Comics : Spider-Man: The Mysterio Manifesto #3

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: Filling Gaps

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

The new Mad Jack has kidnapped Spider-Man, Daredevil, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe Smith, and his wife Betsy Schneider as part of his revenge for the departed Mysterio. His original plan to keep them in their own private virtual reality failed. He decides that to sends automatons of their respective rogues galleries to kill them.

To complicate matters, their immersion in the virtual reality tanks have negated their powers. Spider-Man is a regular human and without his enhanced senses, Daredevil is completely blind.

In Detail...

"False Truths"
Spider-Man: The Mysterio Manifesto #3
Mar 2001 : SM Title
Summary: Daredevil
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Tom DeFalco
Pencils:  Lee Weeks
Inker:  Bob McLeod
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Articles: Daredevil, Jack O'Lantern IV (Maguire Beck), Jameson, J. Jonah, Joe Smith, Mysterio II (Berkhart), Mysterio II (Berkhart)

Daredevil takes out Mr. Fear, but is knocked to the ground by the Punisher automaton. He then begins to hallucinate, seeing images of his father Jack Murdock.

Spider-Man is attacked by Electro, Sandman, Vulture, and the Scorpion. He dodges enough punches and electrical discharges to be knocked to the ground by the Scorpion. He begins to have hallucinations of Uncle Ben.

Joe has found Betsy and is trying to keep them out of the fight. However the Rhino appears and grabs her. Joe punches the automaton with enough force to scatter the Hand ninjas behind them like bowling pins. He announces that the chemicals that negated the powers of Spidey and DD had the opposite effect on him. He then joins the battle using his restored super-powers.

Jonah suggests that they leave before they're all overcome by they succumb to whatever has incapacitated Spider-Man and Daredevil. As Joe reaches for Spider-Man, his powers return, allowing him to pull Joe away from an incoming laser blast. It's never explicitly stated or shown, but Dardevil's powers return as well.

In the control room, Jack is confused at these unexpected developments. He decides to change strategies and grabs Betsy amid the confusion. Once safely inside the control room, Jack releases poison gas into the other chamber.

While waiting for the heroes' demise, he explains to Betsy that Beck did commit suicide. He explains that he is Terry Beck, Quentin's cousin. He grew up idolizing him due to his talent with special effects, even when he became Mysterio. He was recently asked to join his hero's criminal enterprise and given his own identity. He too was surprised when Quentin killed himself.

At this point Spidey, DD, Joe, and Jonah come crashing through the wall in gas masks made of webbing. Mad Jack prepares to unleash his "explosive climax" but neither Spidey or DD is buying this. They - somehow - instinctively know to go to a fake control panel and rip it up. Inside they find the real Terry Beck - but it's a woman.

She explains that her real name is Maguire Beck and that she is a computer specialist that provided her cousin with a major technological upgrade. She admits to doing this for revenge since they never knew the real Quentin. She blames them for his suicide.

Betsy informs Joe that she will stop using Mysterio's likeness for her children's books. Instead she'll use him as the basis for new stories.

As they escort Macguire to the authorities, Spider-Man asks Daredevil what happened to Danny Burkhart. Once they leave the Mysterio costume picks up the cat and walks away laughing.

In General...

The "happy liquid" that Spidey, DD, and Joe were submerged in had too many side effects. It negates super-powers unless you're normal (Joe) in which case it restores your long-lost powers. On top of that it causes crippling hallucinations. Then it suddenly goes away and everyone is back to normal. Except the previously normal guy who retains his powers and had no other side effects. Great job with the story logic there.

There was no need to use any characters other than Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Jonah-the-hostage. The more characters that are brought into the mix, the more complex a revenge scheme you need to be satisfying. This was a simple scheme that was uninspired and executed badly.

The argument can be made that Macguire is new to the super-villain business, but come on, this is weak. Putting three of four people into VR-generating tanks is the extent of the plan?? What next? Sugar in their gas tanks? Underwear in the freezer? Credit card fraud? To be honest, any one of those ideas would have generated the same level of interest for me as the plan shown here.

Overall Rating...

2 webs. The inconsistency and randomness of this miracle liquid made a borderline story decline quickly in terms of quality. If that's not bad enough, DeFalco brings out possibly the lamest of all Lee/Ditko creations - "Just A Guy Named Joe" - and makes him a major character in the story. This did not sit well with me from the beginning.

The final page and a half is the best part of the story. Unfortunately it's not that good. They never really indicate who was in the Mysterio suit.

Footnote...

Believe it or not Quentin Beck did return in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #12.