"Skating on Thin Ice"
In a Queens, New York warehouse, the ever-amazing SPIDER-MAN is locked in battle with one of his most dangerous foes, ELECTRO. In the foreground, a Ditko-ishly nimble Spidey, dodges electrical bolts from Electro's hands, in the background.
Spidey leaps from spot to spot, dodging Electro's blasts, and moving ever closer to him. Suddenly, Spider-Man's SPIDER-SENSE tingles, warning him of danger behind him. Spidey whirls, and sees a Mystery Man (He looks like a normal henchman/thug, dressed in street clothes but, unknown to Electro, he's actually THE CHAMELEON. In fact, I'll refer to him by that name from now on.). Electro takes the opportunity to zap Spider-Man in the back with an electrical bolt. The blast flings Spidey into a large crate full of hockey pucks, that bursts on impact, the contents half burying the now-unconscious Spider-Man. The Chameleon and Electro stand over Spidey. "We should finish him," says the Chameleon. "I give the orders around here. We should escape before the police show up. There's too much at stake." The Chameleon lags behind, sulking resentfully as Electro heads out. He thinks, "Indeed, Electro. And even you don't suspect just how much."
Later, Spidey awakens, he's sitting up rubbing his head. Electro and friend are long gone. Spidey thinks that he doesn't even know what Electro was up to, much less where he might have run. Spidey sees a packing slip among the pile of pucks and broken crate he's sitting in. He reads it. The packing slip that seems to indicate that Electro has, of all things, shipped hockey pucks to Winnipeg. With a shrug, Spidey decides to go there and investigate (if he can scrape up the air fare).
Later, at a phone in an office inside the warehouse, Spidey has his mask off (to reveal that he is PETER PARKER). Peter is on the phone with J JONAH JAMESON, publisher of the Daily Bugle, cut back and forth between the two throughout the sequence. "Remember that Science Fair thing in Quebec City you asked me about before? Well I changed my mind. I'll take it if you fly me to Winipeg first." Jameson rants as expected, pacing around his office, dragging the phone base around with him. "Winipeg! What do take me for, Parker? A travel agent? You're not even a reporter! Why should I pay to send a measly photographer on a vacation to get a story he probably can't even write?!" Peter has three answers. First, he's got a strong science background so he's perfect for the story. Secondly, he could do a profile piece on one of the contestants while he was there, so it wouldn't be a total waste of time. And finally, it'll be much cheaper to send just a photographer, rather than a photographer and a reporter. Jameson likes the way Peter is thinking, "Peter, I think it's about time you gained some reporting skills. And who knows? I'm feeling so generous, I might even pay you for the story!" Peter Hangs up the phone, and pulls his mask back on thinking, "I doubt it. But at least I got airfare out of the deal..."
Establishing Winipeg. Peter wanders into a community center, where HERB CARNEGIE (see reference) is watching a group of multi-ethnic KIDS (10-12 years old and of both sexes) practicing hockey, boys on one end of the ice, girls on the other. Peter is greeted by Herb. Peter tells him that he is a reporter looking for one of the kids (BETTY she's Black and 12 years old. Her parents told Peter she'd be here). Herb isn't surprised, he's quite proud of the community center's Science Fair champion. As Herb points her out on the ice, she takes a fall. "She's not quite as good an athlete as she is a scientist, just yet. She never stops trying though. And she'll get there."
Herb and Peter chat as they watch, we learn about Herb's background as he talks to Peter (who constantly takes notes in a reporter's notebook -he's trying hard to look the part of reporter). Give me two or three panels for this stuff. Peter notes that one of the boys is really good. Herb tells Peter about ALAN (Native American, about 13 years old), the best player in the group. We see Alan and the other kids in action as Herb talks. Alan's got real potential, there's no telling how far he could go. But lately, his performance has really fallen off and nobody knows why. It's especially troublesome since, as a team leader, his slacking off seems to be affecting many of the other kids.
Herb excuses himself and calls practice to a halt. Peter sees him interacting with the kids, and expousing the values of the ACES creed for a few panels. Peter is very impressed and thinks that Betty and the other kids might get a kick out of meeting Spider-Man.
We follow Alan and the other kids (let's make sure that ERIC -see reference- is prominent) as they meet a second group of kids (racially mixed again, perhaps just a tad grungier than the "good" kids) at a local shopping mall. Alan is already smoking, and is quickly peer-pressured into joining the others in some beers. Spider-Man, who is secretly observing the whole thing from the rafters, now understands why Alan's performance is falling off. As much as Spidey would like to swing in and make a big anti-drinking speech, he realizes that kids have to make these kind of choices for themselves. Spidey is thinking that maybe he'll quietly tip Herb off as to the kids' behavior when he sees BEN, one of the non-hockey playing group, do something very odd. Ben cracks open a hockey puck to reveal an illicit drug (drug to be decided. But Spidey mentally connects this to Electro's shipping receipt). This surprises Herb's kids as much as it does Spidey, and they generally want no part of the drugs. Ben works on Alan specifically, referring to their long-time friendship, and to how Alan was always too straight-laced to really be one of the gang. For the sake of their old friendship, Ben gives Alan the drugs "on the house," he can try them, not try them, whatever. That does it, Spidey's going to get involved.
When Alan hits the street, Spidey confronts him. Swinging down in front of Alan, and hanging upside down from his web-line. Whether to use drugs is a decision that Alan has to make for himself, but Spidey is going to help him make an informed decision. Alan is a big fan of Spidey's. How does Spidey know about Alan? Spidey implies strongly (if not too convincingly) that he has super-powers he really doesn't.
Spidey takes Alan under his arm and swings into the night (Alan has his stick with him throughout). Neither of them have noticed that the other hockey playing kids have been observing them, nor do they notice the kids, led by Beth, the most outgoing of the kids, following behind below them.
Spidey and Alan go to several places where drug users gather, including the front of a bar. Spidey may or may not dispense drug facts at this point. During their travels, they see Ben on his drug dealing rounds and follow him, for a while. They trail Ben to a park, a city street corner, and an alley, before arriving at a warehouse. Spidey realizes that they are working their way up the distribution chain, and the warehouse that they just arrived at may be the top of that chain. Leaving Alan outside for safety, Spidey crawls up the outside of the warehouse wall and makes his way inside. Spidey looks through one of the hundreds of boxes of hockey pucks (imported from America! Can he really be this lucky?) lining the walls of the warehouse. He breaks open one of the pucks, and just as he thought, more drugs. That's how they were smuggled into the country. And the way his spider-sense is tingling, he'd bet that he knows by whom. Yep, it's Electro. He planned his move to Canada to escape all of the super-heroes back in the states, not to mention in order to take advantage of his mysterious associate's criminal connections up here. And once he kills Spider-Man, his scheme will go ahead just as planned. Electro poses, his hands crackle menacingly with about to be released energy.
Back outside, the other kids have caught up with Alan and are arguing over whether to go inside when the decision is taken out of their hands. The Chameleon, Ben and some other young toughs have surprised the kids, pulling knives on them and leading them inside.
Spidey dodges Electro's zap, which vaporizes the crate where it strikes. They fight. Spider-Man swings from the rafters, easily avoiding Electro's blasts, occasionally using his acrobatic skills to get in close enough to throw a punch.
Spidey is getting the better of Electro in their battle. Give me a few panels of this. Spidey's all but defeated him when both turn to see the kids, that the Chameleon and Ben have brought in. When the Chameleon sees that Electro is losing, he thinks "That bungler! It's all falling apart! I'll have to make my move now!" The Chameleon grabs Beth in a rough grip, dragging her towards the door. Eric yells out to Spidey, who swings over to Beth's rescue. The Chameleon is very frustrated, he drops Beth roughly, pulls a gun and fires at Spidey. Not a chance. Spidey easily dodges the bullet, then drops down to see if Beth is all right. She is. The Chameleon regretfully runs away, but he's not through with the girl, there will be another day. Spidey catches all of the young toughs (except Ben) beneath a web net. As they struggle, Spidey runs out just behind the Chameleon. Cut to the front of the building. Spidey is on a completely empty street, except for the sweet little old lady walking by. He asks her if she's seen anyone unusual running by. Ah, present company excepted. She has not. Spidey scratches his head, then races back inside when he realizes that Electro is still on the loose.
When Spidey comes back inside, Ben is holding the other kids at bay with his knife. Spidey webs the boys knife hand, then leaps up into the rafters, attaching the web to one. Ben dangles, his feet about six inches off the ground. Spidey drops down casually to the floor beside him, "Don't worry, the webbing'll dissolve in an hour or so." Behind Spidey's back, Electro has regrouped and prepares to attack him again. His hands crackle with energy. Spidey's Spider Sense warns him of the impending danger, but before he reacts, Alan and Beth pull out their hockey sticks (they've been carrying this stuff around all night). Beth flips one of the many pucks that litter the floor over to Alan, ("Here! It's an insulator."). Alan who fires a slap shot nearly 10 yards into Electro's blasting hands. The electrical burst "splatters" harmlessly off of the puck. Spidey, webs Electro with both shooters, than tugs. Next panel, Electro is hanging helplessly in a web bag beside him. "Nice shot, Alan. Hey Electro? My car won't start. You think you could give me a jump start?" Electro grumbles impotently. "Guess not." Alan goes over to Ben and gives him back his puck full o' drugs. "Thanks anyway, Ben. But I don't need this."
A bit later, Spidey takes his leave of the kids. In the background, cops lead a web-bound Electro away, as well as Ben and the other young toughs. Alan, Beth and the other kids thank Spidey for saving them, and Alan adds his personal thanks for opening his eyes about drugs. As Spidey swings away, he says he's glad he could help, but remember, the next time someone offers you something, "I won't be around to help. It'll be up to each of you to decide what to do."
A few days later, back at the hockey rink, Alan scores the winning goal at the third period horn. As Herb and the kids congratulate him, some of the kids in the crowd watching the game (from the mall scene earlier) offer him a beer and cigarettes to celebrate. He happily takes them, opens the beer can, and lights up a cigarette, then puts them down without drinking the beer or puffing on the cigarette. Now that he thinks about it, he doesn't need beer or cigarettes either.
Pull back to reveal that Peter is watching the whole scene from a pay phone. He thanks Jameson then tells him that he'll be following Beth to the Science fair tomorrow. A resolute Peter hangs up the phone. Give me the half Spidey half Peter face in the last panel. Peter doesn't know why the escaped mystery man was after Beth, But he's going to keep an eye on her just the same. He suspects that he hasn't seen the last of the mystery Man. If he threatens Beth -if he even shows his face again- Spidey's going to be there to stop him.
To be continued.