Chapter 13: Spider-Man
Jonah looked out of his home office window as the sun broke the horizon. He had written several drafts of the editorial he wanted to put in the next edition of The Daily Bugle, but he couldn’t put his finger on what he was missing. He thought back to the story he had told Robbie on the drive home, and somehow regretted not telling him the full truth as to why he was the way that he was.
He knew his involvement in the creation of The Scorpion would come to light no matter what he did. He was, after all, the one who approached Stillwell to do the experiment and the one who chose Mac Gargan to be transformed into the psychopathic Scorpion.
Jameson yawned. The currier that Robbie would be sending would be there shortly. If he wanted to tell his story before it was forced out of him, he had to get his metaphoric pen moving. He put a fresh sheet of paper in his old typewriter, cracked his knuckles, and started typing.
“My name is J. Jonah Jameson Jr.,” he typed. “And I am responsible for the creation of The Scorpion.”
The Scorpion emerged from the shadows and began walking towards Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He stripped off the black trench coat, dropped it on the ground, and unwrapped the tail from around his midsection.
Jameson and Stillwell apparently wanted to help him by undoing what The Scorpion had accomplished, but The Scorpion knew that they really wanted to help only themselves. They helped turn Gargan into what he was, and now they wanted to do away with him to protect themselves.
“You can’t get rid of me that easily, Jameson!” The Scorpion said. His tail lashed out, leaving a small rut in the parking lot. “Not after what you’ve done to me!”
Spider-Man swung down towards the main entrance of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He was hoping to find Dr. Stillwell there so he could get some answers, but he found something he didn’t expect. “Scorpion!” he exclaimed, stunned. The Scorpion had just torn the main doors off and went inside. It looked like Jameson’s trail had led him to where he needed to be after all.
Spider-Man swung through the door, planting both feet into the back of the Scorpion and sending him flying across the lobby and into a wall, much like he had done at The Bugle.
“Spider-Man!” someone shouted. Spider-Man recognized Farley Stillwell from his photos in Jameson’s magazine, but it looked like he wouldn’t get his opportunity to ask his questions. Not until The Scorpion was put away.
“Stand back!” Spider-Man said as The Scorpion got to his feet.
“You shouldn’t have come here!” Stillwell shouted.
“Pardon me for saving you from a psychopathic super villain murderer,” Spider-Man said.
“SPIDER-MAN!” The Scorpion shouted. “You’ve interfered for the last time!”
“Yeah,” Spider-Man said. “I get that a lot.”
The Scorpion twisted is body, swinging his seven-foot long tail towards Spider-Man. He jumped over it, sticking to the ceiling in the process. He fired webbing from both web shooters, hitting The Scorpion on his each of his shoulders. He pulled, getting Scorpion off the ground and following up with another dropkick to his midsection.
The Scorpion twisted his body again, this time throwing Spider-Man through the glass window in front of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He fired two more strands of webbing, hitting the building and slowing his flight. The Scorpion charged from the building, nailing Spider-Man with his shoulder. Spider-Man went off into the parking lot, rolling on the ground as he went.
“Can’t you see, Spider-Man?” Scorpion said. “All of your tricks are useless. You can’t beat me. You’re not strong or fast enough. A spider can never kill a scorpion.”
Dr. Stillwell watched as Spider-Man fought The Scorpion in the parking lot of his building. He plan hadn’t been perfect, but it was the only way to stop him. Now that Spider-Man was here, angering Gargan, there was no telling what he was capable of doing.
Dr. Stillwell was planning on luring The Scorpion under a false presumption that Jameson wanted to talk, somehow get him calm, and administer the antidote. Things didn’t look good when Scorpion tore the doors off the building, but Stillwell’s plan didn’t totally go to hell until Spider-Man showed up.
Spider-Man was still outside, tangling with The Scorpion. He seemed to think twice about being pummeled in the parking lot and started scurrying up the side of the building. The wall nearly shook as Scorpion began punching holes in the wall to climb after him, ignoring the fact that the suit was designed to aid him.
“I have to go after him,” Dr. Stillwell said, breaking his paralysis. He turned to take the maintenance elevator. There was still a chance he could inject Gargan while he was distracted by murdering Spider-Man.
Spider-Man climbed the wall as fast as he could. He normally didn’t shy away from a fight, but he wanted to take it away from where civilians would soon be out and about. Most of the city would soon be awake, and that meant a super hero battle would draw a crowd of gawkers. There was less of a chance of injuries if the battle was above the street level.
“I got you!” The Scorpion shouted, grabbing ahold of Spider-Man’s ankle. He swung Spider-Man, smashing him through a window and back into the building. This time on the fourth or fifth floor. He smashed into a desk and fell to the floor along with beakers and test tubes of whatever was being worked on in the lab. The chemicals ignited, spreading fire along the floor. The rush of air from the broken window fed the fire as smoke rose to the ceiling.
Spider-Man sprayed some wide webbing to cover the flames, but The Scorpion was through the window and back on him, pushing him through a wall and into a long hallway. Spider-Man rolled out of the way of a jab from The Scorpion’s tail. A cracked hole in the floor appeared.
Spider-Man fired a web into the ceiling and pulled hard. His body lifted from the ground, and he took The Scorpion with him. He hit The Scorpion with a knee to the jaw, sending him on his back. He turned towards the source of the fire once again, but The Scorpion grabbed him from the back, clutching him in a spine-crushing bear hug.
“What’s the matter?!” The Scorpion shouted. “You don’t have anything smart to say now?”
“The building…” Spider-Man said, trying to get breath into his lungs. “It’s burning!” There was an explosion from the other room, and the wall flew outwards. The Scorpion didn’t move as they were pelted with debris from the explosion.
“Let it burn!” The Scorpion said. “You and I have other business.” The Scorpion used his tail to propel him through the ceiling and towards the roof.
Dr. Stillwell ran down the hall through the smoke. He was lucky he had sent the rest of his security and staff home after what happened the night before, but the fire was spreading and the sprinklers weren’t doing much to control the blaze. The chemical fire that The Scorpion and Spider-Man started was being fueled by the oxygen from the open window. If he didn’t find Scorpion soon and inject him with the antidote, he’d burn along with the building.
“Where the Hell did you go?” Dr. Stilwell asked, squinting his eyes through the smoke. He walked up to a small pile of rubble on the floor. He looked up and saw the answer to his question. There was hole in the ceiling. The Scorpion and Spider-Man were heading upwards.
“The roof!” Dr. Stillwell said, turning around. He still had a chance to end The Scorpion before any more damage was done.
Fresh air filled Spider-Man’s lungs as The Scorpion made his final hole, bringing them to the roof of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. The hold was finally broken, and Spider-Man was tossed onto his side. He quickly rolled and got back to his feet.
“Is this is where you wanted to do this?” The Scorpion asked. “Do you think you can beat me while the ground below us burns?” As if to answer his summons, smoke began to pour from the hole they just emerged from, signaling to Spider-Man that the chemical fire was rapidly spreading.
Spider-Man considered asking The Scorpion once more to stop his rampage, but he knew it was useless. He knew that whoever was behind the mask was too far gone to bargain with. Instead, he charged into the battle. He fired a line of webbing, sticking it to Scorpion’s left hand. The Scorpion pulled, flinging Spider-Man into the air. The Scorpion swung his massive tail, but Spider-Man dodged it in mid-air. He landed on the opposite side.
The Scorpion swung around, smiling. He swung his tail once more, and Spider-Man jumped forward, landing a foot on the tail. He used the momentum to flip in the air, fired to lines of webbing to the ground near Scorpion’s feet, and continued the webbing as he fell on his other side once more.
The Scorpion turned again, this time trapping himself in Spider-Man’s web. “You know this won’t stop me!” he exclaimed, starting to rip the webs apart.
“It’ll give me time for this!” Spider-Man retorted, giving Scorpion a huge uppercut. The Scorpion used his tail to keep himself on the ground after the blow, and he grabbed Spider-Man by the throat, squeezing as he lifted him from the ground.
“You’re back in my grasp,” The Scorpion said. “I already told you: you can’t beat me. I’m too strong.” He threw Spider-Man into the side of the building’s communication tower. It toppled beneath the force of Spider-Man flying into it, back first. Spider-Man tried to rise, but the weight of the rubble on his back was too much.
The blade on The Scorpion’s tail was out, and it dangled playfully in front of Spider-Man’s face. He had nowhere to go. The Scorpion was right: he was too strong. “I think it’s about time I split your skull open,” Scorpion said. The tail went into the air again. Spider-Man looked up to see a man running towards them. He opened his mouth to yell at him to stop, but no words came out. His world began to fade in a fog.
Dr. Stillwell ran towards The Scorpion as fast as he could, holding the spike of antidote in his right hand. This was the chance he needed. The Scorpion was distracted by his fallen enemy, and would hopefully not register the attack. He zeroed in on his target. The area in the neck wasn’t as armored as the rest of The Scorpion’s suit, so he would need to be precise. If the the spike broke anywhere else, then all would be lost.
Dr. Stillwell was only a few steps away. The Scorpion’s tail moved downwards towards Spider-Man’s skull. Stillwell swung his arm in a sideways arc towards Scorpion’s neck. He was about to end this. His muscles tensed as the spike neared its target.
The Scorpion turned suddenly. The blade missed Spider-Man’s head by an inch, leaving a large gash in the roof instead. The Scorpion used his pincer like hand to break the bones in Stillwell’s arm. The spike of antidote fell to the ground.
“What do we have here?” The Scorpion said. “You trying to finish me off?”
“It’s for your own good!” Stillwell spat through the pain. “The antidote will cure you!”
“I need no antidote!” The Scorpion yelled. He picked up the spike with his other hand and tossed it into the smoking hole and into the burning building.
“No!” Dr. Stillwell shouted. “You have no idea what you’ve done!”
“I’m going to show you what I do to those who interfere with me,” The Scorpion said. “Pay attention, Spider-Man!”
The pain Dr. Stillwell felt was nothing compared to his terror as The Scorpion held him over his head. He tried to free himself, but The Scorpion gripped tight, breaking more bones as he carried him to the edge of the roof. “Happy landings,” The Scorpion said, tossing Stillwell over the edge.
Spider-Man didn’t have time to think about what had just happened. The Scorpion had just tossed a man off the side of the roof. He was still trapped under the rubble of the small communication tower, but he was able to fire a line of webbing. He watched as the web sailed over the falling body of Dr. Stillwell, missing him as he fell to his death.
I couldn’t save him, Spider-Man thought.
A foot was on Spider-Man’s shoulder, pinning him to the ground. He felt the heat from the fire in the building underneath him. Soon, the roof could cave in, and they’d both fall to the flames below. If this was going to be his end, he’d rest well knowing The Scorpion fell to hell with him.
“It doesn’t end like this,” the voice of Uncle Ben said inside Spider-Man’s mind. “Get up. You can beat him.”
HOW?! Spider-Man thought back. He could feel The Scorpion’s boot on his head, but it felt a million miles away. How do I beat someone this much stronger than me!
“With great power…” Uncle Ben started.
“Comes great responsibility,” Spider-Man finished.
“What did you say?” The Scorpion asked.
Spider-Man pushed on the ground with his fists. He pushed so hard he thought he’d put a hole in the roof, but he was able to push Scorpion’s foot off. He didn’t stop until the rubble on his back began to lift. He slid out quickly and got to his feet, standing in front of his opponent.
The Scorpion took a wide swing towards Spider-Man’s head, and he moved quickly to dodge it. It was the same kind of blow he landed back at The Bugle. The Scorpion threw two quick jabs, and Spider-Man dodged them easily. He had been throwing them since their first fight on the bridge. Next came the tail, which was easy to dodge when it frustratingly came after the punches failed to land. Spider-Man side-stepped it, and it crashed into the rubble.
Some of Matt’s words came back to Spider-Man when they talked about The Scorpion in Matt’s hospital room. “I wouldn’t use the word skilled,” Matt had said. “He’s a pure brawler. Maybe a little boxing in there. I didn’t have much room to maneuver because he cornered me in an alley, although I don’t think he intended it that way.”
Matt was right. The Scorpion may have been strong, but he was still inexperienced. If he continued the fight inside the narrow hallway, he could have won easily, but he brought Spider-Man to the roof, giving him plenty of room to dodge his blows.
The Scorpion swung with a left hook, and Spider-Man trusted his spider sense to dodge. The tail lashed out again next, and Spider-Man leapt over it. Frustrated, The Scorpion lunged at Spider-Man with both hands extended like claws. Spider-Man leapt over him, using his head as a stepping stone.
“I’LL KILL YOU!” The Scorpion shouted.
“You can’t kill me if you can’t land a single blow,” Spider-Man said. He fired webbing at The Scorpion’s face, covering it with webs. Both of Scorpion’s hands went to work trying to rip it free, and Spider-Man used the opportunity to web his feet to the ground. The Scorpion got enough of the web off to see and breath, and went right to work trying to rip his massive legs free of the mess they were in.
“Time to make this a fair fight,” Spider-Man said, firing another line of web and snagging a large piece of jagged metal from the pile of junk that used to be the tower. He took it in both hands and leapt over The Scorpion, dodging the tail that was now flapping wildly as he tried frantically freeing himself of the webs. Spider-Man came down with both hands, jamming the piece of metal into the tail near its base.
“NO!” The Scorpion shouted as sparks and smoke flew from his costume. Spider-Man twisted and pushed down with all of his might, wrenching the metal between the joint of the tail. The Scorpion got his feet free, and tried to nail Spider-Man with a backhand. Spider-Man ducked it, and grabbed The Scorpion’s flaccid tail, pulling it as he stuck his feet to the ground. Just as every muscle in Spider-Man’s body screamed in agony, The Tail came loose.
The Scorpion screamed in pain. Spider-Man tossed the now useless tail aside. When he was silent, Spider-Man was aware of the sounds of sirens around the building. “It’s over, Scorpion,” Spider-Man said.
The Scorpion sneered, charging Spider-Man. Spider-Man balled both of his fists together, and nailed The Charging Scorpion with a huge uppercut. Without the tail to help him balance and keep his body upright, The Scorpion fell backwards. Spider-Man followed up the double-fisted blow with another. The Scorpion lost his footing and tumbled off the side of the building.
Spider-Man considered letting him drop all the way to the ground, but moved as the notion left his mind. He went to the edge of the roof and fired a line of webbing downwards towards The Scorpion. He caught him in his midsection and pulled upwards on him. He began to turn in mid-air, becoming tangled in the web. Spider-Man repeated the action, spinning The Scorpion like a yo-yo in mid-air, tangling him in more webbing. He let the line go and fired another, letting the Scorpion’s mo momentum tangle him further. He repeated the action one more time. When he was done, The Scorpion was trapped in a spinning cocoon. Spider-Man let him drop the rest of the way to the ground.
The pavement cracked in a semi-circle around The Scorpion where he hit (only fifteen feet or so from where Stillwell’s lifeless body lay). He was alive, but knocked out cold between the pain of losing his tail and his tumble from the building. Spider-Man watched as the police approached him, rifles drawn. With The Scorpion’s rampage ended, an exhausted and bruised Spider-Man turned and swung off the smoking building and into the morning.
Jonah answered the door when the currier rang the bell. He held the manuscript of his editorial in his hand. He placed the pages in a manilla envelope. He included a message of apology for Robbie.
“Good morning, Mr. Jameson,” the currier said. He was a boy that couldn’t be too far out of his teenage years. He had a crop of red hair on his head. “Mr. Robertson sent me to pick something up.”
Jameson hesitated for a moment. Once his packet was out there, there was no turning back. He looked off in the sky and saw smoke billowing in the distance. “What’s going on there?” Jameson asked.
“I dunno,” the currier said, shrugging. “Some building caught fire. They closed the whole block off. I heard on the radio Spider-Man might’ve been there.”
Jonah harrumphed and handed the envelope to the currier. “Make sure Robertson gets this ASAP, kid.”
“No problem, Mr. Jameson,” the currier said. He lingered for a moment, observing Jameson.
“What’s the matter, kid?” Jameson snapped. “You waiting on a tip or something?”
“No,” the currier said, coming out of his daze. “It’s nothing. I’ll get this to Mr. Robertson right away.”
“Thanks,” Jameson said, slamming the door. He leaned against it and let his body fall to the floor on the other side. He put his head in his hands, praying that he was making the right decision. After a few minutes he decided to get up and try to get some sleep. His entire world was about to come crashing down around him.
Spider-Man swung from building to building, making his way towards The Daily Bugle. There had been some major changes in the last few days since J. Jonah Jameson stepped down as Editor-In-Cheif (he stayed in charge as Publisher) after confessing to being the one who created The Scorpion.
Spider-Man supposed he should be happy that Jameson felt compelled to confess (even though he was somehow avoiding jail time for manslaughter). It was vindication that he could make mistakes like the rest of humanity. Also, he had to publicly admit that Spider-Man not only saved his skin but cleaned up his mess as well. A personal visit from Spider-Man was in order.
An alarm blared from the streets below, and Spider-Man descended to see if there was anything he could help with. He dropped to the top of a streetlight and looked at the scene. There was a man dressed in a giant frog outfit leaving a jewelry store, carrying a sack. The costume looked like it was made from a polished garbage can, complete with a dome lid over it making it look like a frog’s mouth. A purple vest was painted on it.
“And don’t try anything funny, or The Bullfrog will return!” the villain aptly named The Bullfrog shouted from inside his metal armor.
“You’ve got to be kidding me with this getup,” Spider-Man said, leaping down from the light. “I’ve fought the worst of the worst, and I’ve never seen a super villain in a painted garbage can before.”
“Laugh all you want, Spider-Man!” The Bullfrog said, putting the satchel of money into his costume’s mouth. “But not even you can keep up with my gigantic leaping!” The Bullfrog used two mechanical legs to jump fifteen feet in the air and away from Spider-Man. He hit the ground with a thud twenty or so feet away and leapt back into the air. Spider-Man stared after him, wondering how rude it would be to just stand there and laugh at the poor guy.
“You think that’s just a frog suit or he’s spliced his DNA with a frog’s?” Spider-Man asked the jewelry store’s security guard.
“Are you just going to let him get away?” the security guard asked.
“Fine,” Spider-Man said, firing a strand of webbing with a THWIP of his web shooters. He hit The Bullfrog in the back, and pulled him back towards the earth as soon as he tried to hop away again. He hit the ground with a clang. He dragged the screaming villain back as he clawed at the pavement. Spider-Man turned back to the security guard. “I expect a cut of your next paycheck, by the way.”
A spider hid in the dark corner, contemplating a run across the floor so he he could climb the wall and make a web by the small, barred window. It would be the perfect spot for catching any tasty bugs that want to warm themselves by the sunlight. The spider scurried, leaving the safety of its corner for the prospects of the window. Its excitement was short lived when a hand came down, crushing it to death.
Mac Gargan picked his hand up from the ground, looking at the squashed spider inside it. His back was in immense pain where his tail should be. He thought he’d die when they pried the suit from his body, but he hadn’t. There were times in the dark of the night that he wished he had.
The squashed spider twitched a bit, and the hint of a smile grew on Mac’s unshaved face. The bars and walls of the prison they sent him to were strong, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he was able to escape and continue his quest for revenge on Jameson and Spider-Man.
“One spider squashed,” he said, still staring at his hand. “One to go.”
Jameson’s office was quiet for a change. Robbie was busy getting used to his new role as Editor-In-Chief and didn’t seem to want to speak much to his old friend after what he had recently confessed to doing. Robbie was always mad at him just for printing the stories about Spider-Man.
There was a knock on the window, and Spider-Man was stuck to the outside of it. Jameson grunted and opened the window to let him in. “What the hell do you want?” he asked, lighting his cigar with a silver zippo lighter. “You here to gloat?”
“Of course,” Spider-Man said. “But now that I’m here, I don’t think I will.”
“Don’t feel bad for me, wall-crawler,” Jameson said. “Save your pity for someone else.”
“But why did you do it?” Spider-Man asked. “Dr. Stillwell’s lab was nearly completely destroyed by the fire and nobody would believe a psychopath like Gargan. You didn’t have to do this. This will ruin you.”
“I wouldn’t expect someone like you to understand,” Jameson said. “The public has a right to truth. I love this newspaper. I’d print it in my own blood if I had to. I won’t see it’s journalistic integrity questioned because of my mistake.”
“So this is about integrity?” Spider-Man asked. “I find that hard to believe.”
“I wouldn’t expect a masked vigilante to understand the meaning of the word,” Jameson replied.
“So we’re back on that already?” Spider-Man asked with a sigh.
“Don’t think this changes anything between us,” Jameson said, breathing out a thick cloud of smoke. “I’m still publisher of this paper, and I won’t be using the kid gloves on you. You’re still just a masked menace who takes the law into his own hands, and I won’t rest until I’ve exposed you for what you truly are.”
“Well, you’ve done a good job at exposing yourself,” Spider-Man said. “And to think, I really thought you’d learn your lesson after I saved you from yourself yet again. I’ll see you in the funny pages, chuckles.” With that, Spider-Man fell backwards from the window and back out into the afternoon breeze.
Jameson looked out the window, putting out his cigar. There was a knock on his office door, and Robbie entered. “Am I interrupting anything?” Robbie asked.
“An unwarned visitor was just leaving,” Jonah said. “I’ve cleaned out the desk. It’s all yours.”
Officer Brady sipped his coffee while his partner made sure nobody was sneaking into the burnt wreckage of the Stillwell Pharmaceuticals building. The wrecking trucks were on their way to demolish what was left after the fire Spider-Man and The Scorpion started. Brady turned to look at it again, and saw someone coming out.
“Hey!” Brady shouted. “You’re not supposed to be in there!”
“I’m sorry,” the man said in a calm voice. He wore an expensive black suit and had piercing eyes. He wore a fedora atop his head of short, brown hair. He was carrying what looked like an old briefcase that was slightly singed. “But I’ve purchased this company. I wanted to see if anything was salvageable. I actually found what I was looking for, if you can believe my luck.”
“You can’t take that,” Brady said. “This was a crime scene.”
“I’m aware,” the man said. “But the contents of this briefcase became my property when I purchased Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. It’s just a few notebooks and laboratory findings. Really boring stuff for someone like you. Are you really going to put me through this after a company I just bought burned to the ground behind the corpse of its creator?”
“It’s just procedure,” Brady replied. “You can come to the station and…”
“It’s OK,” Brady’s partner, Wilson, said running up behind him. “It’s no problem. It’s just a ratty old briefcase.”
“Thank you,” the man said, smiling. “I’ll be on my way now.”
They both watched the man get in the back of a limo. The driver closed the door, walked back to this driver’s seat, and drove off.
“What the hell is your problem?!” Brady exclaimed. “You can’t just let some guy go in there and take stuff! We’ll get suspended!”
“Do you have any idea who that man was?” Wilson asked. “That was Norman freakin’ Osborn! He owns the place! I just saved both of our jobs.”
“Norman Osborn?” Brady said, dumbfounded. “He should just have said so.”
Peter found Gwen in the park where he’d ask her to meet him. He wasn’t sure if she still wanted to talk to him after what had happened recently. An entirely new argument was sprung on him when she saw he had gotten up the morning after their argument to take pictures of the burning Stillwell Pharmaceutical building and the police unmasking and taking away The Scorpion.
“Hi, Gwendy,” Peter said.
“Don’t you ‘Gwendy’ me,” Gwen said. “I’m still mad at you.”
“I’m sorry,” Peter said. “But my job…”
“Isn’t worth your life,” Gwen said. “Or anyone else’s.”
“Of course not,” Peter said. “I would never do anything to hurt those I love.”
Gwen looked into Peter’s eyes. “You love me?” she asked.
Peter looked away towards the trees. “Yeah,” he said. “Of course I do. And I would never let anything bad happen to you. I promise. I understand if you don’t want me around anymore.”
“Peter,” Gwen said. He turned around to look at her. “I love you too.”
“Does this mean your still my girl?” Peter asked.
“For now,” Gwen said, half-smiling. “As long as you don’t pull your disappearing act with me again.”
Peter picked Gwen up and kissed her. She kissed him back, putting her hands around the back of his neck. The two stayed like that for a moment longer before coming apart and taking a walk in the park, hand in hand.