ARC 2: Part Two- KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE…
As things develop further, I’ll re-introduce Jill’s brother Paul into the story to complicate things further. Paul would naturally disapprove of his sister’s budding relationship with Peter, seeing him as a danger to her. Paul blames Peter for Gwen’s death, believing that it was his direct connection to Spider-Man (being his exclusive and well publicized photographer) that put his cousin directly in harms way. Now he sees in Jill and Peter’s relationship an echo of what had occurred previously with Peter and Gwen and is adamant about ending it before a similar fate happens to Jill. The conflict will not be solely between Peter and Paul, but also between Paul and Jill. Jill has not seen Paul since he ran out on her and Arthur and she finds it difficult to forgive him for it. And to have him suddenly show back up in her life and start acting like he has a say in her relationships just angers her even more.
Despite her brother’s objections, Jill can’t deny what she feels and eventually makes those feelings known to Peter. Although both we and Jill suspect that he feels the same way, Peter is hesitant to allow things to happen between them. As odd as it is, Peter and Paul are actually thinking the same thing. After what happened with MJ, Peter can’t help but worry that something similar may happen to Jill. The memory of Gwen doesn’t make things any easier. Not only does that add to his apprehension, but it’s the memories of Gwen that actually make Peter hesitant as well. He worries that what he may be feeling now isn’t specifically for Jill, but possibly because of how much she reminds him of Gwen. Making things worse, Peter’s main reason for wanting to push Jill away is something he can’t make her understand without revealing his identity as Spider-Man. Even if he were willing to reveal it to her, there’s still the possibility that doing so would split them apart for good as she may still blame Spider-Man for Gwen’s death.
The potentially budding relationship between Jill and Peter reaches a critical point when Jill is (apparently randomly) kidnapped by Arcade and imprisoned in one of his “Murderworlds.” True to his nature, Arcade has no personal interest in the life or death of Jill, but rather has been hired by an (at the moment) unknown client. Jill’s disappearance and a note left behind tying it to Arcade sends Peter, as Spider-Man, on a frantic search to find her. Knowing Arcade’s MO, Spider-Man knows that time is a major factor and the longer he takes to find her, the less the chances are that he’ll find her alive. Desperate to quicken his search, Spider-Man reluctantly asks the assistance of Thomas Fireheart AKA Puma. Although neither have been friends, especially with Puma usually being on the wrong side of the law, Fireheart does agree to help at the insistence of Felicia Hardy (The Black Cat); his current lover and ex-girlfriend to Peter Parker.
Once in his Puma guise, Fireheart gains Jill’s scent from some articles of clothing and other objects in her apartment and begins tracking her through the city. Finally discovering Arcade’s hidden lair, both Puma and Spider-Man enter the Murderworld to rescue Jill, only to find themselves caught and having to work together to get through the various elaborate traps, saving their own lives as well as hers. In the end, their teamwork and intelligence allows all three to escape the maze unharmed. Unfortunately, Arcade has actually been remotely speaking to them through a closed circuit broadcast transmitted from miles away, leaving Spider-Man and Puma unable to bring him to justice. He remains at large, leaving no clues as to who it was that paid him to have Jill abducted, nor why. A brief cutaway to Arcade does allow us as the readers to learn the identity of Arcade’s client: Chameleon. A natural reaction to this reveal might be “Wait..what?” Trust me, just keep reading.
Returning back to the location of the Murderworld, we find that Jill is, naturally, emotionally distraught from the abduction, and to suddenly also be confronted with Spider-Man sends her into hysterics. Unsure of what to do to reassure her, and finally realizing how deep his feelings for her have gone, Spider-Man removes his mask and reveals his identity to a shocked Jill. The events of the last few days unleash a river of emotion for both who finally give in to what they’ve been trying to deny for so long now. Tears in their eyes, Jill reaches up to touch Peter’s cheek and he pulls her towards him. The issue ends with a full page shot of Jill and Peter having their first real kiss.
END OF ARC TWO…Stay Tuned for Arc Three soon!