Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #342

Background

Two issues ago, Spider-Man agreed to participate in Dr. Turner's experiment to examine his blood. The blood analysis device he used had an unexpected side effect: it temporarily negated his powers.

In response to some personal issues and a near-fatal battle with the Femme Fatales, Spider-Man decided to use Dr. Turner's machine to remove his powers permanently.

Once de-powered, the not-so noble Turner decided to capitalize on the situation and contacted Tarantula II and offered him the opportunity to kill Spider-Man. Tarantula takes a hostage, forcing Peter to once again don his costume. He escapes with his life, thanks in large part to an assist by the Black Cat and Flash Thompson, who was hospitalized after receiving a non-lethal sting from Tarantula.

Story 'The Jonah Trade!'

  Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #342
Summary: Scorpion & Black Cat
Arc: Part 2 of 'Powerless' (1-2-3)
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Writer: David Michelinie
Pencils: Erik Larsen
Inker: Randy Emberlin
Cover Art: Erik Larsen

Peter and MJ return home from a night out and Peter is very upset. They witnessed a couple being mugged at gunpoint, but without his powers, Peter was unable to help them directly. He had to settle for breaking a store window which set off the alarm and chased the thieves away. The muggers left with the lady's purse but both of them were alive.

MJ eventually calms him down but is worrying for Peter's continued mental health. Life without his powers is more difficult than he imagined. Peter excuses himself and goes up to the roof for some fresh air.

In midtown Manhattan, the Scorpion tests out his new tail that Dr. Turner has procured from Justin Hammer. Turner reminds Scorpion that the tail is advance payment for killing Spider-Man. Scorpion agrees and sports a large grin on his face as he plans to kill two birds with one stone. Turner decides that precautions should be taken and begins to move his operation elsewhere.

Back in SoHo, Peter stares out over the city completely unaware that he is being watched. The Black Cat announces her presence, startling Peter. She comments that his spider-sense should have warned him of her presence. Peter makes up several excuses, but she doesn't believe him. He reluctantly admits that he no longer has his spider powers. He adds that Felicia can break off her relationship with Flash to get back at "Spider-Man" since he no longer exists.

Felicia not-so-politely tells him that what happens between them is their business. She then realizes that she overreacted and admits that she has true feelings for Flash. She goes further and states she doesn't want to hurt him (Flash) to get back at Peter. That doesn't mean she isn't still angry over his marriage to "that redhead".

MJ, the redhead in question, had opened the roof access door, planning to talk to Peter about earlier, but changed her mind when she saw Peter talking to Felicia. She misreads the situation, thinking that Peter is confiding in her, but does trust him.

At Blessing Hospital in Midtown, Dr. Wirtham is able to save the life of one of his young patients when he uses his secret power to correct her heart arythymia.

The next day at ESU, Peter begins to tinker with his old receiver for his spider tracers. Since he has no need of the tracers anymore, he thinks that he can safely patent the technology and earn some actual money for a change. He then receives a call from Aunt May reminding him that he's supposed to meet her for lunch.

While they are waiting on their food, May admits that she needs Peter's advice. She explains that Willie Lumpkin has asked her to a concert in the park. She is concerned that it would be improper to accept so close to Nathan's death. Peter tells her not to worry and accept the offer.

After lunch Peter stops by News Digest to see if Jonah has any photo assignments that won't kill him. He no sooner arrives than the Scorpion breaks down the door to Jonah's office, holding him upside down with his tail. He walks past the cubicles of stunned employees, muttering that he's been wanting to kill him for years, but will change his mind if Spider-Man agrees to take his place. As Scorpion heads to the roof, Peter can't believe this is the second time in as many days as this ultimatum has been issued.

He tries to contact the Avengers and the Fantastic Four to capture the Scorpion, but receives their respective answering services. With no other options, he calls Flash Thompson and asks to speak with Felicia. Tense moments pass as Peter waits near a window for the Black Cat to arrive with his costume.

Spider-Man and Black Cat arrive on the roof and confront the Scorpion, who blurts out "Turner didn't say anything about a babe!". This does not go unnoticed by Spider-Man, who is now convinced that this is not a coincidence.

The Scorpion lunges at Peter while still holding Jameson in his tail. While Spider-Man assumes the "not in the face" defensive stance, Black Cat attacks from the side, forcing him to release Jonah. Spidey instinctively tries to save Jonah, but finds out that middle-aged publishers are rather heavy to people with average strength.

As he points the grumbling Jonah to the roof door, the Scorpion resumes his attack on Spider-Man. Spidey is quickly knocked over the edge of the roof, but holds on to the ledge. As he thinks what may be his last thoughts of MJ and Aunt May, Felicia tackles the Scorpion from behind, taking him over the ledge, headfirst into the water tower on the adjacent building.

Ironically her actions cause Spider-Man to lose his grip and begins to fall. He webs the side of the building to slow his fall, but still crashes through the skylight on the lower building. Scorpion sees this and destroys that corner of the building with an impact beam from his new tail. Thinking he's finally killed Spider-Man, Scorpion doesn't realize that he's once again cheated death and has made his way up to the roof. Spidey tries to encase him in webbing, but Scorpion blasts his way out before the webbing solidifies. Black Cat grabs Spider-Man and leaps to the next roof.

As Black Cat faces off against Scorpion, Spidey tries to help out by grabbing the Scorpion tail; a move he immediately questions and quickly regrets as he is slammed into a nearby brick wall that causes "something to crack".

With his back turned, Black Cat uses her claws to slice open the neural interface between Scorpion and his tail, kicking him off yet another roof and landing in a swimming pool. Contact with the water shorts out the tail and forces Scorpion into a strategic retreat aboard a helicopter pre-arranged to extract him. Spider-Man tags him with a spider tracer, intent on finding him much later.

Spider-Man and Black Cat soon arrive at Dr. Turner's office, but find the suite is empty.

General Comments

Holy crap what a fight! Rooftop to rooftop to rooftop with explosions and a good amount of collateral damage. A regular Spidey/Scorpion fight would not have been as interesting since we know Spidey's routine: bad Scorpion pun, jump, punch, web, get hit a few times, turn the tables and win. For some reason having Felicia fight Scorpion with Peter as the excess baggage was more interesting as they are more evenly matched. Even though Scorpion is a thug with another appendage, he does pose a threat to normal humans. Thankfully – for Peter anyway – Felicia has superpowers.

Ok, for this to make sense, a brief history lesson is in order. She underwent a procedure which – unknown to her at the time - was financed by the Kingpin in exchange for future services. Why you ask? She wanted to stop being a liability to Peter in his role as Spider-Man.

The Kingpin's process unlocked a latent "bad luck power" and heightened her agility. This proved to be a bad choice as her hex power began to negatively affect Peter's life ("Parker luck" x 100). Dr. Strange was able to remove it, but as a result, Felicia lost her hex power. However at this point she retains all of her other enhancements.

I would like to point out that prior to this, Felicia fought Sabretooth and won. This was not beginner's luck, she is quite formidable.

Overall Rating

3.5 webs. The non-costume scenes with May and MJ were handled well. Additionally, showing Peter's interest in acquiring a patten on the spider tracer tech was a nice touch.

Trying to call the FF and the Avengers to handle the Scorpion was the smart thing to do (although we know that trick never works). The resulting fight was believable with a reasonable amount of humor and fear.

Very entertaining although we know it's going to end next issue.

Footnote

Justin Hammer provided Scorpion with his new tail and an assignment to kidnap a high-ranking general in Amazing Spider-Man #318. He failed this mission when he decided in mid-felony to demand Jonah take the general's place. Hammer later sent Blacklash and Rhino to retrieve the new tail.

Mac Gargan (Scorpion) still blames Jonah for his current condition, which began in Amazing Spider-Man #20. In typical supervillain fashion, he ignores the fact that while Jonah did pay him to undergo the transformation, it was ultimately his choice.

Peter revealed his secret identity to Felicia in Spectacular Spider-Man #87 and underwent a procedure to grant her powers in Spectacular Spider-Man #89. They were altered in Spectacular Spider-Man #115. She beat Sabretooth in Spectacular Spider-Man #119.