe everything will work out for him in the end, but he's can't even convince himself.
THE VULTURE IS BACK, AND SPIDEY IS IN TROUBLE!
- Also, Spidey's mysterious assailant attacks him again.
- Aunt May asked Nathan to move out in Web of Spider-Man #19. This is because she was upset that he opened the blinds after a botched home invasion, allowing a police sniper to shoot one of the youths who broke in. That happened in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #113.
- Peter had decided to retire as Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #275. However, when Flash Thompson was framed for the crimes committed by the Hobgoblin in the following issue he vowed to retire after he cleared Flash's name.
- It is later revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #388 that this was Eddie Brock.
- Peter was pushed in front of a train in Web of Spider-Man #18. His spider-sense was also useless against his recent battle with Ace in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #5–6.
Events in this story occur behind the scenes that affect the chronology of the following characters:
- Page 1-9, Panel 3 - Peter goes to Atlantic City, is almost killed by a mysterious attacker who doesn't trigger his spider-sense.
- Page 9, Panel 4-Page 22 - Spider-Man battles the Vulture.