The body-switching Thousand has Spider-Man at its mercy. Can Spider-Man... can PETER PARKER triumph over the monster his old tormentor has become?
Spider-Man is paralyzed, tied to a chair, and completely at the mercy of The Thousand as its component spiders prepare to steal his body for its own use. But Spidey is saved by the appearance of his super, who is promptly killed and absorbed before he can flee. Aghast, Spider-Man asks how he became such a monster and The Thousand obliges him.
On the day Peter Parker was bitten by an irradiated spider, a bully named King Carl saw it all happen. Wanting to duplicate the same process in his own life, he broke into the exhibition building that night and swallowed the dead spider. His body soon began to break down, "consuming itself, changing into--literally--a thousand spiders." Realizing that his consciousness had been transferred to them, what once was Carl soon absorbed both of his parents, then more and more people over the years.
While The Thousand continues to ramble, Spider-Man bides his time until the paralyzing poison he had injected into his veins wears off. He rips his way out of the chair and the two begin to fight. The Thousand quickly gets the upper hand as the battle moves to a nearby rooftop. Smashing Spidey's face into the roof, The Thousand takes the opportunity to gloat. "Poor little Peter squirming on the ground, terrified of what nasty old Carl might do to him next... a pathetic, terrified, wretched little worm."
He turns around to find Spider-Man waiting for him, mask removed.
"Carl, I'm not afraid of you at all."
Enraged, The Thousand charges Peter and runs right into a punch that rips the top half of his head off. Spiders spill out of the open head as The Thousand slings Peter through a doorway. The Thousand moves in for the kill, only to punch right into the building's electrical transformer. Screaming, the monster lurches backward off the roof, incinerating as he falls to the ground below.
"Goodbye, Carl," Peter says. "God forgive you, you sad, sad fool."
Later that evening, as Peter rests up from his ordeal by taking another spin around the living room with his Aunt May, a small spider crawls out of a drain pipe in downtown New York. It is all that remains of The Thousand. "Just one is enough to hold my essence, Parker. Enough to survive, and grow strong, to bide my time, to stroke my hatred, and when the time comes, to emerge once more and claim what's mine!" Unfortunately for The Thousand, he doesn't bother to look where he's walking.
Okay, you've GOT to love a story where the bad guy meets his end under the Nikes of some unsuspecting guy who's just trying to cop a smoke. It made ME laugh out loud, anyway.
A good ending to a good story. Peter, once again, rises to the challenge he's faced with through seemingly impossible odds. That storyline IS the essence of Spider-Man and it's told well here. The nice touch was Peter removing his mask for the final fight. It's not exactly the smartest thing to do (just one schmuck with a telephoto lens and Peter's got some serious 'splainin' to do) but it was great in that PETER PARKER was fighting the battle, not some nameless, faceless guy in a mask and spandex.
The Thousand, or Carl, was a good (and particularly nasty) one-shot villain. I'm glad he was killed off at story's end because this is not the kind of bad guy you bring back for a grudge match. But considering what this guy did to his parents--as well as all the others he's snacked on over the years--you hate to imagine what he did to Peter when the two of them were in school. *Shudder* But his cruelty only makes Peter's resolve that much more impressive.
Finally, whatever happened to Pete's model friend? It would've been nice to tie up that loose end.
A delightfully creepy first story arc turns in a very satisfying conclusion. Four webs