ARC 1 part two: BIGGEST FAN
Elliot sets a building on fire, taking precautions to make sure that there’s nobody in the building at the time. The fire he causes gets out of control and when Spider-Man arrives, he ends up getting in his way and hindering his efforts rather then helping him. Not only is he unable to take care of the problem himself, he actually puts himself in danger by trying and Spider-Man has to rescue him. As bad as things are, they only get worse. Despite his precautions, the building wasn’t completely empty and both Elliot and Spider-Man realize too late that there’s a woman still trapped inside. Although Spidey-Ock tries to go back in for her, it’s already too late and the woman perishes in the flames.
When the police arrive Spider-Ock gives them a full account of what Elliot has been up to and he’s promptly arrested on charges of arson and involuntary manslaughter. He looks more like a zombie as he’s carted away by the police. The events have caused a full on mental collapse in Elliot. Unable to deal with the repercussions of his actions, he transfers his hatred onto Spider-Man, blaming him for the death of the civilian. In his warped mind, the woman’s death is not his fault, but Spider-Man’s because if he had been the hero he’s always seen him as, he would have found a way to save her. The transference makes him see Spider-Man as a villain; someone masquerading as a hero to gain the favor of the public but actually being someone who is not worthy of the accolades he’s received. His goal now is no longer to assist Spider-Man, but rather to become Spider-Man; to assume his identity and trying to give the people of New York the hero he’d always believed him to be.
Elliot Laudner is looking to become a Superior Spider-Man (pun intended). There are several levels or irony working here. Elliot’s new frame of mind making him see Spider-Man as a villain is technically true since the version he’d met was Octavius (a villain) inhabiting Spider-Man’s body. Also, Elliot’s new plan of action makes for an interesting parallel to Otto’s. Both of them are assuming Spider-Man’s identity and trying to the best of their ability to improve upon what he has already done. The difference is that Otto had been doing so to honor Peter’s memory, whereas Elliot is doing so to redeem the image of Spider-Man he’d looked up to for so long.
In some way, Elliot manages to either escape or make bail and uses the time he has to try and put his plan into action. The major snag in the plan is finding Spider-Man. Knowing that he used to be Spider-Man’s exclusive photographer back in the day, Elliot figures that if he keeps tabs on Peter Parker long enough, Spider-Man will eventually show up. Inadvertently while pursuing this angle, Elliot accidentally discovers that Peter Parker IS Spider-Man. This brings us full circle as Elliot incapacitates Peter, steals his costume and goes about attempting to do good as Spider-Man. The problem still remains that although his intentions are good, Elliot is not Spider-Man. The attempts he makes to do good in the costume are clumsy and backfire. As delusional as he is, Elliot starts to see very quickly that he really isn’t capable of being the Spider-Man he’s always idolized. He rapidly grows more unhinged as he continues to become more and more frustrated. Finally he gives up and heads home. But not to his own home, but Peter’s.
For the sake of this story we’re going to make the assumption that Peter and Mary Jane have rekindled their romance and are seeing each other once again. As luck would have it, MJ has shown up to Peter’s home, expecting him to have been home from work already. Not knowing of the danger he’s in, MJ stretches out on Peter’s bed to wait for him and ends up falling asleep. Elliot’s arrival awakens her. She’s startled but not frightened since all she’s confronted with is (to her knowledge) Spider-Man. She starts asking him why he’s so late and some other questions but is just greeted with silence. This combined with his body language gives her a strange vibe and MJ starts to become afraid.
MARY JANE: Who the hell are you?
Elliot tilts his head quizzically. For the first time he speaks.
ELLIOT: What are you talking about? It’s me…
He pulls off his mask.
ELLIOT: …It’s Peter..
The details are a tad sketchy at this point but essentially whatever is subduing Peter eventually wears off and he immediately goes after Elliot, leading to a confrontation in his apartment. He’s holding MJ hostage and has knowledge of his duel identity so Peter needs to tread very carefully. Things get out of hand and Elliot accidentally causes MJ to be seriously injured. This becomes the last straw for Peter, who attacks Elliot in response. One way or another, by the time this confrontation is over Elliot winds up dead, either by accident or by his own hand. Obviously we can’t have Peter kill him (wayyyyyy out of character) nor can we have him live with the knowledge that he has. The police will naturally be called in and Peter is are actually able to explain the entire situation using almost the entire truth. Omitting his discovery of Peter’s identity, he explains how Elliot was obsessed with finding Spider-Man and thought that given Peter’s close association with him in the past, putting both himself and his girlfriend in danger would be a sure way to lure Spider-Man into a trap.
Stay Tuned for the thrilling conclusion of Arc One on Spider-Man: End of Days