Chapter 10: J Jonah Jameson
Spider-Man crawled onto the muddy shores of the East River. He tore his mask from his head and coughed up the water that nearly drowned him moments ago. He didn’t even know how he survived the fall from the bridge, let alone his escape from his own webbing and the long swim to shore. He sat down on the cold earth, looking towards the Queensboro Bridge. He saw the red and blue flashing lights of the police cars and the spotlights they were shining onto the dark waters below. The Scorpion must have fled after he threw him from the bridge.
Spider-Man groaned as he stood up. Every muscle was sore from the swim. He ran into the fight without thinking. He just wanted to stop the madness of The Scorpion before someone else could get hurt. He hadn’t even stopped to set up his camera. He wouldn’t even get paid for a picture of his own defeat, and he knew Jameson would have paid handsomely for one.
“Jameson,” Peter said. “What did The Scorpion say?”
“I hope this makes Jameson happy.”
“Jameson?” Peter said aloud. “Could he mean my Jameson? Jonah? What’s he have to do with this? Did I just call Jonah Jameson my Jameson? Yuck.”
Peter steadied his nerves for what would be coming next. He needed his spare costume and extra cartridges for his web shooters before he did anything else. He also needed his radio in order track the tracer he was just barely able to get onto the Scorpion. To do that, he’d have to sneak into his house to collect his belongings and sneak back out to hunt for The Scorpion.
The Scorpion hid behind a dumpster, watching the police cruisers go by in the direction of the Queensboro Bridge. “Spider-Man,” he breathed. “I beat the Spider-Man.” He laughed hysterically at the thought of it. He decided quickly that he couldn’t be out in the open like this, but he had nowhere to go. He considered heading back to his room at Stillwell Pharmaceuticals, but he remembered the three men he killed when he made his exit.
“I killed them?” he asked the shadows in the dark alley.
The image of the first guard he killed came back into his head. The Scorpion reached out his black-gloved hands, squeezing the man’s head until he died screaming. Blood streamed form his ears, nose, and eye sockets.
“No,” The Scorpion sighed, still on the ground in the cold alley.
The second guard tried to free his colleague from The Scorpion’s grip. He died when The Scorpion lashed out with the claws designed to help him climb walls, cutting his throat in three jagged gashes. He fell to the floor in a heap with the man he was trying to save.
“I killed those men,” The Scorpion said, looking up into the sky.
The third guard had tried to run, seeing the quick work The Scorpion made of the others. He wasn’t fast enough to outrun The Scorpion or his tail. The blade extended from the tip of the tail, and it found its way into the guard’s back. He fell, several feet from the others.
“I’m a killer,” The Scorpion said. “What’s happened to me?” He looked down into a puddle, looking at his reflection. He was almost scared when he saw what was looking back at him. The hood and mask of the Scorpion looked as natural as his own skin now. “How could this have happened to me?”
“Jameson,” the reflection said.
“Jameson,” The Scorpion repeated. “This was all his idea. His fault! I can rectify his mistakes. I can make him pay for what he’s done to me!”
With a scream that filled the night air, The Scorpion was off in the direction of The Daily Bugle.
“At least twelve were injured on the Queensboro Bridge before Spider-Man showed up,” Joe Robertson said to Jameson, who was looking out the window of his office while he listened. “There’s no word on what happened to Spider-Man or The Scorpion. There’s been no word from Parker on any pictures.”
“Nothing, Robbie,” Jameson said. “We have nothing.”
“Are you OK, Jonah?” Robbie asked. “No angle on this one? No ‘Spider-Man and Scorpion terrorize commuters’?”
“That’s a good one,” Jameson said, still looking out the window. “Run with that.”
Robbie looked at Jameson for a moment before leaving. He had no idea what was wrong with his boss and friend, but he knew better than to pry.
Jameson looked over the city, seeing his own reflection above it. “What have I done?” he asked himself wistfully. “To justify my own personal hatred, I tried to destroy Spider-Man. In so doing, I’ve unleashed a far worse menace upon the world. A menace I can no longer control! A menace which no one can control!”
Jameson sat in his chair, still looking out over the city. “Damn Spider-Man,” Jameson said. He put his head down. This wasn’t really Spider-Man’s fault; it was his own. He looked over to the paper that had skyrocketed The Bugle into the juggernaut it was today. The headline read “SPIDER-MAN: HERO OR MENACE?”.
“You represent everything that I am not,” he said to the drawn picture of Spider-Man’s mask under the headline, finally admitting to himself what he knew was true. “You’re brave, powerful, and unselfish. The truth is, I envy you. I, J. Jonah Jameson, millionaire, man of the world, civic leader. I’d give everything I own to be the man that you are.
“But I can never climb to your level. So all that remains for me is to tear your down, because, heaven help me, I’m jealous of you.”
Jameson put his head down, waiting for Robbie to come back in with more news about the devil he created.
Peter snuck around his bedroom and opened the trunk from under his bed. He snuck in the window, but he didn’t want to do anything that got his aunt’s attention. He didn’t have the time to make up any excuses to his beloved aunt while a crazed villain like The Scorpion was still out there. Peter took a step towards the window, and the floor creaked under his foot.
“Peter?” Aunt May called. “Is that you?”
Peter could have slapped himself. “It’s me!” Peter called back. He pushed his wet costume under his bed with his foot and threw on a shirt over the new costume that he had just put on. He got it buttoned up before his aunt was at his door. “What are you doing home?” she asked. “I didn’t even hear you come in.”
“I had to come home to change,” Peter said. “I got a good drenching from a broken hydrant.”
“Were you on that bridge?” Aunt May asked, accusing Peter with her eyes.
“I tried,” Peter said. “But I couldn’t get past the police barricade.” It was the same lie he was practicing to tell Jameson when he would have to explain why he got no pictures of Spider-man’s fight with The Scorpion.
“Gwen’s been calling here,” Aunt May said. “Did you really leave her in a restaurant without telling her you were leaving?”
“Yeah,” Peter said, lowing his head. “She would have talked me out of going.”
“How could you do something like that?!” Aunt May said. “You leave here right now, find that sweet girl, and apologize, and you better pray that she’s still your girl afterwards.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Peter said, leaving his room. He walked downstairs, out the front door, and began walking back towards the city, following his radio to the tracer he left on The Scorpion.
The Scorpion scaled the side of The Daily Bugle, the ground becoming farther away with every inch he climbed. He found it easy and oddly relaxing to climb into the night sky towards his prey.
“I’m coming Jameson,” he said, smiling. “You don’t have to wait much longer.”
Jameson sat in his office, still occupied in his guilt. Betty Brant came in with nothing new to tell him. “Still no word from Peter,” she said. “Also, no word on where the… The Scorpion!”
Jameson turned quickly to see The Scorpion standing just outside his window. He smashed inwards, jumping inside. “Quick, Betty,” he said, shoving her out of his office before she could hear The Scorpion admit to being Jameson’s creation. “Evacuate the building! Call the police! I’ll deal with him!”
“Very heroic, Jameson,” The Scorpion said. “But it’s not going to save you!”
“What are you doing here?” Jameson pleaded. “What do you want?”
“Can’t you figure it out?” The Scorpion asked. “You did this to me.”
“You…” Jameson stammered, stepping backward. “You’re mad! Don’t hurt me… I’ll pay any price.”
“You should have thought about that before,” The Scorpion said. “Before you made into me what I am.”
Jameson ran towards the door as The Scorpion’s tail lashed out, creating a large gash in the wall where he was standing just a moment before. “Run all you want,” The Scorpion said. “There’s nowhere you can hide from me!”
“Help!” Jameson yelled.
The Scorpion gave chase. “There’s nobody -”
The Scorpion flew forward, going through Jameson’s wall and into the offices of The Bugle. He rolled on the floor, overturning desks as he went. “Thanks for the shout, Chuckles,” Spider-Man said. “I heard you all the way from the Queensboro Bridge.”
“Spider-Man!” Jameson shouted.
“You’re interrupting,” The Scorpion said, seething.
“Don’t be so greedy Scorpion,” Spider-Man said. “You should learn to finish with one enemy before you move onto the next.”
“You shouldn’t be here, fool!” The Scorpion said, lashing out with his tail and hitting the floor as Spider-Man jumped back.
“That’s my line,” Spider-Man said, firing two strands of webs to the ceiling, deftly leaping over Scorpion’s head as he reared the seven-foot long tail once again. He narrowly missed the spike at the end of the tail.
Spider-Man stuck his feet to the ceiling and fired a ball of webbing into The Scorpion’s face, covering his eyes. “Run, Jameson!” Spider-Man shouted. Jameson didn’t question the command and began to run towards the exit.
“Not so fast!” The Scorpion called, ripping the webbing from his face. He ran after Jameson, but Spider-Man dropped from the ceiling, blocking the way. “You can’t stop me!” The Scorpion flipped a desk towards Spider-Man with his tail. Spider-Man used two strands of webbing to catch the desk and throw it back at The Scorpion, shattering the wood when he lashed out with his tail once again.
“Your tricks are useless!” The Scorpion said, sneering.
“They work fine at birthday parties,” Spider-Man replied, webbing Scorpion’s feet to the floor.
“This won’t hold me!” The Scorpion exclaimed, wrenching his foot from the floor. Spider-Man didn’t know if he’d be able to keep him away from Jameson for long, let alone beat this lunatic.
“I know Jameson’s a jerk,” Spider-Man said. “But I won’t let you harm him!”
“I’ll step over your corpse if I have to!” spat The Scorpion, attacking Spider-Man with a renewed fervor. “Jameson is mine!”
The Scorpion took the bait, attacking Spider-Man instead of pursuing the fleeing Jameson. Spider-Man dodged the first few blows, but he wasn’t able to keep up with the fury of punches with his arms and legs still sore from his swim. Spider-Man leapt back, but not far enough. The Scorpion landed a blow to his ribs that had him double over. The Scorpion’s tail came down next, smashing Spider-Man across the back of his shoulders and pounding him to the ground. “It’s over,” The Scorpion breathed. “I told you that you can’t beat me.”
The Scorpion looked around him. “Dammit,” he said. “Jameson got away. No matter. I’ll find him again. You can’t babysit him forever, Spider-Man. Not if I kill you where you lie.”
The Scorpion raised his tail above his head, extending the blade in the tip. He looked at his victim, savoring the moment. “It ends here, Spider-Man,” he said. Before he cold bring down his tail, a bright light came into the windows of The Daily Bugle. Papers flew around as a police helicopter hovered just outside Jameson’s smashed window.
“PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD, SCORPION!” an amplified voice said. “WE WILL OPEN FIRE ON YOU!”
The Scorpion ignored the order, bringing his tail down towards his victim. There was a blast as a rifle was fired. The bullets ricocheted off of his back, but it had stopped him from finishing off Spider-Man. The Scorpion turned towards the hole in Jameson’s wall and the smashed window. The police let off another shot, ricocheting off The Scorpion’s abdomen this time.
“So you want to play too?!” The Scorpion exclaimed, beginning to run towards the window. The helicopter moved away from the building as The Scorpion leapt from the window. He landed on the side, grasping the side with his hands and thrashing with his tail. The blade caught the throat of one of the officers. He fell back grasping his throat. The other took the opportunity to blast The Scorpion in the chest with his rifle, getting him free of the helicopter.
The Scorpion fell as the police helicopter tried to get itself from the sky and close to a hospital. He landed on the roof of a hotel across from The Daily Bugle, going through the ceiling and landing in the penthouse. He crashed to the floor as the people inside fled in terror.
“Spider-Man,” Jameson said, crawling next to the unconscious body of the hero.
“Wha…?” Spider-Man said, regaining his composure. “Didn’t you leave?”
“I’ve worked for this paper my entire life,” Jameson said. “I’m not going to abandon it while two masked lunatics are trying to kill each other.”
“You’re welcome,” Spider-Man said, picking himself off the floor with a groan. “Any idea which way he went?”
“He jumped out the window after the helicopter,” Jameson said. “I think he landed on the hotel. If he survived the fall, he’s probably long gone.”
“Live to scorpion another day,” Spider-Man said. “Any idea why he was targeting you?”
“No idea,” Jameson said, looking away. Spider-Man knew he was lying, but he knew the police would be there any minute, and he’d have to make himself scarce. He decided to come back a little later to see if he could uncover any motive for The Scorpion’s seemingly random attack on Jameson.
“Call me if he shows up again,” Spider-Man said, making his way to the same hole that The Scorpion had exited. He looked around for any signs of where he could of fled to, but he only saw the hole in the hotel roof. It looked like he’d be back to tracking him by radio (if the tracer was still stuck to him).
“Wait!” Jameson called, walking into his disheveled office. “I just wanted to thank you.”
“Wow, Jameson,” Spider-Man said. “I don’t know what to say.”
“How about ‘you’re welcome’, you little punk?” Jameson said.
“Now there’s the Jolly Jonah Jameson I know and love,” Spider-Man said. “I’ll be seeing you, chuckles.” Spider-Man leapt from the window, swinging from a strand of his webbing as he went. Jameson walked to his window, watching him swing off into the distance.