Peter Parker walked into Brueggel's Deli and looked around. The place was packed, just like it always was at lunchtime. He saw a hand waving from behind a crowd of elderly men and women chewing on Brueggel's famous sandwiches and started making his way there.
The table was only meant for two people, and both of them were already there. Peter had a flashback to being excluded in high school, as these two, Flash Thompson and Jason Ionello, had been largely responsible for it. Luckily, times had changed.
"Peter!" Jason said, standing and shaking his hand vigorously. "Here, sit down, I'll go grab a chair."
Peter sat down in the booth and shook Flash's outstretched hand as Jason waded through the crowds looking for an extra stool.
"Hey, Pete. What you up to?"
"The usual, Flash. Got some photos to take over to the Bugle, and I'm still working on my master's in chemistry at ESU. I heard you're working for Osborn?"
Peter had a tough time choking that last bit out. He tried to be cheery, at least it was work, but it pained him to see someone who he considered a friend working for that snake. Flash's response didn't do anything to make him feel better.
"Yeah!" Flash said cheerily. "He's great, a really terrific boss. Never seems to yell or get upset, always real supportive. I've got a really flexible schedule, too."
Jason came back and sat the stool in the aisle next to the table. This earned him a glare from the young businessman who was trying to get by with his tray, but the man just swerved out of the way and kept going, rather than saying anything.
"So Peter! Did Flash tell you the news?" Jason asked.
"What news is that?"
"I'm moving back to the city! Put a deposit down on an apartment today. I got a job with the United Nations, working security. It's a cool gig, I get to rub shoulders with diplomats and even some of the superheroes that come in there. I feel like James Bond some days."
Flash spoke up then, clapping Jason on the shoulder. "Man, it's going to be great to have you back. The three of us can hang out, just like old times."
Peter neglected to remind him that in old times, they wouldn't have been caught dead "hanging out" with him. Why bring up old wounds? Instead, he grinned and said, "Sounds pretty good, guys. Listen, I really only had time to pop in and say hello, but it was great seeing you again, Jason. You too, Flash."
"I'll give you a call, Peter," Jason said. "Maybe you and Mary Jane can come out with me and my wife."
Peter waved and smiled as he headed out the door. So Jason was married, too? Peter was glad things had worked out for him. He wished Flash could get on more stable ground too, without having to work for Osborn.
"Well, it's not like I work for a saint either," Peter said to himself.
"Parker, my boy!" J. Jonah Jameson was exuberant and cheerful. Which usually meant he wanted something. "What have you got for your old friend Jonah today?"
Jonah had come out of his office to intercept Peter, which was also strange. Peter could see silhouettes inside the office. Had Jonah actually stepped out of a meeting to talk to him?
"Well, uh...I've got some pictures of Spider-Man and the Human Torch taking on Venom," Peter said. "I know you said you weren't interested in Spidey photos like you used to be, especially the ones where he teamed up with other heroes..."
"Nonsense!" Jonah said, wrapping an arm around Peter. "You're a valued photographer. Whatever you've got, I'm always interested in seeing them. Say...when's the last time we upped the rate for your photos? Maybe we ought to consider that."
Peter looked around the newsroom. Everything else was the same, which meant he hadn't stepped into the Twilight Zone. He gave Jonah a nervous smile.
Then he saw a familiar face leaving Jonah's office. Joy Mercado, a reporter Peter had worked with in the past. She waved at him.
"Peter! Tell Jonah to hurry up and get you in here!"
Jonah's smile vanished, and Peter started to get a clearer picture of what was going on. Not exactly clear, but it seemed obvious that Jonah didn't want him in that meeting anytime soon.
"Well, you heard the lady, Parker! Get in there! Think we have all day?"
Peter walked into the office and was surrounded by familiar faces. Joy shook his hand, and from behind the desk, Robbie Robertson gave him a warm smile. The smile he got from the seated Lance Bannon, former photographer at the Bugle, was less warm and more of a smirk.
"Peter," Joy said as Jonah started to walk around behind the desk, "I don't know if you've heard, but I recently took over the new Now Magazine as Executive Editor."
"No, I hadn't heard that," Peter said. "That's great, Joy! Congratulations."
"Thanks. Anyway, I've hired Lance here as my photo editor, and when we were trying to figure out who we should look at for freelancers, your name was on top of both of our lists."
"Really?" Peter said, looking over at Lance.
"Uh...yeah, well it was on both our lists at least," Bannon corrected.
"We all know that the Bugle has some of the best talent in New York," Joy said. "So we came over to ask Jonah and Robbie about borrowing some of that talent from time to time, on a freelance basis. They said it was OK. So we've asked a few people if they'd be interested in doing some freelance work for us. What do you say?"
"I say yes!" Peter answered. More freelance work meant more money, and maybe he and Mary Jane could stay out of debt for a while.
"Great," she said. "We'll let you know when we've got some assignments, and of course if you have any shots you want to pitch to us, we'll always be interested in looking at them."
"Well, actually, I do have some shots of the Venom-Torch-Spidey fight the other day..."
Liz Osborn was almost red in the face from yelling into the phone. "What do you mean its not covered?"
The attack on Osborn Chemicals by Venom had resulted in injuries and a lot of damage. Now her insurance company was telling her that she was going to have to foot the bill, because somehow their superhuman insurance coverage had slipped.
"That's not possible. We've had that policy for a long time. It wasn't renewed? But that...no, no, thank you. Thank you very much."
Liz hung the phone up. This wasn't an accident. She suspected that whoever had misfiled the insurance renewal had left the company, probably with a great new job offer from Norman Osborn.
No, she thought. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. Her phone rang and she picked it up.
"Osborn Chemical, this is Liz Osborn."
The voice on the other end of the line was Norman Osborn. "Liz? I know we spoke of this earlier, but I was wondering if we could sit down again and talk about Osborn Chemical. I've got some ideas that could really help you, and with the attack on the plant and all, it seems you might have need of a good cash influx."
Liz started to argue, but she remembered what her defiance had already cost her. "Fine," she said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
She hung up the phone and was perfectly sure that she wasn't being paranoid. Now she needed to start planning based on her feelings, or Norman would sweep the company away from her, the same way his madness had swept away her husband.
Peter grinned as he walked out of Jonah's office. Nothing like being in the middle of a bidding war for your photos, especially when it earned you twice your photo rate and twice as many shots in two different publications.
He looked over and saw Betty Brant standing next to Ben Urich, who was typing away on a story while holding a conversation with her. He walked over to them.
"Hi, Peter!" Betty said. Ben nodded in his direction.
"Hey, guys, if you're in the mood to ask Jonah for anything, now might be the time," Peter said.
"We know," Betty said, laughing. "Ben and I both agreed to do some work for Now. You too?"
Peter nodded. "I guess Jonah still has a soft spot for the magazine, even though he doesn't own it anymore. Otherwise he never would have let Joy in the front door to even talk to us!"
Peter glanced at Ben's screen. He just managed to make out the words "Hobgoblin" before Urich turned off the monitor.
"Well, that's that," he said, standing up. It seemed awfully suspicious to Peter.
"What are you working on, Ben?" Peter asked.
"Oh, you know, Peter, investigating something or other," Betty said. "Ben, don't you need to get going? You'll miss your appointment!"
"Right," Ben said. "Seeya later, Peter."
As Ben walked off, Betty gave Peter a smile. Whatever Ben was hiding, she was hiding too. What could the two of them be working on together? Investigating the Hobgoblin? Last Peter knew, Jason Macendale had been arrested and thrown in jail. What was there to investigate?
The Hobgoblin mask sat on its pedestal, unused for the moment. The mysterious Hobgoblin stood in the shadows, talking to someone else.
"I extended a similar offer to Venom, but he refused," Hobgoblin said. "Pity that. But you were always at the top of my list."
"You want to pay me to go after Spidey? You ought to know I'm interested."
"No," the Hobgoblin said. "You're not listening. I want you to join in a group to support my bid for power. A large part of that will be the destruction of Spider-Man. Still interested?"
"Yeah," said the other man, emerging from the shadows to reveal a green bodysuit and muscular frame. "You can count the Scorpion in."
"Good," Hobgoblin said. "If you'll just go with my associate, he'll make sure you're compensated for your time here today."
Mac Gargan looked over at the Hobgoblin's associate. Grinning back at him was the face of the Green Goblin.
Wilson Fisk looked out over his picture window onto the city he once owned. As the Kingpin of crime, he had been everywhere. His power was limitless, and only the foolish spandex-clad superheroes dared to challenge him.
But limitless power can make one less cautious. Fisk had ultimately underestimated his opponents, and Daredevil, that cursed blind Daredevil, had brought him low. He'd been forced to live on the streets, and eventually to flee the country to rebuild.
Ah, but rebuild he had. First becoming a major player in Fujikawa, he'd decided to test his newfound strength against the X-Men. That had gone just as he had planned. Let them spread word to their heroic friends that the Kingpin had risen again in the East. Let them foretell of his coming.
Now he was back in America, so he could be nearby as he watched deals close. He had already taken over a local media conglomerate and an import/export business. That had provided him the capital and the space to set up headquarters in this skyscraper. But his biggest deal was one that had been long brewing. One that had taken the utmost manipulation, and a more twisted and diabolical plan than he could ever have thought possible. Of course, his unwitting servant had actually done most of the planning. Along with most of the work. But soon enough, his servant would slip up, and fall into the trap that Wilson Fisk had planned all along. Then the Kingpin would conquer more new territory.
"Soon, New York," he said, staring out his window. "Soon you will be my domain again."
Mary Jane Watson-Parker emerged from the modeling agency, her spirits a little heavier. No new assignments this time. Younger models had already jumped on most of them. The agency didn't seem to indicate that there would be much for Mary Jane next week, either. Had she really gotten so old and outdated? Maybe it was time to try acting again. Maybe it was time to give up and find another job.
Doing what, though? She had thought about fashion design, but she wasn't sure she knew enough about it, despite modeling high fashion for years. It would probably mean more school, and with Peter already studying, they just couldn't afford it.
Mary Jane kept walking the crowded streets of Manhattan, considering her future. She soon realized that someone was following her. Every time she looked back, he'd zip out of sight, but she could sense him there, right behind her. She caught a glimpse of him, wearing a pullover sweatshirt with the hood up. She wondered if he was a junkie, or a gang member. He sure looked like someone dangerous.
She got a little frightened when the crowds started thinning out, and decided to grab a taxi. A cab stopped, and she got in. She looked back as they drove off to see the man standing there, looking in her direction from underneath his hood. She couldn't make out his features, but his presence was ominous.
Mary Jane breathed a sigh of relief when the cab dropped her off at her home in Forest Hills, New Jersey. Her Aunt Anna wouldn't be home yet. With any luck, Peter would be, and the two of them could have some time together.
As the cab drove off, Mary Jane saw a flash of motion from its roof. She looked around and then heard a soft thump behind her. Spinning, she came face to face with the man in the hooded sweatshirt. She braced herself to scream, but he said, "Please. Don't."
The voice was so calming, so...familiar?
"Mary Jane...I just wanted to tell you. You should know..."
"Know what?" Mary Jane said, her fear turning into anger. "Know why you were stalking me?"
"No," the man said calmly. "You should know that your daughter, May,
Plenty of mail for the first MV1 Spidey issue, so without further ado, let's get to it!
Just finished reading the story, and this looks like a very promising introduction for Spidey into MV1.
Going to be dealing with Ben Reilly, eh? Well, that's the stuff that ultimately drove me away from the Spidey books originally, but knowing what I do of both of your other series, I'm expecting to be pleased with the results.
I'm interested to see what's going on with Venom also. He seems more cracked up than ever. Is this going somewhere?
Keep up the good work, waiting here for the next issue with baited breath.
Scooter (Scott Chamberlain)
Scott, I'll be dealing with Ben because I feel it's only fair to the Ben fans. But to be perfectly honest, I didn't much care for the story either. In fact, not wanting to deal with Ben/Clone/Osborn stuff is what kept me from pitching a Spidey series as my first MV1 project. I just feel that the Ben fans got disrespected just as badly as the Peter Parker fans did when all was said and done, and I'm hoping to strike a happy medium. Stick around, I think you'll be pleased.
As for Venom, I think he has the potential to be a good bad guy if he isn't overused. But when he became popular, suddenly everyone was focusing on the tongue, slobber, anti-hero attitude. I'm hoping to refocus Venom as a villain, and with any luck, one who can be used outside the Spider-Man universe.
This was the best Spidey Story I've read in years!!! And people are calling you an anti-Spidey person on Alvaro's board? This was fantastic, just totally astounding. The angle you gave Venom makes him a lot more interesting than any of the rest of the stories on him I had read. Truly an excellent MV1 tale. Thanks for writing it and sharing your ideas with the rest of us.
Totally blew away,
TJ, thanks muchly. I think it's easy to see me as anti-Spidey if you look at my reviews. I've been blasting the Spider-books ever since I started reading them recently (for free). That's not a dislike of Spidey, rather it's frustration that such a flagship character is being so poorly treated. There's nothing I can do about the way he's treated in the Marvel Universe, but here in MV1, I'm going to do right by the character.
Great first issue, Randy (and Mark) ! The interplay between the Torch and Spidey was priceless. Let's see a lot more of their friendship in these pages. Too often their relationship is mentioned as being 'tight' but rarely do they ever show their closeness. Good to see the Hobgoblin around -- personally, I wouldn't mind having Osborn bite the dust again and have the REAL Hobgoblin become Peter's #1 nemesis.
As for Ben Reilly, I've been itching for awhile to see this character done right -- moved to a new city, starting a new life, and a close relationship with Peter. Hope you can pull it off, Randy and Mark.
For requests -- let's see Doc Ock come back in a BIG way. Also, more of Electro, the Vulture, Delilah, Black Cat, and the Sinister Six (maybe headed up by the Hobgoblin this time?).
Barry, we're of like minds on the Hobgoblin's importance to Spidey. Watch that one develop, as he's already starting to grab screen-time I hadn't intended for him. As for Ben...well, how's two out of three? :)
Doc Ock will be back in a huge way, as will the Sinister Six. Look for a major storyline involving them in year two (unless someone else grabs the title in year two). We'll definitely be seeing Electro and the Vulture, but I wouldn't hold your breath for Delilah or the Black Cat. I don't like the former and the latter hasn't fit into any plans yet. But I'm sure you know that you can see the Black Cat over in Alessandro's Force Works.
Thanks for the letters, folks! Keep 'em coming!