Spider-Man joins a team of aerial daredevils who harbor a secret agenda.
|Characters: Peter Parker/Spider-Man; Mac Gargan/The Scorpion; J. Jonah Jameson; Robby Robertson; Barkley Blitz plus three more Wake Riders; Gabby Flenkman; Adrian Toomes/The Vulture; Miles Morales; Harry Osborn; Flash Thompson; Frederick Foswell; The Kingpin; Russell Fisk; Mendel Stromm; Chief Watanabe; Cirque des Mervailles
Scenes of SPIDER-MAN dodging and webbing THE SCORPION on a rooftop. Reveal shows it is video being watched by J. JONAH JAMESON, in his office on a cell phone. He congratulates PETER PARKER on the fabulous footage and gives it to ROBBY ROBERTSON along with a headline: "Crippled Hero Foils Masked Menace." Peter protests that it was Spider-Man foiling The Scorpion, but Jameson throws him out. Cut to Spider-Man swinging through Manhattan, complaining that Jameson keeps twisting his videos into attacks on Spider-Man. On a rooftop, where he momentarily perches, a homeless man backs away, pleading to be left alone, then runs. Spider-Man observes that Jameson is ruining his reputation. But he pays the bills.
As he swings along, Spider-Man is caught by a man in Vulture gear and flung through the air. But it isn't the Vulture, and he is caught by a second Vulture, then a third and a fourth. They say that they're glad they caught up to him before dropping him from a great height.
The WAKE RIDERS (there are four of them) hurl Spider-Man about through smoke trails and fireworks, but they reassure him that it's all safe, and they praise him for his skill and comment on how epic it is to hook up with a great superhero like him. Spider-Man gradually realizes it isn't an attack but an air show, which is being filmed from below by the crowds. After dropping Spider-Man off on a roof, the Riders' leader, BARKLEY BLITZ, casually explains that they are extreme daredevils looking to make a mark and a career—cut to the street where their promoter, GABBY FLENKMAN, is selling Wake Rider t-shirts—and that they want Spider-Man to join them. To Peter's question about their gear, they say they built it themselves; and they arrange to meet the next day to discuss plans. As the Riders jet off, ADRIAN TOOMES watches from below with an angry expression.
At school there's much excitement about the stunt show, and The Wake Riders are a trending topic already garnering millions of views on hundreds of channels. Peter's comments to MILES MORALES are ambivalent: Isn't Spider-Man supposed to be a hero? Miles retorts that celebrities are today's heroes, which leaves Peter looking a little green. Once alone, he calls HARRY OSBORN, to ask if there have been any more break-ins at Oscorp, or missing gear. Harry deduces that Peter is asking about the Wake Riders, and tells him that his dad sold off Toomes's old Vulture gear, and speculates that it was the Wake Riders he sold it to but he isn't sure.
Peter meets the Wake Riders the next day, and he is warmly welcomed. Blitz proposes a hazardous stunt involving a malfunctioning suit, with Spider-Man saving him midair; he brushes off Peter's fears, saying he has faith in Spider-Man, and begins the stunt. On the street, Miles Morales interrupts the Wake Riders' promoter by claiming to be Spider-Man's manager and promising Spider-Man's autographs to anyone who places an order with him. In the air, Blitz prepares the stunt, and Peter prepares webbing that will stop his fall as a failsafe. But he notices Blitz coming down in the wrong place, and then sees an explosion blowing a hole in a nearby building, leaving him torn between stopping crime and saving Blitz.
Spider-Man hurries to where Blitz is plummeting; below, the crowd is distressed by what appears to be a stunt gone wrong. Spider-Man catches Blitz, and they and the rest of the Riders take their bow to the crowd. But from inside the crowd, an angry FLASH THOMPSON yells "Way to ruin your reputation, Spider-Man! I thought you stood for something!" It catches Peter aback; Blitz tells him to ignore the anklebiters, but Peter webs off, saying there's something he forgot to do earlier.
Peter approaches the building where smoke is still coiling out of hole in the wall. Inside he finds Toomes, in his Vulture gear, rifling an open safe. With a sonic scream Toomes drives Spider-Man outside, but he doesn't follow up on his attack. Instead he claims that he didn't break in to the building, that he saw the Wake Riders break into it while Spider-Man was distracted saving Blitz., but that they raced off before he could stop them. He says that the Riders stole his tech and suspects they are using it to commit crimes under cover of performing a show, like the Cirque des Merveilles was doing. Spider-Man asks for proof, and Toomes says that's what he's looking for. He insists that he's not a criminal and never was, but he reminds Spider-Man that he's under a cloud already—thanks to the way Spider-Man refused to defend him during the incident at Midtown High—and he fears that if his tech is associated with crimes that he'll be branded by association. But he takes off as the Wake Riders approach. Blitz presents Spider-Man with a cash-stuffed envelope—his 50% share of the day's merchandise sales—and invites him to join them tomorrow for their biggest stunt yet.
At school, Peter is in his lab examining footage of the robbed lab on his computer. In the corner of the screen he watches J. Jonah Jameson interview FREDERICK FOSWELL, whom he introduces as a former member of the "Crime Circus"—"Cirque des Merveilles," Foswell corrects him—who used their circus as a cover to commit crimes, and point-blank asks him if Spider-Man is doing the same thing, using the Wake Riders as cover to stage crimes of his own. Peter groans that he'd hate for Jameson to be right. But he doesn't know who to believe. It could be that the Wake Riders are using the Cirque's M.O., but it could also be Toomes using the innocent Wake Riders to distract from crimes he is committing. Or maybe it's all just a nasty coincidence. He calls Harry, but is only able to leave a message repeating that he's interested in knowing where Toomes's tech wound up. As he talks he notices Miles busy in the Think Tank, and afterward stops in to find Miles signing Spider-Man's name to a bunch of 8x10 glossies. Peter asks what he's doing; Miles says he's selling autographs. To Peter's incredulous question—"You're Spider-Man?"—Miles shows the Spider-Man t-shirt he's wearing and says that as long as he's wearing that t-shirt then he's "a" Spider-Man, so why shouldn't he make a little money, same as Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends are. Peter retreats with a wince as his phone rings. It's Harry calling back, and Peter thanks him for the news that Oscorp sold the gear to Fisk Industries.
Dissolve to the penthouse suite of THE KINGPIN, who gloats over a suitcase of high-tech gear—"I didn't expect my investment in cast-off Oscorp tech to pay off quite so soon or quite so handsomely"—then hands over another suitcase (this one stuffed with cash) to Blitz. He also hands over a slip of paper and the instructions, "Your next job." He asks how the t-shirt sales are doing; Blitz asks if Kingpin is demanding a cut; Kingpin laughs and says that he only admires their "entrepreneurial ingenuity." RUSSELL FISK enters and exclaims with delight at meeting the Wake Riders; Kingpin introduces Russell as his son and explains that he is arranging some entertainment for tomorrow; to Blitz he pointedly asks, "Would that be too soon?" Blitz grins that they'd do it tonight but they have to make sure Spider-Man will play along.
Across the street, Spider-Man watches as the Wake Riders depart, then notices Russell coming out to watch and wave at the departing Riders. As Russell turns to go back inside, Spider-Man drops in, which startles Russell, but he quickly enthuses over Spider-Man's presence. Peter stops him to ask what the Wake Riders were doing, and Russell explains that his dad hired them to put on a show at Oscorp tomorrow: doesn't Spider-Man know that? We're not partners, not yet, he tells Russell. And depending on what happens tomorrow at Oscorp, he adds, they might not ever be.
Fade in on Oscorp where Spider-Man meets the Wake Riders. Blitz explains that they'll have a race around the city, and since Spider-Man hasn't got a jet pack they'll give him a head start. Peter says that's generous of them, and swings off. The Riders blast onto the roof of Oscorp and pull off an AC unit so they can enter.
Spider-Man, perched on a rooftop, says he'll feel silly if he loses a race because he threw away his lead. But when he sees the Scorpion heading toward Oscorp, he says that it doesn't matter now and swings off after him.
In a storage facility, the Wake Riders are loading up gear when alarms go off. Their confusion—"We cut the alarms!"—is interrupted by the intrusion of the Scorpion, who is taken aback to find them "stealing the stuff I came here to steal." He attacks them, until Blitz calls a halt by asking how much Scorpion was going to get for the loot. Scorpion says "two million"; Blitz turns to his friends and says, "I think we just got a new partner. Let's help the bug carry this stuff out." But Spider-Man drops in, asking how much his cut will be. Stammering, Blitz offers him fifty percent, and Spider-Man retorts he was thinking that everyone could share equally: zero percent. A fight breaks out.
Scorpion and three of the Wake Riders keep Spider-Man busy while Blitz exits with some of the loot. He spots a van, swoops down, and knocks at the window: "You the guy robbing Oscorp? Gotcher stuff here!" The window comes down, disclosing an astonished MENDEL STROMM, who demands to know what's going on. "We're helping your bug-buddy out. Or he's helping us out, keeping Spider-Man busy." Stromm exclaims at that, and offers "whatever you want" if they bring him the unconscious Spider-Man. "On it!" Blitz promises, and rockets off.
But he's knocked out of the air by the Vulture, who joins the fight that is evolving over and across the rooftops of New York, to the astonishment and excitement of the crowds below, who can't figure out if it's a real fight or a staged one. One by one the Vulture and Spider-Man take down the Wake Riders, and the Scorpion runs off. Blitz finally surrenders when a trio of police helicopters surround the battlers; CHIEF WATANABE enters, congratulating Spider-Man and ordering the arrest of the Vulture and the Wake Riders. Spider-Man shrilly protests, saying that the Vulture was helping him. But Blitz speaks up, saying that Vulture was their leader all along; why were they called "The Wake Riders"? Because a "wake" is what you call a flock of vultures. Spider-Man gets in his face: "Is that true?" he demands; Blitz slyly mutters that if he can't take down Spider-Man with him, he'll take down the other one. Spider-Man protests to the Chief that she's got to believe him, that the Vulture is innocent. She tells him she'll take his testimony, but only if he offers it unmasked.
There's an awkward pause. The Vulture bitterly tells the chief not to bother; as everyone is already convinced he's a criminal, he'll confess anyway and save everyone the bother of a trial. He glares at Spider-Man as he's led away.
Dissolve to Bugle webpage blaring "Partners in Crime!" over an image of the Wake Riders and Spider-Man. Reveal of Peter in Jameson's office, where he's offering his own video of the last stunt with the Riders. Jameson says he's got more footage of that than he knows what to do with—the Spider-Menace and the Wake Riders were giving it away for free—and that he'll only pay for footage of Spider-Man battling weirdos. He then throws Peter out while calling for Foswell. Peter exits, muttering to himself that Jameson's now got him hoping for a supervillain crime wave.
Dissolve to the office of the Kingpin, watching the news of the arrest of Toomes and the Riders. He switches channels, to footage of handcuffed THE CIRQUE DES MERVAILLES being led away as a reporter says that they are being transported upstate for trial. The Kingpin mutters that it was a mistake to hire amateurs when a simple jailbreak could give him a crew of professionals.
The above is loosely adapted from the episode "Rise Above It All" by Mark Hoffmeier.
Commentary: "Bad Motives"
Next: "S01E09 "Mark of the Jackal""