Amazing Spider-Man #274
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #274
This is definitely a Secret Wars event, with the Beyonder showing up to destroy Mephisto's realm and instead getting into a wager over the morality of Spider-Man.
For the contest, the Beyonder releases Zarathos, the demon that used to possess Johnny Blaze to form the Ghost Rider (although there are oddly no references to Ghost Rider in this story).
Mephisto and the Beyonder don't have a specific goal in mind for their contest, but Spider-Man stumbles upon his own moral dilemma when he hears that there's an assassination hit being planned for the Kingpin.
Zarathos is not exactly subtle in his involvement.
But after tormenting Spider-Man with visions of his dead loved ones and with physical pain, Spider-Man nonetheless fights to save the Kingpin's life.
Particularly tormenting is this image of Gwen Stacy as some sort of snow owl.
That means that Mephisto wins and the Beyonder won't destroy his domain. But he still may destroy the universe in 24 hours.
You could argue that this is the story that got Mephisto interested in Spider-Man, which eventually leads him to eat his marriage, even though Spider-Man is Mephisto's champion here and does win the day for him.
I complained a bit in Secret Wars II #8 about the Beyonder's human-centric focus even though the series includes cosmic entities. Here's another example. The Beyonder is shown in this issue getting attacked by a fleet of aliens in a far off galaxy.
So why is he so hung up on human responses to life, death, fulfillment, the meaning of existence, etc.? Surely different intelligent species throughout the galaxy have very different views on those subjects that might have suited the Beyonder better. If the series just had him focused on Earth for story purposes, that's one thing. But this is just one of several examples of the Beyonder being active in the larger universe.
Mephisto, at least, is shown trying to give the Beyonder the proper perspective for an immortal (albeit also immoral) cosmic entity, which is more than you can say for Eternity and the others.
On the human side of things, Peter has to reject an invitation to go to the Radio City Christmas special with his Aunt and the Watsons. This continues the rift between Peter and Aunt May.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place during Secret Wars II #8 per a note in that issue; in between panels on the last page. I'll also note that it seems to be prior to Christmas considering the Radio City reference, but see the Considerations for Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #112. Thanks to Aunt Anna Watson's appearance here, this should take place after the Spectacular issue, and therefore after Christmas.
Zarathos is possibly supposed to be bonded with Centurious the Soulless Man at this point, so he might be considered behind the scenes.
Crossover: Secret Wars II
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showArranger, Aunt May, Aunt Watson, Beyonder, Kingpin, Mary Jane Watson, Mephisto, Nate Lubenski, Puma, Shaman (Puma's uncle), Spider-Man, Zarathos
Isn't that supposed to be the Arranger who the Kingpin was talking to? Hence, the Kingpin's remark about his "security ARRANGEMENTS".
Posted by: Michael | November 12, 2013 8:44 PM
Yes, thanks. Added him.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 12, 2013 9:12 PM
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