Peter had fought with the Jack O'Lantern for the first time in the previous issue. Jason Macendale woke up in the hospital and took it hostage. Even worse, Nathan Lubensky, May Parker's boyfriend, was a patient at that hospital. Of course, Spidey saved the day.
|Cover Art:||Frank Miller|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #3|
Swinging over the city while carrying a tuxedo, Spider-Man was griping about having to attend one of JJJ's parties at the last moment. He would have told Jonah to take a hike but he needed the money. His spider sense buzzed gently, letting him know that he was being watched. At that moment, a small cloud of glowing particles surrounded him. He waved it all away, telling it to go back to Never-Never Land. By doing so he broke the handle on the bag holding the rented tux, which also held his camera. He webbed the bag and saved it right before it hit the ground. The commotion scared a man out of a phone booth, giving Spidey the chance to call aunt May.
He had left her alone to save Nathan at the hospital after it was taken over by the Jack O'Lantern and he called to apologize to her. She had forgiven him and she apologized for getting angry with him. Then Nathan called from the living room to say that Family Feud was about to start, so she ended the conversation. Spidey jumped away and noticed that the glowing particles were gone and he wondered who was behind them. He considered Captain Marvel and Glow Worm before thinking of Will O' the Wisp. The last time they'd met, Wisp was under the control of Dr. Jonas Harrow, who forced him to follow his orders. By the end, Wisp had sacrificed himself to save Spider-Man and disintegrated into glowing dust. At that point, Spidey arrived at Jameson's penthouse across town, the particles followed in his direction.
Inside the apartment, Marla Madison (Jonah's girlfriend) was a little embarrassed over the size of the party that he had thrown for her. He was proud that she had gotten a job at the Brand Corporation. Peter stepped inside from the balcony at that point and Jonah told him to start snapping pictures. Peter was impressed at how fancy the party was. He decided that Jonah must really care about Marla if he actually spent money on the party.
Peter noticed a man arrive at that moment and recognized him as James Melvin, the CEO of the Brand corporation. Peter immediately had a bad feeling about Melvin's bodyguard, which increased when he snapped at Peter about taking his boss's photo. Peter had the feeling that he knew the bodyguard but was suddenly more interested when he saw that Roderick Kingsley was at the party. Kingsley had a very attractive woman with him, who also drew the attention of another attractive woman. She introduced herself as Majorie DuPrey, she was also a member of Kingsley's club. The new girl didn't understand and Majorie said she would eventually, after Roderick was bored with her. Peter was enjoying Kingsley's discomfort.
Outside, the bodyguard (named Harold Simmons) needed some air and was suddenly surrounded by the glowing particles from before. The lights were suddenly gone but he had lost control of his body. The lights had taken control of his battle suit and was forcing him to fire his blade's energy beams, as if they were testing the suit. Soon Simmons was fully dressed as his alter ego, Killer Shrike, and burst through the balcony doors. Shrike grabbed Marla and flew away with her, over the city.
Jonah almost chased them over the edge of the balcony but was grabbed by Peter. The police commissioner was at the party and said that no one was leaving until some police arrived, which kept Peter from going after Killer Shrike. Meanwhile, Marla was asking Shrike where he was taking her and he told her that he didn't know. He was positive that he had just lost his Christmas bonus, however. At the party, the police found the torn remains of Simmons's tuxedo and assumed that Shrike had killed him. Melvin pretended to be upset and left to report Simmons's "death." Peter was suspicious and guessed that the bodyguard had been Killer Shrike. As Melvin got into his car, he wondered what made Simmons take Marla Madison. Melvin had given him a purpose as a secret operative at Brand and this was how he was getting repaid. Fortunately, his car had a device to track him down. As James Melvin drove away, Spider-Man was following.
Killer Shrike and Marla arrived at a secret lab for Brand in New Jersey. Marla had no idea that the company had anything so advanced and Shrike knew that no one was supposed to know about the place. Mr. Melvi showed up a short while later, not realizing that Spider-Man was hanging onto the side of the car. Once Melvinn got into the lab, he demanded to know why Shrike had kidnapped Dr. Madison in front of everyone and taken her to the secret location. Shrike explained that he'd lost control of the armor to something that didn't want to be bothered. That's when Spider-Man arrived and quickly knocked out Killer Shrike. He offered to take Marla home and she refused, saying that she had important work to do.
While Shrike was unconscious, his armor kept fighting. Spidey managed to hold him still as Marla told Wisp to enter the induction grid. The ball of light that he saw earlier left Shrike's body and entered the machine just as Melvin and some guards arrived. Spider-Man fought the guards as Marla operated the machine but realized he hadn't called May recently. He webbed the guards and called his aunt, who was happily watching "Dallas" with Nathan. Just as Spidey though his obligations were wrapped up, Killer Shrike attacked again. He was again beaten quickly but one of his energy blasts had damaged the condenser's power supply.
Spider-Man used power from Killer Shrike's suit to power the machine and Will o the Wisp slowly re-materialized. He told them that he had been created in that very lab and now that he was material again, he was going to destroy it. His light hypnotized Marla and Wisp told Spider-Man to get her to safety while he could. Wisp entered one of the lab's machines and overloaded it causing explosions. As the building burned, he dragged Shrike and the webbed up guards outside, where a hypnotized Marla sat on the lawn. The fire department tried to put out the flames but failed, just as JJJ arrived to gather his confused wife. All that she remembered was that Spider-Man was involved and she didnt want to work for the Brand corporation. Melvin tried to talk her out of it but she refused and Jonah threatened to investigate the company. Melvin warned his that Brand was owned by Roxxon Oil, which didn't appreciate investigative reporting.
Spider-Man watched from a distance as Will o the Wisp flew away from the burning industrial complex, wondering if he had saved a man or unleashed a monster.
This story seemed directionless. The ending especially seemed to have several false endings, but then there was more going on. Killer Shrike was a dull villain that was beaten twice in the story and the main villain only showed up in the last four pages. It annoyed me that Peter stopped what he was doing twice to call May, who was doing nothing but watch TV.
It's not a very thrilling story but it was entertaining to see Kingsley's date realize what a pig he was before they got anywhere. Not only was he a future supervillain, he was a cad!