Chapter 11: Robbie Robertson
Dr. Stillwell worked tirelessly in his lab as soon as the police left after taking his statement about the three guards. They made sure to tell him not to leave town and that a detective would be calling on him shortly. He knew it was only a matter of time before he was outed as the creator of such a vile monster, so he decided to help put an end to The Scorpion rather than sitting around and doing nothing.
The theory behind the Scorpion Serum antidote was simple enough. It was just a matter of his quickly he’d be able to put it together. Every minute that passed was another minute that Gargan was on the streets, masquerading as The Scorpion. The longer The Scorpion was out there, the more lives would be at risk.
“We interrupt this report for a breaking story,” the news reporter said. Stillwell had left the TV on in the lab so he could hear if The Scorpion resurfaced again. He knew in his gut that he had as soon as the news anchor had cut in. “The Daily Bugle has been evacuated after The Scorpion and Spider-Man continued their epic battle near the top floor of the newspaper publisher’s headquarters. There’s no word yet on any injuries or casualties from inside the building, but we have received word that an injured police officer died in transport to the hospital after being attacked by The Scorpion. No name has been released…”
“Another dead,” Dr. Stillwell said, putting his hands to his temples. “The blood The Scorpion spills is on my hands as well. I have to make things right.”
The paperwork from the lawyer was on his desk. He had come by earlier that day to make another offer. It was very generous, and Stillwell was seriously considering signing, taking the money, and fleeing to Europe. If only he could push the feelings of guilt and responsibility out of his mind.
Dr. Stillwell continued working on what he hoped would be an antidote to the Scorpion Serum and an end to MacDonald Gargan’s psychotic rampage. The problem Stillwell decided to worry about later was how to introduce it into Gargan’s bloodstream.
“Jonah!” Robbie Robertson shouted, coming back into the offices of The Daily Bugle. He found Jonah giving a statement to a police officer with a pad. When Robbie came up, he closed the pad and thanked Jonah for his time. “Thank God you’re alright.”
Jonah harrumphed. “This has been a hell of a night,” he said. “I don’t even know what to print about all this.”
“Is that what you’re thinking about?” Robbie asked. “What to print?”
“Go with what you want,” Jonah said, shrugging.
“Betty took care of it already,” Robbie said. “‘Hero Newspaper Publisher Evacuates Building’. Or are you too modest for that?”
Jonah smiled. “I’ll take it,” he said. Robbie didn’t think it sounded like he was happy about it, but he didn’t argue.
“The police offered to take you home and set a watch outside your house if this guy comes looking for you,” Robbie said.
“Not necessary,” Jonah said, absently waving his hand. “They wouldn’t be able to stop them if he did show up again. I’d be putting their lives at risk by asking for their protection.”
“How are you getting home then?” Robbie asked. “I have my car if you want a ride.”
“Sure,” Jameson said. “I’ll take you up on the offer.”
Spider-Man dropped from the hole ceiling of the hotel where The Scorpion was last seen. His radio told him that the spider tracer was still here. The room seemed deserted aside from the police officers outside of the door. Spider-Man quietly moved the mess around on the floor, finding his small, red spider tracer.
“Scratch that idea,” Spider-Man said, putting the tracer in his belt. He didn’t like the idea of waiting for The Scorpion to strike again to know where he was, but he didn’t know where to look. He didn’t know who he really was, where he came from, or any connections. Well, there was one.
“Jameson,” Spider-Man said, looking out the penthouse’s window to The Daily Bugle across the way. There had to be a reason why The Scorpion was after him. Spider-Man couldn’t go back to The Bugle without tangling with the police, but Peter Parker might be able to get around.
There was a noise from the hallway. The door slowly opened, and Spider-Man made a quick exit through the hole in the ceiling made by The Scorpion. He then descended to street level to change into Peter Parker.
Robbie drove an uncharacteristically silent J. Jonah Jameson home. He knew he should get Jonah to talk about what had just happened, but he knew it would be hard seeing as his life was just saved by the man who he had spent so much time besmirching in print for years.
“It’s odd,” Jonah said, breaking his own silence. “How everything can all come to a crashing crescendo right in front of you sometimes.”
Robbie didn’t respond at first, but spoke even though his mind screamed not to. “You know what I think?” he asked. “I think you created this Scorpion character.”
Jonah turned to look at Robbie. There was something in his eye that Robbie had never seen before.
“Not literally, of course,” Robbie continued. “But all this ‘hero or menace’ stuff targeting Spider-Man… It was only a matter of time before some costumed villain came crashing through our walls.”
Jonah signed. “Have I ever told you why I do what I do?” he asked. “Regarding these masks?”
“You have,” Robbie replied.
“Maybe not the whole story,” Jonah said. “I made no secret over my disdain for these masked characters’ vigilantism and their blatant disregard for the law. Spider-Man fights one of these jacked-up criminals, destroying property, injuring innocent bystanders, and getting away with it all because nobody knows who he is. If he really was a hero, he’d do it without his mask. Like the police or fire fighters… Or my son.
“When my son, an astronaut, came back from a mission outer space, his accomplishments were overshadowed because that pajama-wearing nut came onto the scene on the same day. My son should have been praised as the hero, not Spider-Man. It was a travesty to put his story on the front page of my own paper instead of my son’s.
“My own wife, Joan, was shot and killed by a mugger. Did you know that?”
“I did,” Robbie said. The fate of Jameson’s wife was no secret around The Bugle.
“I was away on Bugle business,” Jonah said. “The editor-in-cheif at the time needed someone to go to Korea for a story, and I never said no. I didn’t get the news that she’d been killed until I was back stateside. I couldn’t be there, Robbie. I couldn’t save the woman I loved. Where were these masked vigilantes then? Where was Spider-Man when my wife needed a hero?”
“I’m sorry about what happened,” Robbie said. “But it wasn’t Spider-Man’s fault. None of it was.”
“Nobody can be a hero all of the time,” Jonah said. “My own father proved that. He was hailed as a war hero, but I knew him for what he really was: a drunk and a wife beater. You praise this Spider-Man as a hero, but you don’t know him. How do you know I’m wrong about him? How can you?”
Robbie looked at the road ahead of him. He didn’t have an answer and didn’t think another argument about Spider-Man’s intentions was really the best thing for this friend right now.
“How can any man be as big of a hero as this Spider-Man claims to be?” Jonah said, looking out of the window as they neared his house. “How can anyone be that good of a man?”
“I don’t know,” Robbie replied.
“Neither do I,” Jonah said.
“We’re here,” Robbie said, pulling along side Jonah’s house. “You want me to come in?”
“No,” Jonah said. “You need to get back to The Bugle. The news still needs to be reported.”
“Alright,” Robbie agreed. He knew Jonah was too stubborn to be silenced, even when his life was on the line.
“And call Parker,” Jonah said. “Have him get some pictures of the wreckage for tomorrow’s paper. They have the floor closed off, but I’m sure he’s resourceful enough to sneak up there.”
“Parker?” Robbie asked, remembering the recent blowout between Jonah and Peter. “Are you sure?”
“Don’t ever tell the kid I said this,” Jonah said. “But I respect the hell out of the fact that he has more guts than brains when it comes to his craft.”
“That’s probably something you should tell him,” Robbie said. “If you clean it up a bit first.”
“Are you kidding me?” Jonah asked. “The kid is likely to start sniffing around for a raise!”
Robbie laughed. He was happy that Jonah was finally starting to show signs of himself.
“I need one more thing,” Jonah said. “Send me a currier first thing in the morning. I have something I need to write.”
Peter looked around the disheveled offices of The Daily Bugle, looking for clues as to why The Scorpion was targeting Jameson. He had his camera around his neck in case anyone asked why he was there, but so far it had been quiet. Aside from a few police officers roaming the halls, he was able to stay virtually unnoticed.
He entered Jameson’s office, which seemed to be worse off than the rest of The Bugle. The wind from the city entered from the broken window, chilling Peter. There was little he’d be able to find in the mess, but he looked anyway. He bent down next to Jameson’s desk, examining the pile of folders and papers on the floor. He picked up an old magazine article from a science magazine that Peter was familiar with.
“This doesn’t seem like that type of thing that interests Jameson,” Peter said, flipping through the pages. He came across an article that Jameson had written all over. It was an interview with genetic engineer, Dr. Farley Stillwell. On the bottom of the page there was a note. Jameson had scribbled one word with two big question marks next to it: ‘SCORPION??’
“Jameson,” Peter said. “How deep in this are you?”
“Peter?” someone called from outside of Jonah’s office. Peter recognized it as Robbie Roberton’s. “Is that you?”
“It’s me, Mr. Robertson!” Peter called back, rolling up the magazine and stuffing it into his back pocket and pulling his shirt over it. “I”m getting some picture of Jonah’s office.”
“So you got the message I left your aunt?” Robertson asked. “She sounded pretty peeved. I didn’t think she’d give it to you to be honest.”
“That’s my aunt,” Peter said, covering up the fact that he’d come there on his own intuition. “How’s Jameson holding up?”
“As well as someone could after being attacked by one of these masked villains,” Robertson replied. “He’s home, getting some rest. Any idea how something like this could’ve happened?”
“How would I know?” Peter asked. Robertson gave him a quizical look. “I mean… I just got here myself.”
“You’re pretty intuitive,” Robertson said. “Absent minded sometimes, but intuitive. I’m sure you can put the pieces of what happened her better than most of the reporters in this place.”
“If I had to guess,” Peter said, wondering how much he should say in front of Robertson. “I would guess that The Scorpion was holding some kind of grudge against Jameson, but why?”
“That’s the million dollar question,” Robertson said, looking around the disheveled office. “Jonah’s definitely riled up these masked vigilantes before, but this Scorpion is new on the scene. Unless he’s tied to someone else that Jonah has come out against in print.”
“I don’t think so,” Peter said. “The Scorpion doesn’t seem to be following any particular agenda. He just seems to be a psychotic, using violence to get what he wants. On the bridge…”
“You were on the Queensboro Bridge?” Robertson interrupted. “Is that how you got the bruise on the side of your head?”
“Um…” Peter said, remembering that he hadn’t gotten any pictures. He absently rubbed the bruise on his head he received from The Scorpion earlier. “No. The police had the whole thing blocked off. I couldn’t even get a good view of what was going on, but I heard what happened from the officers that were on site. The Scorpion was apparently smashing cars and scaring innocent civilians just to get the attention of Spider-Man. I got the bruise from the crowd trying to run the opposite way.”
“This is an odd nut to crack,” Robertson said, looking out of the broken window. “Why would someone be after both Spider-Man and Jonah? Does this make any sense to you?”
“No,” Peter answered, but he knew where to start looking.
“Be careful out there, Peter,” Robbie said, walking past Peter and putting a hand on his shoulder. “This is some rough business.”
Peter watched as Robbie left without saying any more on the subject.
Dr. Stillwell followed the only lead he had. The only two people who knew that The Scorpion was actually MacDonald Gargan was Jameson and himself, and he highly doubted that Jameson would out himself as being involved with The Scorpion.
Dr. Stillwell finished what he suspected would be the antidote to The Scorpion serum, and armed a spike with with it. The Scorpion armor wouldn’t allow the injection anywhere except around the neck, where the armor was made more flexible. The only problem was getting close enough to administer the injection. Gargan was too far gone to allow Dr. Stillwell to get close enough jab a spike into his neck.
There was only one address for MacDonald Gargan, and that was the office for his Private Investigator business. With nowhere to go after his attack on The Bugle, Stillwell was sure he’d be hiding out in there. Now that he stood outside the cracked wooden door that said ‘MacDonald Gargan: Private Investigator’, frozen in fear. He steadied his nerve to do what he came there to do. He reached in his coat, took the envelope out form his inside pocket, and slid it under the door.
He stood there for a moment, listening for movement on the other side, but he heard none. He was almost relieved, but he knew it would be short lived. He walked back down the dark hallway towards the staircase. All he had to do now was wait.