THE GREAT GAME

Instigators: Chance (Nicholas Powell), Justin Hammer, Henri (referee), Chu Chi Huan, J. Jonah Jameson, James Johnsmeyer, Paris Scott, George Vandergill, Wallace, Yassaf, numerous unidentified corporate CEOs and sponsors

Purpose: To amuse the Game's sponsors by pitting superhumans against one another and wagering on the battles' outcomes

Allies: Cardiac (Elias Wirtham), Jack O'Lantern (Steve Levins), James Johnsmeyer's thugs (Mosh, Pierce, Quorum, two unidentified others), Joystick (Janice Yanizeski), Roderick Kingsley, Trenton Lipton III, Nightwatch (Kevin Trench), Polestar (Patrick Trettel), Polestar (Thomas Duffy), Prowler (Hobie Brown), Rhino (Aleksei Systevich), Rocket Racer (Robert Farrell), el Toro Negro (Sergio Torres), Tremolo, unidentified super criminals; formerly Muse (Shannon Fitzpatrick)

Opposition: Amanda (she was sold as a Great Game prize), Betty Brant, Carlos Cardinale, Dr. Ashley Croix, Ken Ellis, Green Goblin (Phil Urich), Kaine (Peter Parker clone), Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), Nolan Morelle (captured as a Great Game prize), Muse (Shannon Fitzpatrick), Namor the Sub-Mariner (Namor McKenzie), Peter Parker, Poison (Cecilia Cardinale), Spider-Man (Ben Reilly), Thunderbolts (Atlas/Erik Josten, Blizzard/Donnie Gill, MACH-IV/Abner Jenkins, Songbird/Melissa Gold, Speed Demon/James Sanders)

Location: Worldwide across Earth

First Appearance: (behind-the-scenes): Scarlet Spider Unlimited I#1 (November, 1995); (fully seen): Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2 (December, 1995)

History: (Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2 (fb) - BTS) - The Great Game was a game in which superhuman combatants fought each other for points while being monitored on behalf on their sponsors. For each victory a player made, their worth within the Great Game also increased.

(All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z I#5 - Great Game entry - BTS) - The players in the Great Game were compensated for their participation using money from the sponsors' earnings while competing for the Grand Prize. Great Game players were often sent against one another or assigned a non-player to acquire as quarry. The Great Game's Central Committee would also assign each player a monitor to observe the player and referees to judge the players' actions.

(Marvel Encyclopedia HC Vol. 4: Spider-Man - Great Game entry - BTS) - The super-powered individuals who participated in the Great Game also fought for levels within the Great Game, wealth and glory. The original players of the Great Game included Rhino, Joystick, el Toro Negro, Muse and Polestar (Thomas Duffy) while unwilling superhumans were often forced to participate.

(Spectacular Spider-Man I#231 (fb)) - For years, James Johnsmeyer and his colleagues and wealthy businessmen placed themselves in the role of sponsors for the Great Game, financing various superhumans to act as players for the Great Game. The sponsors would then send out their respective players to procure a variety of "prizes" in contention with another sponsor's player. The two sponsors would then wager on which sponsor's player would be victorious, with the winning sponsor obtaining the "prizes."

(Scarlet Spider Unlimited I#1 (fb) - BTS/Spectacular Spider-Man I#231 (fb)) - Great Game sponsor James Johnsmeyer used the mind-manipulating Muse as his Great Game player up until she injured her arm and he was forced to acquire a new player. Attempting to recruit Kaine into the Great Game as his new player, Johnsmeyer sent Muse and a group of thugs to acquire Kaine. To accomplish their goal, Muse and Johnsmeyer thug Mosh followed Det. Jacob Raven, who had been following Kaine, and soon found Kaine lying in a regeneration pod near an unconscious Jacob Raven. Acquiring Kaine, Muse and Mosh brought Kaine with them.

(Spider-Man Unlimited I#14 (fb) - BTS) - Chu Chi Huan became the Great Game sponsor for the criminal Joystick. Unbeknownst to Joystick, James Johnsmeyer had hired el Toro Negro, who was secretly working for another sponsor, Justin Hammer, to battle the up-and-coming Joystick and paid him to lose. Johnsmeyer then bet against el Toro Negro, who was favored to win twenty-to-one.

(Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2 (fb) - BTS) - El Toro Negro did as he was hired to and lost his match with Joystick, who obtained el Toro Negro's mask as a victory prize.

(Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2) - Joystick met with Great Game referee Henri in Paris, France to discuss Joystick's recent match against el Toro Negro in Castellon de la Plana. Joystick informed Henri that the match went quite well and personally delivered el Toro Negro's mask to Henri, who congratulated Joystick and informed her that el Toro Negro's defeat raised Joystick's standing within the Great Game a full level. Further explaining that her sponsor was extremely pleased, Henri handed Joystick an envelope containing a large sum of money and Joystick asked Henri to convey her thanks to her sponsor and reassure her sponsor that she was fully committed to final victory in the Great Game. Henri then reminded Joystick that she still had many levels to climb before competing for the grand prize and informed her that her monitor had already been dispatched to New York for her next match against a non-Great Game player: Scarlet Spider. Joystick admitted that she had hoped for someone more challenging like Spider-Man himself. A short time later, Joystick visited the Daily Bugle while out of costume in an attempt to use reporter Ken Ellis to locate Scarlet Spider. After getting the information she needed, Joystick attacked Scarlet Spider in New York, introducing herself and announcing that the Scarlet Spider had been chosen as a participant in the Great Game. Exclaiming that once her monitor had verified Scarlet Spider's identity and proclaimed him a worthy challenger, they could get down to some serious violence, Joystick attacked once more. A confused Scarlet Spider asked Joystick what the Great Game and she merely replied that it was like the video game Mortal Kombat, only on much more physical level. Declining to join the Great Game, Scarlet Spider was told by Joystick that he had no choice, as her referee had already assigned him as her combatant and that she had to defeat him to progress to the next level. During the battle, reporter Ken Ellis attempted to cover the battle between Joystick and Scarlet Spider but was nearly killed by falling masonry until he was rescued by the heroic Green Goblin, Phil Urich. Joystick quickly reported the unidentified flying player to her monitor, who asked if she wished to withdraw from combat. Joystick insisted that she continue her fight to earn her rightful Great Game points. Jumping back into battle against the Scarlet Spider, Joystick asked her monitor if she should just kill Scarlet Spider but her monitor warned that Scarlet Spider was still technically a non-player and that the Great Game rules stated that he was allowed time to assimilate the situation. The monitor then announced the preliminary fight to be over and Joystick halted her attack, announcing that both Scarlet Spider and Green Goblin had not seen the last of her. She then disappeared in a flash of blinding light, leaving Scarlet Spider and Green Goblin to wonder what had happened. Blocks away, Joystick reported to her Great Game monitor, who announced that Scarlet Spider would be between 1500 and 2000 points, to which Joystick replied that they should go ahead and nail him. A short time later, el Toro Negro confronted Henri in Paris and demanded Joystick's location, exclaiming that she had humiliated him and stripped him of his honor. When Henri reminded Toro Negro of the Great Game rules against personal retribution, el Toro Negro announced that he would have his vengeance regardless of the rules.

(Spider-Man Unlimited I#14 (fb) - BTS) - His claims of vengeance merely a ruse, el Toro Negro adopted the role of "rogue player" within the Great Game, where he claimed to be hunting down those who refused to sponsor him. In reality, el Toro Negro used the ruse to murder the corporate CEOs of James Johnsmeyer's rival companies, leaving the companies ripe for hostile takeovers by Johnsmeyer's company Johnscorp. El Toro Negro's actions also diverted attention away from Johnsmeyer's own actions, with Johnsmeyer remaining unaware that el Toro Negro was secretly working for Justin Hammer, who had prepared Johnsmeyer to take the fall for the murders committed by el Toro Negro.

(Green Goblin I#3) - Following the battle with Joystick, Green Goblin used Joystick's business card, which he had procured from Ken Ellis during his rescue, to locate the hotel in which Joystick was staying. Upon finding Joystick's room, the Green Goblin, who had a crush on Joystick, found a letter on the end table addressed to Scarlet Spider. Noticing too late that the letter was hooked to a gas bomb designed to kill Scarlet Spider for the Great Game, the Green Goblin was knocked back but escaped the hotel with the Scarlet Spider's letter as hotel security arrived on the scene. Learning from the letter that Joystick intended to kill civilians unless Scarlet Spider met, Green Goblin departed the scene intent on meeting Joystick himself, unaware that Joystick and her monitor were observing reports on the hotel from afar. After learning that the gas bomb had went off, Joystick expressed disappointment that "Scarlet Spider" had actually set off her bomb but her Great Game monitor reminded her that they weren't even sure Scarlet Spider was the one who had set it off. The monitor soon learned from police reports that a costumed man had fled the scene and Joystick happily remarked that she could now get points for defeating him. Asking how Joystick knew the costumed hero would even show, Joystick replied that they always did so out of honor. Their conversation was soon interrupted by a backup Great Game referee calling from Paris to report an accident involving Joystick's usual referee Henri. After speaking with the referee, Joystick's monitor informed her that el Toro Negro had taken offense to his earlier defeat by Joystick and had hospitalized Henri, prompting the Great Game Central Committee to delay Joystick's match against Scarlet Spider until they could neutralize el Toro Negro. Unaware that el Toro Negro was secretly tracking Joystick and her monitor via their cellular frequency, Joystick angrily announced her lack of fear of el Toro Negro and insisted that she continue her Game so that she could advance to the next level. Following a meeting with Scarlet Spider, who suggested Green Goblin was nuts for thinking about meeting Joystick at the rendezvous point in the letter, the Green Goblin ignored Scarlet Spider's warnings and visited the Con Edison Sub-Station the following night, where he was blasted by Joystick, who was surprised to see the Goblin instead of Scarlet Spider. The Green Goblin then attempted to calm Joystick's anger at still not being able to obtain her points for Scarlet Spider but their conversation was interrupted when el Toro Negro attacked Joystick. Her Great Game monitor immediately asked if she was okay and suggested invalidating the match but Joystick insisted that he not. Still crushing on Joystick and angry about el Toro Negro's cheap shot, the Green Goblin rushed to her defense but was thrown into some power lines. Managing to temporarily turn el Toro Negro away with his lunatic laugh, Green Goblin was soon aided by Scarlet Spider, who fought el Toro Negro. While the two heroes battled el Toro Negro, an extremely weakened Joystick reported back to her monitor and announced that she might still be able to salvage the Great Game match. Joystick then began attacking Scarlet Spider but her monitor officially terminated the Great Game match and ordered her back to her pickup point. Despite realizing Joystick had no honor after attacking Scarlet Spider, the Green Goblin nonetheless rescued her from el Toro Negro, whom Scarlet Spider downed. Once getting Joystick to safety, she repaid the Goblin with a kiss and then weakly departed, suggesting that perhaps someday, the Goblin would get lucky and she would give him another shot at paradise. The Goblin then returned to Scarlet Spider, who chewed him out for letting Joystick go.

(Spider-Man I#64 (fb) - BTS) - Thanks to Spider-Man, el Toro Negro was arrested and had to use a large portion of his Great Game earnings to bail himself out of jail.

(Spider-Man I#64) - When the vigilante Poison was contacted by Paris Scott to become his player in the Great Game, el Toro Negro, still utilizing his "rogue player" ruse and claiming that Poison's contract should be his own, set fire to an entire New York block and kidnapped Poison's son Carlos to force Poison to refuse the contract. Injured in the fire, Poison was rescued by Spider-Man and taken to a nearby hospital to recover. While there, Poison was visited by Paris Scott's assistant Trenton Lipton III, who explained that Paris Scott would pay for all of Poison's medical bills and ensure Carlos' recovery in exchange for Poison honoring Scott's Great Game contract. As Spider-Man arrived to check on Poison, she escaped the hospital and warned Spider-Man to stay away as she found her son. Tracking el Toro Negro to a warehouse, Poison found that el Toro Negro had hooked Carlos up to a bomb that would activate if el Toro Negro's hand left the detonation switch. Announcing that Poison's contract should have been his own, el Toro Negro ordered Poison to phone Paris Scott and refuse his offer to participate in the Great Game, claiming he would free Carlos if she did so. As Spider-Man arrived on the scene, Poison did as she was told and refused Scott's contract but el Toro Negro then ordered her to kill Spider-Man in retaliation for his earlier arrest rather than free Carlos. After using up large amounts of power to seemingly kill Spider-Man with an energy burst, Poison asked that el Toro Negro free Carlos as he claimed he would, explaining that she would not be able to summon forth that much energy again without killing herself. When el Toro Negro informed Poison that she could not be allowed to live and potentially be contacted again for the Great Game, a very much alive Spider-Man webbed up the detonation switch in el Toro Negro's hand. After Spider-Man defeated el Toro Negro, Poison revealed that she had actually teleported Spider-Man to el Toro Negro's side instead of earlier killing him, allowing for Spider-Man's defeat of the "rogue player." With Carlos now safe, Poison thanked Spider-Man for his assistance.

(Spectacular Spider-Man I#231) - James Johnsmeyer held a video conference with Great Game sponsor Wallace, where he reminded Wallace that there was no need to await confirmation from the Great Game referees, as Wallace's player was successful and Wallace was due the spoils of victory. When Wallace asked what Johnsmeyer's wager was, James assured Wallace that his prize would be there within the next few hours then had his men grab a girl in his company, Amanda. Calmly telling Amanda not to take it personally and reminding her that she would be happy with Wallace, Johnsmeyer then received a communication from Muse regarding Johnsmeyer's newest potential recruit Kaine. Muse informed Johnsmeyer that Kaine easily tore through Johnsmeyer's welcoming committee of thugs and that Kaine was now resting but warned that when Kaine awoke, he would want answers as to who captured him and what Johnsmeyer's intentions were. James proudly exclaimed that his intentions were to make Kaine the greatest player in the history of the Great Game. Reminding Muse of her recent injury and his being forced to acquire a new player, Johnsmeyer ordered Muse to make sure Kaine was treated like a king and informed her that he would fly back to America that evening to meet with his potential new player, where he would make Kaine an offer he couldn't refuse. Later that evening, Muse explained how they had found Kaine before introducing him to James Johnsmeyer, who welcomed Kaine. After James Johnsmeyer explained the Great Game to Kaine and promised a life of luxury, Kaine refused, claiming that he had not wished to be plucked from death and did not want to be another's puppet again. When Kaine tried to depart the scene, Johnsmeyer had his agents Quorum and Mosh pull guns on Kaine but they were taken down by Muse, who seemingly turned on Johnsmeyer and asked Kaine to take her with him.

(Sensational Spider-Man I#2) - Kaine and Muse went on the run. When Muse suggested that Kaine seemed almost fearful, Kaine admitted that it wasn't fear that motivated him but rather, a desire to avoid being dragged into the Great Game, a concept he found ridiculous. A surprised Muse reminded Kaine of the money he could earn from the Great Game, but Kaine expressed no interest in money or being someone's pawn. Their conversation was interrupted when the Great Game player Rhino attacked and announced that he could score some big Great Game points by taking them down. Continuing his rant about earning big bucks for taking the two out, Rhino exclaimed that, despite Kaine and Muse's desire to remain out of the Great Game, they were now in it whether they liked it or not. Spider-Man soon noticed the fight between Kaine and Rhino as he swung overhead and entered the fray himself to learn more about how Kaine had seemingly returned to life. Recognizing that Rhino seemed to be part of some sort of competition, Spider-Man pushed Muse out of the way of falling debris and was briefly buried in the rubble. Despite Muse's claims that they could use Spider-Man to their advantage, Kaine opted to leave him and Rhino behind by using the debris collapse to cover their escape.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#409) - The Great Game's sponsors participated in a conference call with one another to discuss whether or not to continue forcibly initiating the clone Kaine into the Great Game or cancel his first match due to factoring in Spider-Man's interference. While most of the sponsors agreed that Spider-Man would likely get involved due to his past history with Kaine, James Johnsmeyer suggested they include Spider-Man as a wild card in a "First Blood" match. Chu Chi Huan commended Johnsmeyer's suggestion and remarked that both he and Nicholas Powell could contribute their own players to the match. Agreeing that the match sounded like fun, James Johnsmeyer then asked which of the sponsors would like the lay down the first wager. As Kaine later continued on the run with his ally Muse, he was told that James Johnsmeyer would not take kindly to Kaine's earlier refusal to participate in the Great Game. Before Kaine could rest from the pursuit of Johnsmeyer's player Rhino, Rhino burst into the warehouse Kaine was hiding in and announced that Johnsmeyer had offered his a bonus to flatten both Kaine and Shannon before anyone else could. Kaine proclaimed the Rhino to be a fool for allowing himself to be manipulated for the pleasure of others but Rhino replied that he merely saw himself as being freelance muscle. Kaine managed to dodge the Rhino's blows, commenting that his refusal to participate reflected his desire to not being anyone's pawn, but before Kaine could flee the scene, an energy blast from Great Game players Joystick and Polestar. After being introduced to Kaine, Polestar revealed that his Great Game sponsor had wagered big bucks that Polestar would score first blood against Kaine. Joystick then entered the fight too, exclaiming that Polestar's sponsor should have invested in tax-free municipals since Kaine was hers. Rhino then argued with Joystick and Polestar, claiming that he had first dibs on Kaine but Polestar reminded Rhino that the Great Game's rules for a First Blood match allowed free access to the Game's quarry. Muse joined in, using her persuasion powers on Polestar and reminding him that the Game's rules also permitted the quarry to defend themselves. Joystick responded by kicking Muse and Rhino took advantage of Kaine's distraction by downing Kaine. Spider-Man, then Ben Reilly, entered the fray despite Kaine's insistence that he not get involved. Aware that Spider-Man's Great Game points were double those of Kaine's, Polestar attacked Spider-Man and was quickly joined by Joystick, who was unaware that she had previously fought this Spider-Man in his earlier alias of Scarlet Spider. Annoyed that he had not been told Spider-Man's points were double, the Rhino was continually distracted by Kaine, whom Rhino tossed into a car when Kaine attempted to aid the recovering Muse. While Kaine dealt with Rhino by smashing a building on top of the villain, Joystick focused her attacks on Spider-Man. Again insisting that he wanted no part of the Great Game, Spider-Man crushed Joystick's energized staves, forcing her to flee, taunting Spider-Man that she had no crime other than aggravated assault. Before Spider-Man could pursue, he was forced to dodge a large chunk of debris hurled by Polestar. Spider-Man then managed to steer the flying Polestar into a wall and Polestar emerged, announcing that his Great Game sponsor had invested a large sum of money into Polestar's armored suit but Spider-Man knocked Polestar out, exclaiming that Polestar had a choice to participate in the Great Game and that Polestar and Rhino's interference had allowed Joystick, Kaine and Muse to flee the scene. Sometime later, Muse secretly phoned Great Game sponsor James Johnsmeyer and reported Kaine's location to him. Commending Muse on her work, Johnsmeyer offered her a choice to stay in his Winter Palace, Pagoda or Aegean Mansion. Muse then reported that she felt it was safe to report back while Kaine was gone and Johnsmeyer suggested she get off the phone before Kaine grew suspicious. He then informed Muse that he had already begun arrangements for Kaine's next and potentially final game. As Johnsmeyer gloated, Spider-Man watched as Rhino and Polestar were taken into custody and thought about how the spider-tracer he had tagged Muse with was coming in loud and clear. He then departed, preparing for his final battle against Kaine and hoping that he would be able to shut down the Great Game in the process.

(Spider-Man I#66) - After Spider-Man tracked down Kaine and a brief battle ensued before Kaine dropped a building wall on police, forcing Spider-Man to intervene to save their lives, Kaine and Muse escaped and Muse helped treat a bullet wound Kaine suffered during the fight. While she did so, Muse asked if Kaine truly hated the Great Game sponsors and he revealed that he hated anyone that chose to use others as pawns. He further revealed that he had once been used as a pawn himself and that Muse was the only person he presently trusted, having earned his trust by earlier rescuing him from the regeneration pod and later the Great Game players who sought to force him into the Great Game. He then announced his plans to take down James Johnsmeyer and the entire Great Game once Muse led him to Johnsmeyer. While Muse continued her conversation with Kaine, James Johnsmeyer himself held a phone conference with the other Great Game sponsors, who discussed Spider-Man's interference in the Great Game. As one of the sponsors agreed to take Spider-Man as a wild card player and involve him in all wagers at double the usual price, another sponsor remarked that it was a shame that Muse was taken out of Johnsmeyer's play due to her arm injury. Agreeing that it was a shame, Johnsmeyer replied that he would have to make due with Kaine and that he would be seeing his way to better times one way or another. He then suggested that the other sponsors get down to some real wagering. A short time later, after Muse led Kaine to James' Johnscorp Building, Johnsmeyer had his security guns fire on Kaine, who began trashing the Johnscorp roof, angry that others had pulled him into the Great Game. Following his destruction of the guns, Kaine confirmed with Muse that they had the correct building and after the two shared a kiss, Muse suggested they leave the Great Game and Johnsmeyer behind and run away together. Kaine declined, insisting that the Great Game would end that day, and was momentarily halted by a vision of his mark of death across Muse's face. Not letting the vision deter him, Kaine loudly announced the end of the Great Game before tearing his way into the Johnscorp Building. Spider-Man then appeared, agreeing that the Great Game would end that day but webbed up Kaine, announcing that Kaine would also be stopped. Before their fight could really get started, the roof collapsed beneath them and all three fell into a large room, where the Great Game sponsors all appeared on viewscreens. From his screen, Johnsmeyer announced his joy at having all three present and exclaimed that the wagering could really begin. Kaine again refused to be a part of the Great Game but Johnsmeyer explained that both Kaine and Spider-Man had been part of the Great Game wagering since the minute he had met Kaine. Johnsmeyer continued, offering Kaine the chance to be rewarded for his labors and to partake without being duped by his top player. Muse quickly reminded Johnsmeyer that she no longer wished to be a part of the Great Game but Johnsmeyer snidely asked if Muse's change of heart was due to her becoming close to Kaine. When Johnsmeyer then announced that her change of heart was not part of their deal, Kaine felt betrayed by Muse and threatened to kill Muse. Spider-Man tried to intervene but Kaine easily swatted Spider-Man aside and revealed that events were happening just as his rooftop vision had shown. As Spider-Man weakly continued to try convincing Kaine not to kill Muse, Kaine explained that visions never lied that he had to kill her as the Great Game sponsors discussed doubling their bets if Kaine succeeded. Spider-Man then reminded Kaine that his visions didn't have to come true, as Kaine had the power to decide whether he killed or not. Kaine agreed, announcing that he would not be used by anyone again, not even his own premonitions. Kaine then exclaimed that the statement included James Johnsmeyer and he began tearing up the Johnscorp Building, announcing that he would bring the Great Game to each and every sponsor, hunting them down and making their lives as miserable as his own. Explaining that he couldn't let the murderous Kaine go free, Spider-Man then tried to apprehend Kaine, who fought back, refusing to allow Spider-Man to capture him. Muse then hit Spider-Man with an energy blast, explaining that Johnsmeyer had intended for her to use the blast against Kaine but she had opted instead to side with Kaine. Muse then blasted a hole in the side of the Building and reminded Kaine that perhaps what she was about to do would convince Kaine that she did truly love him. Muse then jumped from the hole, several stories up, announcing that she hoped Spider-Man was indeed as fast as his reputation. Spider-Man rushed to the hole and caught Muse in a web, which all part of Muse's plan to distract Spider-Man while Kaine escaped.

(Spider-Man Unlimited I#14 (fb) - BTS) - When work grew slow with Silver Sable International, the heroic Rocket Racer and Prowler heard about the Great Game and decided to get themselves sponsors. Once they signed, they opted to merely stage a Great Game fight then split the prize money between them.

(Marvel Encyclopedia HC Vol. 4: Spider-Man - Great Game entry - BTS) - Jack O'Lantern (Steve Levins) joined the Great Game while Cardiac remained on the sidelines in search of revenge.

(Spider-Man Unlimited I#14) - El Toro Negro killed Great Game sponsor Chu Chi Huan, whom he dressed as the Scarlet Spider, by shooting the tether that had acted as a "web." Announcing that he had earned two thousand points for the kill, el Toro Negro was reminded that the Great Game rules required the player to obtain the victim's mask. While investigating the death of the Scarlet Spider impostor, unaware it was Chu Chi Huan, Peter Parker met Ben Reilly, who informed Peter about the Great Game's origins and his own past, unwilling involvement in their activities. Continuing the investigation, Peter met with Betty Brant and the two visited Morelle Pharmaceuticals, a bankrupt company that had been aggressively sought after in a buyout from Great Game sponsor James Johnsmeyer's Johnscorp company. While there, Peter and Betty witnessed the arrival of Great Game player Polestar, who captured scientist Dr. Ashley Croix's son Nolan Morelle, announcing him a prize in the Great Game. Peter Parker jumped at Polestar to rescue Nolan but was swatted aside as Polestar declared that, as Morelle's Project: Sharkskin's only successful test subject, Nolan Morelle would fetch him a hefty bonus. Polestar's bragging was quickly interrupted by the vigilante Nightwatch, who proclaimed himself another successful subject of Project: Sharkskin. Shrugging off Polestar's blasts, Nightwatch was soon shot from behind by el Toro Negro, who proclaimed himself master of the Great Game. When Nightwatch bragged that el Toro Negro's shots could do no more to him than Polestar's blasts, el Toro Negro combined his attack with Polestar, who magnetically peeled back Nightwatch's armor enough for el Toro Negro to seemingly shoot Nightwatch dead. As a woozy Peter Parker and Betty Brant watched, Polestar then suggested a partnership between el Toro Negro and himself but el Toro Negro instead declined and killed Polestar. The following day, Peter visited Ben Reilly at the Daily Grind coffee shop and at first lectured Reilly on his responsibility but then admitted that he was venting his own sense of helplessness during Nolan Morelle's kidnapping. Reilly assured Parker that he would investigate Great Game sponsor James Johnsmeyer that night, unaware that Johnsmeyer had been responsible for ordering Morelle's kidnapping as retaliation for Dr. Ashley Croix refusing to sell Morelle Pharmaceuticals. Johnsmeyer also had paperwork prepared for Johnscorp's acquisition of Chi-Huan Associates before the vigilante Cardiac, seeing his chance to act, burst through his window and demanded the location of el Toro Negro and Nolan Morelle. James Johnsmeyer insisted that el Toro Negro was a rogue player that represent him in the Great Game before Johnsmeyer's personal assistant jumped on Cardiac to distract him. Spider-Man soon arrived on the scene as well and fought off Cardiac, who brought the battle outside. Once the two landed on a nearby rooftop and Cardiac chided Spider-Man for allowing Johnsmeyer to escape his grasp, Spider-Man replied by asking how many points Johnsmeyer was in the Great Game. Claiming that Spider-Man knew him better than to join up with corporation recreation, Cardiac revealed to Spider-Man that Johnsmeyer had been behind Nolan Morelle's kidnapping but Spider-Man explained that witnesses had seen el Toro Negro, who was a rogue player in the Great Game, on the scene. Admitting the logic in Spider-Man's words, Cardiac departed the scene, warning Spider-Man to stay out of his way. Grabbing a paper blown in the wind as Cardiac left, Spider-Man saw papers about Johnsmeyer's Chi-Huan Associates acquisition and decided to investigate the possible connection. Arriving at Chi-Huan Associates, Spider-Man was attacked by Great Game player Joystick, who mistakenly thought Spider-Man was attempting to make a move against her as part of the Great Game. Despite Spider-Man's insistence that he was not part of the Great Game, Joystick continued her attack, explaining that once someone had been targeted as a wild card player within the Great Game, there was no way out of the Game unless the target was collected. Spider-Man then asked where Chu Chi Huan was but Joystick, thinking Spider-Man had learned Chu was her sponsor, continued her assault and warned that Spider-Man had better not been involved in Chu's disappearance. After Spider-Man refused to fight back, an annoyed Joystick ran off, claiming she had a date with a pro wrestler who would fight back. Reminded of his date with Betty Brant, Spider-Man changed into his civilian identity of Ben Reilly and met Brant, who had decided to attend the Daily Bugle fundraiser at the Century Club. While at the Club with Betty, Ben noticed James Johnsmeyer in attendance and was told by Betty about Johnsmeyer's company filing for bankruptcy, only to be revived as a holding company for Justin Hammer. Brant was soon asked to refresh J. Jonah Jameson's drink and during that time, James Johnsmeyer and George Vandergill approached Jameson and offered him a chance to both relieve his financial burdens at the Daily Bugle and get rid of Spider-Man at the same time. Despite temptation, Jameson declined the offer with Betty Brant's urging. After Brant and Ben Reilly left, Jameson was approached by Roderick Kingsley, who tried to convince Jonah to sell his Daily Bugle shares to the public. Jameson angrily refused, claiming that corporations would compromise the Bugle's integrity, and Kingsley replied by suggesting Jameson should have accepted Vandergill and Johnsmeyer's proposal. Outside, Betty Brant and Ben Reilly discussed their date night and Reilly noticed Rocket Racer and Prowler fighting each other above them. Prowler and Rocket Racer continued their faux fight for the Great Game monitors until el Toro Negro showed up, claiming that more than the Great Game monitors had seen their sordid display. El Toro Negro then fired a missile at the duo, who jumped from a nearby building and crashed to the ground, albeit with non-deadly results thanks to Prowler's glider cape. Having witnessed the fight, Spider-Man later confronted Rocket Racer, who had suffered a broken arm, at the hospital, where he learned Rocket Racer's Great Game sponsor was Paris Scott and that both he and Prowler had staged their fight for the money. Investigating Paris Scott, Spider-Man found him shot in the back at his home and was discovered there by one of Scott's subordinates. When the subordinate accused Spider-Man of murdering Paris Scott, Spider-Man explained the situation and had the subordinate give him a master list of the Great Game's sponsors, which had been updated mere hours earlier. Shocked to find J. Jonah Jameson's name on the list, Spider-Man visited Jonah's home and found el Toro Negro about to kill the publisher. Disarming el Toro Negro, Spider-Man announced the Great Game's end but the criminal Chance appeared and attacked Spider-Man. Announcing himself not just a player, but a sponsor as well, Chance revealed that he had wagered his entire earnings on the fight against Spider-Man. Before Chance and el Toro Negro come team up against him, Spider-Man was saved by the timely arrival of Cardiac but Spider-Man fled, drawing Chance and el Toro Negro away from Cardiac to prevent another hero's death. Leading the two Great Game players to the Johnscorp Building, Spider-Man smashed el Toro Negro into the roof but the criminal played possum and got the drop on Spider-Man, who was subsequently rescued by Joystick. Joystick announced that honor and integrity still counted for something but when she exclaimed that she had beaten el Toro Negro before, he revealed that he had been hired to lose by James Johnsmeyer so that he could play the role of "rogue player" in an attempt to murder Johnsmeyer's corporate rivals, leaving their companies open for takeover. Having turned on the Great Game video screens, Spider-Man allowed the Great Game's sponsors to overhear el Toro Negro's confession and the sponsors decided that the Great Game had claimed too great a stake on their own lives if a single sponsor like James Johnsmeyer could bring disaster to all of them. Announcing that while Johnsmeyer's scam might be over, he would still have his vengeance, el Toro Negro prepared for another fight but he was easily webbed up by Spider-Man. Chance intervened, however, grabbing el Toro Negro and preparing to turn him over to the Great Game for bounty. Spider-Man ordered the arriving Cardiac to stop Chance but Cardiac reminded Spider-Man that their priority needed to be the rescue of Nolan Morelle. Much later, after James Johnsmeyer took the fall for el Toro Negro's murders, el Toro Negro awoke in the labs of Justin Hammer, who had been manipulating James Johnsmeyer to take the fall for the murders committed by el Toro Negro. Strapped to an operating table, el Toro Negro exclaimed that he had done exactly as instructed by not incriminating Justin Hammer and leaving Johnsmeyer to take the blame for his actions. When a frantic el Toro Negro insisted that he had defeated all of Hammer's enemies and was promised a great prize, Hammer calmly reminded el Toro Negro that the prize was power beyond his wildest dreams. Hammer then remarked that el Toro Negro's least powerful thing was his mind, which would need to be the first thing to go. As a saw revved and blood spurted from el Toro Negro, Peter Parker and Ben Reilly met to discuss recent events and Peter shared a newspaper showing James Johnsmeyer's arrest. Somehow learning of Hammer's involvement, Ben asked Peter why James Johnsmeyer was being arrested if Justin Hammer was the true mastermind and Peter replied that Hammer had always been seemingly untouchable in his dealings. After comforting Betty Brant, whose story on the Great Game was scooped by reporter Ken Ellis, Ben Reilly donned his Spider-Man costume and confronted J. Jonah Jameson, who had just received a $50,000 check from Justin Hammer as payment for his Great Game victory. Spider-Man webbed the check and warned that Jameson had no idea how close he came to death the prior night due to being a part of the Great Game. Deducing that Jameson had wagered his money on Spider-Man, Spider-Man announced that the Great Game's rules ordered Jameson to split his share of the winnings with his player. Spider-Man then departed, suggesting that Jameson donate Spider-Man's share of the winnings to a patient named Hobie Brown at Mercy Hospital.

(Marvel Encyclopedia HC Vol. 4: Spider-Man - Great Game entry - BTS) - Having realized that they could not only lose their lives, but also their very companies, the Great Game sponsors ended the Great Game.

(New Thunderbolts I#2 (fb) - BTS) - The Great Game started up once more with an enigmatic, behind-the-scenes sponsor. While gathering new recruits for the Great Game, the criminal Speed Demon was contacted with the intent of convincing him to join the Game.

(New Thunderbolts I#2) - During an Atlantean address to the United Nations, in which Namor the Sub-Mariner spoke and Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four attended, a Great Game referee reported to the sponsors that the target was present but asked for extra points to be awarded for the wild card Mister Fantastic. The sponsors reported back that Mister Fantastic would be worth 5,000 points and announced to the players that the new Great Game would commence in five minutes. When the Thunderbolts appeared at the UN meeting, the referee reported their appearance and frantically asked for the Great Game to postponed. The sponsors reported back to the referee that, rather than cancel the Great Game, one thousand points would be awarded for any Thunderbolts taken down during the Game and two thousand would be awarded if any of the Thunderbolts could be convinced to join the Great Game. As debate continued between the Thunderbolts and Atlantis' representative Namor, new Great Game players Joystick, Tremolo and a new Polestar blasted a hole through the wall and announced Namor the newest target in the Great Game. Recognizing Joystick and other players of the Great Game, the Thunderbolts jumped into action to protect civilians. While Tremolo, Polestar and Joystick battled the Thunderbolts, the Great Game referee reported back his thoughts that the attack was a bad idea but was reminded that an important sponsor had funded the new Great Game, warning the referee to keep to supervision and reporting on the performance of the new Polestar. When the Thunderbolts began working alongside Namor to take down the Great Game players, the referee reported back to the sponsors' skybox that the situation was escalating out of control. The referee was told that the Game sponsor preferred even more escalation and had the referee activated the two-minute warning that would blow up the Strontium chips that powered the players' armor. Joystick revealed to Songbird of the Thunderbolts what the two-minute warning would do and both the Thunderbolts and Mister Fantastic began thinking of a way to disarm the two-minute warning explosives within the Great Game players' armor. Noticing the referee hiding in the shadows, Atlas picked him up and suggested he might know something but the referee insisted that he did not have the code to disarm the two-minute warning. After debating what to do, MACH-IV offered protection for the Great Game player if they allowed access to their armor to shut down the two-minute warning. As the Great Game sponsors were surprised at the Thunderbolts' offer of protection, Joystick agreed to allow Mister Fantastic access to her armored gauntlets, which he then used to determine a frequency that MACH-IV broadcasted to seemingly disarm the two-minute warning bombs. Despite Mister Fantastic confirming the disarm frequency from Joystick's armor, Tremolo and Polestar's armors still detonated.

(New Thunderbolts I#3 - BTS) - MACH-IV immediately rushed outside to quell the fires caused by the bombs and Songbird held the entire UN building together with her sonic vocal chords. When Spider-Man arrived on the scene to help MACH-IV, MACH-IV informed him that he was unable to communicate with the other Thunderbolts inside the UN building due to some of Spider-Man's old Great Game enemies detonating their armors, which created an electromagnetic pulse that disabled communications. Inside, Mister Fantastic asked Joystick for information on the fuel cells that powered her Great Game-provided armor but Joystick proved to not be knowledgeable about the nuclear-powered armor she wore. Upon learning that the armor was powered by Strontium like the bombs, Mister Fantastic realized that the Great Game's two-minute warning had bathed the area in Strontium radiation, which the Radioactive Man absorbed into himself on request from his Chinese government handlers.

Comments: Created by Tom DeFalco, Mark Bagley and Larry Mahlstedt.

I chose to list New Thunderbolts I#3 as a BTS appearance of the Great Game, as it only vaguely mentioned the Game providing Joystick's armor and how Spider-Man had earlier encountered the Great Game. The Game itself apparently ended in New Thunderbolts I#2 when Tremolo and the new Polestar's armor exploded, killing them.

The Marvel Encyclopedia HC Vol. 4: Spider-Man entry on the Great Game mentions Jack O'Lantern (Steve Levins) being a player in the Great Game but I could not find that in any issue featuring the Game and Jack O'Lantern is not mentioned as a known participant in the Great Game's OHOTMU HC Vol. 4 profile. I suppose that could be a BTS thing first revealed in that entry and missed when the Handbook entry was written but if I have missed an appearance of the Great Game somewhere, please let me know...

Chu Chi Huan was only ever seen in the Scarlet Spider costume that el Toro Negro put him in so I apologize for the lack of a better picture of Chi Huan...

Profile by Proto-Man.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Great Game has no known connections to



Chu Chi Huan

Chu Chi Huan was the head of Chi-Huan Associates and a sponsor of the Great Game. During his time with the Great Game, Chi Huan chose Joystick as his Great Game player and he likely reaped the benefits of her victories, including her defeat of el Toro Negro. He later participated in conference with the other Great Game sponsors when they discussed whether or not to consider Spider-Man's potential interference with Game activities. During the conference, Chi Huan brought up Spider-Man's constant involvement with James Johnsmeyer's potential new player Kaine and his point was seconded by another Great Game sponsor who asked whether or not Johnsmeyer should continue trying to initiate Kaine into the Great Game. The discussion ended shortly thereafter when Johnsmeyer suggested including Spider-Man as a wild card player and Chi Huan was later captured by Johnsmeyer's secret player el Toro Negro, who dressed Chi Huan in a Scarlet Spider costume and tethered him to a New York bridge. Awaking in the costume and unsure of where he was, Chu Chi Huan was terrified when the snap of his tethered harness opened and he fell from the bridge. At first thinking he was saved when his arm remained tethered to the bridge, Chi Huan was killed when el Toro Negro shot the tether from afar, causing Chi Huan to fall and land on the roof of a car. Spider-Man later sought out Chu Chi Huan after learning that James Johnsmeyer had sought to buyout Chi-Huan Associates, unaware of Chi Huan's death.

--Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2 - BTS (Amazing Spider-Man I#409 (voice only), Spider-Man Unlimited I#14d,


Henri

Henri was a referee for the Great Game and based himself out of Paris, France. Following Joystick's defeat of el Toro Negro, she met with Henri, who congratulated her on her victory and informed her that she had moved up a level within the Great Game. Joystick then presented Henri with el Toro Negro's mask, announcing her intentions to continue moving up within the Game, but Henri reminded Joystick that she still had many levels to progress through before obtaining the grand prize. He then informed Joystick that monitors had been dispatched to New York, where she would find her next target: Scarlet Spider. Henri was later located by a seemingly angry el Toro Negro, who demanded Joystick's location in order to exact his revenge on her for his earlier defeat. When Henri reminded el Toro Negro of the rules against personal vendettas, el Toro Negro attacked Henri and put him in a coma.


--Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2 (Green Goblin I#3 - BTS,


Trenton Lipton III

Trenton Lipton III was an employee of Great Game sponsor Paris Scott. After Paris Scott attempted to recruit the vigilante Poison as his Great Game player, resulting in the kidnapping of Poison's son and Poison's own hospitalization at the hands of el Toro Negro, Scott sent Trenton Lipton III to visit Poison in the hospital, where Lipton informed Poison of Paris Scott's offer to pay for all of Poison's hospital bills and ensure Poison's son's recovery in exchange for her accepting Scott's Great Game contract. Lipton also explained that a copy of the final Great Game contract, the Game rules and a new costume would be left for Poison as a gift before he departed the hospital. Some time later, Trenton returned to Paris Scott's office to find Spider-Man standing over the dead body of Paris Scott. At first accusing Spider-Man of being the murderer, Trenton was convinced of Spider-Man's innocence after Spider-Man reminded Lipton that guns weren't his weapon of choice. Spider-Man then had Lipton give him a master list of all of the Great Game sponsors in an effort to track down the killer but left after seeing J. Jonah Jameson's name on the list.

--Spider-Man I#64 (Spider-Man Unlimited I#14,


Paris Scott

Paris Scott was the owner of Scott Enterprises and he was also a Great Game sponsor. Early on, he attempted to recruit the Florida vigilante Poison as his Great Game player, even sending his employee Trenton Lipton III to give Poison an offer to pay her hospital bills and ensure her son Carlos' safety if she would honor Paris' Great Game contract and act as his player. When Poison later located el Toro Negro, who had kidnapped Carlos, she was forced to call Paris Scott and refuse his offer to participate in the Great Game. Scott later went on to recruit Rocket Racer as his player and sent Rocket Racer against the Racer's ally Prowler, where the two staged a fight to split the prize money. After Rocket Racer revealed to Spider-Man that Scott was his sponsor, Spider-Man investigated Paris Scott but found him dead due to a gunshot wound through the back.

--Spider-Man I#64 - BTS (Spider-Man Unlimited I#14d,


Wallace

Wallace was one of the many sponsors of the Great Game and competed directly against James Johnsmeyer. When one of Wallace's players was victorious, Johnsmeyer remarked that there was no need to contact the Great Game referees, as Wallace had won and was due the spoils. Johnsmeyer then informed Wallace that his prize would be sent to Wallace directly within the next few hours and had his guards grab a woman named Amanda in Johnsmeyer's company. As Wallace grinned eerily and chuckled, Johnsmeyer asked Amanda not to take it personal, as he was sure she would be very happy with Wallace.


--Spectacular Spider-Man II#241 (seen on video screen only)


images: (without ads)
New Thunderbolts I#2, p13, pan1 (New Great Game players Joystick, Polestar & Tremolo attacking Namor at UN, main image)
Spider-Man Unlimited I#14, p50, pan1 (el Toro Negro confronting the Great Game sponsors via video screens)
Amazing Spider-Man I#409, front cover (Great Game players Joystick, Rhino and Polestar going after Kaine and Spider-Man)
New Thunderbolts I#2, p17, pan3 (Great Game sponsors skybox)
Spider-Man Unlimited I#14, p1, pan3 (Chu Chi Huan)
Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2, p2, pan4 (Henri)
Spider-Man I#64, p14, pan1 (Trenton Lipton III)
Spider-Man Unlimited I#14, p42, pan2 (Paris Scott)

Spectacular Spider-Man I#241, p10, pan2 (Wallace)


Appearances:
Scarlet Spider Unlimited I#1 (November, 1995) - Glenn Herdling (writer), Tod Smith (pencils), John Nyberg (inks), Eric Fein (editor)
Amazing Scarlet Spider I#2 (December, 1995) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Larry Mahlstedt (inks), Bob Budiansky (editor)
Green Goblin I#3 (December, 1995) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Scott McDaniel (art), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Spider-Man I#64 (January, 1996) - Howard Mackie (writer), John Romita, Jr. (pencils), Al Williamson, Dick Giordano, Al Milgrom (inks), Eric Fein (editor)
Spectacular Spider-Man I#231 (February, 1996) - Todd DeZago (writer), Sal Buscema (breakdowns), Al Milgrom (finishes), Eric Fein (editor)
Sensational Spider-Man I#2 (March, 1996) - Dan Jurgens (writer, pencils), Klaus Janson (finishes), Bob Budiansky (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man I#409 (March, 1996) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Mark Bagley (pencils), Larry Mahlstedt (inks), Bob Budiansky (editor)
Spider-Man I#66 (March, 1996) - Howard Mackie (writer), John Romita, Jr. (pencils), Al Williamson, Dick Giordano, Al Milgrom (inks), Eric Fein (editor)
Spider-Man Unlimited I#14 (December, 1996) - Glenn Herdling (writer), Joe Bennett (pencils), Joe Pimentel, Tim Dzon (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Marvel Encyclopedia HC Vol. 4: Spider-Man (2003) - Jonathan Couper-Smartt (writer, research), Syd Barney-Hawke, Seth Blederman (contributing writers), various uncredited artists (Great Game entry art), Jeff Youngquist (editor)
New Thunderbolts I#2 (January, 2005) - Fabian Nicieza (script, plot), Kurt Busiek (plot), Tom Grummett (pencils), Gary Erskine (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
New Thunderbolts I#3 (February, 2005) - Fabian Nicieza (script, plot), Kurt Busiek (plot), Tom Grummett (pencils), Gary Erskine (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z I#5 (May, 2006) - Jeff Christiansen (head writer, coordinator), Sean McQuaid, Michael Hoskin, Mark O'English, Stuart Vandal, Ronald Byrd, Eric J. Moreels, Barry Reese, Madison Carter, Anthony Flamini, Chris Biggs, Mike Fichera (writers), Mark Bagley (Great Game entry art), Jeff Youngquist, Jennifer Grunwald (editors)


Last updated: 07/30/16.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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