Spider-Man Revisited: Pursuit, Clone Saga Part 2

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Posted October 9, 2013 by Beau Roth in Nerdy Bits

In 1994, after reading “Lifetheft” I decided to fully commit myself to the Spider-Man world. My next purchase was  Spider-Man #45, Part 1 of a 4 part story called “Pursuit.”

This issue begins after the events of Amazing Spider-Man #388 where Peter had to battle the Vulture, the Chameleon and his artificially constructed parents, resulting in Peter mourning the death of his parents for the second time in his life.

While the Vulture may have been captured, this was a hollow victory seeing as the Chameleon had escaped and Peter swearing revenge.

As Spider-Man is swinging through a stormy New York night, sharing personal thoughts via his inner monologue that always made me feel like I was the only one who knew what he felt. Such private thoughts as a 12 years old, always made my problems seem so small. Gone were any childhood dreams that Peter had hoped of sharing with his parents, when they dissolved in front of his eyes.  I had never seen Peter hell bent on revenge like this except possibly when he battled Venom or during “Kraven’s Last Hunt.”

The next page opens with Spider-Man holding a gun, saying to himself, “I’m ready for you, this time it will be nothing fancy, I’m going to kill you.” This becomes obvious it’s the Chameleon as he changes back. The Chameleon promises to kill Spider-Man for revenge on his brother, Kraven the Hunter, a former nemesis of Spider-Man who ultimately killed himself after thinking he had killed Spider-Man once before. The pursuit on both sides was really on.

Meanwhile, Mary-Jane and Peter are arguing on what they should tell Aunt May, if anything, about the sudden disappearance of Richard and Mary Parker. Coming to no decision, Peter (as Spider-Man) swings off, leaving Mary-Jane to notice that Peter is “retreating” into Spider-Man lately to deal with his personal life. When we next see Spider-Man, he is at his parents graves screaming into the night “WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME ALONE???”

Spider-Man then becomes obsessed, fueled by the anger towards the Chameleon and unleashes it upon the criminal element of New York City. This obsession causes him to deal with those who get in his way with more severity than usual. He is willing to do anything and go anywhere to find him. During the pursuit, even Spider-Man feels himself coming close to losing control and prepares to cross that moral line that he set for himself early on. Taking a step back, Peter questions whether this is his greatest strength or his greatest failure.

The Chameleon starts to hear of the terror that Spider-Man is causing in search of him and decides to hire some mercenaries to hunt him down. Unfortunately for the Chameleon, Spider-Man wipes the floor with them and Spidey finds one of the Chameleons secret hideouts, leaving him a terrifying message: “THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING CHAMELEON ! YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FACES TO HIDE BEHIND !!”

While Aunt May is washing the dishes, she looks outside the window and sees Peter standing in the driveway, in pouring rain, looking like a zombie. She drags him inside demanding to know what wrong. But Peter has no idea what to tell her.  He finally mutters that she was right about his parents, that they were people pretending to be Richard and Mary and that they have been arrested and are gone. Aunt May is surprisingly okay with the news, which shocks not only shocks Peter but also leaves him relieved.

Spectacular Spider-Man #211 begins with Spider-Man still tearing through New York City looking for the Chameleon with no luck as the Chameleon is tearing apart his new hideout, knowing that Spider-Man will find him there too. When neighbors complain, the Chameleon starts realizing that his plan is going to fail and curses himself for listening “to him.” He decides to hire a retired police officer in battle armor, who specializes in capturing super powered individuals, calling himself Tracer .

When Spider-Man goes back home to refill his web shooters, Mary-Jane is there waiting for him. She tries to interact with Peter by telling him he hasn’t eaten in days and his costume stinks but Peter blasts her and says to leave him alone. “Why don’t you go out dancing, isn’t that how YOU deal with your problems?” He then swings away to continue the hunt, only to realizes how bad he’s treating Mary-Jane and decides to take a breather on a rooftop.

Tracer with the surprise on his side, attacks the web head and a battle ensues. Spider-Man fights so viciously, Tracer almost believes its a different Spider-Man and defiantly not the same one he’d been training for. With Tracer beat, Spider-Man convinces him that he’s been hired by the Chameleon which causes Tracer to reveal the false identity that hired him, leading him to the Chameleons latest hideout. When Spider-Man arrives he finds a message is waiting  on the wall that says: “THIS ISN’T THE BEGINNING ANYMORE AND ITS NOT THE END, BUT IT IS THE END OF THE BEGINNING !” Peter goes home to change his mask, finding Mary-Jane is crying. She begs him to talk to her… he grabs a new mask and swings away into the night again.

Web of Spider-Man #112, Part 3 of Pursuit begins with the Chameleon disguised as a police officer, driving a bus full of inmates through the city. The Chameleon lets all the criminals go giving them firearms and they set out to start to rampage. Then Spider-Man swings past the havoc, noticing the driver laughing. Getting Spider-Man’s attention  he swings downs to capture the Chameleon, who has to remind Spider-Man that innocent people are getting slaughtered outside. Spidey snaps to his senses, again, realizing his priorities are changing and lets the Chameleon go, so he can protect the civilians. As soon as he knows everyone is safe, Peter unleashes hell on the prisoners.

The Chameleon makes his way to his final hideout, where his “master” has given him all that he wants. Chameleon leaves several messages all around town for Spider-Man to find in hopes that he will be lead him to last hideout. Spider-Man takes the bait finds, finding a tattered piece of Kraven’s costume, he suddenly knows where the Chameleon wants him to be…the place where Kraven attempted to bury him alive, the Kravinoff Estate.

The issue ends with Mary-Jane noticing Spider-man swinging close to the building and expects him to enter, when he just swings past and keeps going making she think she’s really lost him.

The chilling conclusion in the Amazing Spider-Man #389 kicks off with Peter thinking about the time Kraven the Hunter buried him alive and how he thought nothing a villain could ever do to him, could be worse than that. He realzes how wrong he was.

“He tells himself that he should have known better, that after years of dealing with the Venoms and Octopus’ and Lizards and Jackals, he should be used to the mind games and manipulations, the constant invasion of his private life. He should be…but he’s not. Inside, there has always been a little boy who never stopped mourning the mother and father he lost too soon, who never stopped praying for a miracle. Even as the adult doubted the people who claimed to be Richard and Mary Parker, that little boy believed with all his heart… and mourned again when he lost them a second time. Now the time for mourning is over and the hour of retribution is here” – J.M. DeMatteis, writer.

The writing in this issue left my mouth opened, begging for more. Allowing readers into the mind of Peter, while he is slowly losing his sanity. Thoughts creep in like, “what if the Chameleon is my only villain?” “What if, its just been him, this entire time, causing me all this pain?”

Spider-Man arrives at the dwelling, that once was Kraven’s, knowing in his heart that the Chameleon is inside. He feels it as his blood, he feels it in his soul and  shivers as he makes his way up the stairs, entering a room where the  first trap is waiting. Four wild hungry tigers that attack as soon as they lay their eyes on Spider-Man. Spider-Man throws them around like kittens, looking up into a security camera and screams “CHAMELEON…I’LL KILL YOU!!” In another room, watching, the Chameleon is disguised as Kraven  says to himself “What have I done? He’s out of his mind!!!”  All the Chameleon ever wanted was to be like Kraven. He felt he owed Kraven everything and is also to blamed for Kraven committing suicide.

Spider-Man starts to feel a dark joy in cutting loose. He starts to understand the justification of people like the Punisher and as a tiger leaps again to attack and Spider-Man grabs it by the neck and is about to snap it, when he throws the tiger into a wall. Knowing he can’t cross that line, he cannot take any creatures life and he hates himself for it. He hates himself for his softness and compassion. He hates himself for always drawing lines between whats right and wrong. Tonight he hears a whisper saying “cross it” and he shouts to another camera “I won’t take an abused pets life Chameleon but when i get my hands on you…I WON’T STOP.”

The Chameleon now terrified beyond belief,  knows this is not the same Spider-Man hes faced time and time before. He scrambles his brain to work out why and how, Spider-Man is so angry at him and comes to the only logical conclusion. Spider-Man and Peter must be as close to each other as himself and Kraven? Why did he listen to his new boss? Why does he always let other people tell him what to do?

Spider-Man enters another room where there there is a coffin standing upright, covered in spiders and nothing else. He makes his way to the coffin and opens it, to find himself looking at Spider-Man. He smashes the fake and continues through the house. A few more traps and a few more escapes later, he finally finds himself in the same room as the Chameleon disguised as Kraven. Chameleon tries to fight Spider-Man but he easily over powers him. As Spider-Man continues his beating on the Chameleon, he yells that he shouldn’t have destroyed the Parker’s life. The Chameleon replies that it’s his fault for letting his boss know there was a connection between them.

With the reveal of someone else behind the Chameleon’s plan, Spider-Man gets distracted with processing the information allowing  the Chameleon  to run to the graveyard outside. With the Chameleon scared to death of Spider-Man, an epiphany starts to take shape in the Chameleons mind, that Kraven never actually loved him but in truth treated him terribly and was embarrassed to be related to him. With this realization, Chameleon pulls out a rifle and says to himself “a cowards death, is all we have in common Kraven,” but before he can pull the trigger, Spider-Man jumps in the way and stops him screaming “NO, YOUR NOT GOING TO CHEAT ME THE WAY HE DID” and starts to beat the living hell out of him.

Spider-Man rips a headstone out of the ground and lifts it above his head screaming again “YOU BROUGHT THEM BACK AND THEN TOOK THEM AWAY AGAIN, AND FOR THAT, YOU GOING TO…” As he is about to bring the headstone down he sees the Chameleon go into shock and witness’ him change from face to face to face, screaming “PLEASE I’M NOTHING” Spider-man drops the headstone, webs up Chameleon and goes back inside the Kravinoff estate, thinking to himself “This was the enemy I was so desperate to destroy?”

All of his hate for the Chameleon is gone now, he wants no part of it anymore. Then he remembers what the Chameleon said about someone else being behind it and he realizes his hate can now be redirected. He walks to the giant computer the Chameleon has and looks through all the files. He stops at one labelled Spider-Man: For Your Eyes Only and clicks on it…and this….this is where the whole game changes.

This last page for me, back in 1994 was THE ending that I never forgot. The reveal that solidified my dedication to the Spider-Man books from here on out. The page that made me know, this wasn’t over, it was really just the beginning. One word changed my comic life forever and to this day, this one word still gives me chills, know matter what context I hear it, see it or read it:

GOTCHA

On the screen appeared Harry Osborn, Peter Parker’s best friend and Spider-Man’s worst enemy, the Green Goblin. His face appears and he says “Gotcha” and Peter sinks to his knees crying…


About the Author

Beau Roth

I live in the comic universe and read about the real world.....