…why a Burglar traveled from Midtown Manhattan to suburban Queens?

While considered a classic, Marv Wolfman’s “Dutch Malone” anniversary story in Amazing Spider-Man #200 represents a major lost opportunity in that it never effectively addressed the “Mother of All Coincidences” left over from the original story by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in Amazing Fantasy #15 whereby an anonymous criminal who encounters Spider-Man in a TV Studio in Midtown Manhattan a few hours later comes completely by coincidence to the house in Queens where Spider-Man lives.

Steve and Stan did, of course, only have eleven pages to tell their tale, but Marv had thirty-seven, more than ample space…

And, remember, it’s not just the burglar… it was also the same cop, Captain Harrigan, in Manhattan and Queens.  Heck of a precinct don’t you think!

How is it that no writer – and out of all Marvel’s titles Spidey has had some of the best – has been able to come up with a simple, easy solution, a connection that makes it perfectly logical for all the necessary people to be in the right place(s) at the right time(s) without violating anything we already know?

The fix needs to answer:

“What gets the burglar and the cop from a random encounter with Spider-Man in Midtown Manhattan to the very house in Queens in which Spider-Man lives?”

By saying “the burglar had stashed loot in the house” another layer of coincidence was merely added by Wolfman, rather than explained away.

However, by saying: “Both the burglar and Captain Harrigan were from the Forest Hills/ Queens area,” we can assume that the burglar, having seen Spider-Man while casing the Parker house, made the trip to the TV Studio in Manhattan (followed by Harrigan, of course) for the purpose of finding Spider-Man there.

It would seem to be the only reasonable explanation for why both he and Harrigan were so far from home (and also a reason why he’s “rifling through the dressing rooms”).

Better to connect the Burglar to both Ben and Spider-Man, so that the coincidence element can finally be laid to rest.

The coincidence is not that the guy robbing the Manhattan TV station improbably ends up robbing the Parker house in Queens, but that the guy casing out the Parker house in Queens surely turns up at the Manhattan TV station.

With a connection to Spider-Man now established a priori, you have a reason for the burglar to be there even if not stated.

So the burglar bursts into the house, clamouring for Spider-Man. They scuffle. The shot rings out.  Uncle Ben is dead.  If ever Aunt May had a reason to not like Spider-Man much before, she sure is given a doozy of one now!  This would be an intentional underscoring of her feelings, like removing yet another coincidence from the Spider-Man mythos.  Aunt May’s dislike of Spider-Man was obviously there to add one more thorn to poor Peter’s side – we always needed there to be something more to it than her just being gullible to buy the unsubstantiated twaddle J. Jonah Jameson was peddling in the Daily Bugle.  This, for me, is it.

As to why the guy was initially casing out the Parker house in Queens…

…after the scene in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5 which had Peter finding pictures and clippings of his deceased parents after moving an old trunk in his Aunt’s house, the subsequent revelation that they were American counter-spies, written by Stan himself I might add who contributed to Wolfman’s story, seemed like the perfect gift…

That is, the burglar was actually after notebooks of Richard and Mary Parker, and Ben recognised him, which was why the burglar shot him to shut him up…

…the complete Super-Soldier formula… set-up notes and everything… which makes the whole origin make sense.

The burglar (doing a little freelance on the side) sees a kid with super-strength demolish a pro-wrestler three times his size. He steals the gate – but what he’s REALLY after is the sign-in-book (a good diversion, since everyone will think he’s just after the money).

And he deliberately chooses his exit to get a close look at the kid.

There he sees it, on the sign-in sheet: Peter Parker, Forest Hills.

Bingo! His higher-ups immediately make the Richard Parker connection, and believe that young Parker has gotten hold of his Dad’s notes and given himself super-strength. Or maybe it’s Ben Parker’s doing. Doesn’t really matter! So he’s instructed to go after the notebook.

He goes to the house, looks for the notebook, doesn’t find it (because it doesn’t exist); wakes up Ben. Ben recognises him, the thief shoots him. He scarpers.

Thief is now on the lam for the murder. His higher ups decide to burn him since he didn’t get the formula. He’s terrified – not because of the New York cops, but because Ben has a file with both the FBI and CIA, if only because he’s Parker’s older brother – but also because he knows that he’s being chased by a super-powered teenager who might very well literally tear him limb from limb.

This does, of course, complicate the simplicity of the original story – but a neatly tied bow, don’t you think?!

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…Spider-Man: One More Day?

Your Worst Nightmare

This fix is about Spider-Man: One More Day and how it can be retconned away while also explaining away another horrible Marvel Comics storyline.

Now, in One More Day, Peter Parker makes a bargain with the demon Mephisto to save his Aunt May’s life at the cost of his marriage. Reality is rewritten so that Peter and Mary Jane never married and are currently broken up.

However, for some unexplained reason, in this rewritten reality, most of Harry’s friends have vanished.  Flash Thompson has returned to being the bully who makes Peter’s life miserable.  And for some strange reason, Harry Osborn is alive and well.

Events in general seem to be geared toward making Peter’s life as comically, unbelievably horrible as possible.

He can’t get a job.

His roommates hate him and/or Spider-Man.

Aunt May marries J. Jonah Jameson’s father.

Jolly Jonah becomes Mayor of NYC and immediately sets about making capturing Spider-Man priority one for everyone.

And Norman Osborn – despite being publicly known as The Green Goblin – has become head of the national agency in charge of monitoring/commanding all the legally-operating superheroes in the United States.

A lot of fans didn’t think ANY of this made any sense.

And it doesn’t. Peter Parker – written properly – would never make a bargain with The Devil because it was easier than dealing with tragedy.

It doesn’t make any sense for Harry to be back from the dead because of Peter’s bargain.

And known-murderer and lunatic Norman Osborn being appointed to a national agency, much less being beloved by the public REALLY doesn’t make any sense…

…Unless this is all part of Norman’s wish!

Would Norman make a literal deal with the devil to get power and a chance to cause as much chaos as possible by jacking around with the superheroes?

Yes!

Would Norman make a literal deal with the devil to bring his own dead son back to life?

Probably!

Crazy as he was, he was always depicted as being a loving, if distant, father.

Would Norman make a literal deal with the devil to make Peter Parker as miserable as possible?

Hell yes!

So the fix is this: Mephisto went to Norman and offered him a chance to have all the wealth, power and prestige he always wanted.

He even sweetened the deal by offering to bring Harry back from the dead AND by fixing it so that Peter Parker would be made as miserable as possible by the new world that was created.

Making Peter believe he’d be responsible for his own problems was just the icing on the evil cake.

…the Spider-Clone Saga?

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Over the years I’ve found myself revisiting Andrew Goletz and Glenn Greenberg’s Life of Reilly website to review potential resolutions that were proposed and all the ideas not managing to see the light of day.

Of all the unresolved plots emerging out of that period, I’ll admit I have not found any of the proposed Clone Saga resolutions intellectually satisfying (or the whole saga for that matter).

My own ideas on ways this saga could have been better resolved have, at their foundation, the conceit that Harry Osborn had not been the son of Norman at all but had always been the younger clone of Norman Osborn, and when we saw Harry in the throes of drug addiction, in the infamous “Not Approved by the Comics Code Authority” story arc featured in Amazing Spider-Man #96-98, it was a consequence of his becoming dependent upon medications he required to slow down the clone degeneration process.

Harry Osborn is On Drugs

With Harry now being the clone of Norman Osborn, one can adduce as the next logical step that an historical alliance existed between Norman and Miles Warren, Peter Parker’s biology professor at Empire State University (otherwise known as the brilliant yet twisted geneticist super-villain the Jackal).

professorwarrenIn addition, since Spider-Man’s major enemies did not start reviving from death until after the Jackal’s return in Web of Spider-Man #122, this would become the nucleus for how I would fix/ resolve the Clone Saga.

I would reveal Miles Warren as the overarching villain behind all of Peter Parker’s woes at that time, like a jackal feeding off the remains of the dead.  In line with his mythological counterpart, I would reveal that it was Warren/ Jackal who returned Norman Osborn from the dead through the process of cloning which was part of his wider plan to emotionally erode Peter by returning all of Peter’s deceased friends and enemies.

250px-Thejackalamazingspiderman146The Jackal that returned during the Clone Saga then is not Miles Warren per se, but in fact the New Man from his failed experiment when he worked as Herbert Edgar Wyndham(the High Evolutionary)’s lab assistant at his Citadel of Science on Mount Wundagore.  Warren captures the Man-Jackal after it kills his wife and children, exposing it to the Carrion Virus, later successfully transferring his consciousness into its body after his regular body dies (similar to the process Arnim Zola used for his clones).

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During the years of his self-imposed exile, I would further reveal Miles also perfects a technique which gives him a legitimate reason for naming his alter-ego the Jackal.  That is, he feeds off the dead by becoming a body thief, and might even go so far as using Spider-Man’s dead enemies to reincarnate into (since, for some unknown reason, his own body won’t clone effectively, Carrion being the first of many failed attempts).

But Warren’s primary goal as a result of perfecting this technique is being able to incarnate into the body of a living human being, in particular transferring his consciousness into Peter Parker’s body, not only gaining revenge upon Peter whom he blamed for Gwen Stacy’s death, but so he could take Peter’s place as Gwen Stacy’s lover thereby fulfilling the unhealthy infatuation he had developed for her and his knowledge that any clone of her would never accept him in return in the guise of her creepy college professor.

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