Ixnay. We don't ever use the L-Word. Call him the Big Man.
Ixnay. We don't ever use the B-Word. Call him...Mr. Lincoln...
In the underground lab hidden in a body shop, Otto Octavius nervously explains the details of the procedure about to commence to Alex O'Hirn. O'Hirn will be bonded to a thick titanium resin hide that will be unremovable. Hammerhead warns Norman Osborn that Octavius had better not be trying to talk O'Hirn out of it. Osborn warns Octavius that he's owed a success after the fluke that was Sandman. The process is a success, and O'Hirn dubs himself the Rhino after the inspiration of the suit's design.
Spider-Man swings through the city after a stolen car. He lands on the hood, orders one of the three thugs to buckle up, and for the one driving to pull over. He's about to comply when the third crook pulls a gun on Spider-Man. Spider-Man dodges, but ends up being thrown off when the thugs pop the hood, and when he attaches a web-line to the hood, it comes off. He manages to get back on the car's trail and webs up the engine so it stops working, and suspends the car upside-down in midair courtesy of more webs.
At the ESU lab, Eddie Brock talks about the Fall Formal with Gwen Stacy and offers to be her date when she mentions that Peter isn't going.
Meanwhile at the Daily Bugle offices, Peter Parker tries once again to ask Betty Brant to the formal. Before she can answer, Jameson interrupts and berates Parker for the photos of the car theft, saying he wants something with more action, before launching into a different underling for getting him the wrong sandwich. Peter resumes asking, to which Betty says she'll think about it. Peter of course reads too much into it and gets overly excited, telling Aunt May about how Betty said maybe after he realizes that his 10% of his Bugle earnings will barely cover a corsage. The next day, May visits the Bugle offices to talk to Betty.
Harry however, has a definite date in Glory Grant. Peter excitedly relays his maybe, when he's overheard by Flash Thompson, who doesn't believe that Peter Parker is going to the formal with someone who's "Twenty years old and hot" quoth Peter. Flash bets Peter that he shows up without a date, or doesn't show up period. Peter gladly takes the bet, with the stakes being that loser dresses as a cheerleader for Halloween. Just then, Betty texts Peter informing him that she and Aunt May are getting coffee.
Traffic is stopped as the Rhino plods to the Daily Bugle. Strong arming the guard into letting him pass, Rhino gets into the elevator with reporter Fred Foswell. Rather than taking May up on the offer of being bought coffee, Betty points out that the Bugle office has perfectly good coffee. May and Betty seem to be hitting it off, but before May can get to the point, the Rhino rams into the office, demanding he be told where Peter Parker is. Rhino reasons that since Peter takes Spider-Man's pictures, he knows how to find him.
Peter is racing to the Bugle, the only danger he's aware of being the one that Aunt May poses to his shot with Betty. When he arrives, he finds the Rhino interrogating Jameson who motions for Peter to hide unnoticed by the Rhino. May marvels at Jameson's bravery, and expresses gratitude that Peter has found good people to work with, but tells Betty that she's too old for him. This is cut short when Rhino lifts the desk the two women are hiding behind. Peter, who has changed to Spider-Man, swings in and swipes Jameson from Rhino, webbing him to the ceiling. Spider-Man demands to know what Rhino wants with Parker, but Rhino tells him that he only wants Spider-Man, and revenge for all the times he's been put behind bars. This tips Spidey off that Alex O'Hirn is the Rhino, making him wonder what the deal is with the Big Man powering up people he's encountered before. As with Sandman, Spider-Man finds himself unable to effectively hurt Rhino, leading him to try having the wall do it instead. Unfortunately, Rhino's so strong he goes right through it and plunges to the street, leaving him standing in a crater completely unharmed.
The police, led by Captain George Stacy arrive and order the Rhino to surrender. However, Rhino makes short work of the police, and is about to crush Captain Stacy with a car, when Spider-Man swoops in, saves Stacy, and draws Rhino away from the police, afraid that someone will get hurt. Rhino calls Spider-Man out for being a coward, but stops his chase to kick open a fire hydrant and stand in the spray. A truck gets in Rhino's way, and he batters it to smithereens and tosses the engine at Spider-Man, who has to save a woman and her daughter from being hit by it. Rhino finally gets his mitts on Spidey and beats him around a bit before tossing him into a sporting goods store a few blocks away. Rhino enters the store, Spider-Man tries to slow him down by rolling bowling balls at him, hoping they'll trip him up like in the cartoons, but Rhino steps right through them. This allows Rhino to make a pretty scary threat regarding Spidey's head. Spidey manages to distract Rhino with a classic "Wait!" gag, and pulls down a bunch of weights on him. Rhino bursts out, sweating up a storm, and tries getting the cap off a water bottle to cool down, resorting to breaking it over his face in anger. Spider-Man takes note of this and gets an idea.
Spider-Man lures Rhino back outside and into a service tunnel. Rhino sweats even harder down there, so Spider-Man tricks him into running into a pipe. The Rhino's horn punctures the pipe, letting a bunch of hot steam off right into Rhino's face. Spider-Man tricks him into punching open more pipes, which causes manhole covers to fly into the air topside. Spider-Man then points out that because Rhino's hide is impenetrable, his face is doing all the sweating for his entire body. The heat is too much for Rhino, and he collapses. Taking advantage of Rhino's heat induced delirium, Spider-Man gets a clue to the Big Man's identity from him.
Hammerhead meets with Norman Osborn, impressed that Osborn has managed to profit in multiple ways: he has specs for a mass-producable mercenary, and he gets the contract to build the Rhino's prison cell. Osborn however points out that people are beginning to ask questions, and recommends they lay low. Hammerhead disagrees, threatening Osborn to tell the public that Oscorp is behind Sandman and Rhino. Osborn retorts that there's no proof to link either supervillain to Oscorp or himself. Hammerhead points out that Octavius figures into the equation. Just then, Harry barges in, elated that he's made straight As, gotten a first-string position on the football team, and is taking one of the hottest girls in school to the formal. He is summarily brushed off by Norman.
Jameson is ranting about Spider-Man as usual as repairs to the office begin. Peter steps out of a closet, pretending he was hiding there the whole time. Aunt May is relieved that Peter is okay, but Betty comes clean and tells Peter that she's uncomfortable with going to the formal with someone four years her junior. Determined to make at least one thing go right, Peter asks Foswell if he's ever heard of a Lincoln who might go by the name of Big Man. Foswell tells Peter that rumors surround an L. Thompson Lincoln, but after his own investigation, he's convinced that the odd-looking Lincoln is one of the good guys. Peter isn't so sure however, and investigates himself. After taking out his guards, Spidey confronts Lincoln, who also goes by Tombstone. Spider-Man scoffs that he's not intimidated...just before Tombstone beats him down in seconds flat.
Tombstone then gives a speech about how no one hero can dent the Big Man's income, but Spider-Man scares criminals off the streets unless he's busy fighting a major super threat. Spider-Man realizes this means that as long as he keeps fighting crime, bigger and badder threats will come out of the Big Man's pocketbook. Tombstone then offers Spider-Man a way out. He gets paid handsomely to do what he already does, but whenever Tombstone says, Spider-Man looks the other way and ignores a particular crime. Remembering what happened last time he looked the other way, Spider-Man refuses, and in retaliation, Tombstone calls the police. Spider-Man leaves, thoroughly frustrated, but determined to win what he now knows is a war.
At home, Peter is dejected that he now has to go to the Fall Formal alone, and therefore lose his bet. Who should save the day but Aunt May, who tells Peter that she asked Ms. Wonderful Personality, Mary Jane Watson to go. Although mortified, Peter soon changes his tune when he sees Mary Jane...
Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot!
Mary Jane Watson
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