Spider-Man's life is complicated by an internet prankster.
|Characters: Peter Parker/Spider-Man; Carl Creel/The Absorbing Man; Liz Allen/Screwball; Miles Morales; Hammerhead; Randy Robertson; Robbie Robertson; The Living Brain; Flash Thompson.
A bank robbery is in progress after hours, and SPIDER-MAN enters to find a muscular wrestler-type with a wrecking ball-and-chain cleaning out the safe deposit boxes. He fights the robber—CALR CREEL, A.K.A. THE ABSORBING MAN—and discovers he has the power to turn himself into the living substance of whatever he touches.
Spider-Man lures The Absorbing Man outside and succeeds in stringing up where he can't touch anything. He is examining the contents of the robbery, which are inside a bag: diamonds and a data drive. He is puzzling over the latter when he is interrupted by SCREWBALL, a masked figure on a rocket-powered skateboard who races in and grabs the ribbon from a ribbon-cutting ceremony being hosted by some corporate big-shots. She brags aloud to an invisible audience about humiliating them, but then she runs into the wreckage left by the fight between Spider-Man and The Absorbing Man. The latter manages to touch her helmet as she skates by, transforms into metal, and cuts himself free and escapes after scooping up the bag of diamonds that . Screwball collides with Spider-Man and knocks him into buckets of paint. She records the mishap on her phone and races away.
Dissolve to Peter at a coffee shop with MILES MORALES. They have their computers out. Peter is trying to break through the encryption on the date drive; Miles is laughing his ass off at the video that Screwball posted. Peter observes that Miles wouldn't be laughing it had been him. Miles retorts that he has a better sense of humor about himself. Besides, he loves Screwball, who is a popular internet artist specializing in pranks against the rich and powerful. LIZ ALLEN comes over to talk to Peter, who introduces him to Miles. Liz notes that Miles is watching the latest Screwball video and infers that he's a fan. Miles says that he is, and says that Screwball is going to get a lot more fans with the Spider-Man video, which has already racked up four times the views of her second-most popular video. Peter retorts that that's because Spider-Man is popular, not because Screwball is. Liz's expression turns thoughtful.
Dissolve to Liz in her bedroom, putting on her Screwball costume. If viewers want to see her targeting Spider-Man, she says, that's what she'll give them.
At his hideout, The Absorbing Man is also laughing at Screwball's video when Hammerhead enters to yell at him for losing the data drive, which is what he wanted from the bank: It's worth a hundred times the diamonds that The Absorbing Man brought back. He says that his flunky won't be able to "absorb" all the damage he'll do to him if he doesn't deliver.
At Midtown High, Liz and RANDY ROBERTSON discuss the relative merits of his sober journalism and Screwball's antics. Randy's news blog gets hardly any traffic, but is thick with facts and analysis; Screwball's videos get views, but they only entertain, never inform. This upsets Liz, and when Randy mentions that he will be attending the opening of his father's new media company, she peevishly declares her intention to attend.
Dissolve to the construction site where a new building is going up. Peter and Miles are in attendance. (So is FLASH THOMPSON, who carries Peter in under his arm to drop him into place before taking out his camera to snap photos for Randy.) ROBBIE ROBERTSON addresses the crowd, saying that his new company will be passionate about its stories, which is what journalism should be about. He is interrupted by Screwball, who has taken control of a construction robot and dumps sand on Robbie. Spider-Man appears to yell at her for endangering his life. She gloats, but then falls off the scaffolding where she is perched.
Spider-Man swings in to save her, but she saves herself, and as he plummets past she unveils a banner proclaiming that he has been "screwballed." He falls into a trough of cement, she takes a video, and runs off. In the crowd, everyone laughs except Miles, Robbie, and Flash (who boos her).
In Hammerhead's hideout, The Absorbing Man is laughing over the new video when Hammerhead again appears to yell about the data drive. Creel says that Spider-man's got the drive, and that he's tried drawing Spider-Man out, but he's not taken any of the bait. Hammerhead, after studying the video, says that if The Absorbing Man draw out Spider-Man, maybe Screwball can. He zooms the video in, and notes that she's got a Midtown High School sticker on her skateboard.
Back at Horizon, Peter is still working on the data drive when Gwen comes in to ask what he's doing. He says he's trying to decipher a data drive. She asks why he doesn't use THE LIVING BRAIN to crack the problem. (TLB is hovering nearby, offering them both "tasty beverages.") Peter, embarrassed, says he doesn't much like TLB—it gives him the creeps. Gwen says that in that case she'll help him, and squeezes in close beside him at his laptop. Peter looks even more uncomfortable.
In the gym of Midtown High, The Absorbing Man breaks in and grabs hostages while bellowing for Screwball to come out and fight him. Liz sees that this is a threat far too big for her, and ducks behind some bleachers. She dons her costume and records and uploads a short video asking for Spider-Man to come help.
At Horizon, Gwen and Peter are still squeezed together when his browser alerts him that Screwball has uploaded a new video. Gwen says she didn't know Peter was a fan of Screwball. Peter says he isn't, but Miles is, and he'll go get Miles to tell him about the new video. He trips in the doorway, and The Living Brain helps him up and dusts him off.
Creel is losing patience in the gym, so Screwball jumps out and tries to fight him. He quickly grabs her, and tells her to call her boyfriend Spider-Man out to the school. Spider-Man drops from the ceiling and webs Creel, but he absorbs the webbing, pulls Spidey inside him, and starts to suffocate him.
Spidey dissolves the webs and escapes, but Creel takes Randy and Screwball hostage, and demands the data drive in exchange for releasing them. When Spidey says he hasn't got it on him, Creel tells Spidey to meet him at the new media building—the one where Screwball dunked him in cement.
At Horizon, Peter reenters his lab. Gwen tells him that she decoded the drive: It contains only a single piece of information: a location on a map. "X marks the spot?" Peter wonders aloud. He declines to tell her what it means, and instead scampers off with the data drive.
In the van as Creel transports them, Liz reveals herself to Randy and reveals her motives. As a hyper-achiever she has always been the center of attention in her life, but she has lately felt overshadowed. She became Screwball both as a way to do good by drawing attention to wrongs, but she became jealous of those who got more attention than she did, and wound up chasing the attention instead.
At the construction site, Spider-Man turns the data drive over to Creel, then saves Randy and Screwball when Hammerhead emerges and tries dropping the two kids into a trough of cement. Hammerhead takes control of the construction robot while The Absorbing Man attacks Spider-Man. Spidey takes out Creel by tricking him into absorbing lithium, then dumping water onto him. He also knocks over the robot. After freeing Randy and Screwball, he pleases them both by revealing that he follows Randy's news blog, and that he thinks Screwball acted as a hero in the crisis. Liz thanks him, but says she is going to give up being Screwball.
The above is closely adapted from "Screwball Live," by Ben Joseph.
"Spider-Man Commentary: Screwball Live"
Next: "S02E07 "A Game of Cops and Robbers""