The Spider-Man High School Years Guide, Part Three

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Retconned as Spider-Man’s first real clash with an Avenger, “Spidey Battles Hawkeye the Marksman” in Untold #17. The catch is, Hawkeye’s not Avenger quite yet. Clint Barton made his debut as Iron Villain in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #57. That’s the Hawkeye we’re catching up with and the story begins as Spider-Man, spotting the fugitive, clashes with the archer. Hawkeye wins, but Spidey is able to track him back to his lair where the webhead discovers that Clint is being manipulated by Russian spy Natasha Romanov, aka the Black Widow. Spidey tries to talk some sense into him, but it’s of questionable resonance as the archer escapes.

This issue also features a cameo appearance by a pre-powered Simon Williams, son of Sanford Williams, the owner of Williams Innovations. Simon is about to become Avengers traitor-turned-future Avenger, Wonder Man.

Then it’s a Spider-Man and Doctor Strange crossover with 1998’s prestige format Untold Tales of Spider-Man: Strange Encounter. Set as the first pairing of the webhead and the Sorcerer Supreme, the story sees a supernatural plot unfurl involving Baron Mordo who, in a quest to appease Dormammu, puts in danger J. Jonah Jameson and most of Peter Parker’s graduating class.

Mood winds up getting banished to another realm by Dormammu himself, while Strange agrees to erase memories of the whole affair for all of Peter Parker’s friends.

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Spider-Man then meets the Man without Fear in the Amazing #16’s appropriately titled “Duel with Daredevil.” Spider-Man ends up “rescuing” Matt Murdock from a fight with a gang of thieves, only to later wind up at the same location as the lawyer turned hero of Hell’s Kitchen. A circus, secretly the Circus of Crime, is hypnotizing New Yorkers and, as would luck would have it, Murdock is on the scene even though Spider-Man winds up falling prey to the Ringmaster’s commands. As Daredevil, Matt is able to take on Spider-Man and save the day.

Untold Tales #18 features the return of the Headsman, the prototype goblin introduced in issue 8. Teaming with Lucky Lobo (a mobster that will be introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #23), Cleavon Twain tries to defeat Spider-Man only to have his armor taken back by Norman Osborn’s green alter ego.

Meanwhile, Peter Parker tries to balance the shared attention of both Liz Allan and Betty Brant, eventually winding up on a double date with both girls and Flash Thompson.

In his first Amazing Spider-Man Annual, Spidey takes on the rogues gallery ensemble that is “The Sinister Six.” Escaping from prison, Dr. Octopus gathers together a team that also includes Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman and the Vulture. It’s bad timing once again for Peter since his spider-powers are suddenly gone. Soon, the Six kidnap both Betty Brant and Aunt May and Peter is left literally powerless to respond.

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Deciding that he has to try, Peter dons his Spider-suit and goes into battle with Electro. He discovers that his resolve has returned to him his abilities and, one by one, he defeats each of the Sinister Six, saving Betty and May as the whole super villain teams heads to prison.

This issue is filled with brief cameos from throughout the Marvel Universe, including appearances from Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Giant-Man, the Wasp, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

The next issue of Untold Tales is called “Eight Arms to Hold You” and, as you might suspect, it’s a Doctor Octopus story. Directly following the events of the annual, the 19th issue has Doc Ock breaking out of his trial, only to eventually be recaptured by Spider-Man. That’s not before Otto winds up crossing paths with Aunt May. The pair get along swimmingly (despite her having just been kidnapped by the Sinister Six) and she even invites him to dinner. Years later, Otto and May would even come close to getting married in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #114.

Amazing Spider-Man #17 finds Flash Thompson deciding to form a Spider-Man fan club. He even comes to decision that, if he announces Spider-Man is going to show up, the hero won’t disappoint his fans. Peter wrestles with how to make an appearance, but the big problem is “The Return of the Green Goblin!” The still-unrevealed Osborn decides to sabotage Spidey’s fan club appearance, attacking the webhead with a new glider. Fortunately, the Human Torch is nearby and arrives to lend a hand.

While Spider-Man and the Torch are able to defeat the Goblin, there’s some bad news coming in. Aunt May has suffered a heart attack and is in the hospital. Peter is left to curse his inability to truly protect those closest to him.

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“Wings of Hatred” is the title of Untold Tales 20th interlude and it sees Spidey do another battle with the Vulture. After his role in the events of the Annual, Toomes wound up in prison. He was busted out, though, by a mobster, Nicholas “Lucky” Lewis, who wants to use his vulture powers to have Toomes operate as a hitman. His first target? Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin.

Before the Vulture can take on the Kingpin, however, Spider-Man shows up and actually argues Toomes into admitting that working for the mob isn’t how he wants to make his living. Toomes is forced to reluctantly agree and turns himself in with no mention of Spider-Man’s involvement. In fact, several of the kids at Midtown High are concerned that Spider-Man hasn’t made a public appearance since his last run in with the Goblin.

Untold Tales #21 has a “Menace!” bringing together Spider-Man and the X-Men. While Aunt May recovers from her heart attack, Peter and Liz pay a visit to the Coffee a Go-Go, the Greenwich Village cafe frequented by the Children of the Atom. As it turns out, Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl are there in civilian clothes when Menace strikes.

A shared identity used to fan the flames of anti-mutant paranoia, the group behind Menace and their robotic Mutantmen was stopped thanks to the combined efforts of Spider-Man and the X-Men.

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Aunt May is still sick in the pages of Amazing #18 and this one sees “The End of Spider-Man!” After his fight with the Green Goblin, Spidey has been laying low and caring of sick aunt. As a result, J. Jonah Jameson is dragging the webhead’s name through the mud. Even the Avengers and Daredevil are starting to rethink whether or not Spider-Man is a real hero.

Spider-Man’s problems get worse when, in a rare public appearance, he evades the Sandman and is treated as a coward. The change in Spidey’s personality even has the Human Torch concerned, but Spider-Man doesn’t show up when he asks for a meeting.

Wanting to save the good name of his hero, Flash Thompson decides to wear a Spider-Man costume and fight crime himself. He soon gets beaten up, but Peter respects the effort and, as he sees Aunt May power back to full strength, he realizes he can’t give up as Spider-Man.

Although the name may best be associated with the Distinguished Competition, Marvel also has supervillain called Scarecrow. Marvel’s version debuted as an Iron Man foe in Tales of Suspense #51. In “The Spider and the Scarecrow,” the cornfield reject takes advantage of Spidey’s current reputation as a coward. He even gets the attention of the Green Goblin, who offers Scarecrow a job working for him. Scarecrow declines, however, and is soon tricked by Spider-Man with an exploding web cartridge and left for the authorities.

Feeling back to his old self, Peter springs into action as Spider-Man, eager to fully embrace life as a superhero once again.

“Spidey Strikes Back” in Amazing Spider-Man #19. The Enforcers, teamed up with Sandman, manage to get their hands on Johnny Storm. Luckily, Peter Parker happens to catch Fancy Dan on the street and follows him back to the criminal’s hideout. The Torch is elsewhere, but Spider-Man is soon on the way and, with the Torch freed, the heroes make short work of the Enforcers Sandman team-up.

When all is said and done, it is revealed that Spider-Man is being watched by a hooded figure.

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This issue introduces Daily Bugle field reporter Ned Leeds (played in Spider-Man: Homecoming by Jacob Batalon), who immediately begins dating Betty Brant. Although she’s happy to go out with Leeds, Brant can’t help but wish that Peter Parker were a bit more jealous.

It’s either “The Coming of the Scorpion!” or “Spidey Battles Scorpey!” with Amazing’s 20th issue. Here, it’s revealed that the guy following Spider-Man is a private investigator named Mac Gargan. J. Jonah Jameson hired him to follow Peter Parker and figure out how Peter is able to get such great photos of Spider-Man.

Jameson and Gargan eventually decide to go one step further and Jameson pays $10,000 so that Gargan can undergo an experimental medical procedure that will let him take down Spider-Man. He becomes the Scorpion, covered in armor and armed with a deadly tail.

So pleased with his Scorpion form, Gargan decides to split from Jameson and go solo. Dr. Farley Stillwell, the scientist who transformed him, decides that what he has done will transform Gargan into a true monster and desperately tries to talk him into reversing the process. In the process of trying to fix his mistake, Stilwell falls to his death. While the Scorpion is stopped, it’s Jameson himself who takes the credit for the criminal’s capture, the public unaware that it’s the publisher who paid for Gargan’s transformation.

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Untold Tales #23 sees Spidey fall “In the Shadow of the Crime Master.” The story sees Nicholas Lewis, the criminal who recently helped the vulture escape prison, take on a criminal identity as the Crime Master, a masked underworld boss who has forced a scientist, Dr. Bartholomew Carson, into brainwashing human slaves to do his bidding.

Spider-Man not only stops the Crime Master, Peter Parkers’ photos prove that Carson was forced to use his technology for evil. As a thank you for securing his release, Carson agrees to privately treat Betty Brant’s mother, who has been in a coma since before the series began.

“It’s Always Darkest…” in the 1997 Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual. “Guest Starring Darn Near Everybody!” boasts the issue’s cover and the story within includes appearances by the Doctor Strange, Daredevil, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men.

Dr. David Patrick Lowell, a researcher at OsCorp, led the company’s Photogenesis Project, aimed to create superhuman abilities through the power of photosynthesis. The project was a failure until it was angrily shut down by Norman Osborn. Lowell, experimenting on himself, was granted power that include flight, superhuman strength, teleportation, transmutation and more. Operating as Sundown, the doctor winds up clashing with just about every hero in New York City. It’s Spider-Man, though, who comes up with a way to stop Sundown. He uncovers Sundown’s origins and learns that Lowell’s best friend in the entire world is a little girl named Mary Kellerher. The girl, who shares Lowell’s love of plants, is brought to confront Sundown. When he accidentally injures her, Lowell realizes the error of his ways and turns himself in.

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Amazing Spider-Man #21’s “Where Flies the Beetle!” features the return of a villain who fought the Human Torch in Strange Tales #123. Abner Jenkins, a talented aircraft mechanic, fashioned his Beetle armor and decided to take on a life of crime. Following the events of his first appearance, Jenkins is released from prison with revenge on his mind.

Spider-Man is having some fun with the Human Torch, stealing the affections of Johnny’s girlfriend, Dorrie Evans. When the Beetle tries to kidnap Dorris, Spider-Man intervenes, clashing with the Torch and eventually teaming up to save her.

Spider-Man continues with mess with Johnny Storm in the 1996 Untold Tales of Spider-Man Annual. “A Night on the Town” sees Spider-Man ask his sister, the Invisible Girl out on a date. Sue says yes, just to try and get a reaction from Reed Richards. Spidey does wind up getting a reaction from both Johnny and, to his surprise, Namor the Sub Mariner!

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“Preeeeeesenting…the Clown, and his Masters of Menace” is next up in Amazing Spider-Man #22. The Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime are back with a new show and Spider-Man gives them the warning that he’s keeping an eye on them. The group decide to kick out the Ringmaster and reform as the Masters of Menace. “The Crafty Clown,” “The Great Gambonnos,” “The Man Called Cannonball” and “Princess Python” take on Spider-Man, but ultimately lose out to the webslinger.

Untold Tales of Spider-Man’s penultimate issue asks “What Would Spidey Do?!” It sees the return of Batwing, further mutated by Dr. Curt Connors failed attempts to cure him. Peter is able to look into Jimmy Santini’s past and find that reuniting him with his estranged mother with reverse his transformation.

Meanwhile, Flash Thompson discovers that Jason Ionellop, distraught by the notion that he killed Sally Avril, has started dressing as Spider-Man to commit crimes in the neighborhood. Although a dangerous situation nearly goes bad, Flash is able to talk Jason out of wielding a gun and doing something that he’d later regret.

Amazing Spider-Man #23 has Spider-Man facing “The Goblin and the Gangsters” as the Green Goblin teams with crime lord Lucky Lobo. Meanwhile, J. Jonah Jameson hires back “The Big Man” himself when Frederick Foswell is released from prison. The Goblin links information to Foswell that turns the police onto Lucky Lobo’s game. The plan works too well, though, when the entire gang is arrested, leaving Goblin no one to lead.

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Although it’s not officially identified as him, what appears to be the first visual appearance of Norman Osborn happens in this issue. One of the characters in the background of a business executives club attended by Jameson bears Osborns’ distinctive look.

Untold Tales comes to an end with issue #25. “Bad Men on Campus” finds Peter Parker, with graduation day looming, eyeing an education at Empire State University. Unfortunately for him, Crime Master and Green Goblin have teamed up to take him down.

This issue features a brief appearance by both Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn, both of whom are themselves about to transfer to ESU. There’s also a tease of Dr. Miles Warren, the ESU science professor who will become the clone-loving villain The Jackal.

Long after Untold Tales ended its flashback run, Marvel returned to Spider-Man’s high school years with a backup story in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37. Titled “Make Mine Marvel!” In it, Spidey confronts Whirlwind (who previously menaced Giant-Man and the Wasp in Tales to Astonish #50). Spidey aides the Avengers in defeating the human top and, bizarrely, gets the attention of Marvel Comics publisher Stan Lee. Lee wants to publish stories based on Spider-Man’s adventures, but Spider-Man reluctantly declines to avoid having to share his secret identity.

“Spider-Man Goes Mad!” in Amazing #24. Peter is down on his luck, having failed to sell any new photos and still jealous at the thought that Betty Brant has chosen Ned Leeds over him. When J. Jonah Jameson then hears from a psychiatrist that Spider-Man’s mental state should be questioned, Peter begins to severely doubt himself. He’s soon attacked by villain after villain from his past, ultimately discovering that he’s become a victim of Mysterio’s illusions.

In this issue, Peter Parker winds up becoming Liz Allan’s tutor.

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In issue 25, Spider-Man finds himself “Captured By J. Jonah Jameson!” when the Daily Bugle Editor teams up with an inventor, Spencer Smythe, to create “Spider Slayers.” The mechanical menaces chase after Spider-Man, but the hero defeats them at the expense of his costume. He doesn’t make it home in time to see his surprise date, however. Aunt May is trying to set him up with Mary Jane Watson. While we still don’t see her face, both Liz Allan and Betty Brant to shocked to see how beautiful she is.

When Peter finally does make it home, he’s in for a shock. Aunt May has found his extra Spider-Man costume! Fortunately, he’s able to convince her that’s all part of a gag he was going to play on some friends.

Then, the Green Goblin is back alongside the Crime Master’s first appearance in the two part story that spans Amazing #26 and #27. In “The Man in the Crime-Master’s Mask” and “Bring Back My Goblin to Me,” the Green Goblin winds up killing the Crime Master and kidnapping Spider-Man. Spider-Man, in desperate need of a new costume, winds up buying one from a costume shop. He has to web it to his body to make it work and, fortunately, winds up preventing the Goblin from removing his mask when he’s captured.

Spider-Man winds up escaping and foiling the Goblin’s plans. He proceeds to sell his photos to a different newspaper for a change, but decides he ultimately prefers the Daily Bugle’s “No Questions Asked” policy.

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Just like that, graduation day has arrived with Amazing Spider-Man #28’s “The Menace of the Molten Man!” Peter tracks down Spencer Smythe’s Spider Slayer to retrieve his costume. It turns out that Smythe is quarreling with his lab assistant, Mark Raxton, over an alloy they both created. The alloy winds up infecting him and Raxton becomes the heat controlling villain, the Molten Man.

With J. Jonah Jameson his class’ guest speaker, Peter Parker celebrates graduation day. He and Flash Thompson both receive scholarships to ESU while Liz Allan, admitting that she had a serious crush on him, says her goodbyes to Peter.

“But, as with all of life, it isn’t really an ending but a beginning!” reads the issue’s final panel. “The beginning of a new chapter in the life of the world’s most amazing teenager.. and of those whom fate has tossed into his web of destiny!”

Soon, a new supporting cast would join the book with familiar characters like Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn, but those are adventures for another day!


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