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Appearing in "Pressure!"Edit

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Synopsis for "Pressure!"Edit

Having infiltrated the Students of Love in order to rescue Betty Brant, Peter Parker has witnessed the Teacher apparently removing a cancerous mass from a cult member with his bare hands, unaware that this is actually a con job to convince his faithful that he has supernatural powers. In New York City, Reverend Tolliver has just finished explaining to Ben Urich and Flash Thompson how the con works, and how the untrained eye can be tricked into believing this act to be true. The Reverend explains that the reason why these cults get away with brainwashing people is that they recruit people of at least the age of majority, and as long as their followers appear to be acting of their own free will, there is nothing the authorities can do. Back at the cult compound, Peter Parker slips away, certain that the Teacher seemed to be staring at him the whole time. As he goes back outside to the garden, Peter is nearly convinced what he saw was real, and wonders if he has a right to take Betty away from this if she is so happy and at peace being here. Still, he is unnerved by the fact that everyone acts like zombies around the compound. Finding Betty again, Peter hears her talking to a woman named Tracy, and wonders if this is the sister of Kate Cushing.[Continuity 1] Peter is then confronted by the Teacher who asks to speak with him. To convince Parker to comply, he pulls out Spider-Man's mask and says that it belong to him.

Back in Manhattan, Mary Jane is at a lingerie photo shoot with her friend Lorraine Mandell. She is uncomfortable with the idea still, but Lorraine assures Mary Jane that this will open up new avenues in her career. After meeting the photographer, Mary Jane gets cold feet, deciding against taking the photos until she has had a chance to talk to her husband.[Continuity 2] By this time, Ben and Flash have finished their meeting with Reverend Tolliver and are parting ways. Ben assures Thompson that they'll find Betty, but Flash can't help but think they could be doing more. While in New Jersey, the Teacher explains to Peter that the Students of Love just want to exist in peace and has no desire to attack him further. Feeling that Peter is not ready for their teachings, the Teacher gives him bus fare and his Spider-Man mask and sends him on his way. Peter complies and on the bus ride home thinks about how weird the whole situation is. Back in New York, Peter changes into Spider-Man and heads to the Daily Bugle building. On the way, he is still trying to wrap his head around the Students of Love, who are so unlike other cults he has faced in the past. On the roof, Peter is annoyed to see that birds have made a next out of the street clothing he stashed up there.

As soon as he is changed, Peter goes down to see Kate Cushing who is meeting with Ben Urich. The pair exchange notes on everything they have learned. However, Peter's tells them that he got this information second hand from Spider-Man. When he mentions the possibility that Kate's sister Tracy is there as well, Kate demands to know where their compound is. Peter, still unsure if he should interfere any further, says he doesn't know where their compound is. Kate is furious and orders him to tell Spider-Man to give up that information, however, Ben points out that Peter can't force Spider-Man to do anything he doesn't want to and Kate angrily tells Parker to get out of her office. Trying to figure out what to do, Peter decides to pay a visit to Flash Thompson while also checking in with Mary Jane who he figures must be worried sick about him. He quickly calls home and tells Mary Jane that he is involved in a story. MJ tells him that she was offered a job opportunity and isn't certain if she could take it. Before Mary Jane can tell him all the details, Peter is told by one of the Bugle employees to get off her phone as she is waiting for a call back from a lead before her deadline. To quickly end the call, Peter tells Mary Jane to go through with whatever choices she feels comfortable with and lets her go.

Annoyed that Peter brushed her off so easily, Mary Jane decides that she is going to go through with it and gets changed into the fancy lingerie to be photographed. Meanwhile, Spider-Man pays a visit to Flash Thompson, who is spending time playing basketball with underprivileged children. He pulls Flash aside and tells him that he found Betty and tells him that she is happy where she is and that they don't have a right to interfere with that. This angers Flash, but Spider-Man says that it's Betty's right to live with the cult and swings off. Overhearing the conversation about the Students of Love, Flash's co-worker -- a sergeant from the NYPD -- tells Flash that he knows where the cult is located. Sgt. Miller tells Flash how three years ago he had to arrest the parents of a child who joined the cult for trespassing. Thompson asks to know the address, assuring Miller that he won't do anything illegal with the information. At that moment, Betty Brant sits in the yard of the Student's property. When she is approached by Brother Bruce, she tells him that he feels disillusioned. Bruce, an apparently reformed pyromaniac, tells her that he finds all the answers he is looking for in flame. Meanwhile, Flash Thompson meets with Reverent Tolliver with the location of the Students of Love. Tolliver tells Flash that he will arrange to get Betty out of there, but warns Flash that if he gets involved there is no turning back. Wanting to free Betty more than anything, Thompson agrees.

Later that day, Doctor Druid has just finished a lecture about mysticism when he is approached by Spider-Man. The wall-crawler explains that he tried to seek out the aid of Doctor Strange, but he was unavailable. Since Druid is the next biggest mystic in the city, he asks for his assistance. At that same moment, Flash Thompson is among a group of men in a van that break into the Students of Love compound. There, they ambush the followers and capture Betty. With Brant in the van, they leave as quickly as they arrived. Meanwhile, Spider-Man is sitting atop the World Trade Center.[Continuity 3] He is feeling foolish after Doctor Druid explained how the Teacher pulled off his seaming miracle. Spider-Man decides to pay the Teacher a visit, but first needs to stop home and check in with Mary Jane. When he arrives home, Mary Jane isn't home and so he decides to sit down and wait for her. Suddenly, he gets a phone call from Flash Thompson who tells Peter to get to his place as quickly as possible. Since Flash is in hysterics, Peter agrees to come out. No sooner as he is gone, Mary Jane returns home.

Arriving at Flash Thompson's apartment, Peter is pulled into the apartment where he is shocked to discover that he and Reverend Tolliver have Betty Brant tied to a chair. Betty tells Peter that she was kidnapped and begs him to help her.

Continuity Notes

  1. Kate Cushing recently told Peter of how her older sister joined the Students of Love in Web of Spider-Man #40.
  2. Peter and Mary Jane are referred to as husband and wife here. However, years later, the demon Mephisto erased their marriage from existence in Amazing Spider-Man #545. As such, they should be considered a common-law couple here as opposed to husband and wife.
  3. The World Trade Center is depicted here as the original twin towers. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616, particularly since the original towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001, and a new tower has been built in their place.


Solicit Synopsis:

Attempting to free Betty Brant Leeds from a sinister cult, Spider-Man meets the cult's leader, the teacher. Are the Teacher's abilities for real, or is he just the greatest con man the world has ever seen? If Spidey doesn't figure out the answer soon, he may get sucked into the cult himself!


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Footnotes

  1. First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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