It was twilight and a rarely innocuous Tuesday for Peter Parker. Mary Jane was busy with a soap opera acting gig out in Los Angeles. And money, as usual with anyone in New York City, was a little tight. Peter decided to do what he always did when he had some rare downtime – go out and snap some action photos to sell to the
and, if need be, ward off some evil-doers if any stumbled on his path.
The air was crisp and the sky was clear. Peter donned his costume and swung high through the Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers. He even perched for a few minutes on top of the Empire State Building just to take in the breathtaking view. It was a rare night indeed, with no Dock Ock or Venom or even a mugger anywhere in sight.
So, he set up his camera and started to spin his webs. It was second nature to him at this point, going behind his back at various angles for some better angles. But low-and-behold, something was about to change.
Parker at one point had swung onto a lower-level apartment building, one of the non-descript buildings that dot the fringes of Manhattan’s business center. He hadn’t thought anything of it and used it to propel himself up to a taller building quickly. He was roughly eight blocks away when his Spidey sense started tingling.
He looked over and saw it. He must have dislodged a brick at the top of this building with his web. He saw it and his heart panicked. He swung quickly but couldn’t get an angle to catch the brick with his web. And he saw it plummet to the ground… and it landed directly in the middle of a stroller.
He heard a loud shriek, the unmistakable yell of a mother who just saw her child randomly hurt. Parker wanted to swing into action to help, but almost immediately a police van pulled to the scene. All he could do was sit and wait and watch.
In all of his years of crimefighting and living by his code – With great power comes greater responsibility – this hadn’t happened. His body was trembling. He saw an ambulance rush to the scene and pull the child and mother away.
His head was swimming – guilt, shock, disbelief. He was unsure as to how to handle something that was the result of his reckless actions in an attempt to sell a few photographs… photographs that, he immediately realized, could now be evidence in a court of law.
He swung back to his apartment and nervously signed online. There it was, already on the
website – child in a coma as brick falls onto stroller from 10
story. He shivered and stared at the ceiling as he thought about what just happened and if he had any options other than to turn himself in.
J. Jonah Jameson had just two weeks earlier decided to try something new to draw more viewers to his website and, as always, sell more advertisements for his beloved
. He had instructed his staff to set up a camera on the side of the building in order to capture any interesting pictures – weather shots, most likely, but perhaps anything new.
He assigned an intern to the task of fast-forwarding through the footage every morning. If anything interesting popped up, he was to go to Robbie Robertson, his editor, to see if it was of interest.
The intern had heard the morning’s news about the hurt child. It was tragic but an accident of life in the city. But he slowly realized the camera was angled near the accident scene. Finally, after days of sifting through boring footage, he may have something interesting.
And in just a few minutes, something unbelievable was across the screen. He saw Spiderman joyriding across the camera’s view, completely not knowing he was on camera. He saw Spiderman swing onto the building that was the cause of the accident. He saw the brick fall minutes later. He saw Spiderman rush to the scene and pause in fear. He then saw Spiderman flee.
The intern was young, but he wasn’t dumb. He knew this was something the top of the food chain needed to see. He knew that he was going to have to contact the fearsome J. Jonah Jameson.
The intern saved the footage onto his memory stick. He steeled his nerves and went to the top floor. Jameson’s secretary sat at her desk. She saw the intern shake.
“May I help you?”
“Uhm, yes. I’m the intern who watches the weather camera. And… well… I… I saw something that I think Mr. Jameson should look at immediately.”
“Well, Mr. Jameson is busy—“
Just then, JJJ marched through his office.
“Betty! I need—“
The intern gulped.
“Mr. Jameson, Sir,” he froze as JJJ burnt a hole at him. “I’m the intern who handles the weather camera. And… I have some footage you need to see right away.”
“Well, give it to your editor. I’m sure—“
“No, you do.” He sneaked behind JJJ into his office, hoping inquiring ears wouldn’t overhear.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, YOUNG MAN? YOU’RE FIRED!”
The intern heard JJJ’s notorious yell. But he spoke anyways, his hand trembling as he held the memory stick.
“I have footage of Spiderman dislodging that brick that hit that kid. And I have footage of him fleeing from the scene.”
JJJ stared at the intern. He couldn’t believe his ears. Was this true?
“Hand me that memory stick now.”
His big paw reached forward as the intern dropped it in his hand.
“This is good work. EXCELLENT work, young man. I’m sure you’re SMART enough to keep this between us,” JJJ said.
“Oh, absolutely. Of course, Sir.”
“Good. Very good. If this turns out to be something I can use… well, I’m sure there’s a good deed in your future. Now… you’re dismissed. And not a word to ANYONE.”
The intern quickly nodded and scurried off.
JJJ chuckled a bit. He took the memory stick and plugged it into his computer.
He sat intently and watched. The intern edited this perfectly. There was no mistake. This was exactly what he said it was. JJJ finally had Spiderman right where he wanted him.
JJJ immediately called Robertson downstairs.
“HALT THE PRESS,” he said. “I’ve got a scoop for you. I’m not ready with it quite yet but all hands are on deck.”
JJJ was figuring out a way to get this out in the paper already. That no-good creep Spiderman – the man he had wanted to capture for years, the man who had humiliated him time again – was going to be exposed for what he really was.
But JJJ, not known for his patience, took a deep breath. He looked at the footage again. He slowly nodded to himself, put his feet on his desk, and lit his cigar. He called Roberston one more time.
“Never mind, Robbie. My idea… it’s not going to pan out. But can you put on Twitter that I’d like to have a meeting with Spiderman at 4 p.m. today in my office? That’s to be done immediately.”
All JJJ could do was sit back and wait.
Parker had refreshed the
website every 30 seconds, nervously hoping for an update about the child. Nothing was coming. He had to do something, so he went for a walk. He went to the hospital, where several news cameras were stationed. He knew not to ask in there as to the child’s condition.
He gulped. And he decided to check Twitter to see if there was an update. And the pit in his stomach just grew. There was a request – a demand? – for Spiderman to meet with J. Jonah Jameson in two hours.
Could he possibly have known somehow?
What could Parker do? Turn himself in and admit guilt? His identity would be made public and MJ and his beloved Aunt May would be free game for every villain alive. He knew there was no choice. He had to go visit JJJ and see what this was about?
Parker went home and donned his costume. He then swung and made the gallows walk, as it were, to the top of the
JJJ had been impatient all day, his heart racing in anticipation. This, he thought to himself, could be it. This could be the day his biggest dream came alive. This could be the day he had that damn Spiderman under his boot once and for all.
He checked his watch. It was only a few minutes until four. Then he heard a knock on the glass that took him by surprise. There he was. Spiderman, crawling down.
This wasn’t the first time Spiderman had been in that office. Every time, it ended with JJJ’s humiliation – tied up in a web, forced to apologize for something salacious and slanderous. But now, Jameson could feel his victory at hand.
“What is it, Jameson?” Spiderman asked, hoping the nervous lilt in his voice wasn’t audible.
“I assume you know what this is about, Web-Crawler.”
“I haven’t the faintest idea,” Spidey asked, his heart racing a mile a minute. He hadn’t even felt this scared and nervous when he was about to be buried alive by Kraven.
“Well,” JJJ said, holding up the memory stick. “I’ve got a few copies of what’s on this right here all ready to be made public. Look.”
JJJ turned around his laptop. He sat back and smirked as the footage rolled. Spiderman just stood there.
“So, is there an explanation for this,” JJJ asked sardonically.
Spiderman paused and stared down.
“What… what do you want? I’m shocked you didn’t put this out there already.”
“Oh, I am too, in a way. Normally, I would do just that to make the world see you for what you are. But…” JJJ chuckled. “I want something else. I want to see what the mother of that child saw. I want to see who you are.”
“You know I can’t do that. I… I have a family.”
“You can and WILL do that, Spiderman. Or else this gets out in public. As far as your identity and your family… I don’t want to see anyone harmed. I’m not a reckless creep pretending to be a hero. I’ll consider keeping it a secret if it’s worth it to me.”
He gulped as he nervously started to lift his mask. JJJ sat back in his chair and then something came over him.
“No, that’s not right,” he said. Spidey thought he had a reprieve. “No. We’re going to do this the way I’ve dreamed about.” JJJ stood up behind his desk and crossed his arms across his barrel chest. “You’re going to come around here to my side of the desk. And you’re going to get on your knees before in defeat before your conqueror. And I’m going to take that mask off of you personally. I’m going to hang it above my mantle so I can wake up every morning knowing that I’m the man who defeated the great Spiderman.”
“GET ON YOUR KNEES NOW, SPIDERMAN! OR ELSE!”
Spiderman froze. He was tempted right then and there to once again do some harm to Jameson. But… but he had already done enough. He knew there was no other choice.
He silently walked towards Jameson and faced him. He stared at his nemesis and then dropped his head.
And he did the unthinkable.
He knelt, his hands at his side.
JJJ couldn’t believe it. He let out a cackle, his arms still crossed as he rocked his head back laughing.
“This is of course what SHOULD happen. Spiderman, unmasked by me. Not some other freak wearing pajamas. Just a man with a superior intellect and the patience and drive to get what he wants.”
JJJ’s hand grabbed the top of the mask. He slowly lifted it to the masked man’s lips. His heart was racing, too, but he knew the slow burn would only make his rival stew more.
“The Romans had a saying. Vini. Vedi. Vicci. I came. I saw. I conquered. Well, Spiderman… I’m your conqueror.”
And with that, J. Jonah Jameson took off the mask and saw the face staring at his feet. His eyes bulged.
Parker just sat there, nodded in silent affirmation.
“I should have known. I should have realized all along. How… how could I not have figured this out already?”
JJJ chuckled. But then he realized what Parker had done for all these years to him.
“Parker…” JJJ shook his head. “You took pictures of yourself all these years. I’ve paid you THOUSANDS of dollars. At least. I’ve…. I’ve flat-out supported your livelihood. I kept my arch-nemesis afloat all these years.” JJJ paused. “You STOLE from me, Parker. I should get your name out there RIGHT now. In fact—“
“No, Mr. Jameson,” Parker said, his voice almost a whisper. “Please… I… I have my family. They’ll be killed.”
Jameson laughed once more. “Of course they will. And you, too. I want you to remember that, Parker. For the rest of your life. If I choose… you and everyone you’ve ever loved will be destroyed.” He paused. “Look at me, Parker.”
Peter looked up. JJJ’s hands were on his hips, his legs spread, Spiderman’s mask dangling from his right hand like a pelt.
“I have to figure out what to do with you. How you can best serve my purposes. But first… first I want you to tell me how this all unfolded.” JJJ grabbed a cigar and lit. He went and sat down, Parker rising to his feet after his defeat.
He then began to talk about the spider bite that changed his life and what happened next.
“So, with that… after my Uncle Ben died… I realized that I had a purpose in life. With great power comes greater responsibility. That’s why I’ve done what I’ve done over the years.”
JJJ let the silence hang, Parker’s voice so solemn.
“That, Parker… that’s a hell of a story. It’d make a great book someday.”
He then put his feet on his desk and his hands clasped behind his head. He smirked.
“But you have a new slogan to live by. I want you to repeat it.”
“With great power comes greater responsibility… to do whatever J. Jonah Jameson tells him to do. Because J. Jonah Jameson has made Spiderman his personal property.”
Parker couldn’t believe what he was about to say. But he steeled his nerves because he no longer had a choice. For anything.
“With… with great power comes greater responsibility… to do whatever J. Jonah Jameson tells him to do. Because he… he has made me his personal property.”
JJJ then let out the biggest cackle of his lifetime.
“Now get out of here. You’re going to report to me at 8 AM sharp. I’ve got some thoughts about how you’ll be serving me from now on but I want to get the details just right,” JJJ said. “And before you leave, Parker… don’t you DARE think about putting on those silly pajamas of yours and playing hero tonight. Lord knows we don’t need another child hurt at your hands. Consider Spiderman, as we’ve come to know him, dead.”
Parker nodded and went to the window, maskless and in his costume. JJJ lit up another cigar, his feet on the desk as he watched his nemesis walk out with his head down. He held up the mask and looked at it, shaking his head in victory.
He relished the past few minutes before getting up, grabbing his coat, tucking the mask in his pocket.
“Betty, I’m leaving for the night,” he said. “Call a cab for me.”
J. Jonah Jameson arrived to his penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side minutes later. He immediately went to his closet and found an empty frame. He opened it and took out the mask and stared at it, laughing triumphantly once again.
He put the mask in the frame and went to his mantle, the first thing he saw every morning when he arose from his slumber.
He hung it and stared at it one last time.
“Now what to do next,” he said.