Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #103

Story 'Compulsion'

Spectacular #103 opens with an student from Empire State University confessing in front of Spider-Man and Police Captain Jean DeWoolfe. It evolves that he and two of his fellow students decided to prove their intellectual superiority to the average super-hero. Ashley, Thomas, and Barry chose Spider-Man as their 'average super-hero' and began a study of their prey.

They identified his close ties with Peter and Jonah Jameson. Then they invented a villian named Blaze to menace the unwitting Spider-Man. Blaze sends several threats aimed at Jameson and Peter, and hints at knowing Spider-Man's identity. In the midst of all this, a real flame-wielding Blaze appears, and fights Spider-Man. Thomas, who was reluctant to be involved in the first place, is badly burnt.

In the final twist, we learn that the battle was a choreographed setup, and Thomas's burns are fake. Unhappy with the direction their game was going, he had contacted The Human Torch, who had contacted Spider-Man. The staged battle was an attempt to teach Ashley and Barry a sharp lesson.

Blaze appears for the second and final time in Spectacular #123, another Peter David script. A peeved Black Cat has joined with The Foreigner. The story starts explosively with Cat's apartment being bombed. The trail leads to Kirk Donaghue, a small-time crook who is running around in the old Blaze costume. Spider-Man and Black Cat track him down in a closed department store.

The Foreigner had actually hired Kirk, and provided him with the costume which he had brought cheap from three unidentified ESU students. Kirk however had gotten greedy, and a little crazy. He tries to terrorise some money out of Spider-Man and Felicia - torturing a woman to death in the process.

I don't want to give away any more of the plot. If you've read it already you won't have forgotten. If you haven't already read this one then you have a real treat in store. Both of these stories are gutsy and refreshingly different. Buy them. Read them.