Peter must fight new villains even as J. Jonah Jameson stirs the city up against him.
|Characters: Peter Parker/Spider-Man; The Living Brain; J. Jonah Jameson; Panda-Mania; Hippo; Aunt May; Molten Man; The Master Planner.
PETER PARKER is in his lab at Horizon High, working on his project for the upcoming Open House. He has three days to do it in, and the THE LIVING BRAIN is at his elbow as he works on his energy amplifier. When he remarks on stumbling into a dead end, the Brain helpfully suggests a solution; Peter exclaims that he could kiss the machine; the machine politely offers to bring him a "tasty beverage" instead. Peter says there's no time: he has to get the equipment for his design. But (as he discovers as he shops) hasn't got enough to buy new equipment, and must make do with cheap, used equipment to buy it.
Meanwhile, as he is shopping, two supervillains arrive in New York on the bus: PANDA-MANIA (a martial artist girl in a panda suit) and HIPPO (a bipedal hippopotamus). They are in town for some kind of meeting but have arrived early and have nothing to do for several hours. Hippo wants to see the sights, but Panda suggests they rob a bank.
On his way home, Peter stops to watch a Daily Bugle broadcast, where James rants about Spider-Man being a menace. He has (Jameson said) started a prison riot, allied with an internet prankster, and bullied upstanding citizens (Jameson himself), and he demands that the menace be taken down. Peter sounds out the crowd watching: What do they think of Spider-Man? He is dismayed when they all voice their suspicions of him. Peter is angry at Jameson, and when a bank alarm goes off nearby, he runs off to stop it, saying that he'll show Jameson who is and who is not a menace.
Peter changes into his costume and webs his bag (with his supplies) to an alley wall. Hippo and Panda emerge from the bank with bags of money, only to be confronted with Spider-Man. He is aghast when they don't recognize him, until they confess they are from Toledo. He attacks them and they fight back. The battle moves into the bank, with the two villains accusing Spider-Man of being another villain trying to rob them of the money they themselves stole. When Spider-Man asks the bank tellers to vouch for them, they only plead for him not to hurt them. Panda and Hippo stun Spider-Man into unconsciousness, then burst out the back wall, trampling Peter's bag as they run. They jump into the nearest subway, and talk briefly about the upcoming meeting they will be attending, and how much money the job will likely bring. They dismount at the next stop, and are spooked to find Spider-Man waiting for them. There's another battle in the subway tunnels, and they are disconcerted at his speed, his strength, his stamina, and his ability to dodge subway trains. They escape only when a collapsing tunnel forces Spider-Man to stay behind to hold it up as another train arrives. It disgorges its crowds, but when he appears to take a bow, they all scream and run away; the sight of Jameson's face on a nearby monitor causes him to grit his teeth. Worse awaits when he recovers his bag, and finds the equipment for his Open House project smashed.
Peter talks to his AUNT MAY on the phone as he is working on his project and she is walking home. He hears her scream as she is almost run over by a bus, and he rushes out in costume to see what is wrong. After confirming from afar that she is alright, he chases after the mysterious bus, which is a monster size and covered in a strange black metal. When he webs atop it, part of the roof morphs into the shape of a man who begins fighting him. He is Molten Man, and he jeeringly confirms Spider-Man's hypothesis that he is made entirely of nanites under his mental control. With his body he is able to fashion any kind of weapon, from bats, saws and blades, to pistols and cannons. By tricking Molten Man into firing at the roof the bus he has taken over, Spider-Man is able to get inside the bus, which he finds is a real bus carrying a handful of terrified passengers. Molten Man departs the bus, causing it to revert to normal, and Spider-Man must try to stop it. The careening bus narrowly misses Hippo and Panda, emerging from another bank, and they panic as well when they see Spider-Man, at the wheel of the bus, bearing down on them. "I think he's actually trying to kill us!" Hippo exclaims as they run away, leaving the money behind. Spider-Man steers the bus into the sand pit of a construction site and helps the passengers out, but finds their mood ranges from surly to frightened to hostile. He then emerges to find Molten Man waiting for him. The resulting battle is short-lived, though, as his opponent pulls the half-constructed building down onto his head. Molten Man finds one of Spider-Man's gloves and leaves, saying that that will probably be enough proof. (For what, he doesn't say.)
Inside the pile of rubble, Spider-Man is cocooned by webbing, and forces his way out. He finds a sample of Molten Man's nanites and takes them home to examine. He is able to reprogram them to propagate and take direction from him, and he uses them to soup up his Uncle Ben's old bike into a shape-changing machine, and goes back into town, where he finds Molten Man disassembling the rubble pile because "they" want the actual body. Spider-Man wants to know who "they" are, but Molten Man fights him. The fight turns into a race along a highway being constructed, and it ends when Spider-Man is able to web one of his reprogrammed nanites onto Molten Man, causing him to shrink, revert to a humanoid form, and freeze up. The police carry the inert villain away, but they also give Spider-Man a speeding ticket. As he looks up to catch sight of a Daily Bugle video panel, Spidey growls, "I can't wait to see what Jameson makes of this!"
At home, Peter eats with his aunt. She is worried about money; Peter tells her not to. His project for the Open House is bound to be snapped up by a company. "Some organizations have so much money they can just afford to throw it around!" he exults.
Fade to a dilapidated, river-side warehouse after night fall. Hippo and Panda enter and marvel at the other costumed characters in attendance: "These are some big-name people," they observe. A video screen comes on, showing the blank outline of a silhouetted head. It speaks in an electronically distorted voice, and introduces itself as THE MASTER PLANNER. It thanks them all for coming, and announces that it is placing a bounty. It will be a large bounty (and the crowd gasps at the figure, which is displayed off-screen) for, the Planner says, it will be a difficult job. Already one contestant has failed. (Footage of Molten Man being carried off by the police.) It is Spider-Man that he wants caught and brought to him. Panda and Hippo exchange glances, and get up and leave, tripping over feet as they stumble out in a near panic.
The above is closely adapted from "Bring on the Bad Guys, Part 1" by J. M. DeMatteis.
"Spider-Man Commentary: The Shape of Things to Come"
Next: "S02E09 "The Valley of Shadows""