Appearing in "Clouds from a Distant Storm"
Synopsis for "Clouds from a Distant Storm"
Betty Brant has come to visit the graves of her brother Bennett and her husband Ned Leeds.[Continuity 1] She is still struggling to stop blaming Spider-Man for their deaths and has been making great in-roads toward her mental health by seeing a therapist. However, she still struggles to balance what her mind knows and what her heart feels. Betty's visit is interrupted by Alan Fagan, who has come to visit the grave of his uncle, Larry Cranston.[Continuity 2] Seeing that Betty is distressed, he offers to invite her out for coffee. She tries to decline, but she is pricked by a needle on the end of his ring, and suddenly, she becomes agreeable to everything that Fagan asks.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker has set up a photoshoot for a public service announcement for the Daily Bugle. Since he is appearing in the photo as Spider-Man, he has his wife Mary Jane take the photo.[Continuity 3] Peter feels ridiculous, but Mary Jane takes his mind off it by having a romantic moment.[Continuity 4] As the pair kiss, Nick Katzenberg is snapping photos from the rooftop skylight. Katzenberg has been trying to find out how Peter Parker got all the exclusive photos of Spider-Man and decided to spy on him. Taking pictures of the intimate moment below, the sleazy tabloid photographer is enjoying every moment of this. Peter and Mary Jane are interrupted by a sudden phone call from Betty Brant. Betty tells Peter that she is afraid and needs Spider-Man's help, asking him to get the wall-crawler to meet her in at a mansion in the Jersey Palisades. Peter assures her that he will get help, unaware that she is a prisoner of Mister Fear. When he hangs up he tells Mary Jane that he needs to help Betty. While up on the roof, Nick Katzenberg is caught peeping by Harry Osborn. However, when Harry confronts Nick, he strikes Harry in the head with his camera and flees the scene. While Harry is recovering from the blow to the head, he is doesn't notice when Spider-Man slips out of the skylight and web-slings away.
Meanwhile, Betty Brant is falling victim to the hallucinogenic effects of Mister Fear's gas. She sees her brother Bennett get shot, but this time the gunman is Spider-Man. When she asks the wall-crawler suddenly grows a horrific grin. He tells her that Bennett got in the way and tries to shoot her. However, the bullet passes harmlessly through her and hits her late husband, Ned Leeds. Betty blames Spider-Man for killing everyone who means anything to her and that she will be next. Crying out in fear, Betty's hallucination ends, and she is comforted by Mister Fear. He begins to assure her that he is the man who will finally protect her and keep her safe. She is warned that Spider-Man is coming to get her but he will protect her. When he hands her a gun, she resists, so Mister Fear sprays her with another dose of fear gas to make her comply. With Betty totally in his thrall, Mister Fear gloats that he will finally get revenge against Spider-Man after the wall-crawler and Hawkeye defeated him in the past.[Continuity 5] He muses about how he started visiting his uncle's grave since his release from prison, not knowing why. Since he saw and recognized Betty Brant, he realizes that it must have been fate.
Later, Spider-Man arrives on the scene and his spider-sense begins buzzing instantly. Smashing through a window, the wall-crawler barely avoids a blade on a pendulum. When he lands on the floor, he is sprayed in the face with a dose of fear gas. Suddenly, the floor gives out and Spider-Man begins to panic but manages to save himself with a web-line. As he tries to shake off the effects of the gas, Mister Fear attacks him. The blow sends the web-slinger smash through a wall sending him into the same room as Betty. Mister Fear tells Betty that this is the man who destroyed her life and to destroy him while she has a chance. Finally recognizing Mister Fear, and remembering that he uses gasses to manipulate his victim's emotions, Spider-Man fights its effects as he fights Mister Fear. However, his blow sends Mister Fear into a load bearing wall, causing part of the ceiling to collapse, unleashing more fear gas. As Spider-Man begins to panic again, Mister Fear resumes his attack. He tries to force Spider-Man down the hole in the floor in the hopes he will drown in the waters below. Mister Fear becomes overconfident when he tries to make Spider-Man fear his impending death. However, the wall-crawler stopped fearing that years ago and throws Mister Fear over his shoulder.
Fear manages to grab one of the support beams, preventing himself from falling into the water. He curses himself for his inexperience due and wishes there was some sort of school he could learn how to be a villain. As Spider-Man recovers, Betty confronts him with her gun, and Mister Fear goads her to open fire. Spider-Man tries to talk Betty out of doing anything she might regret later, while Fear continues to goad her. Ultimately, Spider-Man wins, as Betty shoots the floor, breaking Mister Fear's grasp and he falls into the water below. Spider-Man confronts Betty until the effects of the fear gas begins to wear off. When he offers his shoulder to lean on, Betty refuses. She tells Spider-Man that she has leaned on the shoulders of men her entire life and that she needs to learn to stand up for herself. As she comes to this realization, she notices that the storm, that has been raging all night, has come to an end and the clouds are starting to part.
While in his private dark room, Nick Katzenberg muses about when he sold his first photo to a divorce lawyer, he has always dreamed of finding the perfect blackmail picture. As he develops a photo of Peter Parker removing his Spider-Man mask, Katzenberg thinks he has finally hit the jackpot.
Spidey learns that he has nothing to fear but Mr. Fear, as the villain uses Betty Brant-Leeds to lure the wall-crawler into a sinister trap. Plus Nick Katzenberg makes a shocking discovery about Spider-Man!
- ↑ At the time of this story, Betty believes that her brother Bennett was killed during a fight between Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus way back in Amazing Spider-Man #11. However, unknown to her, Bennett had survived and he will resurface in Venom Vol 2 #21. Her husband Ned Leeds, was killed while on assignment in Europe, as seen in Spider-Man Versus Wolverine #1.
- ↑ Larry Cranston was the third man to wear the costume of Mister Fear. At the time of this story, he seemingly perished battling Daredevil in Daredevil #90-91. Cranston also cheated death, reappearing in Over the Edge #1.
- ↑ Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, their marriage is erased from existence by the demon Mephisto in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such they should be considered a common-law couple here.
- ↑ Mary Jane refers to herself as a "former model", this is due to the fact that her career had been ruined by Jonathan Caesar in Amazing Spider-Man #314.
- ↑ Mister Fear clashed with Spider-Man and Hawkeye in Marvel Team-Up #92.
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