ARC 3: …AND YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER
In the aftermath of the Arcade abduction storyline, Jill and Peter have come to terms with their mutual feelings for one another, but are both unsure of how they should go about breaking the news of their new relationship to Mary Jane. Though neither of
them wish to cause her pain, they both know that no matter what they say or do, MJ will likely see this as a betrayal from them both. Complicating things even further, MJ has only just recently completed her physical therapy and is finding herself back to normal and in good spirits. To confront her with this would be cruel at this point in time. Unable to come up with a satisfying resolution to the problem, Peter and Jill opt to keep their relationship a secret from everyone for the time being.
The matter ends up being taken out of both of their hands when Peter and Jill are out and about the city streets one day. In a moment of carelessness, they share a brief kiss in full view of an oblivious public. However, neither has seen Mary Jane on the opposite street. Seeing Peter and Jill, she smiles and starts to call out to them just as they lean in for their kiss. The smile fades and MJ is completely taken aback. The sequence should be done in a single multi-paneled page with no dialogue or narrative captions. This would be a great place to demonstrate the almost cinematic quality of the comics page and panel structure; conveying Mary Jane’s sense of shock and betrayal using only images. Rather then making her presence known right away, MJ leaves before either of them can catch sight of her.
Mary Jane makes no attempt to contact either Jill or Peter and actually has no contact with either of them until her next scheduled appointment with Jill. Unaware of anything, Jill is in typical high spirits and asks MJ how’s she’s been feeling and if her walking has been improving. Without answering, MJ coldly and silently gets up and walks directly to Jill. Jill’s initial pleased reaction is replaced by shock when MJ slaps her hard across the face. While Jill looks shocked MJ continues to stare coldly into her eyes. She finally manages one phrase:
MARY JANE: I know Jill.
No other words are needed. The surprise in Jill’s face turns to realization and she struggles to find something to say. She stammers a bit, stumbling over her words, unsure of exactly what to say. MJ interrupts her:
MARY JANE: Get out.
Realizing that there’s little she can say or do to make things better at the moment, Jill leaves. She goes to Peter and makes him aware that MJ knows of their relationship. Peter calls MJ, hoping to try and explain things, but she doesn’t answer. After some time MJ finally returns his call, but when he tries to explain MJ interrupts Peter and tells him she won’t have this conversation over the phone. She tells him to meet her the next day at a local outdoor restaurant and promptly hangs up the phone. Peter suggests to Jill that maybe they should both go and try and explain things to MJ together. Jill declines, saying that she and MJ will likely need to have their own conversation at some point and that this meeting should be her and Peter alone.
The following day’s conversation goes as well as can be expected. MJ is initially quiet as Peter tries to explain himself but quickly launches into a speech about how betrayed and humiliated she feels. She not only feels betrayed by her two closest friends but even more so by Peter. After getting Peter to admit that he’s told Jill his secret, MJ points out that the situation he’s put Jill in is no different then the one the two of them had been in, which was his whole reason for letting her go in the first place. To see that he’s willing to take the risk to be with Jill but not with her makes MJ feel even more hurt and betrayed and makes her question if he ever really loved her in the way she thought he did.
In the midst of the conversation as things continue to escalate, Peter starts to feel a familiar, unwelcome and inopportune tingle from his Spider-Sense. The sensation becomes stronger with each passing second and he knows something terrible is about to happen. Finally, unable to get MJ’s full attention, Peter launches across the table and drags MJ to the floor just as a familiar looking pumpkin bomb flies past them and explodes nearby. The blast separates the two of them and as Peter struggles to his feet he sees MJ laying unconscious nearby with blood trickling from her head. He starts to move towards her when the figure of Hobgoblin glides in, grabbing him by the throat and throwing him into a nearby wall. Giving little heed to any onlookers and focusing on MJ’s safety, Peter begins to fight Hobgoblin in his civilian clothing. Hobgoblin is eventually able to gain the upper hand by using a needle in his gloved fist to administer a drug into Peter’s neck which begins to weaken him. Although he does his best to fight it, Peter is eventually overcome by the drug. Hobgoblin takes Peter into his arms and flies off. The last thing Peter manages to see before completely blacking out is Mary Jane’s still unmoving body in the wreckage behind.
Peter finally regains consciousness sometime later, finding himself in Hobgoblins layer. Although securely bound, he notices that he’s civies are gone and he’s wearing his Spider-Man costume with the exception of the mask. One way or the other, this Hobgoblin definitely knows who he is now.
PETER: What’s the point of all this? Why didn’t you just kill me?
HOBGOBLIN: Because you don’t get off that easy. You’re going to suffer as I’ve suffered; feel the same pain that you’ve caused others. I’m going to take away everything you hold dear and destroy the things you love most. When it’s over, death is going to be a mercy.
The more Hobgoblin talks, the more the anger builds within Peter.
PETER: I’ve heard all this crap before, and from guys a lot scarier then you. And when they fed me the same load of bull they at least did it without hiding behind a stupid Halloween mask. If you’re going to play Mr. Comic Book Villain and monologue at me, then do it to my face!
Hobgoblin grabs a hold of Peter’s throat and gets right up into his face.
HOBGOBLIN: Relax Peter. You’re going to know exactly who I am. Because when this is all over and you look at the ruin I’ve made of your life I want you to remember at that moment that the one who did this to you was me.
With that, Hobgoblin pulls off his mask…
…and the face of Jill Stacy smiles coldly at a stunned Peter Parker.