‘So that’s the Answer, Robbie! That’s what he called himself, anyway! I’m not sure what the question was!’ Peter Parker jokes as he shows a photograph of Spider-Man battling the mysterious criminal known as the Answer. Peter adds that the Answer seems to be stalking Spider-Man for some reason of his own, and suggests that this could turn into a photo-series. Robbie informs Peter that he told Jonah that, publisher or no, he cannot allow him to use the Bugle as an anti-Spider-Man soap-box, but neither will he provide free ad-space for Spider-Man, either. Pipe in his mouth, Robbie explains to Peter that he should put a voucher in for these pictures, as they are excellent, but next time he needs to find another subject.
Robbie announces that they will run photos of Spider-Man, but only when they are really newsworthy. ‘Don’t count on selling shots of every burglary-in-progress Spider-Man puts a stop to’ Robbie tells Peter. Somewhat dejected, Peter replies that he understands, and begins to walk away, with Robbie telling him that the technical quality of his shots are beginning to match the passion he puts into them, but that there are other heroes around New York. ‘Try to get shots of some of them’ Robbie suggests. ‘Yeah, right’ Peter mutters, before thanking Robbie and telling him he will see him around.
Soon, on a rooftop, Peter is pleased tobe out in the fresh air, and tells him that it is his world up here. ‘Take pictures of somebody else? Easy for Robbie to say! Always seemed simplest to photograph myself’ Peter thinks to himself, before deciding that, somehow, this has to figure, as life has gotten so weird since he quit grad school - which Aunt May has a case of the terminal mads at him for. Peter tells himself that even his costume is weird these days, and with that, his new black costume materializes - transforming from his street clothes at Peter’s merest whim, something which he doesn’t think he will ever get used to.
‘How this happens - just when Robbie was starting to like my shots! Except that his favourites were taken by the Black Car…the woman that I love. Nothing’s rotten about the luck that made her cross my path - for once! It is strange, though, how she can’t stand me as Peter Parker…but she loves her-’ Peter tells himself, when suddenly, ‘Spider!’ exclaims Felicia Hardy a.k.a. the Black Cat calls out as she leaps towards Peter, now covered in his black costume. ‘Hi, handsome! Miss me?’ Felicia asks. ‘Cat!’ Spider-Man gasps.
‘Miss you? C’mere! You would not believe the day I’ve had!’ Spider-Man exclaims as he perches on the edge of the roof, informing Black Cat that Robbie wants him to cut down on the Spidey photos. ‘How am I supposed to pay the rent?…eat?’ Spider-Man asks, but Black Cat tells him to hush, as those are Peter Parker’s dull old worries. ‘My Spider’s problems are the Hobgoblin, Jack O’ Lantern and…me!’ Black Cat calls out, before leaping off the building, telling Spider-Man to catch her if he can. Spider-Man releases some webbing as he follows Felicia, telling her that there is not a practical bone in her slinky body. ‘But you chase away the Peter Parker blues!’ Spider-Man exclaims.
Meanwhile, off the coast of North America, a spacecraft hovers over the water, and inside, the being known as the Collector sits at his console, declaring that he had thought his collection complete - but he has received a reading that hints there is a Plodex existing on Earth. The Collector reminds himself that the Plodex’s heyday was eons ago, so this is certainly a mystery - and an opportunity that he cannot ignore. Various Plodex are kept in tanks throughout the Collector’s vessel, while the Collector tells himself that it should not take long to more carefully scan the planet for life forms that register as alien.
An image flashes up onto the Collector’s monitor - of Warlock! ‘On Earth? I’d better gather my Plodex quickly and be gone’ the Collector tells himself. Another image appears - ‘A cloud-being! Worth investigating - on the return trip, perhaps…if Earth still exists’ the Collector decides. Another image appears - this time of a Dire Wraith. ‘Humph! I have several already. Vile creatures!’ the Collector decides. Another image - this one of Spider-Man. ‘Interesting. Not precisely what I am seeking…’ the Collector tells himself, before recalling that the first rule of collecting states: ‘When chance presents itself, don’t pass it by! It may not come your way again!’
The aged being tells himself that he needs the lamp, and exclaims ‘What luck to own a temporal transporter! I might never have met Ali Baba without it…and observed his childlike glee as he bartered his lamp…and flying carpet...for my broken-down, second-hand robot! The man has no concept of the value of -’ the Collector stops himself when he locates the lamp. ‘Here it is! That being on the screen! I want him!’ the Collector shouts as he rubs the lamp, adding ‘And hurry! The lotus poppy of Sirius 5 is about to blossom! It will mean a millennium’s wait if I miss it!’
Back in New York, ‘My Spider-Sense - tingling like mad! Feels like there’s danger all around me!’ Peter announces. A four-headed genie with several arms appears. ‘To hear…oh, master…is to…obey!’ the genie exclaims. ‘As if I didn’t have enough problems’ Spider-Man remarks as the genie picks him up, while flicking the Black Cat off the rooftop with another hand. ‘My Spider! Let him go you - ooh!’ Felicia exclaims as she falls backwards. ‘Cat!’ Spider-Man exclaims, calling out to Felicia. The Black Cat lands on a nearby roof, and calls out ‘Come back here with my Spider!’, while the genie replies ‘This “Spider” is yours no longer. He has just become the property of…the Collector!’
The Collector watches as Spider-Man is apprehended, and the Collector exclaims ‘A prize indeed - and in prime condition! Welcome to my collection! You are…?’ the Collector calls out as the genie re-materializes in the Collector’s vessel. ‘You’ve “collected” Spider-Man - and you don’t even know who I am?’ Peter exclaims. He mutters that he supposes he is here for some instantly obvious quality. ‘Intelligence? Suave good looks?’ he asks. ‘Perfect recall of every episode of the Twilight Zone?’ Spider-Man adds. ‘Among other assets…’ the Collector begins, before an alarm sounds - and on his monitor the Plodex girl called Marrina appears.
‘Excellent! The Plodex swims nearby! This is my lucky day!’ the Collector exclaims. The Collector remarks that it is disappointing she does not have a tail, before adding that fish are not Earth’s dominant life form. ‘This variant is most bizarre!’ he exclaims. Spider-Man looks at the screen ‘A mer-woman! A mutant? Or one of the Sub-Mariner’s people? She’s like nothing on Earth’ Peter tells himself. ‘Neither are you, lad! Your strength…agility! I regret we lack time for a demonstration’ the Collector remarks, before rubbing the lamp again. ‘Later, perhaps, but for now, we can’t have you hopping about the ship unsupervised, can we?’ the Collector declares, before ordering his genie to incarcerate their guest in the pearl of great price, before informing the genie that he has another mission for him.
‘To do my master’s bidding…is my joy! Open up...pearl!’ the genie exclaims as the pearl opens, and the genie throws Spider-Man into it - ‘Now wait a -’ Spider-Man exclaims, but it’s too late, as the pearl chomps down on him. A hundred meters beneath the frigid North Atlantic, the Plodex called Marrina, a member of Alpha Flight swims, reminding herself that the Sub-Mariner offered to help her unravel the secret of her origin, but his company proved too diverting for her. ‘While frolicking with him - I removed my amulet and thus missed Guardian’s distress call! Soon after, Guardian was slain by a villainous super-group, including my old teammates from Beta Flight - and I was not there!’ Marrina reminds herself.
‘I should never have -’ Marrina begins, before the genie’s hand reaches down into the water and grabs her. Marrina reaches for her amulet, ‘Worthy or not, I must call for help! Though what my teammates can do against this horror, I cannot say…or even if they can locate me here!’ Marrina thinks to herself as a signal is emitted from her amulet which contains her Alpha-signal, and she re-materializes inside the Collector’s vessel. The Collector sits on the magic carpet, and greets Marrina, ‘Welcome, my dear, to my collection! Your beauty almost lulls me against the dangers of your kind!’ he exclaims. ‘What?’ Marrina calls out. The Collector remarks that Marrina seems puzzled, and assures her that he will explain all later, once he has made her more comfortable. He adds that Marrina seems overwrought, and suggests that flute music might calm her jangled nerves.
‘But first, a small pre-caution’ the Collector remarks, before motioning to a trio of strange monkey-like creatures, and he calls out to the one covering its eyes, addressing it as See-No-Evil, he beckons the creature to him. ‘An incredible set, is it not…part of a perfect, if complex, method of sedating my prizes!’ the Collector explains. The creature sits behind the Collector and places its hands over the Collector’s eyes, while the aged being explains that the flutde is in truth a translation / control device, fashioned by Kymellian sorcery, otherwise he would never dare transport a Xanthian Boulder-Crusher like Snake Eyes aboard his ship. ‘You understand my reluctance’ the Collector remarks, before telling Marrina that if she is not yet charmed, she will be, and he begins playing the flute - which causes a large snake to rise.
The snake sways to the music, and stares at Marrina, while the Collector announces that he can tell by See-No-Evil’s stiffened body that Snake Eyes’s hypnotic glance sweeps the room. He declares that Marrina should be instantly susceptible, as are all Plodex, and remarks that he planned to set the genie to indexing and filing his treasures, but now the genie is asleep, and snoring for four, as the four-headed genie falls into slumber. The Collector decides that it is just as well that the genie slumbers, as he has been working him rather hard lately, as the rest will do him good. ‘The triplets are the most resistant creatures in the universe. When See-No-Evil collapses…there! I will pipe the final notes that will return him to his basket’.
The Collector finishes the flute playing, and lifts See-No-Evil over his head, thanks to See-No-Evil, the Collector has not fallen under Snake Eyes’s hypnotic effect. The Collector exclaims that one must stay awake and in charge, and it may as well be him. He adds that now that he has his Plodex, he had best resume his journey to Sirius 5.
At that moment, Spider-Man emerges from the clam, thinking to himself that he has been captured by a galactic-class looney-tune. Peter tells himself that Sirius 5 sounds like outer space to him, and he had planned to keep his adventures non-cosmic, at least for a while. ‘You wanted a demo of spider strength - and agility - you got it!’ Spider-Man exclaims as he leaps from the clam, which slams shut behind him, and Spider-Man slings to the wall overhead.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Canada, the strange assemblage known as Alpha Flight confer in mid air. Jean-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora soars through the air, carrying the handsome Dr Walter Langkowski - who is only wearing skimpy briefs, ready for when he transforms into Sasquatch. Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier flies alongside them, carrying Eugene “Puck” Judd on his back. Walter announces that Marrina’s distress signal originates to the East, and motions to its location. Puck declares that it is good Shaman remained with Heather, for with Guardian’s death so recent, Heather needs Shaman’s comfort now more than the rest of them need his magic. ‘But I wish I could shake the feeling that we’ll soon sorely need his help’ Judd adds.
Aurora adds that it is as well that Snowbird did not join them, as they have already flown beyond the range of her powers. Aurora adds that their battle with Omega Flight in New York was a tragic time to discover Snowbird’s limitations. Northstar exclaims that it is up to the four of them to save Marrina, and asks his sister if perhaps it is time she forgave his insult and they began to work together again. But Aurora replies that she and Walter work much better together. ‘That, sister, is a matter of opinion!’ Northstar replies. ‘Lugging King Kong all over the North Atlantic has to slow you down’ Jean-Paul declares, to which Aurora shouts that at least Walter, orange ape though he can become, remains all man.
Northstar remarks that he begins to dislike Aurora heartedly, and almost longs for her Jeanne-Marie alter-ego to return. ‘The nuns raised her to be timid and shy…but they also instilled in her the principles of Christian forgiveness, did they not?’ Northstar adds. Aurora is annoyed: ‘That he should wish for Jeanne-Marie’s return! That whiney little bore!’ she exclaims, while Walter tells Aurora that Northstar wants her for himself. ‘You may not be his soul mate, but you also have no powers, and he does not have to share her with anyone - particularly with “King Kong”!’ Walter points out.
‘Walter!’ Aurora scolds her lover as Northstar speeds off ahead of them. Walter apologizes and tells Aurora that Jean-Paul’s jibes cut closer than he realized, and points out that until recently he had two shapes - Sasquatch and Walter Langkowski - but one mind, only that seems to be changing. Walter explains that Sasquatch’s bestial nature grows more dominant with each transformation, and it frightens everyone, he knows. ‘But even more, it frightens me’ Walter declares. Puck clings to Northstar and remarks that Guardian’s death did not heal Alpha Flight’s petty squabbles - if anything, it made them worse. Judd tells himself that Northstar spoke in anger, but recalls that once before, Aurora’s Jeanne-Marie persona emerged in the midst of battle, so with their numbers cut almost in half, Jeanne-Marie’s return at the wrong moment could mean disaster for Alpha Flight!
Back inside the Collector’s vessel, ‘Yes, indeed my boy! A demonstration of your strength and agility would be most enjoyable!’ the Collector declares. ‘To say nothing of my speed ‘Peter remarks. ‘Excellent’ the Collector adds, before warning Spider-Man that his magic carpet is endowed with a similar quickness. ‘Pearl - take him!’ the Collector shouts as he swoops up and slams himself against Spider-Man, who falls towards the pearl, which has grown legs and opens its mouth up to catch Spider-Man, who exclaims ‘I don’t believe it! Somewhere out there…clams actually got legs!’, but Peter declares that spiders have webbing, and unleashes a web into the clam’s mouth, causing it to close its mouth, Peter then uses a webbing to wrap around the clams’s legs.
‘Guaranteed to last an hour or your money back!’ Spider-Man jokes, before asking where that lamp is. He finds the lamp and begins rubbing it, but nothing happens - the genie is fast asleep. The Collector holds a container in his hand and pulls the lid from it, exclaiming ‘A game try, lad, but the Djinn’s nap will last even longer than your webbing! Yet, undaunted, you snatch the Plodex from Djinn’s claws!’ the Collector declares as Spider-Man grabs the still sleeping Marrina. The Collector declares that he likes initiative in a specimen, but within reason, and fears that this demonstration must come to an end - courtesy of the Venusian shock-flies. And from the container, a swarm of flies soars after Spider-Man , who cannot move, as they are so fast - the flies then eat through his webbing, and he cries out in pain as he drops Marrina.
Moments later, the four members of Alpha Flight descend upon the collector’s ship. ‘Marrina’s signal’s coming from there!’ Walter announces. Aurora points out that the ship is so huge, and asks how they will get inside. The heroes land on the ship and Walter leans into Aurora, telling her to give him a kiss and he will give her one guess. ‘It’s easy, eh, Northstar? For the orange ape called Sasquatch?’ Walter exclaims as his form shifts from human to beast. Northstar frowns as he watches and admits that Sasquatch is strong, but that Aurora fears his bestial rages. ‘If he could be provoked into one of them - perhaps my sister would see that thing…for the monster he truly is’ Jean-Paul decides.
Back inside, Marrina is now being held inside a large circular tank of water. ‘Ah, Plodex! You’ve awakened!’ the Collector exclaims. Marrina reveals her name and asks why she is here, to which the Collector explains that she is in his sound-permeable aquarium, of course because she is a creature of the sea, and though her fully developed lungs make her also an air breather, the reinforced aquarium seemed the safest medium through which to hold a conversation with a Plodex. ‘You keep saying that! What’s a Plodex?’ Marrina asks. ‘As you may have gathered, your origin is not of this Earth…’ the Collector begins, before explaining that the Plodex were an extraterrestrial race bent on conquest long ages past, and to this end, ships were sent to locate primitive worlds, carrying eggs to be programmed to mimic the planet’s dominant life form and eventually replace it.
The Collector hovers over the tank on his magic carpet and informs her that she is the product of this process, that she mimics the humans, but with odd aquatic variations. Marrina reminds herself that she was told by the Master, the villain who gained control of her people’s ship, that humanity survived this vicious assault only because the eggs were prematurely released into the sea. The Collector tells Marrina that her people are among the most dangerous and violent in the galaxy, and points out that she seems quite sane compared to the others. ‘Others?’ Marrina asks. The Collector tells her to examine carefully the tanks lining the room, as the hold the frozen fuits of his most recent labors.
The Collector tells Marrina that he has been to many other worlds, to collect and preserve as many Plodex variations, who slumber in suspended animation. ‘Soon you will join them’ the Collector announces, as the tank of water begins to fill with a cooling gas, and ice crystals begin to form. Marrina does her best to swim from the crystals, while the Collector tells her to sleep now. ‘And may the Plodex slumber peacefully forever!’
Back outside, ‘Ready?’ Sasquatch asks his teammates as he prepares to pull the outer of the vessel.
And back inside, ‘So why me, Collector? I’m no Plodex!’ Spider-Man exclaims, the flies still surrounding him. ‘Ah! Spider-Man! No! But you are remarkable in other ways…the strength that allows you to resist the energy-sapping shock-flies, for instance. You are in fact, a double prize…’ the Collector remarks, but suddenly, he looks upwards as he hears some loud crashing noises. ‘Ah, guests! Collectible guests! I shall loose my boxers upon them…while I slip into something a bit less comfortable’ the Collector announces.
‘Surrender, alien! Release Marrina - or face the wrath of Alpha Flight!’ Sasquatch orders as he lumbers into the ship, while Puck bounds in, and looks around, announcing that it doesn’t seem that anybody is home. ‘Except for him! Creepy looking beggar, isn’t he?’ Judd remarks as he sees Spider-Man on the floor below. ‘Doesn’t Sasquatch recognize me? We met at the Hulk amnesty! I may have a different costume now…but I’m still the same lovable Spider-Man!’ Peter exclaims. But as Northstar and Aurora swoop down with Puck, Sasquatch approaches Spider-Man and assures him that he has heard about the new costume, before introducing the rest of Alpha Flight to Spider-Man.
As Walter reaches out to help Spider-Man up, Peter warns him not to touch, as the Venusian shock-flies form an energy sapping force field. ‘They won’t let me out - and believe me, you don’t want to get in!’ Peter adds. Suddenly, several glowing boxes materalize above the heroes, and the Collector’s voice exclaims ‘Greetings, earthlings! I am the Collector! You have entered my ship unbidden - nevertheless, I welcome you!’ The Collector explains that Marrina in the aquarium behind them has already joined his collection, and he now invites them to participate as well. The Collector explains that the devices are called “boxers”, that they are ten inter-dimensional traps from the Vegan timeline, and while Spider-Man’s trap saps his strength, the boxers will sap Alpha Flight’s sanity. ‘Boxers - take them!’ the Collector booms.
Aurora takes flight as two of the middle-sized ones chase her. Aurora darts about, and they follow her path. She notices that they appear to be crystalline in structure, and wonders whether she lures them against a console whether they will shatter. Aurora flies close to the console, and one of the boxers smashes against it. ‘One destroyed, one to go!’ Aurora announces as she swerves, asking the Collector why he hides. ‘Show your face!’ she exclaims. The Collector watches from the shadows, now wearing some sort of armor, he thinks that Aurora made a lucky dodge, but that she will not evade the other, that it will continue to chase her. The Collector tells himself that he, on the other hand, he will be safe, for once he is vested in his Etherion-made armor, camouflaging transmissions from its outer shell will protect him from pursuit. ‘I will be a match for any super-being!’ he boasts.
Suddenly, the Collector notices that down below, more boxers are being destroyed. ‘But how?’ he wonders, while Judd laughs as he runs from one of the boxers, recalling how he had three of them chasing him from different angels, then ducked, so all three crashed into each other, destroyed with a single blow. ‘They may be fast but they sure are stupid’ Judd tells himself, when suddenly, another of the boxers engulfs him. ‘Eh? Count again, Puck!’ Judd tells himself. Trapped within the boxer, Judd is engulfed by its mind-numbing blackness. But years of mediation, born of the drive to discipline a body stunted by nature and beset of pain…enable Judd to triumph now, as he does a handstand, and kicks the boxer off of him, forcing it against the wall, where it smashes. Judd’s concern turns to Marrina, deciding that as she is being frozen, he has to help her before it is too late.
Sasquatch holds up the shards of one of the boxers that he destroyed, and swings it like a baseball bat. Northstar flies nearby and notices Walter has destroyed one of the boxers, and that the man seems to still be in charge. Jean-Paul decides to anger Walter with taunts to bring forth the beast. Jean-Paul quickly dodges one of the boxers, and exclaims that crashing the boxers is no problem for him, and calling Sasquatch an ape tells him to be glad that he did not do the same to his monstrous face. But Jean-Paul sees that despite his taunts, Walter desperately retains control. ‘Poor ape! My jest distracted him! He does not see the boxer descend’ Jean-Paul suddenly realizes.
Sasquatch is covered by the large boxer, ‘No!’ Walter calls out, but for him, it is a mere annoyance, for nothing that shatters so easily can contain Sasquatch. But inside the boxer, Sasquatch is assaulted by mind-stealing darkness, until what humanity he has retained flees before it. But when the man-mind has fled, Sasquatch the beast remains, and his animal rage will not be denied - he smashes the boxer apart with ease, and throws a shard of the boxer at Northstar, who swiftly dodges the crystalline, shard. ‘So the ape returns…in spirit as well as body! How delightful!’ Jean-Paul exclaims. ‘What will my sister think of her playmate now?’ he asks.
Sasquatch continues to hurl the crystalline shards at Northstar, but Aurora flies into range, and is also forced to dodge the deadly objects, while another boxer pursues her. ‘She sees what a saddened beast you’ve become!’ Jean-Paul declares, adding ‘You’ve lost her, Sasquatch! She is mine!’ One of the crystalline shards has a positive effect however as it strikes the force-field surrounding Spider-Man, sending the flies reeling. Spider-Man wonders what is with Sasquatch, as he remembers the Alphan as a soft-spoken, mellow guy, but now he is acting almost as crazed as the Hulk used to.
‘No! A boxer’s gaining on Aurora!’ Peter gasps. But even as Spider-Man leaps to save Aurora, ‘No!’ the young woman gasps as the Collector, wearing his battle armor, leaps into view, ‘Mere seconds ago, you requested my presence! And now, my dear…here I am - suitably attired for the occasion!’ the Collector exclaims. Aurora hesitates for the slightest moment - but that instant was enough, as the boxer traps her. ‘The girl, at least, is mine!’ the Collector exclaims. Suddenly, the Collector sees Sasquatch grab a large boxer and uses his formidable strength to wrestle the boxer to a halt. The Collector is pleased that Sasquatch is occupied by that impossible feat, and unlikely to cause further damage.
At that moment, ‘Aurora did you see what your lover tried to do?’ Jean-Paul laughs, before suddenly realizing that his sister is trapped in the boxer. Jean-Paul tells himself that it is his own fault, as he enraged Sasquatch, while dodging the debris Walter hurled at him, slowed Aurora, set her up to be captured. Suddenly, ‘No, it’s your fault, Sasquatch - your animal nature! Your bestial rage!’ Jean-Paul decides as he flies around the ship. Jean-Paul decides that he must rescue his sister, as she is terrified, but turns his attention to the boxer that is pursuing him. ‘Luckily I am the faster twin’ Northstar boasts. ‘But not fast enough, Northstar!’ Sasquatch exclaims as he hurls the large boxer he trapped towards Northstar. But Northstar is swift, and he dodges the boxer, which smashes against some glass cages, which also break as well.
Near by, Judd doges shards of crystalline, and exclaims that freeing Marrina would be hard enough without facing a rain of glass, so he has got to move fast. He leaps over the pump which pours in the freezing agent to the tank, where Marrina continues to flee from the freezing agent, thinking to herself that Puck is risking his life to save her. She recalls that under the Master’s call, her Plodex identity asserted itself and she almost killed Puck. Marrina thinks that Puck has no idea of what he is doing, what kind of being he is trying to save - nor what monsters may be released now that their retaining glass is shattered.
Trapped inside the boxer, Aurora has been fighting off the all-encompassing darkness. ‘Cannot get out! Not strong enough! So dark! So dark…’ Aurora tells herself. Though she wonders how this can be, how the box can contain Aurora, as Aurora is a child of light and laughter, while Jeanne-Marie is the child of darkness, the one to be locked in closets, to pray there and beg pardon for her sins. Aurora - Jeanne-Marie - drops to her knees, ‘Sister Rose…I am sorry…let me out…please…let me out…’ Jeanne-Marie utters.
At that moment, Sasquatch begins tearing at the wall, ripping shards of it off, declaring that there are no more boxers to throw at Northstar, but that will not stop him - behind the wall panel however, Sasquatch uncovers more hard and sharp crystals. ‘Deadly’ he exclaims. Spider-Man swings down, exclaiming that Sasquatch is totally berzerk - peppering the room with missiles - forcing Northstar away from Aurora. Peter tells himself that it is up to him to save Aurora, if he can make it through the deadly barrage. The Collector calls out to Sasquatch, telling him to stop, as the crystals he has found power the ship, and without them, it will crash into the sea. ‘Not only that, but you’ve smashed the chambers in which the Plodex slumber! You cannot being to understand what horrors you have released!’ he adds.
A series of crystals suddenly strikes the pipe propelling the freezing agent into the tank, cutting the pipe. Judd manages to grab the crystals and realizes that they are harder than glass. ‘And I considered my stint as a catcher for the Flying Zambinis a waste of time’ Judd exclaims, while suggesting that the Collector surrender. ‘Never! This debacle has gone too far! There are no boxers left!’ the Collector exclaims as he releases some of the heavy armor he is attached to, revealing a sleeker design. He remarks that the Kymellians warned him that overusing the flute may damage its delicate porcelain, but he is left with no choice.
Below, Puck shoves the crystal against the glass tank, which begins to crack. ‘So far, so good!’ Judd thinks to himself. But back above, the Collector uses the flute to raise Snake Eyes. The Collector hopes that his shielded visor will protect his eyes, while nearby, Spider-Man is making his way through the barrage of crystals that Sasquatch continues to hurl. ‘That guy’s got a big mad on!’ Peter tells himself, before seeing the boxer up ahead where Aurora is trapped, he notices that she seems withdrawn. ‘What alien horrors…’ Spider-Man begins, before he hears the flute music. ‘That sound! My incarceration in the clam spared me the full visuals…but the Collector thoroughly narrated the soporific effect of Snake Eyes!’ Peter exclaims.
Spider-Man decides that he has to stop the Collector from playing the flute before he finishes the wake-up call and puts everyone else to sleep. With spectacular speed, Spider-Man leaps for the Collector, who zooms aside, to all eyes, a blinding blur of motion. In this armor, he has outflown the fastest beings on a dozen worlds. ‘Native ability versus Etherion armor, eh, Spider-Man? Talented as you are, you haven’t got a -’ the Collector begins, but Spider-Man suddenly swings by an knocks flute from the Collector’s hand - as never has the Collector encountered the speed and agility of the Amazing Spider-Man!
But the flute falls to the floor - and shatters into dozens of small pieces. ‘Whew! That should take care of old Snake Eyes!’ Peter tells himself. But suddenly, he looks worried: ‘Drat!’ he exclaims as the large serpent wakes, but with his hypnotic eyes still half closed. Spider-Man anticipates that he only has one second to make sure the snake’s eyes stay that way, and fires some webbing at the giant serpent, before spinning a web around the serpent’s mouth. ‘Now put your little head down and go back to sleep’ Spider-Man urges the snake - but Snake Eyes has other ideas, and lurches upwards, causing more crystals to smash.
The Collector calls Spider-Man a fool, and explains that without the flute, Snake Eyes is uncontrollable. ‘Between you and Alpha Flight, my entire ship is being destroyed!’ the Collector laments, before remarking that since they have repeatedly refused to surrender, he will take advantage of his temporal transporter to go elsewhere and leave them alone to deal with the havoc their awakening of the Plodex will cause upon the Earth.
‘Humph! You collectors love your specimens when they’re quiet and well-behaved…but at the tiniest hint of trouble…you plan to run away!’ Spider-Man exclaims as he stands on the boxer which still houses Jeanne-Marie, and pulls a piece of pipe from the roof of the vessel, using it to shatter the boxer, he swings down and grabs Jeanne-Marie as she begins to fall. ‘No! What is happening!?’ Jeanne-Marie asks. As crystalline shards fall around them, Spider-Man tells her that it may seem bad here, but that is nothing compared to what is going on below.
‘P-Puck…’ the freezing Marrina calls out, while Judd finally manages to break the tank. ‘Scratch one aquarium, Marrina!’ the diminutive Alphan calls out to his friend. Judd picks Marrina up as the rest of the aquarium freezes. As Snake Eyes crashes into the frozen tank, Judd exclaims ‘Oops! Watch out for rampaging giant snakes! Reminds me of that time in Afghanistan I played chicken with the Orient Express!’ Marrina wearily says to Judd ‘Within the glass…monsters!’ The Collector watches as the ship’s warmth revives the unleashed Plodex, and announces that with Snake Eyes blinded, he cannot restrain the Plodex using hypnosis. He adds that there is such havoc that his transporter, though it lies in a crate, is beyond his reach. ‘A terrible quandary…and a terrible waste of the finest Plodex collection in this galaxy!’
Suddenly, the savage and frightful Plodex gather around Marrina. They are scions of her most terrifying nightmares - hideous, bestial and deadly. ‘These are my people, Puck! Finally! The only ones of my flesh and blood I may ever know! They terrify and disgust me…but, Lord help me, can I help Alpha Flight destroy them?’ the confused girl exclaims.
Nearby, despite the careening snake and the awakening monsters, the deadly rain of crystal missiles continues, as Sasquatch continues to throw them at Jean-Paul. ‘You are so filled with blood-lust, animal, you ignore the looming snake that attacks from behind - or are your maddened eyes blinded beyond the object of your rage?’ Northstar calls out, as Snake Eyes suddenly slams against Sasquatch. Walter becomes entangled in the snake’s long body, and Jean-Paul exclaims ‘Let the snake’s rage be visited upon you!’ as he speeds away to join his sister.
Northstar finds Spider-Man holding onto Aurora, who is trying to free herself. ‘Why are you squirming around like that? What’s come over you?’ Peter asks. ‘No! You must not call me by the foul name…of she who delights in abandoning poor Jeanne-Marie in frightening places…in the arms of dangerous men…surrounded by monsters!’ Jeanne-Marie declares. ‘What?’ Spider-Man exclaims, confused. ‘Spider-Man! Give me my sister!’ Jean-Paul demands, before informing his sister that she will have to calm down her hair orange lover, as he, with the help of the snake that her gallant rescuer set loose, is destroying the ship. ‘What do you mean, Jean-Paul? You, of all people, should know that Jeanne-Marie has no lover!’ the timid Jeanne-Marie replies.
Back down below, ‘Well, Northstar, you got what you wanted! Much good may it do you’ Judd thinks to himself. ‘Much good may it do us all’. Spider-Man drops Jeanne-Marie into Northstar’s arms, exclaiming ‘You want her? Take her! You people all belong in a looney-bin!’ Spider-Man reminds the twins that they have all been collected by an obsessed alien, surrounded by monsters, and points out that it does not seem to bother them. ‘Nooo! Can’t let a little thing like the ship being torn apart distract you from your full-time soap operate! Sasquatch turns into a raging psychotic! Aurora turns into somebody else! And you, Northstar, old pal, haven’t behaved rationally from the beginning!’ Spider-Man declares. Spider-Man begins to swing about the ship, remarking that the only sane - and he uses the word advisedly - members of Alpha Flight are about to be monster bait unless he helps them. Peter tells himself that if they turn out like the rest of Alpha Flight, they may not be worth saving. Marrina is grabbed by a tentacled Plodex, while Judd finds himself nabbed by a rather bulky Plodex.
Northstar begins yelling at his sister, ‘Jeanne-Marie! Aurora! You must listen to me! You must stop -’ he exclaims, but Jeanne-Mar goes wide-eyed and tells Northstar that he must take her away from this place, as there are monsters. Suddenly, one of thhe Plodex grabs Aurora, who screams. The Plodex shocks Northstar with some sort of energy, causing him to stumble backwards through the air. Jean-Paul begins to black out, but he tells himself that he must not, as Jeanne-Marie is helpless in the grasp of that monstrosity. ‘No! Return her monster! She is mine!’ Jean-Paul commands.
As Northstar begins to give chase, Sasquatch lifts the thrashing Snake Eyes in a bear hug, while the Plodex begin to surround him as well. With gargantuan strength, Sasquatch hurls the blinded Snake Eyes into the Plodex creatures. ‘Enough! Ha! Many are crushed beneath the snake’s giant bulk!’ Sasquatch exclaims, before telling the Plodex that soon they will all learn that nothing can distract him from getting to Northstar. v
Nearby, Marrina and Puck discuss the situation, with Judd free from his Plodex captor, he exclaims that Spider-Man has joined the battle, but all alone, he is not enough. Judd urges Marrina to pitch in, otherwise the murderous aliens will destroy them all. ‘Murderous…aliens…yes! They and I are one! But if to save us, I must release the monster within my soul…so be it!’ Marrina exclaims as she lashes out at her captor, slashing the Plodex apart with her powerful claws.
Meanwhile, ‘Foolish mortals! As if the effort of one Plodex can stem that overwhelming tide! You demolish my ship - limit my freedom to escape into space! So be it! Within this crate is the means by which, if necessary, I will escape through time!’ the Collector exclaims as he attempts to open the crate.
As he has claimed, nothing can distract the enraged Sasquatch, But Sasquatch is two beings…monster and man…and it is the man who at last hears Jeanne-Marie’s terrified wailing, as the Plodex carries her into the air. ‘Help me!’ Jeanne-Marie shrieks. ‘Aurora!’ Sasquatch exclaims, as he grabs one of the Plodex, ‘Ugly and useless - you’ll make a great club!’ he tells the creature as he swings the centipede-like creature upwards, using it to knock Aurora from the grasp of the flying Plodex. ‘And safely into my arms!’ Sasquatch exclaims as he grabs Aurora, while Northstar speeds towards them. But Jeanne-Marie panics: ‘No! Another monster! Poor Jeanne-Marie cannot escape - can never -’ she then passes out.
‘Aurora! Are you all right?’ Sasquatch calls out, before suddenly grabbing Jean-Paul, and angrily declares that this is his doing. ‘Perhaps, ape! But mine was a small transgression’ Northstar replies. ‘But yours - once you gripped that snake as firmly as now you hold me…yet you hurled it away, annoyed…freeing it to rip apart the ship - thanks to your senseless act, we will all be destroyed!’ Northstar speaks the truth, as Snake Eyes forces itself through the bottom of the ship - and plunges to the water below, with several Plodex falling after it.
Sasquatch shakes Northstar and calls him a jealous little weasel, exclaiming that Jean-Paul knew his weakness and taunted him. ‘You did everything within your power to force me to lose control!’ Sasquatch exclaims. ‘You deliberately endangered your sister…all of us! I ought to throttle -’ Walter begins, but Aurora regains consciousness and tells Walter that Jean-Paul may be insufferable, and she may never speak to him again, but he is still her brother.
Across the room, the Collector admits that his cause is lost, that the ship has been damaged beyond its ability to maintain sufficient altitude, and holding a device in his hand, he bids the heroes a fond farewell. Still battling the Plodex, Spider-Man tells Puck that the Collector will use that device to escape, and that he cannot break free of the Plodex in time to reach him. ‘Maybe you can’t…but what’s stopping me, eh?’ Judd remarks as he somersaults towards the Collector, and kicks the device from the villain’s hand. ‘My transporter!’ the Collector shouts. ‘Forget it, Collector! You’re not going anywhere!’ Peter declares as he fires some webbing at the Collector.
But suddenly, outside, the ship lands in the ocean, creating a massive wave. Inside, water fills the ship. ‘Nothing will stop my people once they escape into the sea…primed for conquest!’ Marrina exclaims as she dives into the water flooding around her, and spins rapidly, creating a water-spout that begins to wash the Plodex who escaped, back into the ship. ‘Its force will…must subdue them…or the Earth, my foster home, will fall hapless victim to their deadly rampage!’ Marrina exclaims.
The Collector hovers nearby and observes Marrina, ‘Incredible! The Plodex are unconscious! And at least half my collection is still intact!’ he declares. The Collector wonders if it is a blessing that he did not escape, but Puck tells him that he will not think that once they are through with him. ‘No! You do not understand! This battle must end now! The sea water will endanger some of the specimens…and place in jeopardy the survival of the entire universe!’ the Collector exclaims. ‘The universe? What are you talking about?’ Judd asks him.
The Collector explains that he is one of the elders of the universe, an immortal race of extra-terrestrials - the oldest sentient beings alive. The Collector claims that he is prone to apocalyptic visions, a distressing number of which come true. He reveals that his most recent vision was of a being - a horned demon - with a Sword of Twilight - setting flame to a doomed universe. The Collector declares that he can do nothing to prevent such events from occurring, but for almost forever he has collected prime objects and beings that could be used to repopulate the universe should it be decimated.
‘Sort of the cosmic Noah, eh?’ Judd asks. ‘Exactly!’ the Collector boasts, pointing out that the Plodex seemed particularly well suited to his benevolent purpose, since there is such a variety of them. ‘They’re so…aggressive and adaptable’ he adds. The Collector continues, remarking that the Plodex are among the fiercest people in the universe, that they are nothing to Earth’s super heroes. The Collector claims that he has tried to collect the Avengers numerous times - prime specimens all - but they have heartily resisted, and now Alpha Flight has defeated him as well.
‘Might as well try flattery if appeals to good citizenship don’t work, eh, Collector?’ Judd remarks. Sasquatch returns to his human form as he, the twins, Marrina and Spider-Man gather around. Spider-Man points out that it may not have occurred to the Collector that humans have an aversion to being flash-frozen, and declares that they cannot do anything about the fate of the universe, but they can worry about the Earth. Northstar agrees, and declares that allowing the Collector’s monsters to remain here is impossible.
Walter remarks that the aliens will soon all wake, ready and primed to take over. ‘Then maybe we better get them out of here while we can!’ Spider-Man exclaims. Walter agrees, and asks the Collector if he has a pump somewhere in this huge ship. ‘You do? Good! How soon can you get this vessel repaired and away from Earth?’ Walter asks.
Several hours later, the Collector’s ship takes off for the skies, while Northstar hovers over the ocean, holding up Puck and Spider-Man, and Aurora holds up Walter, while Marrina bobs up in down in the water. ‘Well, there he goes!’ Judd exclaims. Northstar asks Spider-Man if the Collector really planned to use he and Marrina to help reseed a doomed universe, but Spider-Man replies that he doubts it, as the Collector seemed to be having too much fun collecting them for him to believe that he is a being with a somber and serious purpose.
Northstar agrees, and remarks that he was collecting for its own sake, most likely, while wondering if the Collector is honorable enough to keep his word. ‘And consider Earth off limits from now on? I doubt it! He’d say anything to get his collection back, eh?’ Judd remarks. Walter points out that at least the ship full of monsters will not be around to wreak havoc on Earth. ‘For now! But I suspect that the Collector will be back some day with some new horror!’ Aurora declares. Tears form in Marrina’s eyes, ‘Monsters…horrors! That is what my people are…what I am! Perhaps I should have gone off in that ship with them. Some day I may prove just as deadly…’ Marrina suddenly farewells her teammates, announcing that she must be alone, and dives under the water, speeding away ‘Marrina!’ Judd calls out, but it is no use.
Northstar remarks that it was hard on Marrina, discovering her people like that. Judd tells Northstar that Marrina will get over it, as Earth is her home now, and Alpha Flight are her people. ‘She proved that today, eh?’. Aurora asks Walter if he noticed all the wonderful things the Collector had in his ship. She remarks that she believes the Collector’s cosmic Noah act was not entirely a pose, that he really feels he is preserving things beautiful and special, before wondering why he was in such a hurry to get out of here. ‘Something about barely having enough time to reach Sirius 5 and collect some poppy!’ Walter declares. ‘Well, better a poppy than us! He may not mean it maliciously, but he’d just as soon freeze us as look at any of us!’ Aurora exclaims as she turns in one direction, while Northstar speeds away in the other, as Puck tells Spider-Man that they will drop him in New York. ‘It’s the least we can do, Northstar, eh?’ Judd remarks.
Soon, ‘Here’s where I get off!’ Peter calls out as they approach the sprawling city, and he swings down to a building as Judd and Jean-Paul bid him farewell. ‘It’s been fun’ Spider-Man calls out. ‘Sort of’ he thinks to himself, suggesting to Puck and Jean-Paul that next time they meet under pleasanter circumstances.
Below, ‘Spider…my Spider…where can he have gone?’ the Black Cat wonders as she crouches on a sofa. ‘Anybody home?’ a voice calls out, before Spider-Man swings into the apartment room. ‘Spider!’ Felicia exclaims. ‘Oh, Spider! I didn’t go looking for you! I didn’t ask at the Bugle or at your apartment or anywhere! I knew you’d be mad at me if I did! But it was so hard not doing anything! I just sat here and worried…the whole time you were going!’ the Black Cat exclaims. ‘The best thing you could have done’ Peter tells her.
‘Where were you, lover? Off on some new Secret War?’ the Black Cat asks. Spider-Man assures Felicia that he will tell her later, as she will never believe it. Peter gets back onto the window opening and tells Black Cat that he wanted to let her know he was okay before he headed home for some rest. ‘Lover, why don’t I -’ Black Cat begins, but Spider-Man tells her to stay here and reminds her that he said rest. He assures her that they will meet later tonight for a first class prowl, and kisses the Black Cat before departing.
Minutes later, Spider-Man leaps in through the sky light of Peter Parker’s Chelsea apartment. ‘Finally! Bed, here I come!’ Peter thinks to himself. ‘And I thought I had problems! Rarely have I spent such an insane time with a bunch of lunatics! Poor Sasquatch! Poor Northstar! And here I thought the Cat was making me crazy!’ Peter decides that the Black Cat may prefer to ignore her civilian identity, and his, but she is no Aurora, at least she knows who she is. Peter recalls that Aunt May is angry at him. ‘What’s she - compared to a horde of rampaging aliens?’ he wonders. ‘At least I can talk to her…if I can get her to make up and talk to me’ he decides.
The costume begins to remove itself from Peter’s body, as he tells himself that Robbie is a little neurotic about being the Bugle’s editor, and is a little picky about Peter’s work right now, but he is no Collector. ‘And this alien-made costume - weird…but at least it seems to be on my side! It even puts itself away!’ Peter tells himself that the costume falls to the floor - and the moves itself onto a chair, while Peter climbs into bed. ‘So what if the public’s getting bored with pictures of Spidey? So what if I need a whole new array of photo subjects? Great! Wonderful! These are the kinds of problems I’m used to…the kind I can deal with! Now I know just how Dorothy felt, only - oh no!’ Peter thinks to himself, before slapping his forehead, annoyed, as he shouts ‘I forgot to take any pictures!’…