Synopsis for “Story of the Year!”
Spider-Man is climbing the Deterrence Research Corporation Tower, formerly known as the Magnum Building after the man who built it, Moses Magnum. Magnum was a dealer in illegal weapons who is now missing and presumed dead, but the corporation he left behind avoided punishment for its crimes and is now doing better than ever. Spider-Man is following up rumors that the D.R.C. is planning a large operation,’Although the building looks like-an ordinary skyscraper’, muses Spider-Man, it is in reality a Fifth Avenue fortress. Suddenly Spider-Man’s spider-sense tingles, and when he looks into a window he sees a man rummaging through a desk. The man is Lawrence Whittier Reynolds —”Rap” to his few friends—a rather arrogant ace journalism student at Columbia University. He, too, has heard the rumors and has come in search of a story to sell to the networks. Hearing voices approach, he slips into a closet, and a moment later two men enter the room. One is Dr. Eric Salter, a renegade NASA scientist, and the other is Ivor Carlson, Moses Magnum’s successor as head of the D.R.C.
After adjusting some equipment and conversing, the two men leave, and the delighted student emerges and starts videotaping. He has just learned that the D.R.C. is planning a rocket launch toward a hitherto unknown satellite called “Drydock” in orbit around the Earth over a thousand miles up. Drydock is evidently crammed with secret scientific and military hardware, and the D.R.C. plans to hijack it. And the prize-winning story of the year, he gloats gleefully, is all his.
Then a noise distracts him, and when he shines a flashlight into a darkened corner, he sees an unusual crystalline man. Before Reynolds can ask a single question, the security alarm goes off, and the crystal man bolts down a corridor. The man is Martinex, a descendant of Earth people genetically engineered to live on the planet Pluto. A time-traveler from one of the Earth’s alternate futures, he is a member and science officer of the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team of 31st century freedom fighters who secretly traveled to the present on a mission. Martinex exits through a window, grabs a rope, and tells his companion, Starhawk, to pull him up. When Martinex gains the roof, he tells Starhawk and Nikki, another companion, that the D.R.C. does indeed know of their headquarters, Drydock, and they are planning to raid it. Fortunately, the D.R.C.’s information comes from stolen SHIELD files, he continues, so all they have to do to prevent the assault is move the station to a different orbit. Then; using their cloaking devices, they would easily be able to hide from the D.R.C.—provided the SHIELD data were destroyed. Just as he was about to erase the tapes, he was seen by the videotape-carrying youth and was photographed. That tape must be destroyed, he concludes, for they can allow no record of their presence on Earth to exist. Nikki quickly leaps from the roof, saying that she will look for the cameraman while they take care of the computers. Starhawk says that with even the slightest clue to the whereabouts of Drydock, the D.R.C. will do everything they can to find it in order to conquer the world. This could change history so much that the Guardians of the Galaxy might actually cease to exist.
Meanwhile, “Rap” Reynolds hides from the D.R.C. security guards as they comb the building with orders to shoot on sight. Reynolds goes out a window and down a rope to the sidewalk, but as he starts to run away, he collides with one of the security men. The guard, Johnny Anvil, tears the videotape backpack off Reynolds, but suddenly Spider-Man webs Anvil up and hangs him from a nearby fire escape. Anvil tells Spider-Man that the boy is a thief, but Spider Man ignores him. Reynolds explains that his whole future is bound up with the videotapes, but when Spider-Man asks what he filmed, Reynolds declines to say.
Suddenly Spider-Man spots the flame-haired Nikki near Reynolds’s tape deck. Before he can stop her, she pulls out the cassette and streaks away down the street. Reynolds pulls out a camera and starts taking pictures, incredulous that he has discovered an outer-space hijack, aliens, and Spider-Man all in the same story. Nikki enters a taxi and tells the driver to head for Seventh Avenue and 55th Street. As Spider-Man web-swings after the cab, he wonders who the woman might be and why she wants the tape. The cab goes only a block before stopping, and when Nikki emerges, Spider-Man carries her onto a nearby roof. When he asks her to explain herself, she angrily refuses to talk. Then he tries to take the videotape, but Starhawk, who is hiding behind a chimney, attacks. He stops Starhawk with a single punch and asks for a truce to talk things over. But Nikki kicks him in the stomach. Spider-Man is furious, but before he can retaliate, Martinex runs up, shows his Avengers identification, and calms everyone down. After explaining the Guardians’ mission on Earth and noting that their status as Avengers is temporary, Martinex says that it is most important that Carlson be stopped. When they leave, he says, no evidence can remain of their visit to Earth. Spider-Man offers to help, but Martinex asks only that he keep out of the way, because their work is almost finished.
On the executive floor of the D.R.C. Tower, Ivor Carlson confronts Johnny Anvil and “Hammer” Jackson over the issue of Spider-Man’s escape. He says he had them released from prison because he needed good men and had been told they were the best. Then he opens a briefcase and removes a long, sinuous object that Hammer and Anvil recognize as the Energy Synthecon chain given to them by an alien many months ago. Hammer says that the Hulk tore the chain to bits, but Carlson replies that D.R.C. scientists repaired it. Further, he continues, the chain will no longer be a psychic link between them, only a physical one. They will be able to remove it whenever they wish, and they will still have the same tremendous strength that it gave them before.
Later that evening, as Spider-Man web-swings across the city searching for Reynolds, he muses about how incredible it is to encounter beings from a future world. Life was simpler when he was just a “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man.” He heard Reynolds’s camera click just before he chased Nikki, so he promised the Guardians to retrieve the film. Preoccupied, he suddenly swerves to avoid a golden segmented chain placed in his way. Then Hammer and Anvil hit Spider-Man simultaneously, knocking him unconscious.
When Spider-Man awakens, he is shackled to a wall somewhere inside the D.R.C. Tower. Carlson congratulates Hammer and Anvil for their work, and he tells Spider-Man that he has caused the D.R.C. a great deal of trouble in the past. Before he dies, continues Carlson, they will learn who he is and what he is doing there. Perhaps what they learn will enable them to create an army of “Spider-Men.” Spider-Man, meanwhile, tests his shackles, but he discovers to his dismay that they somehow turn his strength against him, so he cannot break them. Carlson orders Anvil to remove Spider-Man’s mask, but before he can, a hole melts in the wall and the three Guardians enter. Nikki says they would have been there sooner, but they had to make sure all the Drydock tapes were erased. She shatters Spider-Man’s shackles with a blaster, but Hammer and Anvil trip her with their chain. A brief but intense battle erupts, and while Martinex and Starhawk keep Anvil busy, Spider-Man knocks out Hammer. But then Anvil swings Hammer on the chain and starts to bowl his opponents over. Starhawk blasts Anvil with his coherent-light hand-beam, but Anvil simply shrugs it off. But before Anvil can attack, Martinex, the Pluvian, uses a blast of extreme cold to freeze the Synthecon chain to nearly absolute zero. This makes the device extremely brittle, and Spider-Man snaps it with his webbing. With the chain broken, Hammer and Anvil lose their strength and are quickly webbed up. Martinex uses his psi-comp to erase Hammer and Anvil’s memory of the battle.
Saying that they have all they came for, Starhawk thanks Spider-Man for his assistance, but Spider-Man replies that Carlson got away in the confusion. He tells Starhawk to get away before Carlson calls the police. Moments later, Spider Man bids the three Guardians farewell as they ascend to Drydock in a special spacecraft. Reynolds emerges from his hiding place, cursing his luck that the spaceship has departed, taking with it his million-dollar story. But even though he lost his videotape, he continues, he still has his photographs. Spider-Man, however, seizes his camera and removes the film. Enraged at having the last vestige of his story destroyed, Reynolds takes a swing at Spider-Man, but Spider-Man ducks and webs Reynolds’s mouth shut. As Reynolds mumbles angrily that he will make Spider Man pay, Spider-Man casually web-swings away.
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