So I guess I'm finally going to get around to the Master Planner story I suppose, after I'm pretty sure over a year of mentioning him... Character 090--Spider-Slayer and Extra-06--Revenge of the Sinister Six would both help in understanding this one. Just a fair warning, this is probably the longest one.
So last Peter and the authorities had seen Doctor Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, he had died at the hands of Venom when the Sinister Six betrayed him. But, as I've gone over, Octavius had actually faked his death with the help of Mysterio and had escaped with his prototype "Living Brain," an in development quantum super computer. At this point is when murmurs of a "Master Planner" had started, someone who was selling devices to people that would allow them to create super villains. No one had yet suspected that this fellow was actually Octavius, but Peter got a helpful lead when he fought the transformed Alistair Smythe, who told Peter just before his self destruct sequence initiated, that Octavius was still alive.
But Peter nor the authorities had pieced together that Octavius was the Master Planner yet. There was another player here--while supposedly every Sinister Six member following Octavius's supposed "death" had been incarcerated save Venom, the authorities pretty quickly realized that Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, had actually fooled them and had escaped. But they figured with his normal ringmaster Octavius "dead" he wouldn't be as much of an issue, and he didn't seem to make any moves, so they elected to keep Spider-man in the dark about his status.
Now let's jump a little bit ahead to a little while after the events of the first Outlaws story. If you recall, Spider-man had accidentally allowed a Master Planner informant to escape when Eddie Brock kidnapped MJ. Well, following the fight with Eddie Peter and MJ broke up and Peter was feeling pretty shitty, and decided to catch that escaped informant to get his mind off of the mess his life had become. The search ended up taking him in a far different direction, however, when a safe house that the informant was known to use suddenly transformed into a horrible death trap clearly designed by Mysterio, and when Peter managed to escape he found Mysterio not too far off, controlling everything. Peter managed to quickly subdue him, and in unusually short notice, the feds arrived to take Beck to his cell at the supermax prison. Peter pinched Beck just to make sure he was the real one, and left everything in their hands.
When Beck was brought to the supermax facility, however, everything did not go as smoothly as everyone had hoped. Those feds that had arrived really quick to the scene? They weren't feds at all. They were undercover Inner Demons, and the containment vessel they were carrying Beck in was revealed to be just another illusory machine of his making. The demons all offed themselves and Mysterio was given free reign of the facility. But by the time Julia Carpenter and her people arrived at the scene it was clear that he only had one goal. There was one supervillain in the facility that the Inner Demons had never attempted to free before--Electro. Before they could stop Mysterio from reaching the controls to Electro's cell, the electricity spouting maniac was free, and bolted (literally I guess?) from the prison, and Mysterio had disappeared just as quickly as he had come.
That was all fine and dandy, but what was Spider-man up to at this time? Well, around this time there was talk of a fight involving Inner Demons and Mister Negative himself across the river in Jersey City. Peter made the journey and found it was taking place in and around an abandoned TriCorp building. Inner Demons and Master Planner mercenaries were in armed combat against each other, and fighting his way in, Peter found Mister Negative fighting his way to reach Doctor Octopus, who was at work on a great mighty machine while his arms swatted away demons that attempted to attack him.
Near as Peter could tell Negative was angry at Octavius for shorting him payment for helping him free Electro, Negative apparently considering him too dangerous to free for his own purposes, and for shorting him Negative was going to make sure his whole "Master Planner" outfit would come crumbling down. Breaking into the melee, Peter fought down Mister Negative, but before he could put him down for good Octavius sprang into battle, apparently quite frustrated that his plans were being foiled. In the ensuing fight, Negative escaped with the help of the inner demons, and the machine Octavius was working on was destroyed. It seemed like Octavius was waiting for Electro and Mysterio to bail him out... but it never happened, and Peter defeated him, suggesting that maybe they had betrayed him. And so the Master Planner was finally defeated, and Octavius was carted off to the supermax prison. The end.
But wait, that seems kinda anticlimactic. And my picture certainly doesn't match what happened at all! Well, let's jump forward in time again, this time to following the incident with Ana Kravinoff. At this point, Peter was working alongside Silk in unraveling the Spider Island plot, Aunt May was dating Nathan Lubensky, Martin Li was behind bars following the return of the Kingpin, and Octavius was still in prison (while Mysterio and Electro were still at large).
Around this time, Aunt May suddenly fell very, very ill. Prior to Li's arrest the homeless shelter she worked at had a strong health plan for its employees, but Fisk's new ownership had nixed that. It was Nathan Lubensky's oddly deep pockets that ended up saving the day, and May was taken to a nice private hospital. But her condition was terrible--she could barely move, and there were odd callouses appearing on her arms. Convinced this was no ordinary heart problem, Peter stole a small sample of her blood and inspected it himself, and saw something he couldn't believe. There was a pattern of odd cells mixed in her blood that looked very similar to an anomaly in his own he had seen following his first encounter with the Lizard so many years back. Was this a result of the blood transfusion he had given her earlier when she was in the hospital when she first met Lubensky? Concerned, he quickly and secretly took it to Doc Connors, who was being held in a facility of Carpenter's.
Connors was all too ready to repay the debt he owed Peter for saving him those times in the past, and took a look at the samples, and came to a startling conclusion. Apparently, during the first battle against the Lizard, Peter had been bitten by the him, and some of the black suit/lizard hybrid cells that had transformed Connors to begin with had transferred from the Lizard's saliva into Peter's bloodstream. It had no effect on Peter due to the Oz in his system, and he had been carrying it all these years none the wiser. But Aunt May had no Oz in her blood, and some of the cells had transferred during the transfusion. They weren't enough to transform her into an Aunt Lizard or something, but they would definitely have the potential to kill her.
There was some hope, though. Connors had had a lot of time to ponder a cure for himself and the other monsters Calypso had forced him to create, and he had theorized of a serum formulated from bits of StarGOD metal (the same experimental alloy that had injured John Jameson). He had called it ISO-36. Unfortunately, it turned out that the serum couldn't counteract someone like Connors who's genome had become almost irrevocably tied to the mutant cells, but Connors was sure it could work on someone who had been impacted by a small dose like May. And while his own ability to travel was limited due to his confinement he did still have some favors to call out on the outside--he could get the serum to the hospital within the next two days.
But when the ISO-36 serum was to be delivered to the hospital disaster struck--the truck that was supposed to be delivering the serum went missing, and while foul play was almost certainly at work, Peter had no leads, and the government had moved Connors to a new facility out of state. Frustrated while May seemed to be slipping further away, Peter almost missed Nathan Lubensky, who had been by May's side the whole time, sneak off to the elevator to the hospital's roof. Peter secretly followed him as Spider-man, and what he saw he couldn't believe--Nathan was meeting with a man on the rooftop, and it didn't take long for Peter to identify him--it was Quentin Beck. He was demanding that he had been holding up his end of the bargain, there was no reason for them to force May to suffer as well. Beck just said that it would remain in their base until the plan was complete. Was this where Nathan was getting his money?
Before he could listen any further, Peter was nearly hit by a bolt of electricity, and Electro suddenly appeared, apparently he had been cloaked by Mysterio's tech. The two villains engaged Spider-man while Nathan wheeled to safety. In the process of attempting to taking out Electro out he got Mysterio hit by a stray bolt, shorting out his tech. Mysterio was out for the count, but the shorting out had unveiled a generator of some sort on a nearby building. Almost as if he had been given a cue, Electro fled the scene before Peter could catch him. Frustrated with rage Peter swung to the nearby uncloaked generator and just started pounding it with his fists, but before he destroyed it he realized there was another in the distance, on another building. Using his reverse engineered suit he picked up calls of other generators appearing around the city, and started tracing the commonality between them all, and saw they seemed to be all powering something hidden underneath the river near the supermax prison.
So Peter took a dive, and saw something totally unreal--sticking out of the bottom of the supermax prison underwater was some sort of... elaborate supervillain base, best he could guess. Cautiously, he entered it. Inside, passed the winding tunnels, he saw a truly massive machine akin to the one Octavius had been building when he was caught, just much, much larger. As bad as that seemed, there was still more to take in--the machine was like a massive spire sticking down from the ceiling, leading to some sort of connection point at the bottom, and at the bottom he saw three figures. There was Electro, of course. And then there was Otto Octavius, who was supposed to be in the prison above and definitely should not have had the mechanical arms he currently was wearing! And then Carolyn Trainer, the Life Foundation scientist who had accidentally jump started the Maximum Carnage event and had fled the scene. Trainer and Octavius were discussing something, Octavius's head connected to some sort of interface that was linked to the massive machine.
With no shits left to give, Peter storm after them, demanding where the serum was. Electro sprung into action to defend the two scientists, but Peter managed to take him out with unusual ease. But before Peter could revel in his victory Octavius, who had disconnected himself from the machine's interface, grabbed him by the throat and limbs with his mechanical arms. Otto apologized for Electro's subpar performance, said he was juiced out considering he had been the one supplying power to the machine via the generators Mysterio had set up throughout the city. Peter again demanded to know where the ISO-36 serum was, and Octavius revealed it inside his coat pocket. The only use he had for it? Getting Peter in his base. He had been having Mysterio pay Nathan Lubensky to spy on Peter Parker, though he didn't tell him why. And when Peter had Connors make the serum for his dear old aunt, Octavius realized it was the perfect bait. And at that, Octavius took the serum phial out of his coat pocket and tossed it as far as he could.
Otto let Peter go, but Electro had come to at that point and started frying him. Going limp from the pain, Peter's body was dragged over to the machine by Octavius as he explained his master plan. Mysterio had installed some of his tech into the prison systems when he freed Electro, giving Octavius's brain implant full control over the subsystems of the prison, including illusory projectors of Mysterio's design. He built the base in the prison's basement with the guards and feds none the wiser, thinking he had never left his cell, all to make use of the super powered Oscorp designed generator at the prison's core to power his new Living Brain.
Octavius sat Peter's body up in a chair at the machine's base, and he explained that Carolyn Trainer had been in touch with him since they had made deals with each other regarding the remains of Swarm. Apparently Petra Von Meyer's transformation into the mass of sentient nanobots known as Swarm had created a lot of interesting data regarding the link between man and machine, which was the ultimate goal of the Living Brain's creation. So he had brought Trainer on for her expertise in the subject following the Life Foundation's collapse. And with her expertise, they could move onto the next stage of the plan--the complete and total transference of a person's mind into the Living Brain, the complete shedding of the mortal coil into the digital world. The ultimate man-machine interface. And Peter would be their first test subject--Peter's mind was the mind Octavius desired the most.
Just as Octavius readied the straps to hold him in and Trainer readied the interface Peter decided he had heard enough and quit playing possum, ripping himself out of the chair and leaping towards Electro. In self defense, Electro discharged a bolt, but Spider-man instinctively dodged it, and the bolt struck a hole in the far wall, and water started pouring in. Octavius screamed in fury and numerous panels opened up along the walls, revealing hidden mechanical arms not unlike Octavius's own, which started to attack Peter as he swung around Electro, who wasn't listening to Octavius's commands to stand down at all, as he kept blowing more holes in the walls. His rage was getting the better of them.
In the ensuing fight he finally managed to put Electro down for the count while making mincemeat of the extra sentry arms, all while the base started to crumble down around them due to the structural damage Electro had caused. Octavius himself now started to engage Peter, who was now ripping apart his Living Brain machine to attack Peter, hurling giant chunks of it at him, causing more damage to the base--destroying his work was clearly his MO when cornered. All throughout the fight Peter frantically searched for the ISO-36 phial in the debris, not noticing Carolyn Trainer escape with Electro. As water poured into the base Octavius pulled more and more of his machine apart, until finally its structure gave out. Most of the machine and the ceiling fell down atop both of them.
When Peter came to, he found himself pinned to the ground, in tremendous pain. Water poured down on his face, and as best he could tell, he was being crushed by a huge portion of the machine. But just before him he saw it--the ISO-36, floating in the water, miraculously untouched by the wreckage and in perfect shape. Octavius was nowhere to be seen--had he been crushed? It didn't matter, the serum was right in front of him, and he couldn't move. It was just too heavy, and he was in too much pain.
In what he thought were his final moments, as the water level continued to rise, he thought of his loved ones. Uncle Ben, Gwen, and Harry had died because of his mistakes. Mary Jane had left him, so did Felicia. Nathan had apparently betrayed him. But then he remembered his aunt in the hospital, struggling to breathe, and he looked at the serum in front of him. No, so long as even just one person out there was relying on him, he had to succeed. He had to.
Gathering up all of his remaining strength, he slowly worked up the power to lift the huge machinery trapping him, and he freed himself! Grabbing the ISO-36 and hobbling his way out of the wreckage of the base he found the escape route Trainer had apparently used, and found himself just outside the prison, just before a sudden explosion rocked the entire underground base and the prison was suddenly on high alert. His entire body hurt like hell and he was pretty sure something in his foot was broken, but he managed to swing away to the hospital and get the serum back to May in time. He collapsed next to her bed in full costume, and as he blacked out he thought he heard May say, "I knew you would come through for me, Peter."
When he came to he found himself in a different hospital, now out of his costume and his foot in a cast, with Julia Carpenter standing nearby. Apparently they had pieced it all together when they took in Nathan Lubensky and Mysterio, and they had had Peter taken to a government hospital in secret to keep his identity safe, figuring she kinda owed him one. May was apparently making a full recovery, but had ended things with Nathan. Octavius's take over of the prison and his secret base were in the process of being cleaned up, though they had no idea if Octavius was alive or not. Carolyn Trainer was out there somewhere as well, though she had dumped Electro at the prison before escaping, so he was back in custody as well.
Also--Peter's foot was broken. So he would probably have to not be Spider-man for a few months. When Peter asked if his aunt knew his identity, Carpenter incredulously asked if he had seriously never told her. Peter shook his head, and Carpenter also said she had no idea, but maybe it would be a good idea to be honest with her? And then Carpenter left.
It was all a lot for Peter to take in, but he just thought, with Silk out there, he could probably stand to take a little time off.
There, that's the Master Planner. Is that the last time we'll tug at that story thread? No, of course not, this whole project is just one big story thread tug.
I had considered having Octavius pull together another full Sinister Six but decided against it, the story was already getting pretty long and extra members didn't really fulfill any necessary story beats. But I tried to kinda mix the original Master Planner story with the underwater base and the ISO-36 and the sick Aunt May and stuff with some aspects of Spectacular's (with Electro) and some of my own story beats. And of course you need the "Spider-man pinned down by debris" moment.
Which of course is the focal point of the drawing I did for this one. The way that this is both happening and Octavius being in the background at the same time is kind of anachronistic to how my story actually goes, so this is kind of just a representational picture, not what actually happened at one moment in time. My workflow on this image was really different in comparison to most of my pictures. I normally start with lines first and then color everything in, but I treated this one more like a painting, I blocked in all of the color first and then drew all of the detail on top of it. Spider-man's pose and all of the wreckage and water on him is basically taken directly from the cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #33 by Steve Ditko, which is probably Ditko's most famous, maybe second most famous, Spider-man cover. Something I definitely wanted to pay tribute for.
Anyway, I'm done typing for now.