Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #1
“Spiders, A to E”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Edgar Delgado
Disclaimer: I do not own Spider-Man or any of the characters within his supporting cast. All of them and the rest of the MU are owned by Marvel.
[Full page of spread of Spider-Man swinging upwards. We see the changes to his suit with the lenses, extra shoulder padding, and a new spider symbol.]
Spider-Man [Capt]: I’ve never felt more alive. And with good reason. I’m back where I belong. In the air, swinging like this.
[Panel 1: Spidey swings into the cityscape]
Spider-Man [Capt]: A lot can happen in three years. That perspective becomes really noticeable when you stay out of a tussle between two of the world’s most iconic Avengers.
[Panel 2: Flashback, ghostly image; Spider-Man walking away from Captain America and Iron Man]
Spider-Man [Capt]: Course, when you’re a man with an amazing wife and the most adorable little girl ever born, they deserve to stay out of the conflict. It’s not their place. S’why I quit the New Avengers.
[Panel 3: Peter is in an alleyway, changing out of his Spider-Man costume into civvies]
Spider-Man [Capt]: I made a choice that day. And I haven’t regretted it since.
[Panel 4: Let’s do an upward shot; Peter is now in his civvies, walking through the crowds of New York’s populace. Make him dress like a normal person, no gags about his 80’s style wardrobe. Maybe have him wear a jacket and some headphones, but not in a gimmicky sense.]
Peter [Capt]: That’s the fun part of being Peter Parker. Just a scientist working at- drumroll please-
[Pages 2 and 3: A two-page spread of the ESU Physics lecture hall, with four panels at the bottom of the spread. Students have packed the lecture hall, where the president is standing on the stage.]
President Goldson: It is with great pleasure that I introduce our guest lecturer for the next semester, one of our most prestigious but… untimely alumni, Mr. Peter Parker!
[Panel 1: Peter walks onto stage, shaking President Goldson’s hand, and walking onto the center of the stage]
Peter: First off, a big thanks to President Goldson for giving me the opportunity to teach the class of 2018 physics course for the semester. Second off,-
[Panel 2: Back shot of Peter addressing the crowd]
Peter: -I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be in this room. I used to be a high school teacher a few years ago, and I cherished it. I was responsible for teaching the minds of tomorrow, and now?
[Panel 3: Peter moving over to the smartboard, maybe show it as a Horizon model]
Peter: Here I am. A scientist at Horizon Labs. A college guest professor. Today is the single best day of my life besides my wedding and the day my daughter was born.
[Panel 4: Peter’s hand, with the smartboard marker tapping the side.]
Peter: Let’s get going!
[Panel 1: Takes up about half the page. Peter is walking out of the building when a student stops him.]
???: Uh, excuse me? Mr. Parker?
[Panel 2: Peter turns around to see a young Cindy Moon. About 19 years old, tall and lean, a bit shorter than Peter is. Dresses in simple colors, with a bright and peppy complexion]
Cindy: Hi, I’m Cindy Moon. I’m one of your physics students, Mr. Parker. Big fan of your work at Horizon.
[Panel 3: Peter smiles sheepishly]
Peter: Eh. Mr. Parker was my uncle. Call me Peter.
[Panel 4: Cindy flushes, embarrassed that she messed up in front of what appears to be her idol]
Cindy: Um… okay, Peter?
Peter: It’s okay. You’ll get used to it.
[Panel 5: Peter reading the files in his hand]
Peter: I’m guessing you applied for ESU’s internship program. You’re in luck. They assigned you to me as my intern. Short for lab assistant where I come from.
[Panel 1: Full shot of Peter and Cindy talking]
Peter: What do you say I show you around the place next week and you can think on the offer?
Cindy: That… would be fantastic, Mr. Parker.
Peter: We’ll need to work on that last part. I’ll see you in a week.
[Panel 2: Peter walking away, a slight smile on his face]
Peter [Capt]: I love my job.
[Panel 3: Peter answers his bluetooth while walking down the street]
Peter: Harry! How’s it been? Feels like it’s been… yeah, about three months. Y’know, Flash called last night. Said he made it home safe from his tour in the Middle East. Whaddya say we all meet up at the Coffee Bean? Yeah, bring Liz! I’m sure she’d love to meet Annie!
Hold that thought, I’m getting a call on another line. Think it’s the lovely lady herself. I’ll call you back in a bit. Thanks.
[Panels 4 & 5: Side by side panels of Peter talking to MJ. The dialogue bubbles are put between the two, and on the line dividing the panels, we see the dialogue bubbles change to audio reception (similar to Iron Man’s speech bubbles in IIM) depending on the speaker]
Peter: Hey, beautiful. How’s it going over at Fort Parker?
MJ: S’well as can be expected. Annie’s asleep like a log. Must have the metabolism of Usain Bolt.
Peter: That’s my little princess…. Can I say hi?
MJ: I think I can arrange that. Turn on your phone.
[Panel 1: An up-close shot of Peter’s smart-phone. MJ is crouched next to the phone with baby Annie. We get our first shot of Annie, who bears a striking resemblance to MJ, even as an infant]
MJ: Come on kiddo, your dad wants to say hello.
Say hi to daddy!
[Panel 2: A silent panel. Upshot of Peter’s face. A sentimental look.]
[Panel 3: Cut to body shot of Peter, black silhouette on a white background]
MJ [phone voice]: Peter? You okay?
Peter: ...Yeah. Sorry. Just… every time I see her? Our little girl?
[Panel 4: A close of up of Peter’s mouth, curled up in an intimate smile]
Peter: All of the joy in the world just…
MJ: Believe me. I know.
[Panel 1: Peter leaning against a wall while passersby walk past to the side]
Peter [Capt]: It’s times like these that I need to change the subject, otherwise I just stick to the moment and don’t want to let go.
Peter: So… Flash is back home from his tour. We’re gonna get the gang together at the Coffee Bean. You game?
MJ [phone]: Coffee? From my husband? My oh my, almost like we’re still dating.
Peter: Well, the key to that perfect marriage is to keep the romance ablaze. So… you never answered my question.
[Panel 2: MJ tapping her finger against her chin in a playful manner]
MJ: Hmm… Well, I think I had a full calendar, but I suppose I could make room for you.
Peter: [On phone] Aw, how sweet of you. I’ll swing back around 5 and we can head out to meet the gang. I love you.
MJ: Love you too, Tiger.
[Panel 3: Peter walking down the street. Onomatopoeia shows sirens gradually approaching.]
Peter [Capt]: Sometimes I wonder how my life got to be so perfect.
No, wait, scratch that.
[Panel 4: An armored truck rushes past Peter, the police hot on its tail. Peter simply looks on as if merely a civilian]
Peter: [Capt] Okay. Now it just got perfect.
[Panel 1: Peter races into a alley, already taking off his jacket]
[Panel 2: The passersby continue walking with no disturbance]
[Panel 3: Repeat Panel 2]
[Panel 4: A web-line shoots out from the alleyway, causing the passersby to violently stop.
[Panel 1: We see the culprits of the crime, Shocker and Boomerang. Their tech appears to be a bit more modern but still look ridiculous, with Shocker having lost the fabric pattern and going more for a kevlar look for practicality. Boomerang has also placed a mouthplate over his face, and his visor now produces a low glow of red tint.]
Shocker: Haha! It’s like these things are just waiting for us to steal them! And they left the money in the truck! The cops in this city are worse at their job than we are!
Boomerang: You know it, Schultz! Maybe we’ll actually be able to pay back the Tinkerer for our tech this time!
[Panel 2: Shocker’s phone is heard vibrating, and he reaches into his back pocket.]
Shocker: Ooh, pull over, there’s a wild Eevee on the side of the street! This is gold! Wait until 8-ball finds out!
[Panel 3: Boomerang stares at Shocker in utter disbelief and silence]
[Panel 4: Boomerang is still looking at Shocker, trying to both comprehend his idiocy and focus on the road ahead]
Boomerang: You are such an insufferable moron.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man pokes his head through the open window, causing Shocker to panic and toss his phone up in the air. Boomerang loses focus as well, jumping backwards in the driver's seat]
Spider-Man: Oh, so you’re just now figuring this out? Congrats, Fred, I’ll give you your high school diploma when you’re behind bars.
Spider-Man: No , it’s me, Billy Mays! Don’t worry, I’m not here to sell you bleach.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man punches Shocker, smashing him against the back of the truck.]
Spider-Man: But I can certainly make you see a lot of white.
[Panel 3: Boomerang lets go of the wheel and grabs a boomerang]
Boomerang: Herman! Hang on, I’ll fix this!
[Panel 4: Outside shot of the van, with an explosion pushing out of the window]
[Panel 1: The van has crashed, slammed into a lampost and on its side.]
[Panel 2: Boomerang and Shocker crawl out of the van, weapons pointed outward]
Boomerang: You know what?! Screw the cash! We’re just gonna leave!
[Panel 3: Spider-Man kicks Shocker, knocking one of his gauntlets out of his hand]
Spider-Man: Nice strategy. Blow up your getaway vehicle. Get your spandex-covered butts in prison. I love it.
Spider-Man: What’s that? Can’t hear you over the sonic boom you made when you hit the pavement.
[Panel 1: Boomerang whips out a boomerang ]
Boomerang: That’s it! I’m bustin out the big guns!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man webs away the boomerang and examines it]
Spider-Man: I’ll take that, if you don’t mind.
Ooh, you’ve been naughty, Fred. We don’t play with miniaturized quantum warheads. You’re almost as bad as Clint. Hang on a sec.
[Panel 3: Boomerang is shown being webbed to the concrete]
Spider-Man: Boy, Tinkerer’s getting sloppy with his work on this one. Little bit of handiwork, and-
[Page 13: Full page. Upward shot of Spider-Man standing on top of Boomerang, the deactivated weapon still in his hand.]
Spider-Man: Boom. As in, crisis averted.
Whatever tech Tinkerer made for you, it was made with unstable isotopes. I’m guessing it was made as a last resort.
Boomerang: Uh… yeah. Why?
Spider-Man: It was meant to be thrown a specific fashion. He overcompensated. Throw it the wrong way and you’d send a quantum energy shockwave of about fifteen miles. Sends a good chunk of Manhattan over to the Negative Zone.
Boomerang: Goddammit. Last time I ever buy from Mason.
Spider-Man: Don’t worry. I’ve heard people say it before. You wouldn’t be the first.
[Panel 1: The Spider-Sense goes off as Spider-Man dodges a blast from Shocker.]
[Panel 2: Spider-Man webs Shocker’s remaining gauntlet as the two grapple for control, with Shocker still having to struggle his way through.]
Spider-Man: Bit stronger than last time, Herman. Lemme guess; hydraulics. Silvermane tech.
Spider-Man: Doesn’t make you any more effective against me.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man socks Shocker, commando-rushing him and slamming him into a nearby car]
Spider-Man: Look at that. The Spider-Man museum has opened. Exhibit A: Spider-Man beating the snot out of Shocker and Boomerang.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man looks towards the side of the page as police sirens catch up, having detoured to avoid road damage.]
Spider-Man: Aw, look at that. Here comes the NYPD to ruin our fun.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man mockingly patting Shocker on the head]
Spider-Man: Sorry, Herman. We’ll have to continue when Tinkerer can make quality products. Was fun tussling with weapons of mass destruction though.
Spider-Man: Sorry, Herman. I’m married. I’ll bet Fred would be interested though.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man walking up to the police, including Captain Carlie Cooper. (because alliteration.)]
Spider-Man: Captain Cooper! What a pleasant surprise! I just so happened to be slapping these two delinquents on the wrist when you arrived. Should be ready to ship over to Ryker’s on your call.
Carlie: [unmoved] Are you joking?
Spider-Man: … eh?
[Panel 3: Carlie snapping at Spider-Man. It’s clearly an act, and by her movements we can tell she is deliberately overreacting.]
Carlie: Thousands in property damages! Four squad cars completely obliterated! Half a block torn up from the fight alone! And the possibility of a weapon of mass destruction going off in this city! What in the hell were you thinking just going in guns blazing?!
[Panel 4: Carlie winking at Spider-Man cheerfully. It’s here we establish she’s a huge ally of Spider-Man within the NYPD. It can also be implied that the NYPD clearly has a negative opinion of Spider-Man, and Carlie is maintaining some type of charade to keep the higher-ups off her back.]
[Panel 5: Spider-Man acting defensive, clearly maintaining the charade]
Spider-Man: Ugh, I’m sorry Cap. Won’t happen again. Guess I’ll just swing away, forget this all happened.
Carlie: Not so fast, webhead. Somebody has to be held accountable for what’s happened here.
Spider-Man: If you’re asking me for money, two things.
One. I’m wearing spandex. Do I look like I’m carrying a checkbook to you?
[Panel 1: Spider-Man walks away from Carlie, prepping his webshooters, Carlie still clearly overreacting]
Spider-Man: Well, I’m off. Don’t wait up for my paycheck to the city, Captain.
Carlie: You can’t just walk away from a crime scene like that! You’re a witness and a vigilante! We need to question you!
Spider-Man: No, you don’t. I think we all know how this went down. Boomerang and Shocker stole your van. I stopped them. End of story, Captain Cooper.
[Panel 2: As Spider-Man swings off, Carlie and her subordinate watch him go off]
Redshirt Cop: Captain? You want us to go after him?
No. He’s good. The city needs him.
[Panel 3: Carlie walking over to the crime scene, her fellow officer following her.]
Carlie: He’s Spider-Man.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man swinging away from the wreckage]
Spider-Man [Capt]: I love my job.
[Page of silent panels]
[Panel 1: Peter swings into his apartment, MJ sitting there to greet him with Annie.]
[Panel 2: Peter runs into their bedroom, grabbing a shirt and pants from the laundry bin nearby.]
[Panel 3: Peter pops out of his room, dressed casually for a night out with his wife.]
[Panel 4: Breaks the silence. Peter and MJ perform a squeezing hug before they go out]
Peter [Capt]: There aren’t enough times I could say “I love you” to the other people in this room.
[Title: Epilogue 1]
[Peter and MJ walk into the Coffee Bean, with Harry, Flash, Jonah, Robbie and Liz there to greet them.]
MJ: Well, whaddya know? Harry Osborn on time, and not running up a bar tab that shoots past my monthly paycheck.
Peter: I guess my humor’s rubbing off on you.
MJ: Well, isn’t that frightening.
Jonah: There he is. PARKER! Why haven’t you sent me those photos yet?!
Robbie: Jonah. He stopped working for us ages ago.
Jonah: And he didn’t think to tell me when he quit?!
Robbie: He did. When he quit.
[Panel 2: Peter and Flash squash together]
Peter: Flash! Great to have you back! Take it your tour went well?
Flash: Well, you know. Great as can be expected from the folks at the Pentagon.
MJ: We’ve all missed you, Flash.
[Panel 3: MJ leaning sideways to whisper into Flash’s ear]
MJ: She couldn’t make it, but... I hear Betty’s been especially eager to see you again.
Flash: That so? Well, it’ll have to wait. I’m with family right now.
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ sitting with Harry]
Peter: I’d raise a glass to that, but… well, no booze.
Harry: I can go home and-
Peter: No. God, please don’t. Trying to make a good impression on the little one.
[Panel 1: Full shot of the group sat a table from a ceiling view. We can see Kaine and Aracely on a viewscreen on some kind on live chat with the group.]
Peter: Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting this kind of turnout. You know, we haven’t really done… well, this, for ages. It’s nice, welcome… but I missed it.
[Panel 2: Jonah looks at his plastic cup of coffee funny, as though it holds some magical secret. Robbie is holding his hands in disbelief, while Liz and Flash look on]
Jonah: You don’t need booze to make a toast! I’ll start us off!
Flash: Please. Don’t. Every time you make a toast, a professional alcoholic shakes his head in shame.
[Panel 3: Peter is snuggling with MJ]
Peter: Well, I don’t need to toast to family. I’ve got it right here. And I don’t plan on letting it go.
MJ: Somebody sounds like he can read the future.
Peter: Not even close. In fact-
[Page 20 and 21: Full 2-page spread of the entire cast raising their cups.]
Peter: Here’s to surprises!
[Title: Epilogue 2]
[Panel 1: Pitch black; caption: The Vault, superhuman detention center]
Voice behind the door: Octavius? It’s dinnertime.
[Panel 2: A crack in the door opens, and a prison guard steps into the room.]
Guard: Not that I’m sure you can eat.
[Panel 3: The guard stands next to a contained Doctor Octopus. It’s very obvious he’s on the brink of death, and even more than just the basic motions of walking and moving his arms could kill him.]
Guard: Guess you can finally enjoy something other than-
Octavius [in a raspy voice]: Pparrrkerr.
[Panel 1: The guard is looking at his prisoner.]
Guard: What does Parker have to do with anything? Whoever he is.
Octavius: I have done the calculations. Committed my time in solitude to realizing a truth I should have found a long time ago.
[Panel 2: We see only the guard’s face as he gasps, a bloody shhk on the panel]
Octavius: Parker is the cause of my suffering.
[Panels 3 and 4: We see a shot of each of Octavius’ four arms coming to reattach themselves to his harness, demonstrating his ability to telekinetically communicate with his tentacles.
[Panel 5: Octavius standing triumphantly over the dead guard, headed out to freedom with his tentacles holding his decaying body.]
Doc Ock: For this crime, I sentence Peter Parker… to face responsibility for his actions.
Hope you enjoyed this first issue for your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, please leave your thoughts on it down below in the comment sections.
Chapter 2: How Pale That Moon Glows, Pt. 1: We Danced With the Devil
Chapter by QuilSniv
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #2
“How Pale That Moon Glows, Pt 1: We Danced with the Devil”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Edgar Delgado
[Caption: The Apartment of Peter, Mary Jane and Annie Parker]
[Panel 1: Ceiling shot of Peter and MJ sleeping, when the alarm goes off.]
Peter [capt]: That’s my alarm right there. 5:30 a.m. every morning. Not one minute earlier, not one minute later.
[Panel 2: Peter’s fist comes down on the alarm clock, smashing it.]
Peter [capt]: Note to self. Keep alarm on MJ’s nightstand so I don’t keep breaking clocks.
[Panel 3: Peter slips out of bed and puts on his pants, MJ still fast asleep.]
Peter [capt]: Won’t try and wake the girls up. Neither are fun when they’re half-asleep.
[Panel 4: A rapping of the doorstop is heard, much to Peter’s confusion.]
Peter [capt]: Ugh. Lemme guess. Door-to-door salesmen. Might as well get this over with.
[Panel 5: Peter walks into the kitchen, switching on the lights as he enters.]
Peter [capt]: I’ll make some coffee, leave it warm for Red, and see who’s at the door.
[Panel 1: Peter opens the door only to see Carlie standing in front of him, holding what looks to be a suitcase.]
Peter: Carlie? It’s 5:30. A.M. What’re you doing out this early?
Carlie: I… uh… well, I need a place to stay for a bit.
Peter: But I thought you and Yuri moved in together. What happened?
Carlie: Let’s just say our view of how the police treat Spider-Man got in the way… so… would you mind if I borrow your couch for a few days?
[Panel 2: Peter allows Carlie in, helping her with her suitcase.]
Peter: Carlie, we’re always here to help if you need us.
Carlie: Pete, I don’t say it enough-
[Panel 3: Carlie falls onto the couch.]
Carlie: -but you’re a good friend.
[Panel 4: Peter walks over to the kitchen, pouring two cups of coffee.]
Peter: … Thanks.
[Panel 5: Peter hands Carlie one of the cups.]
Carlie: Ooh, I really needed this. Thanks.
[Caption: One hour later...]
[Panel 1: MJ, Carlie and Peter sitting around the kitchen table.]
Peter: ...So, MJ, Carlie needs a place to stay for a bit. I hope that’s okay with you?
MJ: Peter, I like Carlie. She’s welcome to stay, but her gun has to be stored away. I can’t have her carrying it around Annie.
Carlie: Thanks, MJ. Of course I’ll do that.
[Panel 2: Peter kissing MJ.]
Peter: I’ll see you tonight, ‘kay?
MJ: Tonight, Tiger.
Peter: Say good morning to Annie for me.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man swinging through New York.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Let’s take a look at what’s just happened. Flash’s back and that’s great, Carlie and Yuri were doing great. But now this?... I just hope Carlie doesn’t need to borrow my couch for too long.
Either way, it’s my intern’s first day. And I have to make it a good one.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man swings towards Horizon Labs.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Ahhh. The view never gets old.
[Panel 2: Peter is on the rooftop, changing. Silent panel.]
[Panel 1: Peter and Cindy walking through the main atrium of Horizon.]
Peter: No truer words were ever spoken. I remember my first day. And trust me, even though it’s been two years, I still feel like a kid in a candy shop.
Except in this case, the kid helps run that candy store. And that’s a scary thought.
Fun, but scary.
[Panel 2: Cindy bounces from one place to the next, excited by everything she sees. All the while Peter watches her, overwhelmed by her energy.]
Cindy: But isn’t that what makes this place so great?
Peter: Um… I… suppose it does. Now let’s head over to where I make my magic.
[Panel 3: Peter and Cindy approach a lab door, with Peter’s name on it and the label “Lab 7”]
Peter: Welcome to my lab.
[Panel 4: Larger panel. We see Peter’s lab, a large room filled with computers and lab equipment, most created by Peter. Judging by Cindy’s posture, you can tell that she’s amazed by the size of it.]
Peter: So. You like?
Cindy: Like? I love it!
So...You’re telling me they give you this entire lab? And they give you, what, nearly free reign to do whatever you want?
[Panel 1: Peter walks over to his desk, and turns on his computer.]
Peter: Just me and a handful of others. As long as we come up with something by the end of each quarter, we can come and go as we please.
[Panel 2: Peter holds up an application, already filled out.]
Peter: Now, about your application.
I’ve looked over all the details, and I liked what I saw. And if you want it, the job’s yours.
Cindy (Off panel): Are you kidding? Of course!
[Panel 3: Peter hands Cindy the clipboard, with a pen attached.]
Peter: Sign here and we can get started.
[Panel 4: Peter’s phone goes off, with him quickly excusing himself.]
Peter: Sorry Cindy. I’ll just grab this.
Yeah, I’m just here with the new kid and showing her the ropes.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back in time for dinner. I’ll make sure to grab some extras for Carlie.
I’ll give you a heads-up before I head out, just so you know we’re still around.
Thanks, honey. Give Annie my love. Bye.
[Panel 5: Peter slapping on some safety goggles.]
Peter: Alright. Ready to make some magic?
[Caption: A few hours later; 33rd West End Avenue: the Apartment of Peter and Mary Jane Parker]
[Panel 1: MJ and Carlie in Peter and MJ’s apartment. MJ is dressed in casual wear, while Carlie is dressed semi-professionally, wearing an unbuttoned police uniform as she stores her sidearm in a drawer. Annie is in a high chair at the table..]
MJ: Sorry. Had to call Pete and make sure he wasn’t lost.
Carlie: I’ve been meaning to ask this for ages… how did you two meet?, and… Sorry. Not my place to ask.
MJ: No, no, it’s fine. It might help with whatever you and Yuri are going through.
[Panel 2: MJ taking a drink from her cup]
MJ: I had… commitment issues. Pete suggested we work on fixing that when we got married. So, we decided to treat our marriage like we were still dating for a while, to curb my bad habits. We had all the fun and risks of dating, but we had the rings on our fingers to keep us in check.
I’m over that now, but we still like to play the game because we both still enjoy it.
Carlie (off-panel): That sounds… difficult.
MJ: More than you could ever know. But I’ll tell you a secret.
[Panel 3: MJ with a slight smile on her face]
MJ: The day I put the ring on his finger? The day Annie came into the world?
Every day I struggled with commitment, was worth what I have now. Remember that, Carlie. The end result is worth everyday you question whether you love somebody enough or the arguments you may have. It may not be perfect-
[Panel 4: side shot of Carlie looking between MJ and her mug]
MJ (Off panel): -But it’s as damn close to it as you can get.
[Panel 1: MJ and Carlie stifling a small laugh and failing, with the door knocking in the background]
MJ: Heh… sorry, I need to mind what I say. Let me just get that.
[Panel 2: MJ goes over to the door, the knocking sound effect more noticeable]
MJ: Alright, alright! Jeez, could you-
[Page 9 and 10]
[Two-page spread. Doctor Octopus rams his way into the apartment, the door flying off its hinges. MJ gets knocked backwards, Carlie bolting up when she realizes the situation and moving to protect Annie]
Doc Ock: Ms. Watson. Thank you for inviting me in.
MJ: Octavi- Gah!
Carlie: MJ! Get Annie out of here! I’ll-
[Panel 1: Carlie gets held in a chokehold by Ock, who glares menacingly at her.]
Carlie: Hrrk… gahk…
Ock: Captain Cooper. So happy you could join us, but I’m afraid you aren’t essential to this conversation.
[Panel 2: MJ has grabbed a shard of metal and is charging at Ock]
MJ: Yeah? And what conversation would that be?
[Panel 3: MJ stabs the shard into the mechanical arm holding Carlie, causing it to malfunction and release an electrical charge.]
Ock: What are you- Gnyah!
[Panel 4: Carlie is flung onto a wall, a resounding crack coming from her back as she collides with it.]
MJ (OP): CARLIE!
[Panel 1: MJ stands her ground in front of her daughter, staring Ock down]
Ock: Now, Ms. Watson-
MJ: It’s Parker now. Mary Jane Parker.
[Panel 2: Carlie is crawling along the floor, towards the drawer where she stashed her pistol.]
Ock [op]: Irrelevant. If you may recall, I have unfinished business with your husband. And you and your daughter are the key to settling it.
[Panel 3: Ock’s arms shield him from several bullets, deflecting them away.]
Ock: Excuse me while I deal with this distraction…
[Panel 4: Carlie lying on the ground, in clear pain, her smoking sidearm in her hand]
Carlie: MJ… run… get help.
Ock (OP): Ah, Captain Cooper. I forgot you were here.
[Panel 4: Ock lifts Carlie by her hand, her limp form hanging by it.]
Ock: Allow me to remove you from this conversation.
[Panel 5: Ock’s tentacle squeezes; Carlie lets out a howl of pain as both the gun and her hand are crushed]
Ock: There. Much better.
[Panel 1: Ock lets Carlie go, as he turns to MJ, who is holding her child defensively]
[Panel 2: Ock and MJ stare at each other, MJ far more defiantly.]
Ock: ...I believe we had a conversation to finish.
[Panel 3: MJ, while still putting on a brave facade, stares at the reader/Ock, determined to protect her daughter no matter the cost. It’s clear that her image is slowly cracking as Ock’s tentacles, from the reader’s POV, edge towards her.]
[Cap: A few hours later (give or take)]
[Panel 1: Peter waving to Cindy as she heads home]
Peter [capt]: Alright, good day. Cindy loves the new job, and I have an extra set of arms to help carry the load. Better than having two extra sets of my own.
Boy, that was surreal.
[Panel 2: Peter is calling MJ but receives no reply.]
Peter [capt]: Huh. Thought we said I’d call her when I got off work. Maybe she’s busy with Annie and couldn’t get the phone.
[Panel 3: Peter heads home, carrying a bag of food]
Peter [capt]: MJ and Annie are probably starving. Not to mention Carlie, thankfully I was able to pick up some extras.
[Panel 4: Peter is struggling with finding his keys when he looks up.]
Peter: Just gotta find my keys and- wha...
[Panel 5: Peter sharpens his vision and takes note of the wall.]
Peter [capt]: Slight crack in the window, a bullet hole, and several bulges in the wall. Twelth floor, on the left of-
[Panel 1: Peter’s bags drop to the ground]
Peter [capt]: No.
[Panel 2: Peter charges into the building, confused passersby watching him.]
Peter [capt]: [Nothing but “No”s. Continue these strings for all of the panels on this page and the first panel of page 16]
[Panel 3: Peter roughly shoves the apartment’s lobby door open, not caring if he breaks it in his panic]
[Panel 4: Peter finally reaches the twelfth floor]
[Panel 5: Peter skids to a halt as he nears his apartment door]
[Panel 1: Peter kicks open the door to his apartment.]
[Panel 2: Peter looks around in horror.]
Peter: Oh God No.
[Panel 3: Peter rushes around, trying to find his family.]
Peter: MARY JANE?! ANNIE?! Please be alright. Please be alright.
[Panel 3: Peter finds the shattered remains of Carlie’s pistol]
Peter [capt]: Carlie’s sidearm.
Clip’s missing three rounds. Either she or MJ managed to get a few shots off at whatever caused this.
[Panel 4: Peter smashes open the door to his bedroom]
Peter [capt]: Okay, one room left to check. If they’re here, then no need to panic.
[Panel 1: Close up of Peter’s horrified face]
Peter [capt]: OK, now I’m panicking.
[Panel 2: Large panel. Peter is standing in front of a wall, the bed to his left. Etched crudely into it is a single, large word. “MEET.” Underneath is an address on the Manhattan coastline. Underneath all this crude writing is a signature, carved immaculately: “Dr. Otto Gunther Octavius.” And what he sees nailed under the signature, fills Peter with dread, for it’s the Spider-Man doll belonging to Annie along with a lock of Mary Jane’s hair.]
[Peter [capt]: He hasn’t got much time left. And that’s he wants to meet one final time.
And he’ll use my family to get it.
[Panel 3: Peter hears a struggle from the closet.]
Peter [capt]: Someone’s still here.
[Panel 1: Carlie is seen, bound and gagged in the closet]
[Panel 2: Peter helps untie her, as she struggles to get herself free.]
Peter: Carlie, I need you to stay calm. Tell me where Octavius went with my family? I need to save them!
[Panel 3: Carlie, now free of her gag, begins panicking]
Carlie: You can’t be here! Octavius has been here, he’s rigged the place to blow!
Peter: Carlie, calm down! We’re safe, I promise! If there was a trap, I would’ve-
[Panel 4: An alert rings, Peter looks up, realizing that he’s wandered into a trap, a bomb in front of him and Carlie]
Alert: Proximity movement detected. Detonation in 10 seconds.
[Panel 1: One of two similar panels; Peter leaps out of the apartment window carrying Carlie, he’s just barely clears it.]
[Panel 2: He gains a little more distance when the wall behind him bursts into a ball of flames.]
[Panel 3: Peter lands on his back onto a parked car, using himself to shield Carlie from the impact.]
[Panel 1: Peter recovers from his rough landing, and realizes that he nearly exposed himself saving Carlie, who is going in and out of consciousness due to the explosion. Peter eases her down]
Peter [capt]: What was I thinking?! Falling a dozen stories with no costume?!
Stop. Peter. Focus, Priorities.
Peter: I need somebody to call the EMTs! She’s been hurt! Shattered hand, multiple back injuries!
[Panel 2: Peter moves Carlie into a position to prevent further injuries to her back and hand]
Peter: Keep her stabilized until they arrive. I’ve got some personal business to take care of-
[Panel 3: Peter’s face, the right eye; the flames of his destroyed apartment can be seen reflected in the iris.]
Peter: -And I need to make sure settled for good this time.
[Panel 1: Peter runs off into an alleyway, Carlie stirring back to reality as pedestrians keep her stable.]
[Panel 2: Face shot of Carlie, as she watches Peter run-off.]
[Panel 3: Peter, in full Spider-Man garb, swings towards the reader, his lenses narrowed.]
Peter [capt]: MJ? Sit tight. Don’t let him dare touch Annie.
And Ock? You hurt them?
I won’t be responsible anymore.
[To be continued]
Hope you enjoyed this latest issue for your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, please leave your thoughts on it down below in the comment sections.
Chapter 3: How Pale That Moon Glows, Pt. 2: Stare at the Line
Chapter by QuilSniv
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #3
“How Pale That Moon Glows, Pt 2: Stare at the Line”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Edgar Delgado
[Cap: The Hospital Room of Carlie Cooper]
[Panel 1: Carlie is lying in her hospital bed. A silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Yuri Watanabe rushes into the room. Present her as frantic and desperate to see her.]
Thank God you’re okay!
Carlie [OP]: Yuri?
[Panel 3: Carlie and Yuri gingerly hug, with Carlie’s injuries preventing them from fully embracing.]
Carlie: It’s… I’m glad you’re here. Thanks.
Yuri: It’s the least I can do after kicking you out....
Carlie: Yeah, about that… I might have to move back in. The place I was staying at got a little toasty.
Yuri: It was just a little fight. I think we might be able to get past that.
[Panel 4: Silent panel. Carlie and Yuri contemplate whether or not they should speak.]
[Panel 5: Carlie speaks to Yuri.]
Carlie: Yuri, I… I don’t know how to phrase this, but…
Yuri: Please don’t let it be about Spider-Man.
Carlie: It’s about Spider-Man.
[Panel 1: Close up of Carlie. A shaken, almost scared look on her face.]
Carlie: No, you need to hear this.
I don’t care if this causes something irreparable to happen. You need to find Spidey. Because if he goes through with what he said when he saved me-
[Panel 2: Horizontal panel of Peter swinging frantically across the cityscape.]
Carlie [Cont’d Capt]: -he won’t be able to just walk away from it this time.
Peter [capt]: C’mon, Parker! Pull it together! Your wife and kid need you!
All that’s between you and them is a crazed man with carbonadium-coated metal arms that has nothing to lose.
No. Can it.
This time he’s crossed the line. You can’t joke when he’s done this.
[Panel 3: Peter is still swinging. Back shot, so we can see the New York coastline as he makes his way towards the harbor.]
The moment Ock dragged MJ and Annie into this, he made it personal. And not that they’ve been put in danger, you need to step up your game.
[Panel 4: Close-up of Spider-Man’s mask, the lenses reflecting the colors of the sunset in front of him.]
Peter [capt]: I swear to God, if he lays another metal finger on them, I’m gonna-
No. You’re better than that. You’re better than Ock. You don’t kill.
But Ock’s gone too far. If he can cross the line-
[Panel 1: MJ and Doc Ock in Ock’s makeshift hideout. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, your average warehouse hideout.]
Peter [OP capt]: -I have a choice to cross my own line. But here’s a good question: how far over that line would I willing to go?
MJ: I’m usually one for fresh lines. But here’s an old one that I think will work: Peter will come. And right now? Making sure a dying man comes out of this alive will be the least of his concerns. Especially when that man has made it his mission to kill a guy in tights.
Ock: Miss Watson, I appreciate your criticism of this rather… hackneyed approach. But I am not here to kill Spider-Man. No, I have tried many times before, and all have failed.
[Panel 2: Ock’s tentacle scrapes across MJ’s chin, a small drip of blood trickling down the finger of the tentacle.]
Ock: Rather, a new tactic came to mind. In my last moments on this planet, I have decided to give something to Parker. I want to teach him that victory comes at a cost- whether or not it’s a corporeal matter simply makes the idea more challenging.
MJ: So, you want a final play-date with Peter. Then why are we here?
[Panel 3: MJ lashes at Ock, surprising even him with her ferocity.]
MJ: AND WHERE THE HELL IS MY DAUGHTER?!
Ock: I assure you, Miss Watson-
MJ: I said it’s Parker now.
Ock: And as I’ve stated, Miss Watson, such formalities are irrelevant to this topic. You are simply here to incentivize your husband’s hand.
[Panel 1: Ock staring towards the reader]
MJ (OP): If you had kidnapped either of us, he still would’ve come guns blazing.
Ock: I want Parker to earn what he has been working towards, Miss Watson. You are the first step to obtaining what I have to share. Your daughter on the other hand….
[Panel 2: MJ lashes out at Ock yet again, though this time Ock is not taken aback. He’s come to expect fiery, protective parent attitude from MJ, at least what he perceives as such in his mind.]
MJ: You’re a lunatic, Octavius! I’ll kill-
Ock: Yes. I suppose this reaction is natural. However, your daughter is unharmed. That may not be the case in the next few ho-
[Panel 3: Ock topples over, coughing up copious amounts of blue-and-red blood.]
Ock: I -hack- apologize for the display. That was… unexpected.
MJ: You’re dying.
Can I ask you a question?
Ock: I suppose I can afford you the luxury, Miss Watson.
[Panel 4: side view of MJ. She’s not sympathetic, but trying to study Ock, understand him before he dies.]
MJ: If you think you can’t beat Peter, why are you here? Why drag us into this? Why not just… wither away in the Vault or wherever they shove you next?
[Panel 1: Ock contemplating how to respond.]
Ock: I was always taught to achieve perfection when it came to my work. Your husband is a wrench in that machine I have oiled so well. So, before I die…
I want to win against Spider-Man. Not win and run away, no. Win and be able to stand over him and gloat about it before I pass. Not kill, just make sure he’s alive to see that I have beaten him.
And if it means dragging those he loves into the conflict, well…
[Panel 2: MJ, tears of fear in her eyes, growling as Ock draws her near]
Ock: I hold steadfast to the ideology that such losses are unavoidable casualties.
MJ: You’re a sick bastard, you know that?
Ock: So I’ve heard.
[Panel 3: Ock looks up to hear Peter’s war scream echo across New York.]
Ock: Ah. Curtain calling, Miss Watson. I must take my leave and prepare. I leave you to your husband.
[Panel 4: MJ looks terrified of what could happen to Annie, even as we can hear Peter coming for them.]
[Full page: Black and white art, no colors. Black background with white silhouettes of Spider-Man and the skylight he smashes through.]
Spider-Man: Knock knock, Ock.
[Panel 1: Peter rushing over to MJ]
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ are holding each other, each panicking over their current situation.]
MJ: Ock has Annie! What are we-
Peter: I finish the job. Simple as that.
MJ: Peter… make him pay.
[Panel 3: Silent panel; Peter looking away from MJ, whose hand is on his mask.]
[Panel 4: MJ and Peter looking at each other, MJ pulling up his mask.]
Peter: I’m going to save her. The cost is never too high.
MJ: I know.
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ kiss. A silent panel]
[Panel 2: MJ pulling down Peter’s mask]
MJ: Go get ‘im, Tiger.
[Panel 3: Peter swings into the darkness, MJ watching as he charges towards his adversary.]
[Cap: Further into the warehouse]
[Panel 1: Doc Ock looks down at Annie, who seems oblivious to the danger she’s in.]
Ock: You poor, naive child. I sympathize with you.
You have no idea how broken your father is. How tainted he is by the choices he has made. His sins run deep into all of us. We are all victims of his crusade.
[Panel 2: Ock continues to question Annie, who has just now started to realize that she is in peril, at least on the scope a 2-year old can interpret.]
And when you finally grow-up to understand what he does, you will laud him as a hero, and I will be branded as a criminal.
I will not hold it against you. It will be what you are taught. You are simply too young and too simple to understand the nuances of the situation.
[Panel 3: A web-line cracks against the floor, getting the attention of Ock.]
Peter: Nuance this.
Ock: Ah, and here we are.
[Panel 4: We see Peter has outfitted himself with multiple web-lines tied together to form two web-whips.]
Peter: Touch her, Ock? You’ll regret it.
[Panel 1: Ock glaring at Spider-Man]
Ock: How good of you to join us.
[Panel 2: an action panel of Ock’s tentacles rushing towards Spider-Man]
Ock (op): I do apologize, but I’m running on borrowed time.
Spider-Man: I’m willing to let that clock run all the way. But you need to let her go. She’s got nothing to do with this.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man grabs the tentacles by their ends, small dents appearing where his fingers are gripping them.]
Spider-Man: I’m not going to ask twice, Ock.
[Panel 4: Peter analyzes Ock’s arm, noticing a gash in Ock’s metal arm where MJ stabbed him last issue.]
Spider-Man [capt]: He’s not attacking with his bottom left tentacle. MJ must have gotten him with something and left him vulnerable. Just need to get to that tentacle and cripple him. Then I can-
[Panel 1: an action panel of Peter flinging his right hand web-whip to grab Ock’s damaged tentacle.]
[Panel 2: Spider-Man begins a rush towards Ock, aiming to quickly resolve the fight.]
Spider-Man [capt]: His tentacles move fast, but I can move faster. I have to move faster.
[Panel 3: Peter is taken by surprise when the limp tentacle suddenly attacks, wrapping around him and squeezing his midsection.]
[Panel 1: We see Peter dangling from Ock’s tentacles, Ock glaring at him triumphantly.]
Ock: There. I appreciate the view from here far better. You’re an opportunistic one, Parker. You look for openings where your enemies failed to cover, and exploit them. Not me, not today. Today?
[Panel 2: face shot of Ock grinning in glee.]
Ock: I win!
[Panel 3: Ock’s spare tentacle slithers towards a crying Annie, who recoils in fright.]
Ock (op): Now, how shall I celebrate my victory with my last moments? I’m sure further harming your family would be a good way to add to your suffering.
[Panel 4: A shot of Peter’s still-useful lens. We see the tentacle reflected in them.]
[Splash page. Peter being held by the tentacles on a black background. The backdrop is shattered like glass]
[Pages 14 and 15]
[Two page spread. Peter is seen overpowering Ock, grabbing his damaged tentacle and ripping it apart, while also tearing himself free from Ock’s grip. Ock, while remaining calm and somewhat stoic, is panicking at the turn of events]
Peter: Get your hands off my daughter, YOU SON OF A BITCH!
[Panels 1-3: Various panels of Peter thrashing Ock, who has lost a tentacle and the upper hand.]
[Panel 4: Peter has finally triumphed, Ock collapsing backwards. Sound effect of an organ popping.]
Peter [capt]: That did it. That last swing took out his one of his lungs.
[Full page, but divided into four panels. Peter is on Doc Ock, gripping him with one fist, the severed tentacle in the other.]
Peter [capt]: Must’ve taken out his tentacles too. He’s not trying to fight back. Either that or he’s gone.
Peter: Alright, Otto. I’m going to ask you one question, and you’re gonna answer it for me, plain and straight.
All of this. Kidnapping my family. Threatening my daughter’s life. All for one final battle you knew you probably couldn’t win. Let me ask you this…
Was it worth it?
Ock: You really want the truth?
[Panel 5: A small panel off to the far right of the page, which shows Peter’s lenses wide open, shocked by what he’s just heard.]
Ock [op]: Absolutely.
[Panels 1 & 2: Peter (panel 1) and Ock (panel 2) staring each other down]
Ock: After all this time, I decided to ask myself why Spider-Man doesn’t kill. You never see him take a life. And I decided to take it upon myself to determine how far you’d go to save somebody.
And today, remind me what you did. You beat me to shreds, yes? Here we are, one of us on the verge of death, all because of another man’s fist.
[Panel 3: Near copy of panel 3, the single difference Peter’s narrowed lens.
Peter: I would never-
[Panel 4: Same as panel 2, Ock choking on his breaths.]
Ock: Ahh, but you did! Today, I broke Peter Parker! I broke Spider-Man!
[Panel 5: In a final gambit, Ock’s tentacle lashes out towards Annie, Spider-Man’s lenses widening in panic.]
Ock: Tonight-- I win!
Spider-Man: ANNIE! NO!
[Panel 6: From a perspective on Ock, Peter has stabbed Ock with the tentacle he ripped off Ock. A splatter of blood covers the panel.]
[Panel 1: MJ is waiting impatiently. She’s pacing in the same spot.]
[Panel 2: MJ turns her head in notice of a clanging noise. A smaller panel.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man is walking towards MJ, who is off-panel, carrying Annie, who is hugging her father with some degree of fright.]
MJ[op]: You saved her! You did it!
Spider-Man: I made a promise. Can’t exactly break those. ‘Specially ones you make to your wife.
[Panel 4: The three hug]
MJ: You’re a little quiet, Pete. Are you… okay?
MJ: You did good. You saved the day. Nothing to be…
[Panel 1: Peter squeezes MJ tightly, cutting her off]
Peter: MJ… Ock’s not going to hurt either you or Annie.
[Panel 2: Peter, with a somber and borderline terrified expression on his face. A silent panel, as MJ realizes to herself what Peter has done, a display of grim determination.]
[Panel 3: All three continue to hug, far shot away from them.]
[Page 21: Epilogue 2]
[Panel 1: The hospital room of Carlie Cooper. Carlie now has her laptop on her lap, Yuri resting her head on the bedside]
Yuri: We weren’t able to find him. Looks like you and the folks at Parker’s apartment were the last ones to spot him before he took off.
Carlie: Yeah… figured he’d be good at this by now. I just… I hope he hasn’t done something dangerous.
[Panel 2: Yuri and Carlie turn on the laptop.]
Yuri: Hey, it’s not your fight. It’s his.
Carlie: Wait, turn that up! They found Spider-Man!
[Panel 3: The Daily Bugle. Designed similarly to the offices seen in Big Time. Robbie, Jonah, and Phil Urich are all situated around Jonah’s desk, as they watch the news on his laptop]
[Panel 4: The apartment of Flash Thompson. Flash is seated in an army t-shirt while listening to the radio, the current broadcast catching his interest.]
[Panel 5: Oscorp Headquarters. A standard CEO office where Harry Osborn is situated with Liz and Normie.]
[Panel 6: The home of Felicia Hardy. A very spacious and semi-luxurious room, with Felicia stashing away her Black Cat equipment watching the news as well.]
[Panel 1: Carlie looking away from the feed uncomfortably, Yuri comforting her]
[Panel 2: Robbie and Phil walking out of Jonah’s office, who’s gone on yet another tirade. Whether it’s one of celebration or anger, would be up to the reader to interpret.]
[Panel 3: Flash smashes his radio, in denial of his idol’s actions]
[Panel 4: Harry, Liz and Normie all look away, unable to really decide how to take the news of Spider-Man’s actions.]
[Panel 5: Felicia is holding a picture she and Peter took long ago, when he was still wearing the black costume. It’s clear that the memory is a fond point in time for her, and this suggests that she’d rather remember Peter for that than what he has done this night.]
[Panel 6: Peter sitting on the edge of his now-destroyed apartment, holding his Spider-Man mask in his hands.]
To be concluded.
Hope you enjoyed this latest issue for your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, please leave your thoughts on it down below in the comment section.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #4
“How Pale That Moon Glows, Pt. 3: The Morality of Superior Men”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Edgar Delgado
[Panel 1: Vertical Panel, with Peter looking over his dreamscape in horror. As he stands over the corpse of Doctor Octopus, his loved ones, MJ in front, are all hanging, stone dead, from the fused together pincers on his arms. .]
[Panel 2: Peter shoots up in a cold sweat, startling MJ, who has been keeping watch over him that night. She’s been expecting this to happen, implying a series of nightmares have occurred since Peter killed Doc Ock. They’re sleeping on their couch, seeing as their room was blown up in Issue 2.]
Peter [cap]: I have nightmares.
I live nightmares.
I lived one days ago.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ comfort each other. Make it a bit more emotionally charged, show some vulnerabilities between the two given their recent situation.]
Peter [cap]: But that’s okay. Because I’m allowed to be scared.
[Panel 1: MJ and Peter and Peter are still snuggled together.]
MJ: Are you scared?
[Panel 2: Same]
MJ: Of supervillains coming to kidnap Annie and me?
MJ: Everybody else getting caught in the crossfire?
MJ: Of yourself?
Peter: … Yeah.
I have all of this power, but what if I’ve used it irresponsibly?
Hell, I have used it irresponsibly!
[Panel 3: Peter looks towards MJ, a sullen look on his face as he explains his explains his current mental state, tears welling up.]
Peter: I mean, look at what I did!
I killed a man!
[Panel 4: Peter has broken down, completely sobbing and pouring all of his emotions out.]
Peter: He was moments from death. Moments! I could have just let him wither away and die in front of me, but no! I decided to take his life! Right there! With my bare hands!
We can argue the ethics all day long, but nobody’s going to trust me after this. I don’t trust me right now!
What kind of person does that make me, MJ? What does killing Ock make me as a person?
[Panel 5: MJ sits silently, trying to find the right words to respond to her husband. She is at a loss for them]
[Panel 1: MJ has finally found the words she is looking for]
MJ: You’re a good person, Peter. I can’t imagine the line you ride, but I’m guessing it isn’t an easy one.
Peter: No. Not… not really.
MJ: But just a few nights ago, you fell off the line to save Annie. You destroyed the single greatest threat to your daughter’s safety since Osborn.
I won’t say that what you did was right. But what you did that night? It proves to the world that you’re human.
[Panel 2: MJ cups Peter’s chin in her hand, the two staring each other in the eyes.]
MJ: And human is all I ask for my husband to be.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ kiss. Not necessarily bittersweet, but hesitantly intimate.]
[Panel 1: Peter pulls away, a bit shaken. He’s getting off of the couch, grabbing his Spider-Man costume as he rises.]
Peter: I… sorry. I just need to clear my head.
MJ: No, it’s… it’s okay. You need your space, I… I get that. Just… don’t stay out too late.
You’ve got work tomorrow. And I don’t want you to fall head-first onto the concrete because you didn’t sleep well.
[Panel 2: Peter pulling on his mask as he walks to the window.]
Peter: ...Are you scared of me? After what I did to Octavius?
[Panel 3: MJ sits on the edge of the bed, unsure of how to answer the question]
And for now, we don’t need to discuss anything. That’s all that matters.
[Panel 4: Peter leaps onto his windowsill, MJ watching him as he fires a web out]
Peter: Let’s keep it that way, MJ.
[Panel 1: Black Cat crawling out of a pitch black room, a sly grin across her face]
Felicia [cap]: Ooh, that was a close one.
[Panel 2: Felicia slips her stolen treasure into a pouch on her waist.]
Felicia: And Black Cat secures her prize… as if there was ever any doubt.
[Panel 3: Peter swings towards Felicia]
Felicia: Spidey, coming to see me! Pleasure or business? Hopefully the former.
Spider-Man: No Felicia, I’m… not... Please tell me those aren’t…
[Panel 4: Spider-Man pointing at Felicia accusatorily, with Felicia backing up in shock.]
Spider-Man: …The Horizon Lenses I made for you?! Felicia, you and I had a deal! You’re not supposed to use those unless you’re fighting crime! Or when I’m not directly working with you!
Felicia: Ah Spidey, I only wear them at night because it adds to my repertoire, and you know what a repertoire I have.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man takes a step back as Felicia comes towards him suggestively]
Spider-Man: Felicia, you do remember I’m married. Now back to the goggles.
Felicia: such little trust in me, here, check the OS, you’ll see that I only activated them last week.
Spider-Man: You know what, never mind… The way things are I can’t deal with it right now and to answer your question, I do trust you which is why I’m here.
[Panel 5: Peter leans and falls against a wall. It’s clear that he’s conflicted.]
Felicia (op): You okay?
Peter: No... No I’m not.
Felicia (op): Want to talk about what happened?
Peter: That’s…actually the reason why I came to you.
[Panel 1: Peter takes off his mask]
Felicia: Well, I’m here.
[Panel 2: Felicia sit down next to Peter, taking off her lenses]
Peter: I’m sure you heard about… what I did.
Felicia: Ock? Yeah, I heard.
Peter: Well, I think I need a fresh perspective.
Felicia: As in?...
[Panel 3: Peter looking at Black Cat]
Peter: As in, you’re the only person I know who doesn’t have any family they’re close to. So, I wanted to ask- if Ock had somebody you loved, and he was inches from death as it was...
What would you do?
[Panel 4: Felicia staring back at Peter, her hair flowing to the side as she drills daggers into his eyes]
Felicia: Well, for one, I’ve never really been emotionally attached with anybody, except for you and Mary Jane.
[Panel 1: Felicia continues talking, looking off into the cityscape.]
Felicia: I’ve always been a loner.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t say I don’t understand what you did.
In all honesty, if I had somebody I loved, placed in the same danger your daughter was, nothing would stop me from doing what I needed to do, to make sure they’re safe.
[Panel 2: Felicia puts her hand on Peter’s shoulder]
Felicia: Because I know that’s exactly what you would do.
Peter: Thanks. I… I needed that.
A lot more than you’d ever-
[Panel 3: A bright spotlight shines down on Peter and Felicia, causing both of them to look up in surprise and cover their eyes.]
[Panel 1: Takes up three-quarters of the page. Iron Man, Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman hover down upon the two, Iron Man’s spotlight shining down on them.]
Iron Man: We need to talk.
[Panel 2: Peter puts on his mask, as Felicia is walking away]
Felicia: Peter? You need help with -?
Peter: No. I was expecting something like this to happen eventually.
[Capt: Avengers Tower, Interrogation room]
[Panel 1: Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Spider-Woman, Black Panther and Vision sitting in a half-circular table lit up by inner light fixtures, with Spider-Man seated on the opposite side of the room. Iron Man’s helmet is off to the side of him, and Spider-Man’s head is sunken down, mask off.]
Peter [cap, continued from last page]: Guess it’s time I faced it.
Iron Man: -So what you’re telling us is that Otto Octavius decided to kidnap your wife and child, and you killed him in retaliation. That’s not going to look good on your rap sheet.
Peter: By all technicalities, I killed him, but… yeah. I killed him for putting my little girl’s life on the line.
[Panel 2: Close shot of Peter’s mask]
Peter: Let’s look at it this way. There’s one less threat to my family now that Octavius is out of the way.
[Panel 3: Iron Man looking towards Spider-Man]
Iron Man: That’s not good enough. The Mighty Avengers exist so that we can be held accountable for our actions.
Peter: You keep forgetting, Tony. I left before your little club of All-American hitmen was sanctioned.
Iron Man: Maybe so. But that doesn’t mean we won’t forget this. Effective immediately, we’re placing you under global satellite surveillance indefinitely until we can determine what we need to do.
[Panel 4: Peter stands up, the Avengers slowly rising to match him]
Peter: Really, now? Guess you’ll really never understand, then.
Vision: I’m not sure I follow, Spider-Man.
Peter: Well, let me fill in the blanks for you.
A man threatened my family. He nearly killed my daughter. All just to make me suffer one last time before he died. And let me make one thing clear to all of you.
If anybody- including the Avengers- tries to put their safety in question again, I won’t stop until they’re safe again.
[Panel 1: Peter’s hand is gripping the chair, crumpling it under the pressure.]
Peter [op]: You’re right. I did kill him. But no one here has a family to keep safe. You don’t even know what I went through that night.
[Panel 2: Takes up half the page. Peter is walking away from the Mighty Avengers, opening the door as he leaves.]
Peter: I don’t care how many of Tony’s satellites are watching my home.
Peter: No, Tony. I don’t want to hear what you have to say. I did what I had to do. End of story. Bye.
[Panel 2: The Mighty Avengers look to each other in worry.]
[Cap: The Apartment of Carlie Cooper and Yuri Watanabe]
[Panel 1: Carlie is sitting on her couch, wearing casual sleepwear, looking over a scrapbook.]
Carlie [cap]: Feels weird being home again. Surprising how much you can learn in a few days.
[Panel 2: Thin panel, side shot of Carlie’s face.]
Carlie [cap]: Not everyday you learn that your friend is the person your girlfriend is trying to bring in.
Which leaves me a choice.
[Panel 3: A page of the scrapbook, which shows two pictures; one is of Peter, MJ and Carlie at a baseball game, and the other is of Yuri and Carlie snuggled together.]
Carlie [cap]: Do I protect the identity of a man who has a family to protect, or tell the person I want to have a family with one day how to hunt them down?
[Panel 1: Full shot of Carlie on the couch, pinching the bridge of her nose]
Carlie [cap]: Times like these, I wish I knew the answers.
[Panel 2: Carlie is alerted by Yuri, taking her out of her thoughts.]
Yuri [op]: Carls? You coming?
[Panel 3: Carlie looking down at the photo in her hand. We don’t know which one it is. Silent panel]
[Panel 4: horizontal shot. Yuri is reading in their bed as Carlie closes the door behind her.]
Yuri: Hey, you okay?
Anything we need to talk about?
[Panel 5: Shot of Carlie’s face, a smile that tries to be a little bit too honest to a lie she know she shouldn’t be keeping.]
Carlie: No. It’s... it’s nothing.
[cap: Peter and MJ’s apartment]
[Panel 1: High shot from the rafters. MJ is helping Peter with his sweater.]
MJ: Peter, I’m not sure it’s my place to say what’ll help you have some kind of comfort with yourself, but… you’re sure you want to do this?
Peter: I’m.. yeah. I’m sure. I need to do this.
[Panel 2: MJ strokes Peter’s cheek lovingly]
Peter: Thanks, MJ. For coming with me. Can’t begin to…
MJ: Stop. This isn’t about me. You said you needed this.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ hug intimately. Silent panel]
[Panel 4: Peter walks out the door, MJ hesitating]
Peter: MJ? You… um… you coming?
MJ: Yeah. Just… gimme a minute to get my coat.
Peter: ‘Kay. I’ll be right outside.
[Panel 5: Click on the door closing as MJ holds a silvery hair behind her back; silent panel]
[cap: Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn]
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ stand over the grave of Otto Octavius, a soft wind blowing over them as a sliver of sunlight appears off-panel, barely enough ]
Peter [cap]: Ock, I know you and I always had our differences.
There’s a reason we were always fighting in streets.
There used to a time when I thought you could turn around your life, do good for the people around you.
I would have forgiven you.
[Panel 2: Close up of Peter’s eye, which is narrowed]
Peter [cap]: Then you went after my family.
The moment you tried to take them? I decided.
I will never forgive you.
[Panel 3: Peter starts standing up, his front shadowed out]
Peter [cap]: I don’t care what you planned to do with them. You said when we fought that you wanted to break me. And that if you did, you’d win.
You thought wrong. The moment you said you broke me?
[Splash page: Peter and MJ standing, arms wrapped around each other as they look down on his grave, with the morning dawn cascading onto their backs.]
Peter [cap]: I won.
I’m finally free from whatever eternal curse we were locked in.
[Panel 1: MJ is looking at Peter, who is still intensely staring at Ock’s grave]
MJ: Peter, are you?...
[Panel 2: Peter is walking away, MJ beginning to follow him]
Peter: Yeah. I’m good. We’re done here.
MJ: Alright, then. Let’s go home.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ are in the distance, the grave revealed to be in an overgrown briar patch, kept far away from the rest of the headstones]
Peter [cap]: So long, Ock.
[cap: Peter and MJ’s apartment]
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ enter their apartment, removing their coats.]
MJ: I’m gonna go get Annie from the neighbors, then we can get a few hours of shut-eye.
Peter: Sounds good.
[Panel 2: MJ looks over to Peter, who is smiling softly.]
Peter: Thanks for being there for me. You’re the best.
MJ: You know it. I’ll be right back.
[Panel 3: The door closes as Peter stands there, silent.]
[Panel 4: Peter walks over to the kitchen]
Peter [cap]: A few days ago, I killed a man.
And you know what?
I can live with it.
I will live with it.
Because I have to live with it.
[Panel 1: Peter stands over the coffee maker, watching it warm up.]
Peter [cap]: So long as my family stays safe, I’ll go to the ends of the earth to keep them safe.
Whatever it takes to keep them out of this side of my life.
[Panel 2: Peter pours himself a cup in a clear mug, a tired look on his face.]
Peter [cap]: I have nightmares.
I live nightmares. Of all the people I haven’t saved. Of all the people I could have saved.
Of all the people I should have saved.
[Panel 3: Peter has opened the bottle of creamer, pouring the fluid into his coffee]
Peter [cap]: So then. All of that said…
[Page 19: Full splash page of Peter holding the coffee cup up to his head. We can see the creamer taking the shape of the right half of his Spider-Man mask, Peter’s face making the other half.]
Peter [cap]: Here’s to surprises.
[Cap: The End.]
[cap: Tales from the Friendly Neighborhood: What We Take for Granted]
[cap: Three years ago]
[Panel 1: Peter leading MJ out onto the top of their apartment.]
Peter: Eyes are closed, right?
MJ: Only way I could keep them tighter is if you webbed them shut.
Peter: Good. Don’t want you to ruin the surprise.
MJ: Yeah. My surprise was my husband shaking me awake at 5:30 in the morning.
[Panel 2: Peter holding MJ’s hands, which are being used to cover her eyes.]
Peter: It’ll be worth it. Trust me.
Alright. You’re in place. You can open your eyes now.
MJ: I dunno, they’re kind of comfy where they are.
Peter: Come on, I dragged you all the way up to the roof for this. Humor me.
[Panel 3: MJ has moved her hands away from eyes, taking in what Peter has in store for her.]
MJ: So, what’s this all ab- Oh my God.
[Panel 4: Peter’s smiling off to the right, as we see the sunrise, a mix of vibrant colors, light up the New York skyline. Dawn’s just broken, leaving shades of purple, blue, pink, orange and yellow to form in the sky.]
Peter: Happy birthday, Red.
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ sit on a ledge of the building, taking in the view.]
MJ: Is… is this what you wake up to everyday?
Peter: Pretty much. You have to time it really well, but trust me, the view is worth it.
I thought you’d love it.
MJ: Believe me, this is gorgeous. I’ve just… y’know, never seen a sunrise in motion.
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ continue to sit next to each other]
Peter: You know, this is probably one of my favorite things to see. Most people? They just treat it like it’s a routine part of their day.
Sun rises, sets, we kind of take that for granted.
But this? This is magical.
[Panel 3: MJ’s and Peter’s hands caressing each others]
MJ: Hey, Tiger?
MJ: You wanna just sit here? Spend the rest of the day here? I’d like that.
[Splash page: Peter and MJ, backs to the audience, sitting on the ledge of their apartment, staring at the sunrise as it erupts into a fountain of light.]
Peter: I think I can do that.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #5
“Our Power Always Rhymes, Pt. 1: Blood Relations”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Mirka Andolfo and Ian Herring
[cap: The dorm of Cindy Moon, Empire State University]
[Panel 1: We see a giant lump underneath the sheets, which is a sleeping Cindy. Off to the right of the panel, we see the sound of her alarm clock going off, along with a semi-cartoonish effect of it vibrating intensely.]
Cindy: Eugh...Screw off, clock. Five more minutes.
[Panel 2: Lola, Cindy’s roommate, comes into the room, distinctly annoyed by the clock continually buzzing.]
Lola: Geez, Cin, how do you sleep through that thing? I can hear that thing all the way in the common area!
Cindy: Lola, shhhh. I like to think that I’m doing the world a favor and waking them up with it too.
[Panel 3: Lola shuts off the clock, while simultaneously dragging Cindy out of bed.]
Lola: Well, it’s 9 o’clock. I hate playing “Mom”, but you might wanna get going. You have classes today, don’t you?
Cindy: Any particular reason you feel like torturing me right now?
Gimme a sec to get showered and dressed.
[Panel 1: Peter is walking through a somewhat snowy campus to his classroom, oblivious to the disturbingly low temperatures, which we can see from the students shivering intensely.]
Peter [cap]: Note to self: thank MJ for making me wear extra layers. Spider powers can only handle so much cold.
Maybe I should get to work on making self-heating thermals?
Good job, brain. Keep on grinding.
[Panel 2: Peter is standing in front of the Horizon board, writing a formula into the touchscreen.]
[Cap: ESU Applied Physics Lecture Hall]
Peter: Alright guys, onto the main subject of today’s discussion. Today we’re discussing the implications of quantum jumping and theory of the ever expanding universal barrier affecting the field mechanics.
Keep in mind that there will be a question relevant to this topic on the upcoming midterm, and that your midterm will count for 30% of your semester grade. In other words, let’s pay attention.
[Panel 3: Later. Peter is taking up papers as Cindy comes up to him]
Peter: Andy, show your work next time. Chrissy, don’t help Andy next time.
Cindy, ready to head over to Horizon?
Cindy: Yep. Here’s my notes.
[Panel 4: Peter is reading Cindy’s notes, impressed to a degree with her work judging by his face.]
Peter: Huh. Good work, kid. Not too shabby.
Alright, give me a moment, then we can head out.
[Panel 1: Peter and Cindy walk down the sidewalk, typical New York life happening around them]
Peter: So, you enjoyed the first day over at Horizon.
Cindy: Can’t exactly deny it. And I won’t.
I’ve been working on a project that only my boss and I know about. I think it’s time I let you in on it.
[Panel 2: Cindy, mildly interested, turns her head towards Peter]
Cindy: You need me to keep a secret? I can totally!… well, I can if you need me to.
What exactly is it?
Peter: I’d… rather not discuss it out in the open. It’s a bit dangerous to talk about out here. Besides...
[Panel 3: Headshot of Peter, with the ghost head of Doctor Octopus floating next to him]
Peter: -Things have been happening recently. Stuff I’d rather not talk about, but… yeah.
[Panel 4: Peter and Cindy walk through the atrium of Horizon towards his lab, Peter pointing in the general direction of another colleague.]
Peter: Anyways, personal angst aside.
Lemme talk with Clayton about a side project and we’ll get started.
[Panel 1: Peter and Cindy are standing in front of Peter’s vault, the Black Box, which fits the name: a large, matte black box with a hand-print reader on it.]
Peter: Alright, then. One sec.
[Panel 2: Peter’s hand on the Black Box, the green light scanning it.]
Black Box ID system: Handprint verified; Parker, Peter. You may enter when ready.
[Panel 3: Peter is shown carrying a cooling box as Cindy takes a seat next to his desk.]
Peter: Take a seat, kid. You’re gonna love this.
[Panel 4: Peter opening the box, Cindy’s interest fully piqued.]
Peter: And here we are-
[Panel 5: A vial of blood is in Peter’s hand, with Cindy’s face of transparent disappointment visible in the background.]
Cindy: A vial of blood? You’re serious?
[Panel 1: Peter is looking at Cindy, a sterner, more serious look on his face.]
Peter: Not just any vial of blood, Cindy.
Cindy [op]: Whoa. Okay, then, I take it back.
Spider-Man gave you a vial of his blood? For what?
[Panel 2: Peter walking over to a machine, Cindy quickly following him.]
Peter: Spidey decided that he could save lives by doing more than lifting heavy objects.
He knew he heals faster than most people. Not a Wolverine-tier of healing speed, but definitely resistant to most forms of disease and an accelerated healing factor. Bullet wounds? Those take a few days. Broken bones, hours. The list goes on.
He gave me samples of his blood, to see if I could make some kind of cure-all for diseases across the globe.
[Panel 3: Peter holding up the vial, with a blue and black gradient background.]
Peter: This little vial? It could contain answers. Answers the world desperately needs.
In days, we could cure malaria, parkinsons, even cancer. All possible because a guy got bitten by a radioactive spider.
[Panel 4: Cindy looking at Peter, puzzled, Peter quickly realizing his error and covering his tracks.]
Cindy: Wait. How did you know how Spider-Man got his powers?
Peter: We’re good friends. We let each other know a few things about ourselves that aren’t exactly common knowledge.
Cindy: Oh. Well, that’s pretty cool.
[Panel 5: Cindy picking up a blowtorch.]
Cindy: You’ve got a point, Mr… Peter.
Here, Horizon makes the future happen. But it happens in the modernized world.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you managed to get this cure to places like Uganda or Malaysia!
[Panel 1: Peter snatches the blowtorch away from her, a slightly condescending look on his face.]
Peter: First off, we don’t touch the blowtorch.
Second, yeah, that’s the entire point of Spidey giving me his blood. One big ol’ cure-all to fix the world’s biggest natural problems.
[Panel 2: Cindy points over to a small machine, similar to the one Jesse Drew put to use in Spider-Women, Peter’s gaze following her gesture]
Cindy: Hey, what’s that? Didn’t see that last time I was here.
Peter: That? Something NYPD gave me to tinker with. Confiscated it from Doc Ock’s lab when Spider-Man took him out… or down. Whichever verb works better for you.
From what I can tell, it looks like a-
[Panel 3: Peter’s face split between his mask and his face, his Spider-Sense going off.]
Peter [cap]: Spider-Sense flaring!
Peter: Wait! Get down!
Cindy [op]: Wha-
[Panel 1: Large panel. Peter tackles a bewildered Cindy to the ground as the wall explodes behind him, a large crackle of electricity blowing out from the rubble]
[Panel 2: Peter helps Cindy up, dusting himself off as well, as they hide behind a lab table.]
Cindy: I think so. What was?-
??? [op]: Pardon the intrusion, Mr. Parker-
[Panel 3: We see Peter’s attackers, Electro and Chameleon. Electro has lost the footies and mask and is instead rocking something similar to his appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man, albeit with yellow light lines all over it and a lightning bolt pattern glowing on his face. Chameleon is wearing his standard costume (it’s fine the way it is, no reason to change it)
Chameleon: -But we needed to make a visit.
Electro: Now, where’s Ock’s tech? I’m itching to take it and get back to work.
[Panel 4: Peter points over Cindy’s shoulder.]
Peter: Get into the back, there’s an emergency shelter we use in case of meltdowns. Stay there until I say otherwise.
Cindy: Okay, but...
What are you gonna do?
[Panel 5: As Cindy is running off, Peter is pulling off his shirt to reveal his Spider-Man costume.
Peter: I’m gonna call up an old friend.
[Panel 1: Electro and Chameleon are tearing Peter’s lab apart, trying to find their prize]
Electro: Your contacts said that they gave Ock’s tech to Parker to look at! It isn’t here!
Chameleon: And it is. Either he hid it or we’re not looking hard enough.
[Panel 2: Electro and Chameleon look towards the panel, seeing Spider-Man off-panel coming at them]
Spider-Man [op]: Sorry, boys! Doctor’s office is closed!
Electro: Aw, hell. Not him…
[Panel 3: Spider-Man swings into view, dodging a blow from Electro.]
Spider-Man: Oh yes! It is him! Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!
[Panel 1: Electro shoots out bolts of electricity, yelling in rage, with Spider-Man dodging all of them]
Electro: You aren’t supposed to be here!
This was supposed to be an easy smash-and-grab! Why did you of all people have to show up?!
Peter: Well, duh! You’re one of my rogues! I’m contractually obligated to be there when you show your cute bald head!
Electro: Shut up! Just shut up!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man notices strands of weakened electricity waving around, easily dodging the attack.]
Peter [cap]: Whoa. Never seen him do that one before.
It’s almost like the yarn on a sweater pilling up. His lightning is losing cohesion. Didn’t even feel a real jolt from that last hit.
What’s happening to you, Max?
[Panel 3: Peter gets shocked again, this time feeling it.]
Electro: Like that, wall-crawler? That’s a real taste of the juice!
[Panel 4: Up-close shot of Spider-Man’s face]
Peter [cap]: That’s not him. It’s a cover. He has no control over this. The pattern’s too sporadic. He must be looking for Ock’s tech to fix his powers.
[Panel 5: Cindy hiding in the shelter, a look of pure panic on her face]
Cindy [capt]: I should be out there, helping Mr. Parker and Spider-Man!
But.. he told me to stay put. Wonder what’d he think if I went out and-
Yeah, okay, Cin. You’ve gotten yourself into the hole this time.
[Panel 1: Cindy crawls out of the shelter, behind a lab table, with Spider-Man noticing her.]
Spider-Man: Moon! Get back in the shelter! Parker’s gonna kill me if you’re hurt!
Cindy: But I can help! I-
Spider-Man: I don’t care! Get back in there!
[Panel 2: Chameleon grabs the device and holds it.]
Chameleon: Dillon! I have it! Let’s get out of-
[Panel 3: Spider-Man kicks the device out of Chameleon’s hands, Electro looking shocked in the background]
Spider-Man: Nope! Not gonna happen!
Electro: Oh yeah it is! I need it to get fixed, bug!
[Panel 4: Electro lets loose another volley of lightning, this time one of his massive surges, much larger than his previous bursts of power.]
Peter [cap]: Holy!- that must have been his largest surge yet!
[Panel 5: Cindy is reaching out for the device, when she gets electrocuted from the surge Electro is generating. Spider-Man takes notice of this from the background, lenses wide]
Spider-Man: Cindy! I told you, get back inside!
[Panel 6: A somewhat singed and weakened Cindy reaches out for the device which starts beeping, as Spider-Man tries to help her up.]
[Splash page. The device sits in a center panel as the other four panels show each other entity in the room looking at it.]
Spider-Man: Oh. That’s just wonderful.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man grabs Cindy, placing her behind him.]
[Panel 2: The explosion reaches Spider-Man, singing at the edges of his costume.
[Panel 3: A white panel.]
[Panel 1: Peter is sitting in a chair next to Cindy, who is lying in a hospital bed, several burn marks on her face, a tube in her nose, and her hair burned, singed at the tips. Peter, on the other hand, is only lightly burned, having had time to change before bringing her here. We do see some injury, his hand bandaged and a cooling pack on his back from the blast singeing him.]
[Cap: New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital]
[Panel 2: MJ rushes into the room, carrying Annie with her]
MJ: Tiger? You okay?
Peter: MJ? I- I’m fine, what’re you doing here?
MJ: I saw the Horizon attack on the news. Got Annie and made it here as fast as I could.
[Panel 3: Peter takes Annie, holding her affectionately as MJ looks over Cindy]
Peter: Well, you’re here. You won’t see me complaining, Red.
How’s my little girl today? Dad’s doing great.
MJ: So, this is your new sidekick?
Peter: Nope. Lab intern.
MJ: What happened to her?
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ standing over Cindy’s bed.]
Peter: Concussive explosion and electrocution. External injuries are minimal. A few burns, nothing too severe.
[Panel 5: Closer view of Cindy, with Peter explaining to MJ the extent of her injuries.]
Peter [op]: It’s her internal injuries that worry me. She’s got a laceration on her left leg, torn arm muscles, burned lungs, not to mention she’s been given a nice dose of Electro. And I’m worried there might be toxins in her system from Octavius’ tech going off.
It’s amazing that she’s even alive.
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ standing over her bed, Peter obviously in a less-than-satisfied state.]
Peter: Did I say amazing? I meant depressing.
The kid’s gonna have a really hard time getting back into the swing of things if she goes through conventional therapy.
MJ: Wait. You said ‘if’ she goes through conventional.
There’s an alternative?
[Panel 2: Peter, with MJ off to the side]
Peter: Yeah. My blood.
If I can get the greenlight, I can inject her with a couple of doses of my blood. If I’m right, the blood I have stored at Horizon should help her recover a bit quicker, due to my healing factor. I had it shipped over just in case.
[Panel 3: MJ, looking at Peter in a concerned manner.]
MJ: Are you sure it’ll work?
Peter: That’s… part of the problem. I don’t know.
It’s not even blood typing that’s the issue. I got far enough into the work, that I could manipulate the bloods type to one that won’t get rejected. What I’m concerned about is that this is untested. I didn’t even begin animal testing yet, which is why I’m only planning to use it if… yeah.
[Panel 4: Cindy regains consciousness, but is clearly in massive amounts of pain as MJ notices her stirring.]
MJ: Peter. She’s waking up.
[Panel 1: Cindy gasps, going into shock as Peter and MJ recoil, the flatline as the background.]
MJ, take Annie and clear the room! She’s going into shock! I’ll be right there.
[Panel 2: As MJ moves out of the way, Peter shouts into the hallway, medics rushing into the room.]
Peter: I need a doctor in here!
[Panel 3: Peter hands the closest doctor a clipboard, a desperate look on his face.]
Peter: If there’s anything I can do…
Doctor: We’ll let you know, Mr Parker. Sit tight.
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ sit down, Peter taking Annie again.]
Peter: I’ll take Annie for a bit.
MJ: Thanks. Here.
You’re sure you can’t do anything?
[Panel 5: Peter and MJ, similar shot from a different perspective.]
Peter: Not my place. I’m a physicist, not a surgeon. I’ll just get in the way.
For now, all we can do…
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ asleep, holding Annie together. Silent panel save for the continuing caption from the previous panel.]
Peter [cap, op]: is wait.
[Panels 2-4: All silent panels. Panel 2: Peter is awoken by the sound of the doctor exiting Cindy’s ward, and Peter stands up to meet him. Panel 3: Peter given a clipboard by the doctor, who is explaining the situation. Peter is visibly distraught. Panel 4: Peter punches the wall in frustration, rattling MJ and Annie awake.]
[Panel 5: Peter sits down, frustrated, as MJ comforts him.]
MJ: Peter, calm down.
She’s dying, MJ.
[Panel 6: Note that this is one of the few instances in which we break the 5-panel rule. It has some meaning, a sort of break in the status quo. We did this back in How Pale That Moon Glows. Peter is holding his head in his left hand, his right hand in motion, fixated on MJ to keep himself calm.]
Peter: Her injuries were more extensive than we first thought. She’s got a day… maybe less.
I don’t have a choice anymore, do I? I have to do this.
[Panel 1: Peter stands up, addressing the doctor who is walking away.]
Peter: Hey, Doc.
I think I can help her.
[Panel 2: Close-up of Peter’s face.]
Peter: Just point me to the nearest lab and I can make it happen.
[Full splash page, but a montage of Peter prepping his blood for transfusion, similar to the montage scene from Star Trek: Into Darkness. (Not pic-for-pic, but similar in their execution.]
Peter [cap]: Alright, kid. Don’t fade on me now.
[Cap: Epilogue 1]
[Panel 1: Completely dark, save for the blurred word bubbles.]
[Panel 2: Signs of an eyelid opening, but the picture is still blurred. The word bubbles, on the other hand, are more legible.]
[Panel 3: Cindy’s POV. We see a worn-out and burned-out Peter, who has a serious 5-o’clock shadow, as well as baggy eyes, his hair unkempt.]
Peter: Hey, Cindy. How you holding up?
[Panel 1: Close-up of Cindy’s face, a weak smile etched into it.]
Cindy: Hey, Mr. Parker. You look like crap.
Peter [op]: Pfft. I’ll get better.
[Panel 2: Cindy sits up, grunting, as Peter motions for her to lay down.]
Peter: Hey, you just barely escaped death. The least you can do for your body is take it easy for a few days. Your life isn’t going anywhere without you.
Cindy: Try being a college student in the 2010’s, Mr. Parker.
[Panel 3: Peter ruffles Cindy’s hair playfully, as she grips the sheet to her right side. This is important.]
Peter: Get some rest, kid. That’s an order.
Cindy: Alright, Mr. Parker. Just promise me you’ll shower and shave when you get home. You look like you could use some rest yourself.
[cap: Peter and MJ’s apartment]
[Panel 1: Peter walks in the front door, greeted by MJ.]
Peter: Hey. Annie asleep?
MJ: Yeah, just put her away for the night.
Using the front door for once? That’s new.
Peter: Hey, I walk from time to time. Not everything I do involves swinging from skyscrapers.
[Panel 2: MJ kisses Peter on the cheek.]
MJ: Could’ve fooled me, babe.
MJ: Your intern doing okay?
Peter: She’s doing fine. As far as I can tell…
[Panel 3: Earlier, as Cindy smiles behind Peter’s back as he walks off. Silent panel.]
[Panel 4: With Peter gone, Cindy loses her grip on the sheet, her fingers latched onto the sheets against her will. Cindy is distinctly terrified by this revelation.]
Peter [op cap]: ...She’s going to make a full recovery.
[To be continued]
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #6
“Our Power Always Rhymes, Pt. 2: Unforeseen Side Effects”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Mirka Andolfo and Ian Herring
[Panel 1: Exterior shot of Peter and MJ’s apartment. An apartment complex on 33rd West End Avenue in Manhattan.]
[cap: 33rd West End Avenue. The apartment of Peter and Mary Jane Parker]
MJ [cap]: Ooh, what have we here?
[Panel 2: We get a shot of Peter and MJ in their apartment, with Annie in a high chair against a table off to the side.]
MJ: Peter Parker cooking? What has the world come to?
Peter: Ha, ha, ha. You’re hilarious, Red.
Anyways, figured I’d try my hand at cooking. I’ve gotten better at it recently and I thought I’d try something a bit more…
Peter: What? No, we’re not at the Ritz. This is the Parker household, where Chinese takeout is a regular.
[Panel 3: Peter checking the oven temperature, while putting a pan in, a moderately smug-yet-checked confidence on his face. MJ is right behind him, running a hand across his bent-over back.]
Peter: Tonight? Lasagna.
MJ: Tiger, I know we like cat nicknames, but don’t act like I’m a pudgy orange cat.
Peter: Aww, and I was going to give you a belly rub too.
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ kissing]
MJ: Mmm… I think I’d like that.
Peter: Mmm… MJ, can we move it away from the two year-old and the burning hot-
[Panel 1: The oven combusts, exploding in Peter’s face, with a large amount of soot covering his face, MJ trying not to laugh as she watches her husband.]
Oh God, Peter, I am sorry.
[Panel 2: MJ helping Peter up, holding up their landline.]
MJ: Peter, you can make a killer batch of wheat-cakes-
Peter: Hey, I was taught by the best.
MJ: -but you might wanna slow things down a bit before we get into the hard stuff.
Tonight’s pizza night, no arguments.
Peter: Well, after having a fire-breathing metal monster spit smoke in my face, you won’t be hearing any complaints. I’m gonna change my shirt.
I like mine with sausage and canadian bacon.
[Panel 3: Larger panel. Peter, MJ and Annie are all seated around their table, two pizza boxes and a 2-liter littering the dining area.]
Peter: So Carlie and Yuri moved back in together-
MJ: Big tick.
Peter: Flash and Betty back together-
MJ: Big tick.
Peter: And your aunt Anna just finished moving to Fort Lauderdale.
MJ: Smaller tick, but still, tick.
Peter: See? We’re already heading back to the status quo. We’re blue skying this one. We always do.
[Panels 4 and 5: Panel 4, Peter is tinkering with his webshooters, with one hand working the mechanisms, the other eating a slice of pizza. Panel 5, MJ is looking at him with annoyance.]
MJ: There’s the Peter Parker I-
Are you playing with your web shooters at the table?
Peter: uhh, No.
MJ: We’ve had this talk before. Spider-Man is out there. At Horizon, ESU, anywhere but here. In this apartment, you’re Peter Parker, no reds-and-blues whatsoever. I trust I’ve made myself clear?
Peter: ...Yes, ma’am.
[Panel 1: MJ kissing the crown of Peter’s head as she walks away from the table.]
Well, help yourself. I don’t want you waking up in the middle of the night complaining you’re hungry.
[Panel 2: MJ and Peter working on cleaning the dishes in the sink.]
MJ: Oh, by the way, how’s your intern doing?
MJ: Yes, Cindy.
[Panel 3: Peter, trying to recall the recent developments.]
Peter: Well, I talked to the doctors yesterday. They’re saying she’s made a full recovery, but they’d like to run a few more tests before they discharge her from the hospital. With any luck-
[Cap: Horizon Labs, the next day]
[Panel 1: Peter working on an unknown experiment, a welding mask on his face and plasma sparks flying as the intercom in his lab turns on.]
Peter [cont. cap]: -She’ll be back on her feet and in class in a matter of days.
Intercom: Mr. Parker, there’s a guest for you in the lobby. Captain Cooper from the NYPD.
Peter: Carlie? Yeah, send her in. She knows the way.
[Panel 2: Peter has removed his welder's mask and is greeting Carlie as she enters the lab.]
Peter: Hey, Carlie! What can I do for you?
Carlie: I’m here for a personal thing. If you don’t mind.
Peter: Yeah, no problem! Pull up a chair.
Carlie: I think I’ll stand for this one.
[Panel 3: Close-up of Carlie’s face, a look of disappointment and betrayal on her face.]
Carlie: I know your secret, Peter.
I know you’re Spider-Man.
[Panel 4: silent, Peter is just standing there with a look of horror etched into him.]
[Panel 5: Peter leans back on his desk, pinching the bridge of his nose. A similar panel to the previous one]
Peter: So… just you?
Carlie: Yep. Just me. Not Yuri, not anybody else.
I’m not going to try and stop you, Peter. You do a lot of good where the NYPD can’t.
But… I’m still trying to wrap my head around why you never told me. I mean, I’m your friend. And friends tell each other things like this.
[Panel 1: Peter sitting down at his desk chair, putting a pencil behind his ear.]
We’ve known each other for two years. And you’re a good friend. But there are some things you don’t tell people for their own good. The only person in my life besides now you, who knows, is MJ, and for good reason. My powers come with something big, that I can’t afford to let other people bear. Responsibility.
So as long as I have these powers- these gifts- I’m going to make sure that the people of New York are safe.
[Panel 2: Carlie gripping Peter by the shoulder, both smiling faintly.]
Carlie: That’s all I needed to hear. As long as you choose to keep doing your thing, your secret is safe with me.
Peter: See? This is why we’re-
[Panel 3: Peter’s intercom buzzes loudly, and both turn to look at it, with a red layer showing the alarm going off, with repetition adding to the effect.]
Peter: Welp, who set off what this time?
Intercom: Attention. There has been a security breach. Hostile moving towards Lab 7.
Peter: Okay, so long as Grady hasn’t been cooking up gremlins, I think we’re under attack.
[Panel 4: Peter’s lab door clangs, with two large dents in it following what appears to be knocks.]
???: Open the door! Please!
Carlie: Peter! Get behind me!
[Panel 5: Carlie reaches for her sidearm, Peter stopping her.]
Peter: No, Carlie. Wait. I know that voice…
[Panel 6: Peter and Carlie open the door, with a look of shock at what they see.]
Peter: Mother of-
[Full splash page. Cindy is standing in the doorway, dressed only in her hospital clothing with disheveled hair and bloodshot eyes. There’s a look of sheer panic and borderline mental breakdown on her face as she subtly reveals a few of powers, including: gripping the door frame with enough force to crush the metal, a plate of sheet metal stuck to her feet, and we as an audience can see a faint spider-sense buzzing around her head.]
Cindy: Help me. Please.
[Panel 1: Carlie and Peter standing in the doorway, with Peter pinching the bridge of his nose.]
Carlie: So. Anymore secrets you want to let me in on?
Peter: It’s a little bit more complicated than that. I’ll explain later.
[Panel 2: Peter gripping Cindy by the shoulders in an attempt to calm her down.]
Peter: You alright? You’re supposed to be in the hospital.
Cindy: I was! And then… this happened! I got out and the first place I thought to come to, was here!
[Panel 3: Horizon security rushes into the hallway, pointing rifles of unknown payload towards Cindy.]
Guard 1: Freeze! hands on your head and get on your knees.
[Panel 4: Peter stands in front of Cindy protectively, shielding her from the guards.]
Peter: Whoa. Weapons down, guys. That won’t be necessary. Now, let’s all act like rational adults here-
[Panel 1: Peter and Carlie are watching Cindy, now changed into running clothes, running on a treadmill, trying to get an estimate of what she’s now capable of.]
Peter [cont’d cap]: -and try and figure this out without weapons.
Peter: Just as I thought. Nearly an exact copy of my powers.
Proportionate strength and speed of a spider, enhanced senses, adhesive fingertips, the works. Only difference is in her body shape and size. She’ll get stronger as she gets older, and her spider-sense is a bit more sensitive than mine. She’s twitchy, but she’ll able to hone it as she learns the ins and outs of Spiderism.
[Panel 2: Cindy is still running on the treadmill, ignoring the conversation going on outside, or not being able to hear it at all.]
Carlie [op]: One thing you forgot to list; lack of accountability.
[Panel 3: Peter looks at Carlie quizzically, trying to piece together what she’s implying]
Carlie: You heard me, Pete. She needs to be kept on a leash. She’s a college student who’s just learned she has Spider-Man’s powers after a freak blood transfusion. Imagine what she could do if we left her alone in a room.
Peter: Hey, she’s a smart mature kid, capable of making rational decisions. And besides, she’s not Felicia.
Peter: Oh, right. You two haven’t met.
[Panel 3: Peter points his pen at Carlie, laying his clipboard on the desk in front of him.]
Peter: And don’t even get me started on the whole “accountability” thing. You sound like Stark when he’s trying to sound like he knows what he’s doing.
Carlie: Still, we need to make sure she learns to use her powers responsibly. You would know.
[Panel 4: Peter raises his pen to his lip, a “what could possibly go wrong” look on his face.]
Peter: Actually, you may have a point there…
[Panel 5: Peter knocks on the glass, Cindy takes notice.]
Peter: Cindy, listen up. I’d like it if you’d stay in the lab tonight. I need to run a few more tests, and I’m not sure you’re gonna want to go back to the hospital in your condition.
[Panel 1: MJ, sitting on the couch, with Annie in her arms]
You want to groom your intern into your sidekick?
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ in the main living space in their apartment, with Peter standing opposite her.]
Peter: Well, yeah!
Let’s face it, one way or another, I’m going to hang up the costume eventually. It would be good to have somebody carry on the torch.
And besides, the kid doesn’t know what she’s doing, or what she’s capable of. It’s my fault this has happened. And I’m not just using that as my go-to angst line. I mean it this time. She’s in this mess because of me. In a way? She’s my responsibility.
[Panel 3: MJ hands Annie over to Peter.]
MJ: Baby, I love that you’re dealing with all of these problems head-on, but there’s still so many problems that could spin from her becoming a superhero.
What if the Avengers find out about her? What if she dies trying to help you?
[Panel 4: MJ cups Peter’s cheek in her hand, with a warm smile on her face.]
MJ: I know you’re trying to do the right thing, Pete. I’m just asking you to weigh your options before going forward with this. Whatever choice you make, I’ll be with you all the way.
[Panel 5: MJ gets up, cricking her back as she does so.]
MJ: Just… urgh… don’t do anything I wouldn’t.
Peter: Don’t worry. After Carlie’s interrogation…
[Panel 1: Cindy sits on the cot Peter found for her, fiddling with her fingers. Silent panel]
[cap: Horizon Labs. That Night]
Peter [cont’d cap]: ..I don’t think I need any more pressure bearing down on me.
[Panel 2: Cindy is alerted to a voice, and turns towards it.]
???: Cindy Moon? You awake?
[Panel 3: Cindy is completely turned around to see Spider-Man hanging upside-down on a web-strand, stoic and unmoving.]
Spider-Man: Hi. I’m Spider-Man. Pleased to meet you.
Cindy: Um… hi! Sorry, I just-
Spider-Man: No, it’s fine. Peter and I go way back, so he thought it would be a good idea to tell me what happened.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has assumed an upright position and is now standing in front of Cindy]
Cindy: Look, I’m sorry, but... I don’t even want these powers! I just want to go back to my life!
Spider-Man: That’s exactly what Peter thought you’d say. He and I had a long talk.
We both agreed that until we can figure out how to cure you, I’ll be teaching you how to control and use them responsibly. That good with you?
[Panel 5: Close-up of Cindy’s excited face.]
Cindy: Umm...Yeah! Sure!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man rummages through a box, Cindy lingering in the background.]
But we need to establish some ground rules. Unless I give you explicit orders not to, you will follow these rules to a “T”.
Rule one: You don’t use your powers unless Peter or myself are with you.
Rule two: Do not tell anybody about this. If anybody asks where you were in the last few days, tell them that you and Peter were observing a long-term scientific experiment.
And rule three: Don’t do anything that could jeopardize rules one and two. Don’t go running around accidentally crumpling pieces of metal or ripping out concrete.
We got that down?
[Panel 2: Spider-Man points at Cindy, who has herself performing a mock salute.]
Cindy: Scout’s honor.
Spider-Man: Good. Now that we have “Bad cop” out of the way…
[Panel 3: Peter reveals what he has in the crate: a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie.]
Spider-Man: Welcome to Spider-101.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man and Cindy are standing above your typical New York rooftop, overlooking the view.]
Cindy: Wow. So this is what New York looks like uptop. Nice view.
Spider-Man: Welcome to the life of a superhero. Probably the single best part of being a Spider-related person. Well, besides the powers.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man next to Cindy.]
Spider-Man: By the way, Peter had a question. Why’d you come to him and not your parents?
Cindy: Well, Mr. Parker knows what he’s doing. Both of my parents are great, but… well, I connected a few dots.
[Panel 3: Peter’s obviously panicking behind his mask, terrified that she might know his identity.]
Peter: You… you did?
Cindy: Kind of. I figured, given that he’s one of the only photographers in the city that can ever get a clear photo of you-
[Panel 4: Cindy staring out over the skyline]
Cindy: -Then he at least knew you in some capacity. Plus, he works at Horizon Labs. That’s big-time smarts. And he teaches part-time, so he was the first choice.
[Panel 1: Cindy looks around to see Spider-Man has disappeared.]
Cindy: Uh, Spidey?
Spider-Man (op): Down here.
[Panel 2: Cindy looks over the edge to see Spider-Man standing perpendicular on the side of the building, barely fazed by what he’s doing.]
Cindy: Okay, I know that’s kind of your thing, but how’re you doing that?
Spider-Man: Adhesive feet. Don’t worry, when you practice hard enough, you’ll be able to do this instinctively too. Take the fire escape, we’re going to try wall-crawling up first.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man and Cindy are standing at the bottom of the building, in the middle of a rank alleyway.]
Cindy: Eww. I think I saw a rat run past me. You sure we can’t try this a bit higher up?
Spider-Man: Not a chance. You’ve already nearly died once. I’d rather not have you pull that party trick off again.
[Panel 4: Cindy puts her hand on the wall, with Spider-Man guiding her from some distance.]
Spider-Man: Now, don’t think too hard about it. It’s an instinctual thing, like moving your hand. Don’t try to force it.
[Panel 5: Cindy trying to stick to the wall, with an apparent success, judging by Spider-Man’s pleased expression]
Cindy: It’s… it’s working.
Spider-Man: See? You’re a natural.
It’ll take some time to get completely adjusted to what you can do, but for now, we’ll stick with the basics.
[Panel 1: Cindy climbs up the wall, Spider-Man standing at the bottom as a spotter.]
Spider-Man: You sure you’re up to this, kid?
Cindy: Yeah. Yeah, I got it. After all, how am I gonna get better if I don’t take risks.
Spider-Man: Point. Just making sure you don’t get hurt.
Cindy: Hey, we’re alone in an alleyway in broad daylight. I don’t think anything’s gonna happen to either of us.
[Panel 2: Cindy lands on the roof adjacent to her climbing wall, with Spider-Man looking up to make sure she doesn’t accidentally lean too far.]
Peter: Balance, kid. I know you’re not the best with your reflexes yet, so you may want to take it easy.
Besides, you never know when Shocker will pop out and say it’s party time.
[Panel 3: Small panel shot of Cindy, who is sitting on the ledge.]
Cindy: Hey, chief. Can I have a codename?
Spider-Man (op): Depends. If it’s Spider-Woman or Spider-Girl, we already have one of each running around. Otherwise, why not.
Cindy: Well, I was thinking.
[Panel 4: Close up of Cindy, who is smiling innocently.]
Cindy: What about Silk?
[Panel 1: Spider-Man looking up, a bit of optimism visible in his mask]
Spider-Man: I like it.
[Panel 2: Cindy stands up, but with a noticeable lack of spring in her step that’s been around since the scene change.]
Cindy: Well, I… uh, chief, I…
Spider-Man: Cin? You okay up there?
[Panel 3: Close of Cindy’s face, which is expressing clear panic to her current situation.]
Cindy: I… uh, I don’t feel so-
[Panel 4: Tall vertical panel. Cindy goes unconscious and falls over the side of the building.]
[Panel 1: Peter shoots out a web line with one hand on a wall, already stretching another into a net.]
Spider-Man [cap]: Gotta catch her. Don’t want to stop her fall suddenly.
[Panel 2: Cindy lands in the web net, Spider-Man jumping over to assess any injuries she might have sustained]
Spider-Man: Good catch. Looks like she’s fine. But I can’t be sure without a full scan.
[Panel 3: Takes up a good majority of the page. Spider-Man is webbing out of the alley with Cindy slung over his shoulder.]
Spider-Man [cap]: Gotta get her back to Horizon. Find out what’s happened to her.
[Cap: Horizon Labs]
[Panel 1: Peter is overlooking Cindy, who is asleep in a cot. Peter is noticeably sleep deprived, but powering through, a cup of hot coffee on his desk as he writes down results from his tests.]
Intercom: Mr. Parker, there’s a guest for you in the atrium. A Mrs. Mary Jane Parker.
Peter: MJ? Yeah… bring her *yawn* yeah, bring ‘er in.
[Panel 2: MJ walks in, carrying Annie with her.]
MJ: Hey, Tiger. How you doing?
Good lord, you look exhausted. When was the last time you slept?
Peter: A few days ago. I’ve been running tests and making sure she doesn’t collapse again.
[Panel 3: Similar panel, except MJ looks surprised as Peter kisses Annie on the forehead.]
MJ: Wait… what happened to her?
Peter: As far as I can tell-
[Panel 4: Peter hands MJ a clipboard, still holding Annie.]
Peter: -It’s what’s on this paper.
MJ: Okay, so… what I’m seeing are blood pressure levels. What do these mean?
Peter: You’re right. Based on the vital readers I set up in her suit, her blood pressure dipped seriously low. Along with her heartbeat. Not enough to kill her, but enough to make her pass out.
[Panel 1: A close up of Peter’s face.]
Peter: She went into a biochemical shutdown. It was nearly long enough for her entire system to permanently quit.
[Panel 2: MJ looking over Peter’s shoulder]
MJ: So… she’s dying again?
Peter: Sort of. More like her body is overhealing itself.
MJ: That makes no sense.
[Panel 3: Peter shows her the monitor of his desktop, with a diagram of his DNA.]
Peter: This whole thing started because I wanted to use my blood as a cure-all for diseases across the world. One big vaccine. And with the healing factor in my bloodstream? I could make it happen.
But there’s a major problem. The healing factor is overcompensating. It’s trying to heal something that isn’t there. And it’s causing her vital organs to go dark.
[Panel 4: Peter reveals a band-aid on his left arm, along with large quantities of blood in test tubes.]
Peter [semi-op]: I’ve figured out that the healing factor has a paradox: it can be destroyed by attacking itself, or at least a newly introduced strain of itself. And, judging by the amount of time it took for Cindy to go into shock, she can go one week at most, before requiring a new injection of the healing factor. Which means that unless I can come up with a better solution, I would have to provide her with a constant supply of my blood.
MJ: And you’re just going to keep using the same method over and over again.
[Panel 1: Peter looks up at MJ, who has her hands on her hips.]
Peter: MJ, this is the only way I could think of to keep her alive. Max approves of the plan, and I see no reason to stop. As long as she remembers to take her injection, there won’t be any problems.
[Panel 2: MJ kisses Peter on the cheek.]
MJ: See, that’s the man I married. You won’t give up, no matter how small the crisis.
Think you can manage to come home for the night? Spend some family time.
Peter: I think I can manage that. Cindy’s a responsible kid. I think she can get herself up in the morning.
[Panel 3: MJ looks up to the window above Peter’s lab, noticing a fluid-like, black object against the dark of the night.]
[Panel 4: Peter, with Annie, gets out of the chair, MJ following closely behind.]
Peter: You okay?
MJ: Uh.. yeah. Just thought I saw something in the window.
Peter: We’re probably all just tuckered out. I know just the thing.
Tuck Annie in, watch a so-bad-it’s good film, and fall asleep on the couch. How does that sound?
[Panel 1: MJ, with a weak smile on her face. It’s very obvious that she’s hiding something, but not willing to say]
MJ: Sounds perfect.
[Panel 2: MJ, at the door, looks over her shoulder. Silent panel]
[Panel 3: Shot from farther away and a different angle, where we see her gaze is directed at Cindy, who is fast asleep.]
[Panel 4: back to panel 2, though this time MJ has a slightly indifferent look on her face.]
[Panel 5: The door is closed, a completely black panel, with only a sliver in the lab’s door crack providing any light.]
[Cap: To Be Continued....]
[Cap: Tales From The Friendly Neighborhood: Good Times on the Horizon.]
[Panel 1: We see a shabby looking apartment building/hotel room, and get a look at the newest incarnation of the Sinister Six: Chameleon, Electro, Vulture, Shocker, Boomerang, and Hobgoblin.]
Chameleon: Alright, Toomes. Restroom is all yours. I’m done with my business.
Now, Dillon, we’ll get the technology from Horizon to fix you soon. I estimate about five months. You should survive until then.
Electro: Thanks, Dmitri.
Chameleon: Now, Schultz, I have a list of supplies I’ll need you to collect.
Shocker: What? Why not Kingsley?
Or at least, I think you’re Kingsley. So many damn fakes it’s hard to tell sometimes...
[Panel 2: Chameleon hands Shocker a list, looking at him in an annoyed fashion.]
Chameleon: Because I can definitely imagine an orange, insane goblin man walking into the local Joann’s to get these fabrics, and not drawing any attention.
Shocker: Pfft. Fiii--ine.
Chameleon: Besides, it’s the least you can do for not being part of this op.
[Panel 3: Shocker points over to Boomerang, who is sharpening one of his razor-angs on the knife sharpener.]
Shocker: Told you, Fred and I have a bank heist next month. With any luck, we won’t have our asses handed to us by Spider-Man screaming “I’ll chase you to the ends of the Earth.”
Boomerang: He’s never said that. To any of us.
Shocker: Not yet, at least.
But trust me, he’ll say it eventually.
[Panel 4: Chameleon is sitting at his workbench, welding together some equipment, as Shocker reads over the list in the background.]
Chameleon: So that leaves just me and Electro to carry this out. I think we can pull it off.
[Panel 1: Vulture and Hobgoblin both rise from the table, Boomerang either not caring or too busy toying with his boomerangs to not notice. Put a can of spray paint on the table, along with a boomerang with a nuclear warning label.]
Vulture: You didn’t even bother asking us!
Hobgoblin: Yeah, we could actually be useful, you know!
[Panel 2: Chameleon lifts up his goggles, ready to tell them off.]
Chameleon: V Tochku*. You’d both be useful. At getting in the way.
[Editorial note: Translated as “Exactly” in Russian.]
Both [op]: How?!
Chameleon: Toomes, you’d try and take charge halfway through. Kingsley, you’re too big of a wild card.
Hobgoblin: Says the guy who’s bringing Electro for the ride.
[Panel 3: Shocker is still reading the list, a bored expression on his mask.]
Shocker: At least Electro isn’t cracked in the head, Gobby.
Wow, Chameleon. What do you need with two dozen tubs of lard?
[Panel 4: Vulture has opened the bathroom door, a disgusted look on his face.]
Chameleon: A necessary addition to my character. By the way, I’ll be out of contact for the next four months.
[Panel 5: We see only one thing in the panel; a close-up of a bloodied lab coat with the Horizon Lab logo on it.]
Chameleon: After all, it wouldn’t be in character for me to be associating with supervillains.
Chapter 7: Our Power Always Rhymes, Pt. 3: Conclusive Results
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #7
“Our Power Always Rhymes, Pt. 3: Conclusive Results”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Mirka Andolfo and Ian Herring
[Panels 1-4: We see Cindy go through the normal routine of her morning. Let’s take a look at the first page of the “I Killed Tomorrow” arc, and use a similar framing device. Waking up, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. Cindy’s captions, as opposed to Peter’s white and red, are instead red and black.]
Cindy [cap]: My name is Cindy Moon.
A week ago, my life was perfectly normal. College student, good grades, great internship at one of the greatest start-up labs in the country.
Cut to today. I have Spider-powers. And I’m being taught how to use them so I can become the OG’s sidekick.
So I guess my life isn’t so normal after all. Well, either that, or I need to redefine “normal”.
Something like that.
[Panel 5: We see Cindy Moon getting breakfast in the atrium, to hear a voice call out her name and look in that direction.]
???: Cindy Moon?
Cindy: That’d be me. And you are?...
[Panel 1: Takes up a majority of the page. We see Mary Jane standing in front of her, shaking Cindy’s hand.]
MJ: Hi. I’m Mary Jane Parker. Peter’s wife. Peter’s been keeping me up to date on what’s been going on.
He’s out for the count, so I volunteered to pick up your training for the day.
Cindy: Mary Jane… where have I?... Eh, not important.
Nice to meet you. When do we get started?
MJ: Soon as you finish eating.
[Panel 2: MJ and Cindy are seated at a table in the atrium, Cindy eating as MJ talks.]
MJ: -so I’m going to be teaching you hand-to-hand. While Spidey may be teaching you how to use your main powers- like, you know, crawling up walls- it’s important we hone your Spider-sense and make sure you can control your strength.
Since you haven’t broken anything yet, I’m willing to bet you’ve been working on the latter?
[Panel 3: Closer shot of Cindy, who is still eating.]
Cindy: That’d be right. The sense is still out of whack, though. Haven’t been able to use it right since I got these powers. Every little thing I see used to set me off. It’s better, but.
Wait, you’re gonna teach me hand-to-hand? I didn’t really take you as the type of person to-
[Panel 4: Cindy panicking, worried that she might have offended MJ]
Cindy: Oh, geez, I’m so sorry! I’ve been working on not generalizing people and-
[Panel 5: close shot of MJ, who is amused by Cindy’s innocence.]
MJ: It’s okay, kid. Don’t worry.
But yeah, I did pick up self-defense back in the day.
[Panel 1: Long, horizontal panel. MJ fondly remembering the time she took a baseball bat to Chameleon.]
MJ: Let’s just say it’s paid off in the past.
[Panel 2: MJ getting out of the chair.]
MJ: I’ll get ready in the gym.
Say, fifteen minutes?
Cindy: Sounds good.
[Panel 3: Top shot of Horizon’s boxing ring. MJ and Cindy are both wearing protective gear and gloves, and MJ has already assumed a fighting pose.]
MJ: Alright, I’m gonna give you the first shot.
Cindy: Uh, you sure? I really don’t wanna hurt you.
MJ: I’ll be fine. Now go for it. Swing.
[Panel 4: Cindy punches forward, MJ swiftly dodging with ease.]
MJ: You’re telegraphing. I could see that one coming from a mile away.
MJ: Don’t apologize. Keep trying. But don’t tell me where you’re going to hit.
[Panel 5: Cindy swings forward again, MJ brushing by, but only barely.]
Now we’re talking.
Now, I want to see some fire!
[Panel 1: Cindy reels back for another punch.]
[Panel 2: MJ hooks Cindy in the chest, causing her to winced in shock.]
MJ: Not fast enough.
[Panel 3: MJ socks Cindy square in the jaw, the angle of the panel showing a winded expression on Cindy’s face.]
[Panel 4: Cindy rubs her cheek, a bit disappointed that she was beaten down.]
MJ: You did okay for a first tussle, Cin.
Cindy: No, I really didn’t. I was so focused on not hurting you that-
[Panel 1: Takes up a majority of the panel. From Cindy’s perspective, MJ is holding out a hand to help her up.]
MJ: Hey, that’s only natural. And that’s why you practice. So you can get better.
Don’t beat yourself up over this, kid. It was really sweet of you to try and pull your punches for me. But out there? The people on the streets don’t do that.
[Panel 2: MJ gets out of the boxing ring, Cindy following after her.]
MJ: If it makes you feel any better about yourself, I was taught by Captain America.
Cindy: Um. Okay. That might have been nice to know before we started.
[Panel 3: MJ is unwrapping her arm, while Cindy leans on the ring ropes.]
MJ: Look, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I’m just trying to tell you that you have a gift. And while it may come with a price… well, so does everything else. Just because it has a price tag, doesn’t automatically make it a curse.
[Panel 1: Close up of MJ’s face, which is fixated in a slightly disappointed expression.]
MJ: My husband has spent the last five days training you and keeping you alive. He barely spent any time at home because of it.
He sees something special in you. And so do I.
[Panel 2: MJ walking away from the gym, Cindy looking on the background, having exited the ring.]
MJ: Maybe I’m just feeling helpless. He’s talking to other people about his problems, and I want to be able to understand what he’s going through.
The question is: do you want all of this time spent to go to waste? Or do you want to use your gifts and make the most of them?
Cindy: I… I don’t know.
Um… we never finished sparring.
MJ: I need to go home and check on Peter. In the meantime, practice on the bags. Just do me a favor and don’t break them.
You’ll do fine, Cin. Just gonna take some time.
[Panel 3: A silent panel of Cindy just sitting down on the steps of the ring, at a loss for what to do.]
[Cap: 33rd West End Avenue; the apartment of Peter and Mary Jane Parker.]
[Panel 1: Peter is half-asleep in bed, face buried in a pillow, as MJ walks into the room.]
MJ: Hey, Tiger.
MJ: You still asleep?
MJ: You’re cute when you’re half-asleep.
Peter: Ah thinf soh too.
[Panel 2: Peter lifts his head from the pillow to look at his wife.]
Peter: So. How’d your time with Cindy go?
MJ: The kid’s still learning to balance her strength. Lost the sparring because she didn’t want to hurt me.
Peter: She’ll learn eventually.
[Panel 3: Peter looks at some of his notes on the desk, an epiphany striking him.]
Peter: Or, maybe she won’t have to.
[Panel 4: MJ looks over her shoulder as she slips into non-sweaty clothes, a surprised expression, Peter watching.]
MJ: Really? And why’s that?
Peter: Because I just looked at some of my notes and found a sequence that I can use to cancel out her healing factor.
It’ll remove her powers, but I can work that out later. It’ll take months for a more advanced formula to be constructed to just take away the healing factor problem, but if we needed to slap together a cure now, it’ll remove every foreign element from her body. She’ll be 100% Cindy Moon again.
[Panel 1: MJ sits on the bed next to Peter, who has sat upright.]
MJ: So, the big question is… do we make her take it?
[Panel 2: Tight shot of Peter’s face.]
Peter: No. She’s 19 years old. Almost 20. She’s an adult. And I trust her to make her own decision. But….
[Panel 3: Peter holds his Spider-Man mask on his lap, gripping the edges with his hands. The lenses reflecting his own eyes back to him.]
Peter: ...She deserves the truth. Not just telling her that we can cure her of her powers. That unless she takes this cure, she’ll be handicapped for a long time. I need to be transparent with her.
[Panel 4: Another close shot of Peter’s face, this time a somewhat confused look.]
Peter: I can whip this up in under 48 hours. After that-
[Panel 1: Takes up a good chunk of the page. MJ is sliding off the bed, Peter following.]
Peter: -It’s her choice whether or not she takes it.
MJ: I think you deserve some time off. Lunch and a movie? Then you can get started on the cure.
[Panel 2: Peter tosses his mask onto the bed, following his wife.]
Peter: Yeah, I think I’d like that.
[Panel 3: The door closes behind him. A silent panel save for the sound effect of the door closing.]
[Cap: Horizon Labs: The Next Night.]
[Panel 1: Floor shot of Cindy, walking from the Horizon atrium in her workout clothes. It’s clear that she’s just finished beating the bags in the gym, judging by how sweaty she is, and has just rushed through the atrium to grab dinner.]
Cindy [cap]: I think I’m getting the hang of this.
Emphasis on “I think”. I only managed to break one bag. That’s good control, right?
I’m just glad that nobody saw me when I rushed Horizon security last week. People still think I’m Peter Parker’s lab intern.
Well, I am.
But, the less people that know who I am outside of that, the better.
So far, the only people that know are the Parkers and Captain Cooper. Best keep that list small and tight, Cin. Small and tight.
What was I thinking about again? Oh, yeah. Food. Wait, that wasn’t it. Eh, I’ll think of it later.
[Panel 2: Cindy walks up to Peter’s lab, putting her hand against a scanner.]
Computer: Moon, Cindy. Handprint accepted. Access granted.
Cindy [cap]: Think I’ll eat, write my paper that was due- what, yesterday?- and hit the hay.
[Panel 3: Cindy walks into the lab, the lights all turned out.]
Cindy [cap]: Huh. Don’t remember turning the lights out when I left the lab. Maybe it just does that on it’s own.
[Panel 4: The lights burst back on, temporarily stunning Cindy. A voice off panel draws her attention, prompting her to look in that direction]
Unknown voice [op]: Hey, Cindy.
[Panel 1: A panel the similar size of the first panel on the last page. Peter is standing on the railing, wearing his Spider-Man costume minus the mask.]
Peter: We need to talk.
[Panels 2-4 are A series of panels nearly identical to each other, save Cindy’s posture in each of them.]
[Panel 2: Cindy is a little confused, but still maintaining an easily upbeat attitude.]
Cindy: Hey, Mr Parker! What’re you doing in a?-
[Panel 3: Cindy puts her hand to her chin, slightly hunched over.]
[Panel 4: The hand has moved to clutching the forehead, Cindy having closed her eyes having come to the realization that Peter is Spider-Man.]
[Panel 5: Cindy looking up at Peter, from a ceiling perspective. Takes up maybe the bottom quarter of the page.]
Cindy: Are you really Spider-Man? Because before you didn’t really-
[Panel 1: A bit large, but takes up about maybe a third of the page. Peter flips over the railing, multiple frames of him in motion to simulate it before having him land in front of Cindy, who has just had her skepticism debunked.]
Cindy: -fit the costume.
[Panel 2: Peter puts his hand on Cindy’s shoulder.]
Peter: Listen. I know this is a lot to take in.
Cindy: You’re telling me.
Peter: But I need you to make a big decision now. Because whatever choice you make will probably change your life forever. And that is no exaggeration.
[Panel 3: Peter holds up a vial, filled with the cure he made. It looks similar to the Anti-Venom cure from Spider-Island, but with a more fluid texture to it.]
Peter: See this?
This is a cure for your powers and every foreign thing in your body that belongs to my blood.
Cindy (op): But… what if I don’t take the cure? I mean, these powers?... I’m not sure if I really want to lose them now.
[Panel 4: A close up shot of Cindy’s face, disturbed by what Peter has just told her.]
Peter (op): Then you may die.
[Panel 5: A shot of Peter sitting down at his desk. The bottom right quarter is entirely made up by this panel.]
Peter: I did some research when you passed out during your training. My healing factor- and now your healing factor- did its job. It healed you. But it kept healing.
But there was nothing to heal. So it kept going.
Your body will keep going into a biochemical shutdown, and the only way to stop it, is a fresh injection of my blood. Every week .
[Panel 1: Peter looking at the vial, a bit of depression in his facial expression]
Peter: If you don’t to take this, you’ll be stuck here with me until I can make a cure that won’t remove your powers. And that could take months. Years even.
[Panel 2: A close up of Cindy’s face. Though it appears she’s made up her mind, she is clearly still weighing her options.]
Cindy: Can I ask something?
Peter (op): Yes?
Cindy: Why not just tell me to take that cure? I’d probably do it.
[Panel 3: Peter turning in his chair, facing his intern. A thinner panel, but wide enough to show the motion.]
Peter: Because you’re an adult, Cindy.
I have to respect your opinion on this. You aren’t a kid anymore. You get to have a say on what happens to you in this matter.
[Panel 4: Wide, short panel spanning the entire bottom of the page. We see Peter’s hand held out to Cindy, gripping the vial. Cindy’s hand is opposite it, hesitant to take the offer to become normal again.]
Peter (op): So, we come to a fork in the road, kid. What’ll it be?
Normal, human Cindy Moon?
Or a handicapped superhuman relying on somebody else to keep them alive?
[Panel 1: A close up of Cindy’s mouth. She’s made up her mind.]
Cindy: I can’t accept it.
[Panel 2: Large, about ⅔ of the page. Full shot of Cindy and the lab, as Cindy assumes a sturdy pose.]
Cindy: You’ve done so much to help people as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. Now it’s my chance to pay you back for saving my life.
I don’t care if I’ll be stuck at Horizon. I love it here! And if a hundred people can be kept safe at the temporary cost of my health, so be it! You’ll eventually find a cure that won’t take away my powers, just imagine what I can do in that time!
I want to see what I can do with these powers, Mr. Parker. I want to do good with them.
And if I can… I will.
[Panel 3: Peter places his hand on Cindy’s shoulder, using his other hand to hand her a box from his desk. Note: Let’s put this box (large, cardboard, taped hastily) in previous panels featuring his desk. (Including Page 12, Panel 5 and Page 13, panel 1 and 3)]
Peter: Good choice.
Peter: This whole thing? Pointless. I knew you would want to keep your powers. This whole thing was a test of character .
Panel 1: Thin panel, showing only half of Peter’s face on a black background.]
Peter: See, if I’m going to let anybody share my powers, I want to make sure that they’re a good person. Somebody who’s going to use them for the better of the people.
I knew you were a good person. What I wanted to know was how you’d react to the possibility that you’d lose your powers. You were Rational, smart, understanding of the consequences if you didn’t. And you kept your cool about that chance.
It’s a Kobayashi Maru . This was a no-win scenario. What mattered here was how you’d react. And you reacted right.
[Panel 2: Cindy opens the box. We don’t see the contents at this point, but we can tell that what she sees excites her.]
Peter: Chin up, sport. You’ve earned this.
[Panel 3: Larger panel, similar to the scene where Mayday receives her father’s Spider-Man costume in Spider-Verse. (Without the implication that, you know, MC2 Peter is dead.) In one hand, Cindy holds a pair of custom-made web-shooters, similar in design to Peter’s, with very minor aesthetic differences including the size of the web cartridge. The other hand holds a brand-new, freshly-finished spandex costume, not one made of organic webbing. (Also, the design is completely redone.) In the background, Peter is looking pleased, like everything is finally back on track for once.]
Peter: Welcome to the team, Cindy.
[Panels 1-3 is a montage of Cindy having a montage of going back to her normal life. Panel 1 is Cindy running around on a track (As far as I’m aware, ESU has some kind of mandatory first-year athletic program.) Panel 2 is Cindy sitting down with her family, having a nice cup of coffee and enjoying themselves. Panel 3 is both Peter and Cindy back at ESU as teacher and student, Cindy writing vigorously in the crowd to keep up with Peter’s writing.]
Cindy [cap]: My name is Cindy Moon.
I learned that if I don’t take a special pill my teacher cooked up to mimic his blood, I’ll die.
Not something you’d typically like to hear.
[Panel 4: Cindy is in her dorm at ESU, looking through the package Peter gave her. Of particular interest to her is a pill bottle filled with medicine. A label on the side reads “Take with Water weekly. -P”.]
Cindy [cap]: I’m not particularly sure I liked hearing that.
But you know what? Given the circumstances, I think I can live with it.
Wanna know why?
[Panel 5: Cindy’s attention is diverted from the pills by a knocking noise, a grin on her face when she sees what the noise came from. Silent panel.]
Cindy [cap]: I’ll tell you.
[Page 16: Splash page. A simple hype page of Spider-Man swinging off from ESU campus, Cindy not far behind in her Silk costume.]
Cindy [cap]: You get to call me [editorial logo] Silk.
[Cap: Tales From The Friendly Neighborhood: The Death of May Parker]
[Cap: St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. Two Years ago.]
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ are both asleep in hospital chairs, MJ leaning on Peter’s shoulder. We see via the sound effect that there is a heart monitor, performing its duty of determining a person’s mortality diligently. Silent panel]
[Panel 2: The beeping pattern changes slowly, changing its rhythm just enough that Peter’s eye, which is the only object in the panel, to groggily lift.]
Peter: Aunt May?
[Panel 3: Peter throws off the blanket he and MJ were sharing and bolts over to the person on the bed. We now see that it’s Aunt May, though only confirmed just now, and only implied by Peter’s dialogue in the previous panel. MJ is also woken as well, but she reacts a little slower.]
Peter: Aunt May!
May: Peter, please….
[Panel 4: Peter clutches Aunt May’s hand. It’s clear that May is fading, and Peter is just as desperate to save her as somebody else who’s losing the closest thing to a mom would be.]
Peter: Just… hang in there. I’ll get a doctor. They’ll fix you. I…
May [wobbly speech bubbles]: Peter… listen to me…
My time here is long over due… it’s time I joined Ben…
And don’t make me a promise unless you can keep it.
[Panel 1: Close-up shot of Peter’s distraught face]
May [op]: But I know you can keep this one.
Keep Mary Jane safe… keep… keep the city safe. Raise a good family.
And… because I know you’d chase me to the ends of the earth… don’t let me hold you back. Live your life.
[Panel 2: Close-up of Peter’s eye, with a tear streaking away from it.]
Peter: I promise.
[Panel 3: Peter’s hand grips May’s, the final squeeze they’ll ever share.]
Peter [op]: I won’t let you-
[Panel 4: May’s hand slips from Peter’s, and the sound effect shows the heart monitor has begun displaying her flatline.]
Peter [op]: -down.
[Panel 1: MJ has come to Peter’s side, wrapping her arms around his waist.]
Peter: I’ll be okay, MJ.
She’s gone now, but…
[Panel 2: Close up of Peter’s face, a stone-cold look on his face. He’s trying to contain all of his emotion.]
Peter: But… she died happy.
And that’s all I could ever-
[Panel 3: Peter’s facade is breaking. He’s breaking down in tears.]
[Panel 4: Large panel; Peter has broken down completely, MJ holding him, even though we can see that she’s crying as well.]
[Panel 1: Peter, still in MJ’s arms, looks up, wiping away the tears.]
Peter: I’m… uh, I’m gonna go outside.
I… I need some air.
MJ: Take your time. I’ll be here.
[Panel 2: A close-up of Peter’s mouth. It’s still some time in the winter or early spring, as is indicated by the fact that we can see Peter’s breath as it hitches.]
Peter [capt]: I have some air now. And I can think straight for the first time in an hour.
May Parker- my aunt- is gone.
May Parker- my mom- is gone.
I’m Peter Parker. I’m the last Parker.
??? [op]: Hey.
[Panel 3: Zoom out, to see Peter looking up at the speaker: Felicia Hardy, dressed in civilian clothes, covered by a trench coat.]
Peter: Hey, Felicia.
Felicia: I… um… I heard about your Aunt. I wanted to come by and say, I’m sorry.
[Panel 1: Felicia sits down with Peter on the bench. They don’t even come close to touching, perhaps a precaution.]
Peter: Thanks. She was a great woman who lived a hell of a life. Half the people in the world would’ve killed to have done the things she had.
Felicia: Y’know, I didn’t just come here to say condolences.
[Panel 2: Felicia leans over to Peter, a look of worry on her face.]
Peter: Then… why?
Felicia: To let you know I’m here for you. Every time somebody in your life gets hurt or dies, you have your “it’s all my fault” spiel. You go into a downward spiral and don’t let anybody break your fall.
[Panel 3: Felicia now has her hand on Peter’s shoulder.]
Felicia: I want you to know that no matter what, I’ll be a safety net.
[Panel 1: MJ has now joined the group, with Felicia quickly standing up with her presence noticed.]
Felicia: Hey, MJ.
I should really get going.
[Panel 2: Upwards shot of Felicia looking back to Peter]
Felicia: I meant what I said, Peter. You need me, I’ll be there.
[Panel 3: Felicia has gained considerable distance, still walking away.]
Felicia: I really am sorry about your aunt. From what you told me…
[Splash page: Peter and MJ, in the present day, with Annie in their shared grasp, are standing at May’s grave, the engravings barely visible.]
[capt: Maple Grove Cemetery, Queens. Present Day.]
Felicia: She was one hell of a woman.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #8
“In Avengers We Trust, Pt 1: Red and Blue States”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Predicted Art Team: Sarah Stone
[Panel 1: Takes up the first half of the page. Camera perspective, recording at a Dutch angle and taking cover. We see Betty Brant in front of the camera, with the background of a torn-up street in Manhattan, gunfire, explosions, and concussive blasts echoing in the background. Betty is (unsurprisingly) terrified, taking cover behind one of the massive chunks of road torn up.]
Betty: This is Betty Brant, reporting live from the scene of a mass theft from a Roxxon Research and Development plant.
Norah! You getting this?
[Panel 2: Side-by-side and equal size with panel 3. The camera turns towards the dust cloud, where we see the perpetrator revealing themselves and escaping the chaos. It’s Detroit Steel, firing another round of missiles in random directions. It’s here we learn that the camerawoman is Norah Winters, and that the Bugle has become an online news service to keep up with costs and competition]
Norah [op]: Yeah, I got it. A little too close for comfort if you ask me.
[Panel 3: We see two blurred figures swipe away Betty and Norah before they are consumed in the explosion, which rips up the street and incinerates the place they were just standing.]
???: Cutting it a little close! You alright, Betty?
[Panel 1: Marginally smaller than the previous first panel. We find that Betty and Norah’s saviors were Spider-Man and Silk, in a midair shot that has them vaulting out of the smoke from the explosion.]
Betty: -Thanks, Spidey.
Spider-Man: Don’t mention it.
Betty: If you don’t mind me asking, who’s your new friend?
Spider-Man: Silk. She’s the new sidekick. We’re still working on writing her Wikipedia entry.
Silk: You gonna be okay, Ms. Winters?
Norah: Yeah. Have camera, will live. Thanks.
Wait, how do you know my name?
Silk: Read your blog. We do have lives besides swinging around in spandex, y’know.
[Panel 2: Thinner panel, but not so thin. Spider-Man and Silk have dropped off their rescuees, and are jumping towards the reader’s right side to continue the fight. Norah is moving forward, shouting towards them.]
Norah: Really? Think we can get an exclusive on that?
Spider-Man: Maybe later. For now, get to safety. We’ll handle this.
Silk, take him from the top. I’ll go down low.
[Panel 3: Side-by-side with panel 4. Silk is running on the side of the nearest building, swiftly dodging gunfire from Detroit Steel’s heavy cannon. We can see Spider-Man in the street, sliding under him to avoid being struck by the chainsaw on the other arm.]
Silk: Hey, boss. Any reason why we’re fighting Detroit Steel and not one of your usual rogues? Not that I mind. Just, you know, curious.
Spider-Man: Believe me, kid, I’d take fighting guys in rhino suits over fighting guys in giant suits of armor any day.
[Panel 4: Spidey has gripped the back of the Detroit Steel armor, having already ripped off its right wing and proceeding to punch his way through the suit.]
Spider-Man: That is, if I was able to count on Stark to keep his own villains in check.
Ever since he formed the Mighty Avengers, he’s been giving his own baddies the cold shoulder. Probably thinks there are bigger fish to fry. Ergo: leaves the street-level heroes to do his dirty work.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man has found what he’s looking for, Silk joining him on Detroit Steel’s back plating.]
Silk: Wait, is that his power source? I thought it was on the front.
Peter: You’re right, but Johnson moved it into an interior source recently. That one on the outside is just an oscillator. Shocker pulled a trick like that a while back with his gauntlets.
Ooh, he’s tried shielding the wiring with carbonadium. Give me a hand?
[Panel 2: Spider-Man and Silk both yank on the power source, taking the two of them to rip it out of the system. His power gone, Detroit Steel topples over, with the two leaping off.]
Spider-Man: That should do it.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man and Silk stand triumphantly over the collapsed Detroit, Spider-Man tossing the power source into the air. In the bottom of the panel, we can see a crowd celebrating in some fashion, taking pictures on their phones, press mixing in as well.]
Spider-Man: Good job, kid.
Silk: Thanks. Shouldn’t we, y’know, slip into the shadows, make ourselves scarce?
Spider-Man: I was labeled as a menace by the public for eighteen years. I think I can safely say I deserve a little time to soak in the love.
[Panel 4: We see a voice catch Spider-Man and Silk’s attention, prompting a very sour reaction from Peter. The dialogue box, one we’ve seen multiple times before, gives who it is away very clearly.]
???: Nice work, guys. I think we can take it from here, though.
I take it back. Still feel like making yourself scarce?
[Panel 1: Large panel. Takes up about a quarter of the page. Iron Man descends upon the duo. His armor has been drastically modified, including the inclusion of a singular visor, and multiple Tron-esque lines running along the armor. It maintains some similarity to the Model Prime armor in shape and color scheme. With him are the Mighty Avengers: Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Vision, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) and Black Panther (T’Challa).]
Iron Man: It’s time the Mighty Avengers stepped in and cleaned up this mess.
We’ll even front the repair bill. The way I see it, we all win here.
Spider-Man: Stark. I was getting comfortable with you not poking your head down here.
Iron Man: Aw, I’m hurt. We used to be friends.
Spider-Man: There’s a reason we use “used to be,” Tony. And I know there’s something here besides Doug Johnson that caught your interest. Otherwise I’d be calling up Moon Knight and Cage to help clean this place up.
Iron Man: You’re right. Sort of. There’s something we want. The Avengers want.
[Panel 2: From Iron Man’s POV. His finger is pointed not at Spidey, but at Silk. Both Spider-themed heroes are taken aback at what he’s proposing]
Iron Man: We want your sidekick.
[Panel 3: Small panel. We see Spidey’s fist flexing. He doesn’t trust Stark in the slightest, and with a more reasonable motive than in Power Play: his sidekick’s safety is on the line.]
[Panel 4: Spidey’s head has lined up with Iron Man’s, his lens shrinking in distrust. Captain Marvel is in the background, awaiting orders, Silk also looking on, confused to her mentor’s sudden hostility.]
Spidey: You and I are having a chat. In private.
Iron Man: Done.
Carol, get a barrier set up. Get rid of rooftop press. Nothing gets close to the Detroit Steel armor without leaving in handcuffs.
Captain Marvel: On it.
[Panel 1: As the Avengers begin to corral the press and onlookers, Silk is approached in the background by Captain Marvel, who begins striking up a friendly conversation with her. In the foreground, Peter and Tony walk off to a more secure location, Peter having caught the two conversing.]
Captain Marvel: I saw you guys fighting. You’re doing good for a rookie, Silk.
Silk: Wow, uh… thanks, Captain. You really think so?
Captain Marvel: Absolutely. Who knows? You could be an Avenger one day.
Spider-Man: You better not be doing what I think you’re doing.
The kid’s sweet, but she soaks up praise like a sponge. Can’t get enough of it.
Tony: That’s not on my orders. I think Carol actually sees talent in the kid.
Peter: And that’s supposed to make me feel better. You guys really have a way with comforting people.
[Panel 2: Tony and Peter have taken their masks off, discussing the matter at hand behind the ruins of the street.]
Peter: So that’s what this is about? You and your team just stopped in town to swipe up my sidekick and that’s it?
Tony: You’ve been dragging Cindy into combat with minimal training. Not exactly model superhero behavior.
Peter: Oh, this just keeps getting better and better. Now I’ve just learned that your government hit squad has been following my intern and learning her secret identity.
And it didn’t tempt you to bring me in when I was starting out.
[Panel 3: To the side of Peter’s POV. Tony has gotten more rigid, and is holding up holographic pictures of Doctor Octopus’ autopsy.]
Tony: You’re raising a lot of eyebrows in the higher ups, Peter. After Doc Ock, people began asking whether or not you’re too dangerous to not enforce some kind of restrictions on you.
I’m beginning to see where they’re coming from. We’re just not sure you’re a good influence on an impressionable college kid.
Peter: And why exactly should I just hand her over to you?
[Panel 4: Tony whispers in Peter’s ear; Peter is particularly horrified at what Tony has just said, tensing up. Silent panel.]
[Panel 1: Peter and Iron Man put their masks on, Peter visibly provoked by what he just heard, given his narrowed lenses.]
Peter: Tony, I’m gonna tell you right now; what you’ve done these past three years is exactly why I quit the New Avengers. But this takes the cake for scumbag move of the year.
We do this my way. She’s an adult; she can make her own choices. Let’s let her decide. If she says yes, she goes with you. If not, we don’t bring it up ever again.
By the way, Captain Watanabe gives you her regards as NYPD correspondent for the Avengers. Said something along the lines of “See you in prison.”
Peter: That’s somehow the most honest thing I’ve heard you say today.
Let’s just get this over with.
[Panel 2: Silk and Captain Marvel are lifting pieces of the street and clearing the road, still talking, when they’re interrupted by Iron Man and Spidey approaching.]
Iron Man: Cap! Mind if we borrow Silk for a moment?
Captain Marvel: She’s all yours. I think we can manage without her for a few minutes.
[Panel 3: Silk has joined the two. Spider-Man is off to the side, still fuming over what Stark has told him, as the other two converse.]
Iron Man: I’m going to cut to the chase here, kid. You’ve got potential. But. We think that Spider-Man is squandering it. Not applying it right.
[Panel 4: Close up of Silk, who is distraught by what she has just heard.]
Iron Man [op]: We want you to join the Mighty Avengers. Full time job and everything.
[Panel 5: Close of Iron Man’s visor.]
Iron Man: We could even find a cure for your healing factor problem.
[Panel 1: Aerial view of the three.]
Cindy: How do you know about that?
Iron Man: It’s not important. What is important is that we can fix you. And a hell of a lot faster than Horizon can.
So, what do you say? Ready to become an Avenger?
[Panel 2: Cindy looking uncomfortable, having been shoved into a choice she wasn’t ready to take.]
Cindy: I dunno… this is a bit of a big decision…
Any chance I can sit on it and get back to you on it?
[Panel 3: Iron Man hands a clear, fiberglass business card, with holographic printing of the Mighty Avenger’s hotline, address, and emblem. Silk takes the card hesitantly.]
Iron Man: Sure thing, kid. Call this number when you’ve made up your mind.
[Panel 4: Iron Man takes off, the other Mighty Avengers following suit.]
Iron Man: Until then-
We’re done here!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man intensely glares as the Mighties leave, Silk glancing at him in worry.]
Silk: Well, that was… whoa, boss, you okay?
We’re done here, too. I’ll tell Carlie to get some of the new Smelter units up here.
In the meantime. You have class in 30 minutes. Best get going if you want to catch the train over to ESU in time.
[Panel 2: Silk standing behind Spider-Man, who is perched on the edge of a rooftop.]
Silk: Uh, no.
You reacted a little too salty for somebody with no bad blood.
You remember how I used to be on the New Avengers three years ago?
Silk: Yeah. And then you quit. It was a big deal on the Internet.
Spider-Man: I never did tell you why I quit, did I?
[Panel 3: Close up of Spider-Man’s lenses, narrowed in concentrated thought.]
Spider-Man: Storytime, I guess.
It all started with Stanford.
[Note: from this point on the art has a flashback tone (sepia, black and white, artistic choice.)]
[Panel 4: We see a reimagining of the Stanford Incident that ignited the Civil War in 616.]
Spider-Man [Capt]: The New Warriors decided to bite more than they could chew. Picked a fight on live TV with a group of supers. One of them, Nitro, lit his keg.
Six hundred people died that day. All the New Warriors save Justice were part of that list.
[Panel 1: Peter, MJ and Aunt May on a street, as the news bulletin above them reads “SHRA signed into law.”]
Spider-Man [Capt]: A woman named Miriam Sharpe lost her son. She threw a big enough fit that the government had to respond. And so they passed the SHRA. All government-recognized superhero teams had to reveal their identities to the government.
The New Avengers, the X-Men, everybody on any team had to be government sanctioned with a flag slapped on their shoulder.
[Panel 2: We see the past roster of the New Avengers at some sort of round table: Captain America, Iron Man, Falcon, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Sentry, She-Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Woman and Doctor Strange. There’s heavy disputing amongst the members of the team. Spider-Man, however, is the only one who isn’t arguing; rather, he’s just sitting there.]
Ms. Marvel: Registration is a good thing! It’ll keep us all in line and keep our families safe!
Luke Cage: Or they could use them as hostages to keep us as their lapdogs!
Doctor Strange: I have to side with Luke. It gives America the power to reign us in and direct us where they want us to go. And who’s to say where they want us to go is the right place to go?
We can’t have one country holding a monopoly on the superhero community. It makes it look like they’re arming up.
Spider-Woman: I dunno. Registration has always sounded like a good idea. Maybe we should give it a try and work out the wrinkles later.
[Panel 3: Iron Man and Captain America stand at the end of the table. Iron Man has both hands on the table]
Iron Man: Look, we’re wasting time. It’s time to put this one to a vote. All in favor of registering?
[Panel 4: We only see the hands, but we see the count of Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman, Sentry and Iron Man.]
Iron Man: T’Challa sent in his vote of confidence this morning. So did Rhodey. Those not in favor?
[Panel 5: Now, it’s the hands of Cap, Cage, Falcon, Wolverine, She-Hulk and Doctor Strange.]
Iron Man [op]: Which leaves us with the deciding vote…
[Panel 1: The view focuses on Spider-Man, who has his fingers interlaced with each other and holding his chin.]
Iron Man [op]: Spidey? Your vote?
Spidey: … I’m not going to vote.
[Panel 2: A shot of multiple Avengers, with a shocked expression on each of their faces.]
[Panel 3: A close of Spider-Man, whose lenses have narrowed.]
Spider-Man: No matter whose side I chose, my wife and aunt get caught in the middle.
The government learns my identity? They’ll use them as bargaining chips to secure my allegiance. And if I disagree, I’ll be person non grata of the state.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man crushes his Avengers ID card, letting the pieces fall out of his grip.]
Spider-Man: I can’t put my family under that kind of risk.
And if being on the Avengers puts them in that situation, then I guess I can’t be an Avenger anymore.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man walking out of the room, everybody watching him as he hits the door panel.]
Spider-Man [pres. Cap]: Turns out I jumped ship at just the right time. When we caught wind of the SHRA, registration for individuals was an optional thing.
The next day, they rushed the whole thing through Congress, making public unmasking mandatory. Cap took everybody who disagreed with it, and made the Secrets.
[Editorial Note: The Secret Avengers are Cap’s street-side Avengers team, dealing in threats to New York too big for one hero, but not big enough to require the Mighty Avengers’ attention.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man and Silk are sitting at the edge of the roof. Spider-Man is wading in thought, while Silk is leaning over the edge.]
Silk: Sooo…. You hate the Avengers?
Spidey: It’s… a bit more complicated than that. We’re not besties, but I like to think we get along. The only one who I’m not fine with is Stark.
Look, kid, you’re new to this.
When I was your age, I wanted to be an Avenger more than anything. But as your responsibilities change, so do your priorities.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man’s head, his lenses positioned in a sad expression.]
Spider-Man: If you want to join the Avengers, I won’t stop you. Maybe it’ll be good for you, meeting all these other capes. I dunno.
But if you don’t think they’re the right fit for you, you’re always welcome back to… well, what we have right now. Mentor and sidekick. This is all part of growing into the suit.
[Panel 3: Silk, who has a lamenting facial expression, while in the bottom corner Spider-Man is silently thinking.]
Silk: I, uh… I got class.
[Panel 4: Similar panel, with Silk swinging off, leaving Spider-Man on the rooftop.]
[Panel 1: Cindy is eating a burrito in her dorm, where she’s watching a show on her tablet, dressed in sweatshorts and a hoodie. She’s got the business card in her hand, clenched in her fingers. It’s nighttime outside, lit up by glowing billboards and street lamps.]
[Capt: The Dorm of Cindy Moon]
[Panel 2: A shot of the business card, it’s glowing text giving more light to the side of the room.]
[Panel 3: An upward shot of a hesitant Cindy, who is holding her cell phone in the other hand.]
[Panel 4: A shot of outside the dorm, the only light from the dorm being the glow of her devices. In the distance, we can see Stark Tower (the one from the most recent run of Invincible Iron Man) gleaming brightly.]
Cindy [op]: Hello, Mr. Stark?
[Panel 1: Tony and Cindy walking down the corridor in Stark Tower, towards a room on the right side.]
Tony: You made the right call, Cindy. I know you and Peter have that whole parental bond- you know, you guys have the whole spider motif going- but trust me, you’re gonna love working with the Avengers.
Sorry to drag you out of bed at this hour, but I thought it would be nice to get you used to the place before we relocate you to the tower full time.
Cindy: I… uh, thanks.
[Panel 2: A closer shot of Cindy’s face, who is visibly disappointed.]
Cindy: Yeah, listen… I was wondering if it would still be possible to live on campus while I’m still studying?
Tony: Can’t do that, kid. Sorry. Protocol requires all Avengers be located on site in case we need to mobilize.
Cindy: Oh, uh… okay.
[Panel 3: Tony and Cindy continue walking down the hallway, Tony now distracted by battle reports and scenarios holographed by his watch.]
Tony: Anyways, I have something big I want to show you.
Literally big, not the metaphorical kind.
You’ll be the first of the Avengers to see-
[Panel 1: The hallways klaxons are blaring, both Tony and Cindy looking up.]
Tony: Computer! What’s going on?
Computer: Alert from General Masoli. AIM extremists are active off the coast of Borneo. It appears that they are trying to harness the power of the Lava Men.
Tony: Alright, then. Time to accelerate your training.
Suit up, Silk. It’s go time.
[Panel 2: Tony’s hand slams onto a hall console, shouting into the intercom as Silk runs off to get changed.]
Tony: Mighty Avengers!
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ’s apartment. Peter and MJ are fast asleep in their bed, when a strong light bathes the room.]
[Panel 4: Peter lifts his head, to see the source of the light: the Quinjet taking off from Stark Tower.]
[Panel 5: Peter’s head flops back down onto his pillow, a disappointed look on his tired face.]
[Panel 1: The scene transitions to a large panel of the interior of the Avenger’s quinjet. Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman are inspecting their gear together, Vision is merely standing complacently and aloof, Black Panther is hiding in the corner, and Iron Man is on holographic chat with commanders of every US military branch. The only one not doing anything is Silk, who is simply sitting down and watching the conversation.]
Iron Man: Admiral Chazen, I’m going to need you to move all of your ships in the area to a safe location outside of Borneo naval space.
General Hardell, I need a squadron of Thunderbolt bombers prepped and ready for a bombing run once we’re wrapped up.
[Panel 2: Captain Marvel sits next to Silk, who is obviously uncomfortable in her current situation.]
Captain Marvel: It’s good to have you on board, Silk.
Silk: Thanks, but I’m not sure what I’m gonna bring to the table.
Captain Marvel: You bring the webs back to the table. Represent the spider, kid.
[Panel 3: Captain Marvel puts an encouraging grip on Silk’s shoulder, doing her best to reassure the rookie Avenger.]
Captain Marvel: Hey, you’ll do great. Just keep your eye on the target and nothing will go wrong.
Plus, Tony’s bringing a new toy to the fight tonight, so we should have this in the bag.
[Panel 4: Iron Man turns to face his team as the hologram behind him fades.]
Iron Man: Avengers! Look sharp! We’re coming over the drop zone.
Remember folks, AIM has dedicated all of their forces to this operation. We shut this down, we have a chance to bring down all of AIM. Think we can do that?
Captain Marvel: I think we can arrange that.
Iron Man: Good. T’Challa, pop the hatch.
[Panel 5: The Avengers have leapt out of the hatch, Iron Man leading the charge with Black Panther on a jetpack, Spider-Woman using her armpit gliders, and Captain Marvel carrying Silk downwards.]
Iron Man: Avengers!
Hit ‘em with everything you’ve got!
[Page 17 and 18 Double-Page Spread]
[Panel 1: We see a group of AIM agents on the ground, herding up lava men in single file formations.]
AIM Agent #1: Hope they let us get back to the base soon. It’s sweltering here.
AIM Agent #2: You said it. Hopefully we can get the heavy lifting done soon so the big boys can get these freaks under our control.
AIM Agent #3: Hey, you two! Get a move on! We need to get the last batch back to AIM Island!
AIM Agent #1: Fine, fine.
Hey, you guys hear something? It sounds like a plane.
[Panel 2: A close of up of AIM Agent #2’s helmet, Iron Man’s high-speed figure reflected in the black visor.]
AIM Agent #2: Aw, crap.
[Panel 3: Larger panel in the center of the spread, in which all the Mighty Avengers have sprung into combat. Iron Man and Captain Marvel are firing off their lasers, Black Panther is slashing his opponents with his claws, Spider-Woman is firing off her venom blasts, Vision has just flown through an AIM Agent, and Silk is on top of another, firing a web to an AIM Agent off-panel.]
Iron Man: Don’t let up!
Spider-Woman: Does it look like we are, tin-man? Who’s keeping an eye on the new kid?
Vision: Calm yourself, Jessica. I believe Silk is quite capable of managing her own affairs.
Captain Marvel: Well, better to make sure she’s alive than let her go unchecked.
It’d suck to have to tell Spidey that his sidekick was killed because we weren’t paying attention.
Iron Man: Ex-sidekick, Carol. Once you make an Avenger, you’re a full-fledged hero.
Silk: Anybody got any good jokes? Because I’d like to take my mind off the fact that I’m fighting guys in beekeeper suits.
[Panel 4: Small panel, where Captain Marvel, AIM Agent in her grip, has slammed them into the ground, creating a shockwave that sends multiple others flying.]
Captain Marvel: I’ve got one.
So, according to all known laws of aviation, there’s no way a bee should be able to fly.
It’s wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground.
[Panel 5: Captain Marvel has grabbed a tank, smashing it into another and sending more bodies flying. Silk has landed a distance away, calling Captain Marvel out on her poor sense of humor.]
Captain Marvel: The beekeeper, however, flies anyways.
Because superheroes don’t care what they think is impossible.
Silk: Okay, hard mode: the joke isn’t a reference to an internet meme.
Captain Marvel: Nope. I got nothing.
[Panel 6: A random AIM Agent (we’ll just call him AIM Agent #4 for convenience) is hiding behind a rock, speaking into a comlink.]
AIM Agent #4: Scientist Supreme! We are under attack by the Avengers! Requesting assistance from AIM Island!
Scientist Supreme [Comm]: Acknowledged. Bringing the base to your coordinates. Stand by.
[Panel 7: Iron Man and Vision look up, with Spider-Woman hovering in the background.]
Iron Man: By God…
[Panel 1: The Mighties are all looking up to see AIM Island hovering above them.]
Silk: So, who wants to see if they punch the giant floating island hardest?
Iron Man: No need, kid.
There’s a reason I have a control satellite in orbit right now.
[Panel 2: Iron Man’s finger has pressed a button on his wrist gauntlet.]
Iron Man: You’ll see why in about 3... 2… 1.
[Panel 3: Large panel. The water splits to show a giant Iron Man suit, nearly the same size as AIM Island. A mish-mash of older, repurposed Iron Man suits, it has clearly been untested in its capabilities, and has not yet been color-coordinated, with some pieces gold and red and black and grey sticking out. Think Superion and Menasor and you’d get a fair representation of what you’re looking at now.]
Giant Armor AI: ONEIROI Protocols on standby.
[Panel 4: The Mighty Avengers are all watching blandly with Iron Man at the controls, save for Silk, who is in the back of the cluster and freaking out.]
Silk: HOLY @#$%!
What is that?! A frikkin’ combiner?!
Iron Man: Wrong giant robot, kid. This right here is the solution to all of our problems.
Meet ONEIROI. The dream machine.
[Panel 1: Massive panel. ONEIROI raises its right hand, firing off a massive laser blast that smashes through AIM Island’s shields (literally shattering it), a barrage of missiles caking the island in explosions.]
[Panel 2: The Mighty Avengers are still watching the spectacle, a few looking slightly uncomfortable, with Silk the most terrified.]
Iron Man: What’d I tell you? Works like a charm.
Silk: Oh, my God.
[Panel 1: Iron Man watches AIM Island descend into the Pacific, pressing more buttons on his wrist.]
Iron Man: I’m pulling the ONEIROI unit back. The quinjet will be pulling up in a few minutes. Prep for extraction.
[Panel 2: Iron Man pats Silk, who is gaping at the carnage that has just ensued, on the shoulder, all the while oblivious to her reaction.]
Iron Man: So. First day- or night, if we’re on New York time- on the job.
You enjoy yourself?
Silk: Are you blind?
Iron Man: Uh, no. That’s Daredevil’s job.
[Panel 3: Silk points towards AIM Island, the pieces at least, which are sinking into the ocean.]
Silk: We… we just killed them all. How many people were on that island?
Iron Man: About… erm, 3,000.
Silk: That’s three thousand people there. They deserved trials. We should have allowed them to surrender. You didn’t even give them a chance to do that.
[Panel 4: Iron Man’s grip on Silk’s shoulder has tightened, his mask retracting.]
Tony: We do what we have to do. It might not be the best options, but it’s the one that lets the people we protect sleep at night.
And in the end, lives have to be taken. Simple as that.
[Panel 1: Iron Man and the other Avengers are boarding the Quinjet, with Silk hesitating.]
Iron Man: You stop thinking about after a while.
Come on. We’re heading out. Celebration party at the tower.
[Panel 2: Silk standing on the gantry of the Quinjet, looking at the burning remains of AIM Island.]
Silk [cap]: Okay, then. I have a question.
When everything’s gone and superheroes like Iron Man have their way-
-what’ll be left to celebrate?
[To be continued.]
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #9
“In Avengers We Trust, Pt. 2: Rage Against the Machine”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Sarah Stone
[Panel 1: Captain Yuri Watanabe stands on a podium at the base of Stark Tower, a swarm of press in front of her.]
[Capt: Avengers Tower]
Reporter: Captain Watanabe, is it true that the Avengers were deployed to Borneo last night?
Yuri: I can confirm that the Avengers responded to an AIM attack. However, they have since gone dark and have not reported in since their departure.
[Panel 2: A closer shot of Yuri, still on the podium.]
Reporter [op]: Natalie Long, Fact Channel News. Captain, what has happened to Detroit Steel following yesterday’s incident?
Yuri: Per the protocol of the joint NYPD-Avengers task force, Lieutenant Johnson was placed under arrest, and his armor has been melted down to prevent further misuse of the technology.
[Panel 3: Another, even closer shot of Yuri’s face. Note that she’s becoming increasingly irritated with working as press lackey, but it’s just now becoming noticeable on a mild scale.]
Reporter [op]: Betty Brant, Daily Bugle. Spider-Man and newcomer Silk were seen in action at the Detroit Steel fiasco. We caught Spider-Man and Iron Man conversing before we were blocked off. Has Spider-Man been invited to rejoin the Avengers?
Yuri: Honestly? I don’t know. But if he hasn’t come over to our side for over three years, I doubt he’s just now planning to climb on board.
[Panel 4: Close-up of Yuri’s face. She’s clearly grown agitated at the mention of Spider-Man.]
Yuri: The Mighty Avengers exist so that superhumans can coordinate under supervision to make the world a better place. And to be frank, as a known killer, Spider-Man doesn’t belong on that list.
[Panel 5: Yuri looks down to the side of the podium. Carlie is seated there, along with two other NYPD Captains.]
Yuri: Regardless of what some people might say.
[Panel 6: A shot from the area in which Carlie is seated, who looks slightly agitated by Yuri’s glare at her, the latter returning her attention to the press.]
Betty [op]: Captain, one last question; we’ve heard rumors that Silk was approached to join the Mighty Avengers by Iron Man. Can you confirm if these reports are true?
Yuri: I can confirm that Silk is working with the Mighty Avengers on this mission, at least. Whether or not she is a full-fledged member has not been confirmed for me to disclose.
No more questions.
[Page 2 and 3: double page spread.]
[Panel 1: Carlie and Yuri are walking away from the podium, as Chief Pratchett takes the podium.]
Carlie: Hey, you good? We need to talk?
Yuri: Yeah. I’m okay.
Carlie: Babe, that’s not what we call okay. I know we promised to put our opinions of Spider-Man behind us personally, but that doesn’t mean that we use our position at that podium to tell people what to think of him.
We’re police. Our job is to protect people and be objective towards them. We hide something important, it comes to bite us in the ass later when pressure builds up.
[Panel 2: The two have moved underneath the tower, Yuri sighing as she removes her hat.]
Carlie: Hey, I’m not mad. I’m just saying we’re here to do our job, which is tell people the facts, not debate who should be running around in a Quinjet.
[Panel 3: Larger panel. The Mighties are disembarking from the Quinjet, Iron Man leading the charge out of the hangar in celebratory fashion. Notably, Silk is bringing up the rear, still not being able to live with what she’s seen.]
Carlie [cont’d Capt]: … it’d be pretty hard to argue the Avengers don’t need a spider of some kind. They could use somebody bright and cheerful up there.
Iron Man: Cheers, folks! We just took out AIM in one swift blow!
If I do my math correctly, that’s exactly one less threat to national security!
Time to celebrate! Drinks on me!
Silk: I’m not legally able to drink.
Iron Man: You’re an Avenger, kid! Who cares if you have some martinis?
Silk: Me. Y’know, because I joined the team to enforce the law.
Iron Man: Aw, man, I love this kid!
[Panel 4: Silk has leaned over towards Captain Marvel, who is looking over their flight logs.]
Silk: Um, Cap? Any reason Mr. Stark is acting like a twelve-year old?
Captain Marvel: Eh, he’s always like that when we win. I’ve learned to put up with it.
Hm, we could have shaved twenty minutes off the flight plan if we used our stealth tech in New Guinea airspace.
[Panel 5: Captain Marvel has noticed that Silk is apprehensive, setting down her tablet to talk without distraction.]
Captain Marvel: Whoa, you’re really not looking happy.
Alright, talk to me, kid. What’s got you hanging by a thread?
Silk: Well… I just feel like we could have done something to those AIM guys other than blow them all up.
It’s like the Avengers just solve all their problems by getting rid of it and pretending it never happened. Then they just sweep it under the rug because the government lets them.
It kind of seems like, instead of really being accountable and making sure they’re punished for their crimes, they just check names off a kill list and shift the blame for their problems.
[Panel 6: Captain Marvel is sitting on a supply crate, talking to Silk with a bit of a dour note.]
Captain Marvel: … I used to be in the Air Force.
And I did things that I wouldn’t say are exactly right. But I decided to accept that what I was doing was for the greater good, and that greater good was a just cause. I was justified in what I did.
Being a superhero? It’s kind of like being a soldier. But you don’t just have a duty to your country.
You have a duty to the world.
[Panel 7: Captain Marvel has gotten up, exiting the hangar, motioning Silk to join her.]
Captain Marvel: C’mon, kid. Stark will kill us if we make him wait to celebrate.
[Panel 8: Silk closes the door to the hangar, still having second thoughts over her decision to join.]
Silk [Capt]: I shouldn’t have signed up for this.
[Panel 1: Horizon labs. Peter and MJ are walking out of the lab, Peter locking the security feature behind him.]
[Capt: Horizon Labs]
MJ: … I’m just saying, how did Deadpool of all people get a merchandising contract?
Peter: I dunno, he just threw a little plushie at me, screaming that he got a sponsor, and then ran away.
MJ: That man has some serious issues.
Peter: Tell me about it.
[Panel 2: As they walk out of the lab hall into the main atrium, Peter and MJ put their arms around the other.]
Peter: Next week, it’s that time of the month.
MJ: Do you mean?-
Peter: Oh, yeah!
[Panel 3: Just outside the door to Horizon. Peter holds his arms out wide, as if discovering some ancient holy power, MJ giggling at his hyperbole.]
Peter: Date night!
MJ: You are too cute sometimes.
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ walk down the street]
Peter: I’m just saying, we only get one night a month to do this, what with our schedules and all.
MJ: And that is why we are going to enjoy ourselves as best. As. Possible.
Peter: Code Green?
MJ: Code Turquoise.
Peter: We have a Code Turquoise?
MJ: Nope. I just made it up. It’s like Code Green, only five times better. We get to use the ceiling.
[Panel 5: When MJ isn’t looking, Peter grins and clenches his fist in victory, giddy as a schoolgirl.]
[Panel 1: Closer shot of Peter and MJ.]
MJ: Hey, the NYPD made a statement today. Apparently Cindy ran off on a mission with the Avengers.
Peter: Yeah. I saw their Quinjet take off last night.
MJ: You don’t think she’d just up and decide to join them because they handed her their card?
[Panel 2: Shot of Peter and MJ’s full bodies, pressed together, walking, which does not fit within the panel. It spills out of the panel into the void of the page.]
Peter: Of course not. The kid’s smart. This is probably a trial run, to see if she’s up to going through with joining full time.
I told her that it wasn’t my call, but that if she doesn’t like it, she always has a place here.
This is a learning process for her. I can’t hold her hand all the time.
MJ: It’s a good call.
I trust Stark as far as I can throw him in his suit.
[Panel 3: Larger panel. Cindy, in normal clothes, opens a door in Avengers Tower, an exhausted look on her face.]
[Capt: Avengers Tower]
MJ [Cont’d Capt]: She needs to figure it out for herself instead of having somebody else tell it to her.
Cindy [Capt]: Okay, so there are six people in the room. One of them is a teenager, the rest adults.
The punchline is that the teenager is more mature than one of the adults.
It’s not a very funny joke.
[Panel 4: Cindy opens another door; a closet, with her Silk costume hanging on a rack.]
Cindy [Capt]: Nothing’s right here. The Avengers aren’t the place for me.
For any hero.
[Panel 5: Close-up of Cindy’s face, deep in thought. Silent panel.]
[Panel 1: Cindy, now in costume, has her head out the door. Silent panel]
[Panel 2: Silk presses the down button on the elevator, impatiently waiting to leave.]
Silk: Aw, c’mon, c’mon.
[Panel 3: Larger panel. The elevator door has opened, but there’s already an occupant inside; Iron Man. The red sections of his armor has been reinforced with black plating, and his circuitry has turned red; a callback to the Mk. 42.]
Iron Man: Where do you think you’re going?
Silk: Uh. Midnight snack.
Iron Man: Kitchen’s down the hall to your left, kid.
[Panel 4: Silk, having realized she’s been caught, goes along with the dialogue.]
Um… guess I’ll go that way then.
[Panel 5: As Silk turns to her left, she sees the Vision blocking her path.]
Silk: Well, um, I guess I could just go to-
[Panel 1: Spider-Woman is approaching on the right, her hands glowing with venom energy.]
Silk [op]: -Bed.
[Panel 2: Rafter shot, as Silk is cornered by the three heroes.]
Iron Man: You’re not going anywhere, kid.
Not tonight and definitely not to Spider-Man.
[Panel 3: Silk, realizing that they’re trying to box her in, has shifted to a less defensive position and is prepared to run.]
Silk: Alright, then.
Time to improvise.
If I can’t use a door that’s already there-
[Panel 1: Massive panel. An outside shot of Stark Tower, as Silk crashes through the window.]
Silk: I’ll make my own!
And just so we’re clear, I am totally not footing the bill for the window!
[Panel 2: Iron Man, Vision and Spider-Woman all stand at the edge of the window, observing the damage. Vision is fading into the floor, as Spider-Woman’s energy glow fades.]
Iron Man: Vision, get down to the street and make sure she didn’t impale anybody with the glass.
Vision: Of course.
Iron Man: Jess, scramble the rest of the Avengers. We’re following the kid.
Spider-Woman: Got it.
One question: how’re we going to find her?
Iron Man: Well, let’s narrow down the options.
Where does a bear cup go when they feel threatened?
[Panel 1: The Parker Family Apartment. Peter and MJ are both hard at work. Peter is working with a microwave, tinkering with it, and MJ is using her tablet.]
[Capt: The Parker Family Apartment, 33rd West End Avenue]
Iron Man [cont’d Capt]: They run back to papa bear.
Only in this case, papa bear.
Peter: So, I was thinking about tomorrow. How about the Zoo?
MJ: I like it. We haven’t been spending nearly enough time as a… you know, ...family unit recently. Gives us a whole day to just be together and not have to worry about other problems.
[Panel 2: Peter is still tinkering, MJ looking over the microwave and sliding a single finger across Peter’s forehead.]
MJ: So. Whatcha working on?
Peter: Dunno. Y’know how we put food in the microwave, but it always comes out cold while the plate is always really hot?
Thought I’d try and work my way around that.
MJ: This isn’t going to be your big project for your paycheck, is it?
Peter: I gotta start small. For all I know, we’ll find an entire new wave of microwave radiation just by poking around this thing.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ kiss. Annie is in the background, oblivious to what is happening.]
Peter: It’s the little things that count.
[Panel 4: A loud knock at the door pulls the two apart, Peter mildly annoyed by the interruption.]
Peter: What time is it?
MJ: Seven PM.
Peter: That’s what has me worried.
[Panel 1: Peter has opened the door, only to find all of the Mighty Avengers standing at the door.]
Iron Man: Where is she, Peter?
[Panel 2: Peter, with a borderline angry look on his face, staring down Iron Man.]
Peter: Who, Stark?
My wife and child?
You gonna take them, too?
Iron Man: You’re hiding her, Peter.
Avengers. Search the apartment. Find Silk.
[Panel 3: Peter, having reached a tipping point, points a finger angrily at Iron Man.]
Peter: Nuh-uh. You need a warrant to search this place legally.
Iron Man: The armor and Avengers badge are my warrant.
Peter: That’s not how things work.
[Panel 4: Silk is on a rooftop just across the street, looking into the window of Peter’s apartment.]
Silk: Crap crap crap crap. Crap!
I can’t believe he dragged Mr. Parker into this. I need to get out of here.
[Panel 5: Iron Man taps his helmet, having just picked her up on his sensors. In the background, Peter is stealthily changing into his costume.]
Iron Man: Wait, just pinged her on the sensors. She’s headed this- no, she’s turning around. Making a run for it.
Everyone! Get her!
Peter: Stark, no! Don’t do this!
[Splash Page. As MJ watches, Annie in her arms, Peter, freshly changed into his costume, leaps out the apartment window, thwiping a web line to the back of Iron Man’s armor, as the Mighty Avengers give chase to their rogue recruit.]
GET BACK HERE!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man is still gripping the webline, Iron Man zig-zagging furiously to try and shake him off.]
Iron Man: Get off, Peter! She has knowledge of classified military information! She can’t just walk free!
Spider-Man: I don’t care! She’s just a kid! You can’t keep her locked up in that tower!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has gripped Iron Man’s boot, crushing it in his grip.]
Spider-Man: I don’t care who you tell about my identity, but you can’t do this to her.
[Panel 3: Iron Man has shaken Peter off, who is on the street, while the Avengers are still airborne. Spidey has fired off another web and aimed it at Iron Man’s helmet ]
Iron Man: Now, if you’ll excuse me…
Spider-Man: Oh, no you don’t!
[Panel 4: Spider-Man yanks on the webline, Iron Man smashing into the concrete head first.]
Spider-Man: We’re not going anywhere.
[Panel 1: Silk webs down to the street, Spider-Man taking notice of her presence.]
Spider-Man: You alright, kid?
Silk: ...Not really, no.
[Panel 2: Silk shows the Avengers business card she had received in issue #8. It’s been shattered to pieces.]
Silk: Hope you didn’t replace me already.
Spider-Man: Not a chance.
It’s good to have you back.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man’s face is grabbed by Iron Man, whose faceplate and left shoulder armor have been severely dented.]
Iron Man: Alright, then.
If you won’t come back as an Avenger, then you’re coming back in handcuffs.
Spider-Man and Silk, I charge you both with assaulting a federal officer, aiding and abetting a known fugitive, resisting arrest and property damage!
[Panel 4: Peter’s lenses have narrowed, as his grip has found its way to Iron Man’s gauntlet, the force crushing it.]
Peter: No! I won’t stop fighting! Not when I have a family to look after! Not when it leaves people like you in charge!
[Panel 1: The rest of the Mighty Avengers have landed, and both Spidey and Iron Man have each other in a chokehold.]
Iron Man: Everybody, stand down!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man’s grip has moved up to the gloves of the armor, shattering through the extra armor and crushing the power systems.]
Spider-Man: You stand down!
[Panel 3: Spider-Man, lenses narrowed in anger, stands looming over Iron Man, pointing at him accusatorily.]
Spider-Man: Look at this! All of what you’ve done!
You dragged a teenager into your little crusade!
You tore up an entire city street to try and bring her back to a place she didn’t want to stay at!
[Panel 4: Close up of Spider-Man’s face. Draw the lines choppily, especially Spider-Man’s enraged eyes.]
Spider-Man: You threatened to reveal my secret identity!
This isn’t responsible! We’re the good guys! Or at least we should be!
What makes us heroes now if we don’t act like it?!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man is still looming over Iron Man, while the rest of the Avengers look on. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Captain Marvel steps up, horrified.]
Captain Marvel: Tony, you… you blackmailed him with his secret identity?
I could look past ONEIROI. That has purpose. But… this is a step too far.
What do we gain by ruining somebody’s life for refusing to get in line?
This… this isn’t what we signed up for. We aren’t being heroes anymore when we hurt our friends.
[Panel 3: Captain Marvel takes off, everybody else watching her.]
Captain Marvel: This isn’t going to work.
[Panel 4: Spider looks down on Iron Man, who is struggling to recover from the onslaught.]
Spider-Man: Nice job, Tony. You just lost a member.
I trust I made my point.
Now keep your hands off of Silk. I think she’s made it clear she didn’t like her trial run.
Iron Man: You murdered Doctor Octopus! You’re a danger to the public.. No, a menace! You need to be taken down!
[Panel 5: Spider-Man and Silk swing off, leaving the Mighty Avengers to help Iron Man up.]
Spider-Man: You’ll have to do better than that. I’ve been hearing that line for eighteen years.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man and Silk are sitting on a rooftop.]
Spider-Man: Hold on. You’re telling me that Tony had a giant robot underneath the Pacific that has the power to destroy AIM Island?
And he kept it secret from everybody? Including the rest of the Mighties?
It’s just… scary. Having one guy in control of so much power.
Spider-Man: That’s one of the reasons the hero community is so split up. Tony wanted to keep us in check. On an equal playing field. Instead, he just ended up receiving more power, and the ability to keep others in check.
The way he saw fit.
[Panel 2: Silk looking at Spider-Man, worried as he continues to stare into the night sky.]
Silk: Um… Mr. Parker? Can I ask a question?
Silk: When you killed Doctor Octopus… how much did Peter Parker have to do with it?
[Panel 3: Large panel of Spider-Man’s head, as he keeps staring forwards.]
You’re gonna grow up eventually, Cin. Meet somebody. Lose somebody. Get married, have a kid.
And one day, somebody will do something that you can’t stop that will put everything you love at risk. And you have to compromise something to make sure that what you love is safe.
I know that, because it’s happened to me.
[Panel 1: Peter stands up, looking at Silk and pointing a finger at her.]
Spider-Man: You don’t get it yet, but you start to have a need to keep everything safe once you’ve lost enough. People like Iron Man, who have no families? They don’t get it. They think because we compromise to keep what we love safe, that we’re dangerous; that we need to be held down.
They’re not exactly wrong. But there’s more to it than just black-and-white.
Life lesson, kid.
I hope it doesn’t change how you think of me.
Silk: I get it.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man looks out over the horizon, as Silk walks off.]
Silk: I won’t keep you from your family.
Besides, I have class tomorrow. I’d rather not have my roommate dragging me out of bed again.
Spider-Man: ‘Night, kid. Stay safe.
Silk: I try.
[Panel 3: The Parker Apartment. Peter climbs in the window, dressed instead in civilian clothes. MJ walks over, hugging him lovingly.]
MJ: Hey yourself. You okay?
Peter: It’s another one of those “heroes fighting each other” days. I’m sure somebody caught it on video.
[Panel 4: Close up of MJ.]
MJ: I saw.
And I’ll stand by you.
What you did tonight was the right call.
I’m proud of you, Pete.
[Panel 1: Peter drags over to the bedroom, MJ following him.]
Peter: Sorry, Red. After beating the crap out of Iron Man, I’m feeling a little beat.
MJ: And that’s why Annie’s already been tucked in for the night.
Peter: God, I love you, MJ.
MJ: I hope so, I’m wearing your ring.
[Panel 2: The door closes. Silent panel.]
[Panel 3: Peter flops onto the bed, MJ sitting down on the side.]
MJ: You sure the Avengers won’t come after Cindy?
Peter: Absolutely. They just lost Carol, and they know I’ll gun for them if they try a second time.
I just wish I didn’t have to nearly beat down Stark to do it.
[Panel 4: MJ and Peter snuggle on their bed.]
Peter: Here’s to hoping things get better?
So, date night next week?
Peter:... Date night.
[Cap: Tales From the Friendly Neighborhood: You, Me, Cloning and other Revelations]
[Panel 1: Pitch black and silent.]
[Panel 2: Similar panel size, through a sliver of light has broken through the darkness, casting upon a rat crawling up on the piping.]
Spider-Man: Here we go.
Home sweet home.
[Panel 3: Peter’s figure is able to be fully seen as a silhouette against the light, the door fully open.]
Peter [Capt]: Not my home, at least.
His. Not mine. It gets a little confusing. Y’know, cloning and all that jazz.
[Panel 1: Peter walks into the center of the room, looking around as he carries around a large parcel.]
Peter [capt]: This used to be one of the Jackal’s labs during the whole Clone fiasco. Now, it’s a home to my brother.
[Panel 2: Peter places the parcel on the table in the middle of the room, a look of disappointment visible in the shadows.]
Peter [capt]: Or at least the closest thing I have to one.
I told Kaine when I cured him of his cell degeneration, he was free to choose his own path.
I won’t stop him.
[Panel 3: Peter walks away, as a shadowed figure leaps down from a higher point. Silent panel.]
[Panel 4: The figure’s hands hold the parcel, with a note on it.]
Note Text: A little something to get you started. -P
Peter [capt]: I trust that he’ll make the right decision.
[Splash page: A montage of Kaine putting on his new costume, with his top, bottoms, gloves, and mask. Takes notes from the armoring up page from Ends of the Earth.]
[Full splash page of Kaine wearing the 2012 Scarlet Spider costume in a heroic pose, with a duffel bag slung over his shoulder.]
Peter [capt]: And you wanna know how I know that?
Because it’s exactly what I’d do.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #10
“Date Night: Days of Deception Prelude”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: David Marquez and Justin Ponsor
[Panel 1: The Parker family apartment. Peter and MJ are in their bedroom, sitting on their bed. MJ is looking over their nicer clothing, while Peter is poking around his closet, looking for something.]
[Cap: 33rd West End Avenue, the Parker family apartment]
MJ: Peter, you have your suit pressed?
Peter: Uh, I think so? One sec… yep, suit’s pressed.
MJ: You sure you don’t wanna just do this another day and play a board game tonight?
You still look shaken up from the whole Avengers thing last week.
[Editorial note: The Avengers incident occurred last issue.]
[Panel 2: Peter pokes his head out of the closet, having found his tie.]
Peter: MJ, we’ve had this reservation for weeks now. Can we even cancel five hours before we’re supposed to get there?
MJ: There’s a policy on that. S’long it’s an hour before your timetable, you’re good.
Peter: Huh. Neat.
[Panel 3: Shot of MJ, who is looking through her makeup kit.]
MJ: By the way, did you ever find a babysitter for Annie?
[Panel 4: Peter, looking up and hesitating to answer.]
[Panel 1: Yuri is holding her house set, hanging up as Peter tries to talk to her.]
[Capt: Attempt #1]
Peter [phone]: Hey, Yuri! I was wondering if you and/or Carlie could-
Peter: Whoa, hang on a-
[Panel 2: Carlie sticks her head out of the bathroom as Yuri sets the house set on its charger.]
Carlie: Hey, who was that?
[Panel 3: A shot of Peter’s smartphone, with his finger hovering over J. Jonah Jameson’s number and contact info.]
[Capt: Attempt #2]
[Panel 4: Peter pulls his finger up, sheathing his phone is his pocket.]
Peter: No, Peter. You’re a responsible parent. Don’t do that to your kid.
[Panel 5: Kaine is roaring hilariously into his own phone, mask off but still wearing the rest of his Scarlet Spider suit.]
[Cap: Attempt #3]
[Panel 6: Kaine leers into the phone, pulling on his mask as he hangs up when Aracely pokes her head in the room.]
Kaine: #@%& off.
Aracely: Hey, who was that? Your brother?
Kaine: Nope, wrong number.
[Panel 1: Peter scratching his head, laying his suit down on the bed.]
Peter: Yeah, that didn’t go over so well.
I could ask Cindy to babysit. I was gonna tell her to patrol without me, but--
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ look at each other, a look of worry on their faces.]
[Panel 3: Peter puts his hand to his chin.]
Peter: Wait, I think I’ve got an idea.
You may not like it, but….
[Panel 4: Peter, now dressed up, opens the door to let Felicia in.]
Peter: Hey, Felicia.
I hope this isn’t too out of the way for you, but…
Felicia: Nah, we’re good.
[Panel 5: MJ, also dressed up, comes over to Peter, as he exits the apartment.]
MJ: Thanks for doing this for us, Fel. We owe you big time.
Felicia: No problem. You two enjoy yourself.
[Panel 1: Felicia looks over at Annie, who is staring at her from her play pit. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: The two are still in their original positions, the only change being Felicia is waving at Annie.]
Felicia: Um… hey, kid.
Felicia: Yeah. Whatever that means. Woo.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ are walking down the stairs, with Peter texting into his phone.]
MJ: You sure this is a good idea? Leaving Black Cat in charge of our kid?
Peter: I trust her. She already promised not to steal anything.
One sec. Gotta text Cin and tell her she’s going solo tonight.
[Panel 4: As her phone vibrates, Cindy rises from a bed that isn’t her own, her hair disheveled, and wearing a shirt a few sizes too big for her.]
[Panel 5: Cindy’s face, with a disappointed expression, as she reads the text on her phone.]
Text: You’re on your own for patrol. Don’t let me down, kid. -P
[Panel 1: Cindy is trying to climb down from the bed, when a hand tries to drag her back down under the covers.]
???: Cin, c’mon. Stay the night?
Cindy: Sorry, Hector. It’s my boss. He needs me to do something for work.
Hector: Work can wait.
Cindy: No, it can’t.
I’ll see you tomorrow. Thanks for the good time.
Hector: Can I at least have my shirt back?
Cindy: No. It’s mine now.
[Panel 2: Cindy rushes back into her dorm room, dressed in her own clothes this time, and pulling out her briefcase from a hidden corner.]
Cindy [capt]: Okay, don’t panic. Spidey just wants me to do patrol without him.
Except I’ve never done patrol without him.
Well, first time for everything.
[Panel 3: Cindy is pulling on her bandanna mask as she webs away from her dorm.]
Silk: Let’s see if we can’t make this work.
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ are standing at the kiosk of a more high-end restaurant, as a server looks through the reservation book. Peter is pinching the bridge of his nose, frustrated, while MJ looks on.]
Peter: Parker. Peter and Mary Jane Parker.
Look, it’s been an hour, and our reservation was half an hour ago. There must be some kind of mix-up.
Server: I’m sorry, Mr. Parker, your name isn’t on any of our reservation lists.
MJ: But we made this reservation a month ago. Are you telling me you’ve lost a reservation? Because that represents a major breach in your cybersecurity and could result in the loss of significant profit margins for your franchise.
[Panel 5: The server is now in panic mode.]
Server: Um… let me check right now, Mrs. Parker.
[Panel 1: Peter looks over at MJ, who is smirking victoriously, bewildered how quickly she solved the situation.]
Peter: Oh, my God. How did you-
MJ: Trade secret. Can’t tell.
Peter: I ain’t complaining.
[Panel 2: The server returns, waving a folder.]
Server: Good news, Mrs. Parker! We found your reservation. We were just looking in the wrong place. If you’ll follow me, please?
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ follow the waiter to their table, still conversing.]
Peter: Have I ever mentioned that you are one talented lady?
MJ: A title well deserved.
Peter: Do I look like I’m arguing?
[Panel 1: Cindy is sitting up on top of a roof, eating a hotdog as she looks down on the city.]
Cindy [capt]: Okay, streets are looking good so far.
Not even a common criminal out tonight. Maybe Mr. Parker made them all disappear.
Maybe I can go back to my room and get a few hours of--
[Panel 2: A wall of a building explodes, sending debris flying everywhere.]
[Panel 3: Cindy, mouth still full of hotdog, swings down to check it out.]
Cindy [capt]: -sleep.
Oh, well. City doesn’t sleep. Why should I?
[Panel 4: Silk lands on the street, inspecting the damage and helping a passerby up.]
Silk: It’s okay, you’re all gonna be okay.
Attention, exploding building! You are under arrest!
[Splash Page: From Silk’s POV, we find out the source of the hole; Rhino, who is covered in a Symbiote similar to Venom. However, unlike Venom, there is no spider-symbol, no spider-lenses, or anything linking to Spider-Man. Rather, his back is covered in spikes, his front horn is longer and sharper, his eyes are red and narrowed and his fingers are thicker.]
[Panel 1: Cindy looks up, scared beyond belief.]
[Panel 2: Cindy leaps over a car in panic, SymbioRhino chasing her as civilians flee in panic.]
Cindy: Everybody, RUN!
[Panel 3: Cindy has grabbed onto SymbioRhino’s horn, trying to maintain a solid grip.]
Cindy: Okay, giant black thing that looks like a rhino! You need to stand down!
Aw, what the hell, you’re not listening to me. I’ll just make this easier for both of us.
[Panel 4: Cindy punches Rhino, but ends up shattering her fingers upon impact rather than stopping Rhino.]
Okay, that’s not cool!
[Panel 1: Cindy is grabbed by the leg, unable to free herself.]
Silk: Ah! Cheap shot, man!
[Panel 2: Silk is then brought up to the eye level of SymbioRhino, still hanging by her feet.]
Silk: Um…. Hi.
[Panel 3: Close up of Cindy’s face, who is weakly smiling in panic.]
Cindy: Please don’t hurt me.
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ are seated at a table, clinking two glasses of champagne together.]
Peter: To family.
MJ: And to Code Turquoise.
Peter: Amen to that, Red.
[Panel 2: MJ looks outside, noticing a lot of people outside running in a single direction.]
MJ: Hey, why are all of those people running?
Peter: Flash mob?
Joking. No idea.
I just hope Cindy hasn’t done anything-
[Panel 3: Cindy smashes through the window, ragdolling across the floor and stopping just short of Peter and MJ’s table.]
Hey, kid. How you hanging?
Silk: Not too good.
I think I bit off more than I could chew.
[Panel 4: SymbioRhino has smashed through what was left of the window, his attention solely on Silk.]
Silk: Of course, it would help if I could actually chew it to begin with.
Peter: Rhino?! You picked a fight with Rhino?!
Silk: Kind of. He destroyed a building.
I think I broke my hand.
It’s been a really weird night.
[Panel 5: Peter motions for MJ to get off the scene, as he straightens his tie.]
Peter: MJ, get out of here. I’ll take care of this.
MJ: Peter, you don’t have your costume!
[Panel 1: Peter looks back at his wife with a smirk, as Rhino charges towards Silk in the background.]
Peter: Who says I’m gonna save the day as Spidey?
[Panel 2: Peter t-bones SymbioRhino, sending him toppling over.]
Alright, kid, he’s all yours!
[Panel 3: Peter is dragged by MJ into a storage closet, as he shouts out to Silk.]
Peter: Remember, keep him away from civilians!
MJ: Peter, hide before he gets up!
[Panel 4: Silk swings out of the restaraunt, SymbioRhino chasing after her.]
How’d you like to play outside for a bit, boy?
[Panel 5: Peter and MJ are hidden in the supply closet, squeezed against each other.]
Peter: Okay, this went south way too fast.
There’s a hot dog stand a few blocks away. You wanna try and salvage this?
MJ: …. Yeah, I’m kind of hungry.
[Panel 1: Silk is swinging close to the ground, focused on outrunning SymbioRhino.]
Silk: Okay. Let’s see if we can’t get you someplace alone.
[Panel 2: Silk perches on a steeple, webbing her hand together.]
Silk [capt]: Okay, so punching Rhino isn’t going to do me any good. And trying to slow him down isn’t working either.
Time to lick my wrist and get creative.
[Panel 3: Silk looks over to her side, noticing a building under construction nearby.]
Silk [capt]: Hey… Mr. Parker told me about the time he beat Juggernaut.
Couldn’t slow him down, so he trapped him in a pool of wet cement.
Maybe I can pull off that trick too!
[Panel 4: Silk swings over the construction site, looking for something to stop SymbioRhino with.]
Silk [capt]: Alright, no wet cement.
But I do have ten stories worth of metal beams to work with.
Gonna need a sec to do some math.
[Panel 5: Silk looks over her shoulder as SymbioRhino roars, pulling back on her mask.]
Silk: Okay. Showtime.
Hey, Rhino! Come’n get me!
Silk [capt]: God, I need to work on my banter.
[Panel 1: Silk bolts towards the reader, as SymbioRhino smashes through the barrier behind her.]
Silk [capt]: Don’tpanicdon’tpanicdon’tpanic- aw, hell. I’m panicking.
[Panel 2: SymbioRhino smashes into one of the support pillars, crumpling it as Silk climbs up the same pillar.]
Alright, let’s let physics do its thing and-
[Panel 3: Silk’s expression turns sour, realizing that the building is collapsing around her as well.]
Silk: Oh, yeah. I’m in the building too.
This is gonna hurt.
[Panel 1: A streetside shot from several blocks away, as a large cloud of dust and the clanging of metal erupts from the barrier. Peter and MJ are sitting on the curb, watching the scene unfold while eating hotdogs.]
Both: Well, that happened.
[Panel 2: Silk has hold of one of the girders, holding it above her to escape the pile of metal around her.]
Silk: Uh… Ta-da.
[Panel 3: As Cindy tosses away the girder, she notices the symbiote crawling away against the pavement, having ditched Rhino.]
Cindy: Hey! You’re-
[Panel 4: Peter has appeared on scene, scooping up the symbiote into an empty concrete powder sack, and tying it with his tie.]
Cindy: Aw, man. That looked like a really expensive tie.
[Panel 1: Peter hands Cindy the bag.]
Peter: Cin, this is important. Change your clothes and run this thing over to Horizon. There’s a containment unit in the back of the lab. I want you to shove the Symbiote in there. Don’t let it escape.
Cindy: Crystal Pepsi clear.
Peter: Hop to it. I’ll meet you there in an hour.
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ walk down the street as Cindy swings off in the opposite direction.]
Peter: C’mon, MJ. I need to change. I’ll walk you home.
MJ: What was that all about?
MJ: What? But… I thought he vanished.
Peter: So did I. Guess the villains thought it was time for a reunion tour.
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ continue walking down the street.]
Peter: I don’t get it. Last time I saw, Venom was with Eddie. After being sold to that rich guy’s son and killing him. Why would he ditch him to go after Rhino of all people?
MJ: Maybe he’s dead? Or close enough that the symbiote decided it wasn’t worth sticking around for him?
Peter: … I’m not sure.
But if there’s a link, I need to get to Horizon and take a look at the big pile of goo that Cindy just dumped into a box.
[Panel 4: As Peter and MJ walk up to their apartment, Peter kisses MJ on the head. Up above, Black Cat holding Annie in her arms is crawling into the window of Peter and MJ’s apartment.]
Peter: I’ll be back in an hour. Tell Felicia I said thanks, would ya?
MJ: You got it.
Peter: Thanks. Love you.
[Panel 1: Large panel of Peter running down the street, civilians watching the uncommon act as he races towards the Seaport.]
Spider-Man: Okay, time to think of possibilities.
One. Brock is dead and the Symbiote ditched him.
Two. Brock lent Rhino the Symbiote for some nefarious goal.
Three. I’m open to suggestions.
All I know is one thing; whatever Rhino was doing with it, it definitely wasn’t charity work.
[Panel 2: Peter and Cindy are overlooking a bioscanner at Horizon as it performs scans on the inert Symbiote.]
[Capt: Horizon Labs]
Peter [capt]: Hopefully we can find out what’s going on now that we’ve captured it.
Okay, this is the third trial and this isn’t making any sense.
Cindy: Sounds like you’re looking for a specific result, Doc.
[Panel 3: Peter holds out a tablet to Cindy, who skims through the results.]
Peter: I am.
This one on the left is a scan of the Venom Symbiote. I took it a couple of years ago.
The one on the right is of the Symbiote we have in that box. Tell me what the difference is.
Cindy: Well… it looks like their genetics. It’s… this chunk of DNA right here. They’re completely different.
The rest is… uncannily similar.
[Panel 1: Peter has moved the display from the tablet to a larger screen, the two observing it.]
Peter: Here’s what I’ve learned about the Symbiotes. I’ve been to their home planet before. They’re kind of like… piles of sentient goo. They’re not genetically complete until they’ve gotten a host.
[Panel 2: Close up of Peter’s face, the scene where he receives the Venom Symbiote during Secret Wars 1984 next to him.]
Peter: There’s a giant chunk of their genetic code that’s missing, and I haven’t figured out why. Probably either natural evolution or genetic tampering by their own to necessitate a host.
That’s why Venom has my power set. It tapped into my DNA to fill itself out, and passed that DNA onto its spawn.
[Panel 3: Peter turns to face Cindy, pointing a pen at the screen.]
Peter: This isn’t my DNA.
This isn’t Venom.
[Panel 1: Peter overlooks the inert symbiote, as Cindy continues to survey the monitor and the scans.]
Cindy: So… what is it?
Peter: That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
From what the scans are saying, there’s not even an human DNA in there.
It looks like….
[Panel 2: Peter scratches his head in confusion at the results]
[Panel 3: Cindy places a crate on top of the table, looking at Peter in confusion.]
Cindy: Wait, Skrulls? The alien shapeshifter guys?
You’re telling me I fought an alien in a rhino suit with a layer of space jello?
[Panel 4: Peter tosses his tablet onto the table in frustration.]
Cindy [op]: Cool.
Peter: Not exactly. The Symbiote’s Skrull DNA allowed it to gain a cohesive body and become Rhino without detection. It hid until it was ready to show itself. That’s besides the point.
But there’s still so many questions on the board, kid.
Questions I need answered.
[Panel 1: Peter and Cindy continue to stare at the monitor, as the results stay stationary in front of them]
Peter [capt]: Like, how did the Symbiotes get a hold of a Skrull?
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ sit on their couch in their pajamas with Annie in MJ’s lap, as Peter writes physics formulas on a notepad.]
Peter [capt]: How did another Symbiote manage to get to Earth?
[Panel 3: Peter is on his bed, holding his folded Spider-Man costume in his lap.]
Peter [capt]: How many others are there?
And most important-
[Page 21 and 22]
[Full-page spread page. A shot of New York from the harbor, Horizon Labs at the front, the sky instead replaced by the classic Spider-Man sky-filler. The key difference is that instead of just a plain Spider-mask, the lower half is slowly being taken over by a black goo.]
Peter [cont’d cap]: Why are they here?
[To be Continued in Days of Deception.]
Friendly Neighrborhood Spider-Man (2016) Spotlight
“Black Cat: The Felicia Hardy Complex”
Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Assistant Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Editor: Mark Alford and Ashley Stapleton
Preferred Art Team: Joey Vazquez
[Panel 1: We get a view of Felicia’s apartment. A good deal nicer than Peter and MJ’s apartment (I’d argue One Olympic Place or something a little lower-tier, but let’s just say it’s somewhere in the upper-middle class range of quality of life.) We see Felicia enter through the window, carrying a small bag on her shoulder.]
Felicia: And another score for Little Miss Hardy.
[Panel 2: Felicia has pulled out her treasure, a small statue of a cat, and is holding back a cheer. Think your daughter getting her first car, and just picture Felicia in that same suppressed giddiness.]
Felicia: I love my job.
Felicia [cap]: I know what you’re thinking. A lot of people in my line of work say that.
And that’s because it’s true.
[Panel 3: We get a shot of Felicia’s bedroom. She tosses off her domino mask as she enters the room, and begins unzipping her costume. We also get an internal monologue with Felicia, with the captions being black and white.]
Felicia [cap]: So, my name is Felicia Hardy. Better known as Black Cat. I’m… well, I’m a cat burglar.
And… that’s all you need to know about me. That’s all there is to me.
[Panel 1: We see Felicia exit her shower, wearing only a bathrobe that looks a little small on her. Not exactly played as straight cheesecake, but does go to show that she isn’t exactly hiding her sexuality.]
Felicia [cap]: Oh, one more thing. I like to chase Spiders on rooftops. Just kind of a thing that happened one day. Turned out that was probably the most important year of my life.
[Panel 2: Fel plops down onto her bed, letting out a huff of exhaustion.]
Felicia [cap]: Okay, bored now.
[Panel 3: We see Felicia staring up at the ceiling, absolutely lost regarding her next move.]
Felicia [cap]: It’s been three hours.
If I don’t find something to do, I-
[Panel 3: Felicia looks over to her nightstand, to see her phone buzzing. She’s quite surprised that the universe answered her call this quickly.]
Felicia [cap]: Wow. Thanks, universe.
[Panel 1: Small panel where Felicia answers her phone playfully.]
[Panel 2: Much larger panel. Peter is just outside Annie’s room, where we see her sound asleep in her bed. Peter is freshly shaved, and slowly slipping on his Spider-Man costume.]
Peter: Hey, Felicia. It’s Peter.
Felicia [phone]: I can tell. You have the voice and the number. What’s up?
Peter: Okay, I’m asking for a big favor here, but I need you to watch Annie for a bit. It’s date night for me and MJ, and the usual suspects aren’t available for the job.
[Panel 3: Felicia has caught onto Peter’s desperation, a sly grin on her face, looking off to the side of her room.]
Felicia: Hmm, I dunno, Pete, I think I have a full calendar ahead of me….
[Panel 4: We see what Felicia was looking at: a calendar, stuck on the month of November, with no markings on it.]
Felicia: Yeah, looks like I’m jam-packed. I might not be able to…
[Panel 1: We cut back to Peter, who is pinching the bridge of his nose.]
Peter: Felicia, MJ and I have one night a month to do this kind of thing, and we’re really looking forward to it.
Please don’t make me beg…
[Panel 2: Felicia knows she’s winning. Her cheeky smirk from earlier has grown considerably.]
Felicia: Okay, so let’s say I do take you up on your offer. Because every girl has her price.
Peter [phone]: ‘Licia, I’m married. I’m not doing this, let alone with the person my wife trusts the least.
Felicia: ...It doesn’t have to be my usual fare.
Breakfast at, say, eight? Your place?
Peter [phone]: ...Fine. I’m willing to work with you here. I’ll take you up on it.
Felicia: Good. We have a deal. Hang tight. I’ll be right over.
[Panel 3: Peter is holding the phone in one hand, his head in the other.]
Peter: I must be a desperate, desperate man.
[Panel 4: Peter, now dressed up, opens the door to let Felicia in, who is dressed in casual clothing.]
Peter: Hey, Felicia.
I hope this isn’t too out of the way for you, but…
Felicia: Nah, we’re good
[Panel 5: MJ, also dressed up, comes over to Peter, as he exits the apartment.]
MJ: Thanks for doing this for us, Fel. We owe you big time.
Felicia: No problem. You two enjoy yourself.
[Panel 1: MJ points two fingers at Felicia, who simply stares at her as Peter remains unaware of what’s happening behind him.
[Panel 2: Felicia looks over at Annie, who is staring at her from her play pit. Silent panel.]
[Panel 3: The two are still in their original positions, the only change being Felicia is waving at Annie.]
Felicia: Um… hey, kid.
Felicia: Yeah. Whatever that means. Woo.
[Panel 1: Felicia sits down on the apartment couch, but only barely; she’s clearly uncomfortable.]
Felicia: I have literally never been here before in my life.
Makes me wonder if your old man would be living here with..
[Panel 2: Felicia looks off to the side, slumping her shoulders with a modicum of disappointment.]
Felicia: … If he and I were still a thing.
[Panel 3: Felicia picks up Annie, beaming as though the past several panels never happened.]
Felicia: ‘Course, you wouldn’t exist if that was a thing.
And you’re just too cute to delete from existence. And you certainly did not get that cuteness from him.
Felicia: Yeah, I’m a kitty. How much did your dad tell about me?
[Panel 4: Annie sneezes and sprays a burst of saliva onto Felicia’s face, who recoils in both shock and disgust.]
Warn me the next time you want to do that!
[Panel 1: As Felicia places Annie in her crib and goes to try and find something to clean herself up with, with her back turned Annie starts climbing up the wall.]
[Panel 2: Felicia returns from the bathroom after washing away the saliva.]
Alright Annie, what other surprises do you have for me?
[Panel 3: Felicia checks on the crib, only to yell in panic when she finds it empty.]
Felicia: AGH!! The kid’s missing!
[Panel 1: Felicia runs over to a bag she brought with her, grabbing her Horizon Lenses.]
Felicia [capt]: Good thing I came prepared.
[Panel 2: Panel from Felicia’s POV. An orange glowing, with footprints all over the ceiling, signaling where Annie has been.]
Felicia: And here’s me thinking you didn’t pick up anything from your father.
So, you wanna go for a walk, huh?
At least let me join you, I could use a bit of nightly air.
[Panel 3: Felicia grabs her backpack from the couch.]
Time to go Spider-hunting.
[Panel 4: Felicia, now clad in her Black Cat gear, clambers out of the window, through the fire escape.]
Felicia: Well, kid, I hope you went up, because it’s a really long way down.
Footprints go up. Good. I’d hate to tell your dad that you went splat on the pavement.
[Panel 1: Felicia climbs to the roof, looking around.]
Felicia: Tracks go north. She can’t have gotten far.
[Panel 2: Felicia runs across the rooftops, silhouette shot.]
Felicia [capt]: Hey, look on the bright side.
You said you were bored.
Maybe the universe decided it wanted to play in your favor.
Or not. You know. The universe has that way of Monkey-Pawing its way around you.
[Panel 3: Felicia runs over a news board broadcasting Fact Channel, clambering downwards as Brad Douglas speaks.]
Felicia [capt]: Ow.
Note to self: ask Peter if he can get you some of those sound-cancelling headphones he’s been cooking up.
Brad: In breaking news, Captain America and the Secret Avengers have engaged the Masters of Evil at Project: PEGASUS. Why Iron Man’s Mighty Avengers have not also joined the fight is unknown, but details are still coming in.
[Panel 4: Felicia lands on another rooftop, scanning the area.]
Felicia: Tracks turn right, then just stop cold.
[Panel 1: Felicia looks to her right, to see a large construction site (the same one from FNSM #10), which includes a crane with a steel beam in its grip.]
I just wandered onto a live-action version of Donkey Kong.
[Panel 2: Upward shot, where Annie is hanging upside down from the beam the crane is being held in.]
Felicia [op]: Okay, found the kid.
Now I just need to find a way to get her down from there.
[Panel 3: A tiny “thump” noise is heard, as Annie’s powers glitch out and she starts falling.]
[Panel 4: Felicia bolts forward, racing to catch Annie before the concrete does.]
Felicia [capt]: That works, I guess.
A little less death-defying would be my cup of tea, but this works.
[Panel 1: Felicia catches Annie in midair, over the gap between the building and the construction site.]
Felicia: It’s okay, kid-
[Panel 2: Felicia lands back-first on one of the steel beams, skidding along the suface.]
Felicia: I got youowowowowowowow!
[Panel 3: Felicia slowly get up, her back lightly smoking and dusty from the landing.]
Felicia: Okay, that landing could have gone better.
[Panel 4: Felicia holds Annie up by the arm, the latter being oblivious to what has happened.]
Felicia: You, young lady, are in serious trouble when we get back.
Annie: Weooo! Go again!
Felicia: Uh, no. You aren’t getting away with this one.
[Panel 1: Felicia’s maternal rant is interrupted by a thwipping noise below her.]
[Panel 2: From Felicia’s POV, we see Silk webbing into the construction zone, landing on the foundation.]
Felicia [cap]: Nope. Just his sidekick.
And no big Spider with her. Peter must be really dedicated to his date night.
Then again, he dragged me in. That in itself says a lot.
[Panel 3: Felicia looks downward, curious as to what Silk is doing.]
Felicia [capt]: One point I gotta make… what’s she doing in a construction zone?
Oh, hell, I haven’t just discovered that Peter’s protege is actually a HYDRA agent and this is her base….
[Panel 4: Ground action shot of SymbioRhino charging into the construction zone, Silk rushing away from it. Silent panel save the sound effects..]
[Panel 1: Felicia with a bewildered expression, Annie pointing towards the action.]
She picked a fight with Venom and Rhino. Good to know.
Should I start running, or?--
[Panel 2: SymbioRhino charges into the support pillars, with Silk climbing above him.]
[Panel 3: Felicia grips the vertical beam as the structure begins to tilt.]
Felicia: Okay, yeah, start running, girl.
[Full splash page. Felicia firing off a grappling line, holding Annie as the building collapses under them.]
Felicia: Here’s to hoping this works, or we’re both seriously in trouble when Peter and MJ get home.
[Panel 1: A large cloud of dust rises from behind the adjacent rooftop. No sign of either Felicia or Annie.]
[Panel 2: The dust starts to dissipate. Still no sign that they’re alive.]
[Panel 3: A clawed hand grips the top of the building, with the other holding onto Annie.]
[Panel 4: Felicia pulls herself up from the side of the ledge, caked in dust, blood and in pain but still alive.]
Felicia: The pain means I’m still alive, the pain means I’m still alive, the pain means I’m still alive.
Or maybe I died and this is just Mephisto making me suffer.
[Panel 1: Felicia picks up Annie, breathing a sigh of relief.]
Felicia: Alright, kiddo. Let’s get you back home.
[Panel 2: Felicia looks over the side of the building to see Peter and Silk talking, with Peter handing Silk a concrete powder sack tied with his tie.]
Felicia: And not a moment too soon. Looks like date night’s cancelled.
[Panel 3: Felicia jogs across the rooftops again, this time less than gracefully given that a child is in her arms.]
Felicia: So. Ever done a flip mid-air?
[Panel 1: Felicia climbs into the Parker apartment, a green stain mixing into her costume with the dust from the construction site.]
Felicia [capt]: Guess not.
[Panel 2: Felicia grabs her discarded civvies from off the floor, quickly shimmying out of her Black Cat costume.
I have maybe forty minutes before Peter and MJ get home.
I’ll just tie Annie down to something and shower quick.
[Panels 3 and 5 show Felicia showering and drying her hair, while panels 4 and 6 show Peter and MJ walking up to the doorstep and Peter walking off, kissing MJ on the head before he leaves.]
[Panel 1: Felicia plops down on the couch, exhausted, Annie sitting next to her.]
Felicia: I think I pulled half the tendons in my body.
Annie: Bad, kitty?
Felicia: Nope. You’re still alive.
[Panel 2: Close up with Felicia, sighing to emphasize her worn-down state, as she holds Annie in her arms.]
Felicia: This whole little trip…
Was all worth it.
Promise me that we never talk about this again, ‘kay, kiddo?
Annie: Okay, kitty lady.
[Panel 3: MJ opens the door, a bright smile on her face.]
MJ: Hey, guys!
Annie: Mommy’s home!
Felicia: Hey, Red.
[Panel 4: MJ picks up Annie, letting Felicia sink into the couch a bit further.]
MJ: So! How was your day with Felicia?
Annie: Auntie Kitty and me went on an adventure!
Felicia: She considers walking down that hallway an adventure. It’s uber cute.
MJ: Sorry, it’s just me. Peter got a call from Horizon. He needs to go check on some lab results.
[Panel 5: Just MJ, snapping her fingers.]
MJ: You wanna just… talk?
Felicia [OP]: Talk?... You know what? Sure.
MJ: I’ll get some coffee brewing.
[Panel 1: Peter slowly opens the door to his apartment.]
Peter [cap]: Oh, boy, what time is it?
Points for punctuality.
[Panel 2: Peter has opened the door, only to notice the voices in his living room.]
MJ [op]: And this one time, he tried to web me to the ceiling! We were up there until the webbing dissolved, and I think we just hung there until we were done!
Felicia [op]: Are you serious? Back when we dated he was so serious! Always went Vanilla unless he was in a really good mood.
You are so lucky. The things he could do…
[Panel 3: MJ and Felicia both have a cup of coffee, laughing over their shared experiences with Peter. You know, that one thing every guy fears; the spouse laughing it up with the ex.]
[Panel 4: They’ve noticed Peter. The whole room is dead quiet.]
[Panel 1: Another silent panel. A wide shot of the whole room, Peter standing next to the door. Felicia and MJ are on the other side of the room.]
[Panel 2: Close up of Peter, who’s awkwardly trying to find something to say.]
Peter: So… I’ll just put this away, and....
[Panel 3: Felicia and MJ, both looking at Peter.]
[Panel 4: Peter puts the bags on the counter, Felicia and MJ watching him.]
[Panel 1: Peter walks into the bedroom, closing the door behind him.]
[Panel 2: MJ and Felicia go back to their coffee]
MJ: Did I ever tell you how much of a neat freak he is?
Felicia: Tell me about it! He insisted on folding his suit up after happy hour.
[Panel 3: Peter has closed the door behind him. Another silent panel.]
[Panel 4: Peter is scratching his head in confusion.]
Peter [cap]: Wait, what?
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #11
“Days of Deception, Pt. 1: Off Come the Blinders”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar, Shaun Martineau and Jarod Cordes
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Marte Gracia
[Panel 1: Large panel silhouette shot. Peter opens the door to his lab, light pouring over the table in the center.]
Peter [capt.]: So, let’s go over the current crisis at hand.
My sidekick fought Rhino, and he had a Symbiote attached to him.
The weird thing? It wasn’t Venom. It was a symbiote with Skrull DNA that looked like Rhino. Now, we’re on a hunt to figure out how many other Symbiotes are here, and what they want.
[Panel 2: Peter is sitting in front of a large monitor, looking at multiple waypoints on a map of Manhattan.]
Peter [capt]: We’ve found two more Symbiotes, before they’ve gotten attached to any hosts. So far, we’ve only found them on Manhattan Island.
[Panel 3: Peter looks over to a lab table, where the sonic cannon that the FF built is resting, stripped to the wiring.]
Peter [capt]: I had Reed send me over a Sonic cannon like the one that we used on Venom’s home planet. I told the FF to prep for anything involving the Symbiotes.
They told me they’d seal the Baxter Building and arm the building with sonic defenses.
[Panel 4: Peter has a welding mask on, fusing metal plating onto the sonic cannon.]
Peter [capt]: I tried calling Iron Man’s Avengers, but they haven’t picked up yet.
Either they’re out of town on a mission or they’re not wanting to talk to me.
[Panel 1: Peter holds the sonic cannon in his hands, lifting the welding mask off his face.]
Peter: Maybe I’m just being paranoid.
But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the paranoia is justified.
If the Symbiotes are involved, it means trouble. Mix that in with the Skrulls, or even those Dire Wraiths from when I was in college, even by association, and that’s basically disaster waiting to happen.
[Panel 2: Peter closes the lab door and locks the door with his hand-print.]
Peter [capt]: I think I need to take some time off from this.
Look at things from a fresh perspective.
[Panel 3: Peter walks out of Horizon just as the logo glows, the sun setting behind him.]
Peter [capt]: Hopefully I can get to the bottom of this before it’s too late.
Otherwise, we’re all screwed.
[Panel 4: Tiny panel. In a sewer drain, a black strand of goo raises out of the drain.]
[Panel 1: The Parker family apartment. Peter walks in, carrying a bag of groceries in his hand, and looking at his watch.]
[Capt: The Parker Family Apartment.]
Peter [capt]: *sigh* 8:00.
With all of this Symbiote stuff going on, I’ve been getting home later and later.
I need to get over that.
Add that to the list of things on my “To-Fix” list.
[Panel 2: MJ is walking out of their bedroom, yawning as she puts her hand on the door frame.]
MJ: Hey, you just get back?
Peter: Yeah. I went to the store and-
MJ: Shhh. Tired. Just put Annie to bed.
[Panel 3: Peter looks down, looking at the floor in shame.]
Peter: I’m… I’m sorry. I haven’t been here enough. When did this all go downhill?
MJ: Hey, don’t beat yourself up. What you’re doing is important. And you still come home every night, instead of cooping up in that lab of yours.
Let’s just go to bed, hm?
Peter: … Yeah, okay.
[Panel 4: Peter lowers his head just enough for MJ to kiss him on the crown of his head.]
[Panel 1: Large panel. Spider-Man is web swinging over a street, passersby pointing at him as he swings by.]
[Capt]: The Next Day
Spider-Man [capt]: Let’s see. That’s two bank robberies. One runaway car. And three cats stuck in trees.
Jeez, really slow day today.
Maybe I should be looking harder? I feel like breaking Matt’s record for most purse snatchers nabbed.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man looks downwards when he hears several car horns, lenses wide.]
Spider-Man: What the?!-
[Panel 3: Spider-Man swings down and grabs a woman standing out in the middle of the street.]
Spider-Man: It’s all right! I got you.
Spider-Man [capt]: Add “Saved one woman from getting hit by a car” to the list.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has landed, but the woman continues to walk back into the street again. Note that her eyes are glazed over and pitched slightly grey.]
Spider-Man: There we go. You’re safe n-
Whadd’ya think you’re doing?
Lady, you can’t go back out there! I’d rather you not-
[Panel 5: Close shot of Spider-Man’s mask, one lens narrowed and the other normal.]
[Panel 1: Decent-sized panel. Spider-Man holds out his arms and halts traffic, as the woman walks towards a covered manhole.]
Spider-Man: Wait a sec. Maybe she’s trying to go somewhere.
Hey, guys! Can ya stop for a minute? I want to check something out.
Driver: What, a woman walking across the street? Those are a dime a dozen in this city!
[Panel 2: The woman has tossed the manhole cover away, Spider-Man bending over to avoid being hit and shooting a web to snag it before hitting the driver’s windshield. ]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man has picked up the manhole cover, running over to the open hole.]
Driver: Okay, scratch that, webhead- you might want to check that out.
Peter: Let’s take a look-see at where you’re going, lady.]
[Panel 4: Peter is hanging upside down by a web-line, looking down the sewer tunnel.]
Spider-Man: Aaand she’s gone. Wonderful.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man lands in the water, poking at his web shooters.]
Spider-Man [capt]: I dunno, Eddie. This is more Lizard’s M.O. Can’t recall any other of my other usuals sneaking down into these parts.
Then again, the circumstances are a helluva lot more different.
[Panel 2: A spotlight appears from Spider-Man’s wrist as he walks through the sewer.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Horizon is really good to me. And not just because they give me a really good paycheck.
I decided when I got the gig to mod some of my gear. Mostly my web-shooters. Ditched whatever tech Stark put in them when I was on the New Avengers and gave them an overhaul.
[Panel 3: A loud CLANG grabs Spider-Man’s interest, as he turns towards the source. Silent panel.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man hugs the wall with his back as he sees the woman walking down the tunnel nearby, with a group of other people.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Found her.
And it looks like she brought company.
[Panel 5: As the woman and her group walk towards the reader, Spider-Man crawls above them, remaining hidden in the shadows, bar his lenses.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Why are you people down here?
You guys part of a cult or something?
[Pages 7 and 8]
[Double Page spread]
[The Center of the spread is a giant hole in the New York sewer system. The pipe that Spider-Man is entering is hardly a hole, with hundreds of other tunnels visible. At the bottom of this pit is a sea of black, and a gate similar to a Space Bridge. The portal is intensely glowing blue, indicating that it is activated.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man’s lenses are wide open, in horror of what he’s seeing.]
Spider-Man: Nope. I was wrong.
You’re part of something way worse.
[Panel 2: As the Symbiotes slide down the slope of the pit, Spider-Man stays where he is.]
Spider-Man: How did this happen? Under all of our noses? How did nobody notice?
This isn’t just some rogue squad of Symbiotes. This is a staging ground.
But for what?
[Panel 3: Spider-Man leaps to a pipe above the pit, looking down on the symbiotes.]
Spider-Man [capt]: I remember that blue thing… it’s the portal that Ben, Eddie, and I used to get to the Symbiote homeworld. What was it? Slipspace tech? They literally tear a hole in the fabric of space, and stretch the ends together.
Of course, they used it to invade Earth, but the technology itself is ahead of its time. For us, at least. Looks like they thought the same strategy would work again.
How many of them are here?
[Panel 4: A line of humans is being attached to symbiotes. Note their glazed eyes and somewhat unsteady movements.]
Spider-Man [capt]: They’re…. Infecting people. Giving each one a custom-made Symbiote.
There’s dozens of tagged people. I can’t even begin to count how many other Symbiotes there are.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man’s lenses are narrowed, looking down as a pitch black figure comes up behind him.]
Spider-Man [capt]: I have to get out of here. Get some kind of help. The FF, the X-Men, hell, even the Avengers if I can get to them.
Whatever they’re up to, it’s nothing-
[Panel 6: Spider-Man is yanked up by the head, a large, clawed hand gripping his forehead. Spider-Man’s face is one of panic, his lenses sketchy in panic.]
???: Good to see you, buddy! Missed you.
A shame. Your Spider-Sense must be on the fritz down here.
[Panel 7: We see the newest incarnation of Venom, gripping Spider-Man by the face. The design is relatively similar to his previous designs, but with a few alterations. The first is that the symbol on his chest is moved slightly upwards and is far more angular, almost a mix between the classic symbol and the Parker Industries Spider-Symbol. His teeth are more in number, more angular, and sharper, with a larger body to boot. He’s definitely enjoying having Spider-Man in his grasp, completely by surprise and out of his depth.]
Venom: I’ve been meaning to fix the reception in this place.
[Panel 8: A close shot of Venom, who has a maniacal grin of glee.]
Venom: And I’ve been looking forward to finally squashing you.
[Panel 1: We see through one of Peter’s lenses, where Peter’s eye is looking at Venom in panic.]
Peter: No…. no way…
Brock? Did you take control of the Symbiote?
[Panel 2: Venom, irritated, smashes Spider-Man into the pipe, headfirst.]
Venom: Brock? In control? HA!
What makes you think my host will ever be in control?
[Panel 3: Spider-Man’s lens is now shattered, and we can see him struggling to recover from the blow to the head, as Venom advances towards him from the background.]
Spider-Man: Well, you know, I can always hope, right?
Venom: Nope. You don’t get to hope today, Spider-Man.
And you don’t get to live to fight another day.
[Panel 1: Spidey has grabbed his utility belt, activating his Spider-Signal (an invention I feel is personally feel is underused.) and turning it to maximum power. Venom is caught off-guard and blinded by the light.]
Spider-Man: Let’s agree to disagree, huh, Symby?
I like living. You don’t like me living. Whaddya say we call it a truce and you go and harass Iron Man, huh?
Spider-Man [capt]: I nearly forgot about this.
See, I came up with this little trick about a year ago. Supernova light discs.
LED strips with a higher brightness level and thinner profile.
Good for rescue operations, blinding your enemies…. Aaaand that’s about it.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has fired off a web-line, swinging back into the tunnel as Venom still tries to recover.]
Spider-Man: I’d love to stay and chat, but I’m sure that you’d try to kill me if I stuck around.
Venom: RRRAH! PARKER!
ATTACK, MY PEOPLE!
[Panel 3: Peter is still running down the tunnel, a group of Symbiotes chasing after him.]
Spider-Man: Y’know who you sound like?
I’ll give you a hint. “Decepticons, atta-”
[Panel 1: Spider-Man grips the wall, just underneath the manhole, as an explosion rocks the tunnel.]
That wasn’t a normal explosion.
Gotta get up to the surface and see what’s going on.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man peeks his head above the manhole just enough for his eyes, and is shocked by what he sees.]
Spider-Man: I change my mind.
I’ll take my chances with the Symbiotes down there.
[Panel 3: Large panel, from Spider-Man’s hiding spot. New York is a warzone. Symbiotes with hosts are everywhere, attacking random civilians as they run in terror. Cars are lying broken and trashed on the street, with one being tossed mid-air towards a building. Spider-Man is clambering out of the manhole, lenses widening at the scope of the situation.]
Spider-Man: Oh, God. This isn’t happening.
[Panel 1: Carlie’s squad car has just pulled alongside Spider-Man, as he seals the manhole cover with his webbing.]
Spider-Man: Captain Cooper?
Carlie: Hope you can explain what’s going on here, Spidey. Because we’re getting reports of Venom showing up and trashing the streets. In one-hundred and fifteen different locations and counting.
Spider-Man: What they are isn’t important. How we can stop them is.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man is gripping the open window of Carlie’s squad car, pointing towards the street in front of her.]
Spider-Man: I need you to set up a defensive perimeter. Collapse the sewer tunnels two blocks west of here. They outnumber and outgun us. Our best bet is to slow them down until we can get some kind of outside defense mobilized.
Carlie: I’ll see what I can bring to the table. Thanks for the tip.
Spider-Man: I’ll leave you to it, then.
[Panel 3: Carlie leans out of her window, yelling at Spider-Man as he swings away.]
Carlie: Wait a sec! Where’re you going?!
You’re not gonna help us?!
Spider-Man: I am helping, Captain.
[Panel 4: Close up of Spider-Man’s face.]
Spider-Man: I’ve just gotta make sure my family is safe first.
[Panel 5: Carlie is speaking into her car’s radio, her partner looking at her.]
Carlie: This is Captain Cooper to Dispatch! Whatever officers we have on duty, mobilize all of them! Get the SWAT teams down here with demolition charges!
Call in the National Guard and Air Force!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man is swinging across the cityscape, as the fighting has intensified, holding his finger against his earpiece.]
Carlie [cont’d Capt]: So help me God, we are not getting taken over by black Play-Doh!
Spider-Man: Felicia, I need a huge favor. Go to my apartment. Annie and her usual sitter are there. Something tells me that Venom will go there to make me suffer. I need you to grab her sitter and get them to the Baxter Building.
Felicia [phone]: I can do that. Not like there’s anything I can steal right now.
Spider-Man: Thanks. I’ll see you there. Phone, dial Cindy Moon.
Cindy [phone]: Uh, boss, the city’s going nutso. What’s the game plan?
Spider-Man: I have a fall-back. Go to Horizon and grab the sonic cannon. Meet me at the Baxter Building.
Cindy [phone]: On it. I’m on my way to Horizon now. Question: what are you gonna do?
[Panel 2: Peter webs downwards, from a street perspective.]
Spider-Man: I’m going to get MJ.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man head-kicks a Symbiote, as three more notice his presence and advance.]
Spider-Man: Alright, guys! Time to tell me where MJ is!
Spider-Man [capt]: I know exactly where she is. But somebody here needs to bring some levity. Even if I’m the only one and I’m just talking to myself.
I need to keep myself on my feet. If I lose focus, I can’t find-
[Panel 1: A Symbiote has slugged Peter, as he tumbles several feet from the punch.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Okay, lost focus.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man looks up to see that the Symbiote-infected person has stumbled, a bunch of webbing having struck it in the face.]
Spider-Man: Okay, are the Other powers back? Because I don’t recall having a spinneret in my butt.
???: Face it, Tiger-
[Panel 3: It turns out Peter’s savior is Mary Jane, using the web-shooter bracelets that he gave her in the I Heart Marvel Romance series.]
MJ: -I just saved your life.
Spider-Man: Well, guess I did hit the jackpot.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man hugs MJ, who reciprocates.]
Spider-Man: You okay?
MJ: I’m fine. Almost got jumped by a few, but I started carrying these with me when you told me that Symbiotes were all over the place.
Spider-Man: Y’know something?
[Panel 1: Peter sweeps MJ up, Bridal style, and she is taken by surprise.]
Spider-Man: I have a plan. We’re headed to the Fantastic Four. They’ve upped their defenses.
Felicia is gonna meet us there with Annie, and Cindy shouldn’t be far behind.
MJ: As I’ll ever be.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man swings off, carrying MJ with him.]
Spider-Man: Reed, it’s Peter. Get ready to start sealing up.
[Panel 3: Spiderman and MJ swing over the Baxter Building sunroof, with Spider-Man letting go of his web-line.]
Spider-Man: Alright. Looks like they’re set up.
Reed! You guys ready?
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has landed, letting Mary Jane regain the use of her legs. In the background, the FF, minus The Thing, are gathered around a series of monitors.]
Reed: We’re ready to seal up the building.
Johnny: Hey, MJ.
MJ: Hi, Johnny.
Spider-Man: Wait a few minutes. My sidekick and friend are still coming.
[Panel 1: Peter has taken off his mask, sighing in relief, having made it to the safe zone.]
Peter: Five minutes. We wait five minutes, and if they’re not here by then, we’ll have to seal it off then.
[Panel 2: Peter’s attention is piqued by shouting from the top of the Baxter Building.]
???: ‘Scuse me! Sidekick coming through!
[Panel 3: Silk is leaping into the Baxter Building, firing off the sonic cannon. Her costume’s right leg is torn, with a Symbiote recoiling from the sonic beam she’s firing.]
Silk: Back! Back! Gagh!
I think that one bit me!
[Panel 4: Cindy rubs her leg where the costume is torn and a large gash is present, handing Peter the sonic cannon, which Reed inspects by stretching towards him.]
Cindy: Here you go, Mr. Parker. One Horizon-grade sonic cannon.
Anybody got some alcohol to clean this up?
Peter: Thanks Cindy. I think Reed has a medkit in the back of the room.
Reed: Yes. Johnny, please show Ms. Moon to the med kid.
Interesting upgrades, Peter. I see you narrowed the beam.
[Panel 1: Peter’s attention is piqued again by MJ, who is clearly worried.]
Peter: I… I dunno.
[Panel 2: Peter is pulling on his mask, prepping his webshooters, to which Reed responds by stopping him.]
Peter: Sit tight. I’m going out there to find th-
Reed: Peter, you can’t. We’re going to be overrun soon. Unless we seal off the Baxter Building-
[Panel 3: Peter is struggling heavily against Reed, who continues to subdue him.]
Peter: I don’t give a damn! My kid is out there and I need to save her!
Reed: Peter, as a fellow father, I know what you’re going through, but without you here, we have nobody with proper experience to fight the Symbiotes. We need to remain rational and keep our heads in the game,
Peter: Easy for you to say when your kid is far away from the city! Let me go!
Reed: Johnny, begin the lockdown.
Johnny: … Yeah, on it.
[Panel 1-5: A countdown from 5 to 1 as the doors close. Each one, save the last, is a shot of a different character (or two). Panel 1 is Reed and Sue, Panel 2 is of Johnny, Panel 3 is of Cindy, and Panel 4 is of Peter and MJ, hugging tightly. Panel 5 is the doors finally closing, clanging shut and the air pressurizing.]
AI: Initiating lockdown procedure in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…
Cycle complete. Lockdown completed.
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ are still hugging, both of them crying.]
Peter: I’ll think of something. I’ll get our little girl back.
[Panel 2: Peter looks out the window of the Baxter Building, the area he’s looking out of becoming transparent in comparison to the rest of the pane, which is translucent with a shade of blue.]
Peter: So… we’re trapped here?
Reed: Not trapped, Peter. Safe.
This was all your idea, remember?
Peter: That was before my daughter was stuck outside with no way to contact either my sitter or Felicia.
[Panel 3: The Parker Family apartment. Felicia, in her Black Cat gear, is standing in front of Annie’s bed in a defensive pose, against two Symbiotes, one of whom is Annie’s sitter.]
Felicia: Hope you kept that building sealed tight for now, Peter.
We might be a while.
Alright, ya freaks! You wanna get the girl, you’re gonna have to go through me!
[Panel 1: The Daily Bugle. Jonah and Robbie are pressing against a double door, while Betty and Ben are pushing desks to barricade themselves in.]
Jonah: Robbie! Put your back into it or you’re fired!
Robbie: Honestly, Jonah? I’m more worried about my life than my career right now.
Phil! Betty! We need those desks propped up!
Phil: We’re on it, Robbie!
[Panel 2: Flash is running down the street, firing off rounds from his sidearm behind him, with Symbiotes chasing him down the street.]
Flash: Can’t go one damn day without something messed up happening in this city!
Come on, Spidey! Where are ya?
[Panel 3: We see Carlie and her squad fighting back against the Symbiotes, using their cars as makeshift barricades. Yuri’s squad is moving in to assist in the background, with much heavier firepower, including shotguns and assault rifles.]
Carlie: This is Cooper to all available units! Hostiles are refusing to yield! We’re withdrawing to 8th and Maiden!
Yuri: Here. My boys brought some heavier deterrents.
Carlie: Appreciated, Yuri, but I’m starting to think we’re just throwing bodies and bullets at these things!
[Full splash page. Peter and the rest of the occupants of the Baxter Building are staring out, each with their own look of despair.]
Peter: I… I think this is it.
I think this is the end.
[The Days of Deception have begun]
Chapter 13: Days of Deception, Pt 2: It's A Symbiote's World, You're Just Living In It
Chapter by QuilSniv
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #12
“Days of Deception, Pt. 2: It’s a Symbiote’s World, You’re Just Living In It”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar, Shaun Martineau and Jarod Cordes
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Marte Gracia
[Page 1: Splash Page of Manhattan Island, with a tactical grid with blinking bots on them.]
Tactical AI: It appears that Spider-Man’s singular discoveries over the past week were not an anomaly.
Large Symbiote attacks have occurred, and we are now under attack across Manhattan Island, including orbital defenses.
Spider-Man’s discovery included a previously utilized slipspace generator from prior Symbiote incursions, and appears to be a staging ground for additional Symbiote forces, the purpose of which is yet to be determined.
The United Nations is currently in an emergency meeting to determine the fate of Manhattan. A solution to the problem should be acquired within a 48 hour period should the meeting proceed smoothly.
[Panel 1: Peter is yelling furiously at Reed, as MJ, Cindy, Johnny and Sue watch from the background.]
[Capt: The Baxter Building]
Peter: Reed, I’m not going to ask twice! Open the doors!
Reed: Ask again.
Peter: Open. The. Doors. Now.
Reed: You asked twice. Got you.
[Panel 2: Peter clamps his head in frustration, as MJ has come over to calm him down.]
Peter: What- argh! Stop this, Reed!
I need to get out there! NOW!
MJ: Peter, honey, calm down.
Reed, please, this is important. Our child’s safety is out there, and we don’t know if Felicia is with her.
Please. We’re begging you.
[Panel 3: A close-up of Reed, who sighs in defeat.]
Reed: Alright, Peter. I’ll see what I can do about getting you out there. But we only have a small window of opportunity.
We’ll have to shut down the sonic tech and shut down the generators for cycling to trigger a release on the hatch. You’ll have, maybe, a ten-second gap to get out before the doors reseal themselves and the force fields come back online.
[Panel 4: Cindy and Johnny come up behind Peter.]
Cindy: You want us to come along?
Johnny: She may be your kid, but she’s my goddaughter, Peter. I’ll be useful out there.
Peter: No. This is my mission. You two need to stay here and help Reed and Sue defend this building.
[Panel 1: MJ grabs Peter’s arm, with him turning to acknowledge her.]
[Panel 2: Peter and MJ hug quickly.]
MJ: Promise me you’ll bring our daughter home safe.
Peter: I Promise.
MJ: Alright, then. Go get ‘her, Tiger.
[Panel 3: Reed is standing at the controls, his hand on a switch.]
Reed: Ready, Peter? You’ll have a ten-second window, then we’re sealing it up again.
Opening up in 3… 2… 1… good luck, son.
[Panel 4: Large panel, as Spider-Man quickly slingshots himself out of the Baxter Building, his lenses narrowed in determination. Silent panel.]
[Panel 1: Felicia has finally dealt with the Symbiotes from Issue #11, making her way over to Annie.]
Felicia: Alright, Annie. It’s gonna be okay. They’re not gonna hurt you anymore.
[Panel 2: Felicia picks up a crying Annie, cuddling her tightly.]
Felicia: Shhh. There Annie now let’s try a quite and get you to the Baxter Building.
[Panel 3: On the floor, Felicia is placing Annie in a backpack.]
Felicia: Boy, I am really glad I stole that child-sized backpack on my way here.
Don’t mention it to your dad, ok?
Or I’ll get in a lot of trouble.
[Panel 4: Having clambered out the window, Felicia swings towards the reader, eyes looking towards the warzone behind her.]
Felicia: Lemme give your old man a call and see if there’s any room where he’s bunking.
[Panel 1: We get a full glimpse of how chaotic the battle for Manhattan Island has gotten. NYPD is still leading the charge, but their numbers are depleted heavily from issue #11. In the middle of this larger-than normal action panel, Carlie and her men have upgraded to heavier weapons, mostly automatic weapons, with one carrying a rocket launcher.]
[capt: West and 57th]
Carlie: Hold this position! We can’t let ‘em gain any more ground!
Yuri: Hate to break it to ya, but I don’t think that’s an option! We need to fall back!
Carlie: That’s not an option either. Spider-Man told us to dig our feet in, and that’s what we’re gonna do!
[Panel 2: Yuri is yelling at Carlie as a group of Symbiotes approaches them.]
Yuri: Carlie! You’re gonna get us all killed with your blind faith in that creep!
Carlie: He told me to hold the line, and I trust that he has a plan.
We do this my way!
[Panel 3: As the Symbiotes start to pounce on the two, a red,white and blue blur knocks them back. Carlie and Yuri look back at their attacker.]
Carlie: No way.
Yuri: You call in a few favors just to change my mind?
[Panel 4: Standing over Carlie and Yuri is their savior: Captain America. His design is closer to the Civil War movie design (because who doesn’t love that sweet, sweet synergy?) mixed with the Captain Hydra design, and his shield has just flown back into his grip.
Cap: I believe I may be of some assistance.
Carlie [op]: You’re… you’re Captain America.
Cap: I hope so.
I took the liberty of bringing a few friends.
[Panel 1: Large panel. A shot of a good number of the additional heroes that Cap has brought with him: Falcon, Moon Knight, Toxin (Pat Edition), She-Hulk, Rom the Spaceknight, Cloak and Dagger, Quake, Hellcat, Namor, Ghost Rider, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.]
Cap: Think this’ll do to start things off?
[Panel 2: Carlie and Yuri, with looks of relief and renewed morale.]
I think we can work with this.
[Panel 3: Cut back to Spider-Man, who is swinging when his bluetooth starts ringing.]
Black Cat [phone]: Heyo, webs. You all bunkered up in the FF’s place?
Spider-Man: Felicia! You’re alive! Thank God!
I have your kid. I’m making my way to the Baxter Building.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man is still swinging, using one hand to continue web-swinging while using the other to hold the earpiece.]
Spider-Man: I’ll make my way to you. We’ll meet up in Columbus Circle.
Felicia [phone]: Gotcha. Meet you there.
[Panel 1: Venom leaps out of the shadows, blindsiding Felicia.]
Venom: Here, kitty kitty!
Felicia: Venom?! Should’ve known.
[Panel 2: As Cat lands on a rooftop, she’s surrounded by the Mighty Avengers, save Captain Marvel*, all of whom have a Symbiote in them.]
[*Editorial note: Captain Marvel left the team in FNSM #9]
Venom: I decided to upgrade my entourage awhile back. Whatcha think?
Felicia: Sounds like you just captured the Avengers and drag them around wherever you go.
Venom: Eh, their wills were a little weaker. Made it a pretty easy fight.
[Panel 3: Cat backflips as Venom torpedoes his fist into the ground, shattering the concrete on impact.]
Venom: And with no Spider-Sense, too!
Felicia: What? No brain-eating?
[Panel 1: Venom’s claw lengthen, as he grins.]
I’ve got loftier ambitions now.
[Panel 2: Felicia’s eyes behind her lenses widen as Venom’s maniacal facial expression is reflected in said lenses.]
Venom: For one, I’ve started collecting cat pelts.
Felicia: Hate to break it to you-
[Panel 3: Felicia uses a overhanging pipe as a gymnast rung, Venom and the Infected Mighties chasing her.]
Felicia: - but this kitty enjoys a good fight before getting skinned.
Hang tight, kid! Gonna get a little bumpy!
[Panel 1: Felicia put her hand to her earpiece as she runs along the wall.]
Felicia: Pete? Dunno how fast you can go, but I’m gonna try and motivate you by saying that Venom is chasing after me and your daughter.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has just landed on a rooftop, recovering from a flip off a building behind him.]
Spider-Man: Consider my fancy tickled.
How far are you from Columbus Circle?
Felicia [phone]: Not far. But I’m not sure if I can outrun Venom forever. Not to mention his new Avenger buddies.
Spider-Man: Keep moving. Do what you can to throw him off, and I’ll buy whatever time you need to get Annie back to the Baxter Building.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man fires off a web-line at a nearby building.]
Spider-Man: I’ll get there as fast as I can.
Phone. Dial Johnny Storm.
Johnny, I changed my mind. I’m gonna need you out here. Sue and Cindy can protect the Baxter Building. I need your firepower at Columbus Circle.
Johnny [phone]: On it, Pete. Give me a minute to let Reed cycle the sonics and I’ll be right there.
[Panel 1: Felicia is still running, but the lengthy amount of time exerting her energy has exhausted her. Venom, on the other hand, is gaining ground fast, the other Mighty Avengers right behind him.]
Venom: You can run, Kitty cat, but you can’t hide!
And you certainly can’t run forever.
[Panel 2: Close up of Venom’s face.]
Venom: Eventually, you’ll run out of fuel, and me?
Well, I won’t be missing you or Parker’s kid any time soon.
[Panel 3: Felicia has one last trick up her sleeve. She opens a pouch on her thigh, letting small canister drop out and clatter to the ground.]
Felicia: I’m sure Peter’ll miss us. That’s enough reason to keep going.
Felicia [capt]: I’m just down the street from Columbus. This should probably buy me more than enough time for Peter to get here.
Here’s to hoping it works.
[Panel 4: A back shot of Venom and the Symbiote Mighties, as a bright flash illuminates the panel, blinding them.]
That trick’s getting old!
[Panel 5: Forward shot of them, with Felicia nowhere to be seen.]
Venom: I don’t blame them, though. It’s a good trick.
[Splash page. Action shot, of the Symbiotic Avengers charging, with Venom pointing outwards towards the street in front of them.]
Venom: Search the circle. Find the girl and make Parker suffer!
[Panel 1: The Daily Bugle. The staff are frantically trying to hold off the Symbiotes. Ben and Betty are futilely barricading the doors, Robbie pushing another desk to reinforce them, while Norah grabs a camera, ready to beat the Symbiotes with them.]
Ben: Robbie! Betty and I aren’t enough! Robbie, forget the desk, we might need that! Come and give us a little manpower!
Robbie: Got it!
Betty: Jonah! We could use a little help out here!
Jonah [op]: In a minute, Ms. Brant.
[Panel 2: Jonah is walking towards the Bugle crew, a smoking cigar in his hand. He’s mostly shrouded in shadows. Robbie is looking back in shock at Jonah’s audacity for smoking in the middle of a crisis.]
Jonah: Alright, I’m ready to help.
Robbie: Jonah! Are you smoking? At a time like this?!
Jonah: Robbie, open the door a little for me, please.
Robbie: Jonah, you can’t be-
Jonah: I am. Open that damn door, Robbie.
[Panel 3: As the Bugle crew complies, Jonah reaches his hand outside the door, to the shock of the rest of the building’s occupants.]
[Panel 4: Jonah pulls his hand back, having revealed that he grabbed one of the Symbiotes by the neck.]
[Panel 5: Jonah jams his cigar, still glowing, into the throat of the Symbiote, which releases a shriek of pain.]
Jonah: Get the hell out of my building, you creeps!
[Panel 1: The Symbiote collapses to the ground, as Flash pokes his head through the doors to Betty’s delight.]
Flash: Heyo. What’ve I missed?
[Panel 2: Flash has made his way into the main office, the Bugle crew relaxing at this moment of respite.]
Flash: This all of us?
Robbie: No. Our families are still out there among the fighting.
Flash: Then I guess it’s up to us to survive this.
[Panel 3: Flash points towards the barricaded door.]
Flash: We have a moment to relax, but we need to be vigilant. They’ll come back in bigger force now that Jolly J here has pissed ‘em off.
We just need to fight back…
[Panel 4: We cut to Spider-Man, who has arrived at Columbus Circle and is overlooking the plaza, Human Torch joining him.]
Flash [cont’d caption]: ..and hope Spider-Man can get us out of this funk.
Spider-Man: Okay, where are you, Felicia?
Please don’t be dead.
Human Torch: She’s not dead.
Spider-Man: And you know this how?
Human Torch: If she was, Venom would be waving her corpse from a flagpole to make you mad.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man glares at the Human Torch, who shrugs in his own defense.]
Human Torch: I’m not lying, that is so what he’d do.
Spider-Man: I’m gonna be optimistic for the moment. Wait here while I take a look around.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man leaps from the rooftop to an awning several floors below.]
Spider-Man: I see Venom. He’s hunting for her. And I see Felicia. She and Annie are holed up in a building. Fifteen floors up. He won’t find her for a while.
And… oh, God…
Human Torch: What? What is it?
[Panel 2: Spider-Man uses his hand to shade his eyes.]
Spider-Man: Look like they-
Venom got the Avengers.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man looks up to Human Torch, who has landed on the rooftop.]
Spider-Man: Johnny, grab my legs.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man looks back towards Venom, his lenses narrowed.]
Spider-Man: I feel like hitting something.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man slams into Venom from above, knocking him into the ground and capturing the attention of the Avengers.]
Spider-Man: Hey, Brock!
That whole Spider-Sense blindspot?
Thanks for letting it go both ways!
Venom: Wuh?-- Parker?!
I don’t even have Spider-Sense!
Spider-Man: Exactly! Ergo: blindspot!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man commits a motion panel. In one pose, translucent, he webs together Vision and Spider-Woman. In a second, full pose, he webs up Iron Man and Black Panther.]
Spider-Man: I don’t really have time for this, Venom. So let’s just get this over with.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man yanks on the webs, all four Mighty Avengers slamming into each other.]
Spider-Man: Johnny! NOW!
[Panel 4: Human Torch descends in a strafing pattern, stunning Venom as he’s exposed to a fire blast.]
Human Torch: Right behind ya, Spidey!
Get your kid, and let’s get back to the Baxter Building!
[Panel 5: Spider-Man puts his finger to his earpiece, eyes still on the fight between Johnny and Venom.]
Spider-Man: Felicia, that’s your cue. Get Annie back to the Baxter Building. We’re right behind you.
Johnny, let’s roll.
[Panel 1: Large panel. As Spider-Man tries to web away, Venom grabs him by the leg, arcing the web in a completely different direction. Human Torch, who was already pulling away, takes notice.]
Venom: No, ya don’t!
Venom: You aren’t going anywhere yet, webs!
Human Torch: Spidey!
[Panel 2: Venom, now looming over Peter, raises his open hand, claws open, in a pouncing manner.]
Venom: Time for your wife to become a widow.
[Panel 3: Close up of Peter’s eyes. His eye’s iris is shrunk to a pinprick.]
Spider-Man: Not gonna happen.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man kicks Venom under the chin, disorienting him, and firing a web-line in his face.]
Spider-Man: Don’t you dare touch them!
[Panel 5: Spider-Man uses his momentum to yank on the web-line, smashing Venom’s face into the concrete. In the background, additional symbiotes come from the debris field to back Venom up.]
Peter: That’s for even thinking it!
[Panel 1: Black Cat is perched on a building in the background, while Human Torch fends off the oncoming Symbiote wave, and Spider-Man webs up a barrier.]
Human Torch: Spidey, we need to pull out! They’re gonna overrun us!
Spider-Man: We need to take out Venom!
Human Torch: We will! But we need to make sure that Cat makes it back to the Baxter Building with Annie in one piece!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man silently glares at Venom, who is recovering from the surprising show of force that he’s just received.]
[Panel 3: Close up of Spider-Man.]
Spider-Man: ...You’re right.
Johnny, cover our back. Felicia, hold on tight.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man, Human Torch and Black Cat all pull back, as the Symbiotes break through the barrier. Silent panel.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man, with Black Cat holding onto him on his neck, releases his webline over the Baxter Building’s opening roof, Human Torch flying over.]
Spider-Man: Thanks for opening the hatch in advance, Reed.
Reed: My pleasure, Peter. Get inside, the Symbiotes will be on top of us soon. We have reports of more Symbiotes breaking out near us.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man lands on the floor, Human Torch de-flaming as he lands. MJ runs over at the sight of Annie, while Reed Sue and Silk remain in the background.]
Spider-Man: Hey, guys. Mission successful.
[Panel 3: MJ takes Annie, hugging her tightly as Peter pulls his mask off, Felicia behind him.]
MJ: Peter, you did it!
Peter: It was a team effort.
But if you really want somebody to thank, thank Felicia. She’s the one who managed to get her here.
Felicia: Hey, it was nothing. Pete would’ve done the same if it was my kid and we were facing an apocalyptic event.
[Panel 4: MJ hugs Felicia in gratitude.]
MJ whispers: Thank you.
[Panel 1: Peter and Reed sit at a console, observing the readouts that Reed has collected.]
Peter: How many sonic cannons do you think we can make and get to the front?
Cap’s holding the line, but there’s maybe a handful of them who can fight off the Symbiotes effectively.
Reed: With your modifications, about twenty with a reasonable timeframe.
Peter: Any chance we can call the X-Men?
[Panel 2: Shot of Annie’s feet. A black ooze, a blank Symbiote, slides off, dripping onto the floor, Annie as oblvious as MJ and Felicia, who are talking. Peter and Reed are still talking off-panel.]
Reed [op]: Sadly, no. The Symbiotes activated some kind of jamming device about twenty minutes after you left. It looks like it’s powered by the same device that’s powering the slipspace generator you discovered.
[Panel 3: Another panel of Peter and Reed, this time from behind the holographic display of Manhattan, with Sue joining them.]
Reed: The Symbiotes have also destroyed the bridges leading into Manhattan. No military support can come in unless it’s by air.
Peter: We’re on our own, then.
Reed: It appears that way.
Sue: We did manage to get a message out to Captain Marvel before we were cut off. She’s dropping her current mission to meet us here.
Peter: Good. We need everybody we can get on this one.
[Panel 4: Shot of the Symbiote crawling along the floor, towards an unaware Cindy, who is working with the modular components on the sonic cannon.]
[Panel 1: The Symbiote leaps, binding to Cindy’s leg. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Cindy’s pupil shrinks, her head jerking backwards.]
[Panel 3: Cindy looks around, not noticing the Symbiote spreading across her leg.]
[Panel 4: Cindy shrugs to herself, finally looking down to see the Symbiote up to her navel.]
[Panel 1: Cindy keels over, feeling exhausted, yelling over to Peter in distress.]
Cindy: Uh, Chhiiiii-ef?
[Panel 2: Peter, Reed and Sue look over in horror when they see that she’s being taken over.]
[Panel 3: Cindy’s face is the only thing that isn’t consumed by the Symbiote, pure trauma sketched in her facial expression.]
[Panel 4: Cindy’s face is covered completely by the Symbiote. We are closed in on her mouth, which has been sealed but replaced by the Symbiote layer ripping across the mouth area.]
[Panel 5: A row of razor-sharp, dirty gray teeth has appeared, in a crazed smirk.]
Cindy [Symbiote text bubble]: Tee…
Tee hee… heeheeheehee.
[Splash page. Our first full glimpse of Cindy’s Symbiote costume. The webbing pattern on her arms and legs has become more angular as opposed to their smooth curved state, and her fingers now carry claws. On her chest, her logo has only changed by texture as well: her logo is now a circle surrounding the “S” as opposed to the hexagon, and the Spider-legs attached to said logo are thicker, closer in appearance to the Ben Reilly Spider-Man costume that Cindy’s new costume has been built on. In the background, Spider-Man and the others lunge at her, to which SymbioCindy looks on in glee.]
Alright then… who wants to make some magic happen?
[The Days of Deception Continue]
Chapter 14: Days of Deception, Pt. 3: If Only Miracles Grew on Trees
Chapter by QuilSniv
As the Symbiote Invasion continues, Cindy's condition worsens thanks to the Symbiote infecting her. A unorhtodox solution will have to be found at the most unorthodox place to think of right now- Stark Tower.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #13
“Days of Deception, Pt. 3: If Only Miracles Grew on Trees”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar, Shaun Martineau and Jarod Cordes
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Marte Gracia
[Full splash page; a tactical display, similar to Auntie Dot of Halo: Reach, of Manhattan Island.]
Tactical AI: Our enemy is more devious than we gave them credit for.
The Symbiotes have trapped all current military forces within Manhattan by destroying all ground transportation across the Hudson River, and installed a communication jamming device somewhere within the city. The Symbiotes have also breached the Baxter Building, infecting the accomplice of Spider-Man, Silk.
Thankfully, a solution has been planned. In order to prevent additional nationwide casualties, the UN has come to a unanimous conclusion; In 72 hours, should no alternative solution be provided, orbital defenses will be redirected upon Manhattan island with a high-yield firing solution.
The first efforts to redirect Geosynchronous Orbital Grid Beta-Sigma 3 will commence in 48 hours.
[Panel 1: Similar to the SSM vs. Avengers panel in SSM #8. Peter, Reed, Johnny, Sue and Felicia are trying to restrain the newly-infected Cindy. SymbioCindy is weaving through the fire blasts, webbing, and stretched limbs that are being applied in the vain attempt to contain her. Peter is still unmasked, having lacked time to put it back on in #12.]
Peter: Focus, people! We need to get that thing off her before she tears the building apart!
Johnny! Put some heat on her!
Johnny: Working on it! She’s slippery!
SymbioCindy: It’s like you aren’t even trying!
This host is making us stronger! Faster!
And best of all?--
[Panel 2: The Symbiote turns around, cackling.]
SymbioCindy: What a weak will your sidekick has, Parker!
Just… so incredibly easy to manipulate and meld her mind!
I could get used to such a easily-influenced host.
[Panel 3: Peter sucker-punches SymbioCindy, knocking several teeth out.]
Peter: Get off my sidekick!
SymbioCindy: So you only speak in commands!
[Panel 4: SymbioCindy grips Peter by the face, slamming him against the floor.]
SymbioCindy: Now if you’ll excuse me…
[Panel 1: SymbioCindy has lept up towards an air vent, ripping off the cover as the Johnny helps Peter up.]
Reed: She’s escaping into the vents. Johnny, stop her!
[Panel 2: SymbioCindy vanishes into the vent, just as Johnny’s fireball hits.]
[Panel 3: Peter, Johnny and Sue leap out the door, charging towards the stairwell.]
Peter: There’s only one thing that’s important to the Symbiotes right now. Getting our sonic defenses offline. They’d send one of their guys to shut them down!
Sue! Johnny! You’re with me!
Sue: We’re right behind you!
[Panel 1: The generator room. A wide shot of the Baxter Building’s antimatter reactor, which is a large dome-shaped object that has a distinctly glassy surface with a purple glow on the interior. SymbioCindy has wandered inside, having kicked off the vent cover, cracking the glass.]
[Panel 2: Peter, Sue and Johnny burst into the room, Sue throwing a grenade at their foe.]
Peter: She’s going to go for the generator! Johnny, heat her up!
Johnny: No can do, Pete. If I let loose here, I set off the antimatter. This whole place goes, not to mention half of Manhattan.
Peter: Sue! Get that sonic rifle up here and stop her!
[Panel 3: SymbioCindy lunges for the crack, her fingers sharpened.]
SymbioCindy: No! I won’t be denied!
For the glory of-
[Panel 4: A narrow-beam sonic blast knocks Cindy out of the Symbiote, but not before the Symbiote manages to breach the containment field.]
[Panel 5: Peter lunges for Cindy, having caught her and covering her just before the purple antimatter splurges from the reactor.]
[Panel 1: Peter and Sue clamber next to the reactor, Sue with a pair of welding tools, and Peter taking a piece of sheet metal from the wall. Silk is still unconscious in the background, while Human Torch takes off.]
Reed [comms]: We have a breach!
Two dozen Symbiotes have broken through! I won’t be able to hold them off by myself!
Peter: Johnny, get up there and help Reed! Sue and I will contain the breach and restore power!
Johnny: I’m on it!
[Panel 2: Peter and Sue weld the sheet metal over the breach, the wisps of antimatter left floating away like fire.]
Sue: Breach is sealed. Power should be returning any minute now.
Peter: Good work, Sue.
I’m gonna get up there and help the others with our uninvited guests.
Think you can take it from here?
Sue: Absolutely. I’ll get Cindy to the med-bay after I’m done.
[Panel 3: Large panel. The Baxter Building is turning into a warzone. Peter, Reed, Johnny and Felicia are all grappling with multiple Symbiote-infected people. Peter has just slammed one of his attackers into three more, while kicking another into two more. Johnny is creating a ring of fire to keep them from gaining any more ground, and Reed is binding several of them together. Felicia, however, is struggling to defeat even one, despite pouring her best efforts into her fight, as is MJ, using a metal pole to bash a Symbiote across the face.]
Peter: This is all of them?
Reed: Yes. We sealed the exits after they got in.
[Panel 1: As Felicia downs the last Symbiote, Peter turns aggressively towards the hallway.]
Peter: That’s the last of them. Eject them out of the grav cannon. Burn them.
I don’t care.
Sue [comm]: Peter, you’re gonna wanna get down to the medbay.
[Panel 2: Peter rushes down the hallway, full on sprint, as the others follow.]
[Panel 3: Cindy is strapped to a series of machines, each one monitoring a different vital, including brainwave activity, heart rate, and so on, but on a much more precise level.]
Peter: How is she?
Sue: Not too good.
The Symbiote didn’t do much. What it did do is set off some kind of chemical reaction inside of her. Shot her healing factor to astronomical levels.
Peter: We’ve been having that problem on my end. Been giving her a pill that mimics my blood.
We’ve been looking for a cure ever since, but no such luck on that front. I only figured out about half of the formula.
[Panel 4: Peter’s head rises, his eyes burst open in epiphany.]
Peter: Tony said that he would work on a cure for Cindy when she joined the Mighties. There’s a chance that he got around to working on it before the Symbiotes decided to jump him. Or, at the very least, a formula of some kind.
[Panel 5: Peter pulls on his mask, walking out of the lab, Reed and MJ right behind him.]
Peter: We can’t afford any more losses.
I’ve got to get to Avengers Tower.
Reed, open up the skylight.
MJ, you ever felt like shooting a sonic cannon?
MJ: Never tried it.
Peter: Trust me, you’ll love it.
[Panel 1: Peter, Reed and MJ stand in the center, Peter stretching his web-slingshot, ready for takeoff, Reed is at the controls, while MJ is pointing the sonic cannon upwards]
Peter: See that Symbiote? Just shoot it and I’ll be home free.
Reed: Opening the skylight in 3...2…1….
[Panel 2: As Peter springs upwards, pulling his mask fully on as MJ fires the sonic cannon.]
Peter: Love ya, Red.
MJ: Love you too, tiger.
[Panel 3: The sonic blast hits the Symbiote, knocking it off the side of the Baxter Building as Spider-Man swings out.]
Spider-Man: Nice shot.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man crouches on a rooftop, his webline flinging back to it’s phantom anchor point. The sky has turned a mixture of ash gray and blood red, something like the animation cel for Batman: The Animated Series.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Holy hell.
How did the situation get so bad so fast?
[Panel 5: Spider-Man is still on his perch, but the POV is downwards towards the battle, which has gotten much more desperate. Lasers are flying everywhere, bodies are strewn in the street, and smoke is rising from the streets, with multiple buildings either collapsed completely or suffering major structural damage.]
Spider-Man [capt]: They’ve already fallen past Columbus. It’s a slaughterhouse.
But… no bodies.
No… they’re not killing. They’re getting hosts. They’re just wearing our guys down.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man leaps over the rooftops, sparks of flame licking the air around him.]
Spider-Man [capt]: I can’t stop to help them.
They’re doing what they can. I’m not going to make a difference down there. Besides, I have my own mission.
[Panel 2: Cap is leading the charge against the Symbiotes, as heroes struggle to maintain momentum. Firestar, Quake, Rom and Toxin are keeping the majority of the Symbiotes at bay, while Falcon is pinned against the wall and Daredevil is on the ground, moaning in pain.]
Cap: Keep pushing, people! We can’t let them gain much more ground! We’ll hit the edge eventually if we can’t stop them.
Spider-Man [capt]: Stark. He’d have prepped for Venom in some way.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man perches on a rooftop, the shadow covering him in a way similar to his own black suit.]
Spider-Man [Capt]: After all.
He would’ve prepared for me going rogue. What would’ve stopped him from prepping for me teaming up with one of my bad guys?
[Panel 1: Spider-Man swings towards Stark Tower, the lights on the tower shut off, including the Stark logo on the tower.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Looks like power to the city is down. Including Avengers Tower.
Gonna have to get in the hard way.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man lands on the roof of the tower, next to an access hatch.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Everything on this tower runs on electricity. No such thing as pencil and paper in here.
Which means Stark probably had a back-up generator installed in the tower. If he did anything, it was plan ahead.
And if I turn the power on, the Symbiotes will notice me. Gonna have to make this quick.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man has opened the hatch, jumping in.]
Spider-Man: Here’s to hoping I have one hell of a head start.
[Panel 4: As the hatch closes, a line of black webbing fixes itself to the piece of metal right next to said hatch.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man is hunched over an access vent, peering down into the barely-illuminated space beneath him.]
Spider-Man: Okay, I lived in this tower for almost half a year. Unless Tony’s made some major changes to the interior, his generator room should be…
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has pulled away the vent cover, noting the slowly pulsating glow of the backup generator.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Here.
Peter Parker, you should be proud of yourself.
[Panel 3: As Spider-Man’s webbing dab hits the generator switch, we see several lights coming on in the background.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man climbs up the vent, climbing to another vent cover.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Symbiotes will be on top of Avengers Tower any minute now. Gonna need to make this quick.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man pokes his head into the nearest room, his lenses widening.]
Knew Stark was prepping for me going rogue, but…
Never imagined he’d have gone this far.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man has stepped into the room, seeing dozens of devices meant to suppress him, built with Stark Tech.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Spider-Sense jammers. Electro-netting. Backup Hydraulics.
Stark must’ve thought I’d put up one helluva fight if I ever went rogue.
Not to mention all of the sonic tech in here. He must’ve really been worried about Venom’s influence. Seismic Charges, white-noise grids, molecular-level acids.... If Tony was right about anything, it was how dangerous the Symbiotes are.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man turns around, a loud clanging noise coming from the vents outside.]
Okay, gonna have to think fast. I can’t overpower him, and he’s had forever to set up Stark Tower as his personal pad. He knows this armory is here, and that I’d come gunning for the tech in this room.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man rubs his fingers against his chin, deep in thought.]
Spider-Man: But… he wouldn’t expect me to go for….
Yeah. I can work with this.
[Panel 1: Venom crashes into the middle of the floor, pieces of the vent splinters raining around him as he lands.]
Venom: Let’s see. All of my least-favorite toys…
[Panel 2: Venom rips open the door to the Anti-Spider armory, the room empty and pitch black save the light from the hallway.]
Venom: ...You’re too easy to predict, Par-
What?! He’s not here!
[Panel 3: Venom looks behind him to see Spider-Man behind him, with welding goggles on and holding a smoking solder.]
Spider-Man: Sure I am. Just have to know where to look.
And yeah, I know I’m wearing goggles. At least it ain’t a top hat.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man swings away, dropping the solder on the floor and the goggles flying off of his face as he swings away, Venom busting the doors off of their hinges in pursuit.]
Spider-Man: So, you up for a little game of tag?
Venom: Get back here, Parker!
Spider-Man: I don’t think that’s how the game works, Brock!
Venom: There is no more Brock in here!
Spider-Man: Right. And I’m Evel Knievel.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man’s foot is visible from a wall further down the hall from Venom’s POV, who is still chasing him.]
Spider-Man: Boy, Symby, you really carbo-loaded while you were getting your little kum-bayah together! Don’t tell me you didn’t exercise!
Venom: You keep forgetting, Parker! You and I used to be the same person!
And when you start cracking jokes non-stop?
Well, that means you have a plan!
[Panel 2: Venom grips the floor, ready to make a sharper turn, when he sees the trap Peter has set off-panel.]
Spider-Man: Oh, you do know me so well.
Well, allow me to explain.
[Panel 3: Venom has ground to a halt, frowning as though he’s simply being pranked, as Spider-Man explains to him what is going on.]
Spider-Man: See, I like to think I’m a pretty smart guy.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man is standing next to a large contingent of Iron Man armors, all remotely controlled by rudimentary functions and holes in the backs of their heads from Spider-Man hotwiring them.]
Spider-Man: Figured I should stretch my brain a bit. Give hacking Stark Tech a try.
[Panel 5: Close-up of Spider-Man’s face, his one visible eye narrowed.]
Spider-Man: Beat the puzzle. What do I win?
[Panel 1: As the Iron Man armors swarm Venom, Spider-Man bolts down the hall.]
Venom: Rragh! You think a bunch of tin cans are gonna stop me from ripping you apart?!
Spider-Man: Only if they buy me enough time to get what I need and run.
Have fun chewing on metal.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man rips open the elevator doors, light pouring into the empty shaft.]
Spider-Man: The steak’s not up for searing.
[Panel 3: As the Symbiote-Infected Avengers arrive, Venom tears up an armor, crushing an arm joint in his mouth and a helmet in his hand.]
Venom: What’re you standing there for?
[Panel 4: Venom licks his teeth hungrily.]
Venom: Let’s see if we can’t catch ‘im.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man swings out of the elevator shaft, racing down the hall as he lets go of the web-line.]
Spider-Man: If Tony was gonna keep any of his promises, it would be this one.
Even he wouldn’t make a promise to fix a dying kid without keeping it.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man leaps onto a glass window inside the building, leading to Tony’s private lab, which is a combination of both messy and clean, scaled in how important something looks.]
Spider-Man: This was Tony’s lab before I left. And if I know Tony like I think I do, he’d be too comfy to bother moving it.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man rips the handprint scanner off of the wall, the door opening for him.]
Spider-Man: If he had anything that would be used to fix Cindy, it’d be in…
[Panel 1: Spider-Man picks up a tablet in the mess of a room, staring at it through his mask.]
[Panel 2: A close up of the tablet, which has chicken scratch variables and genetic sequences in an equation, which looks barely completed to a quarter of what it should be, given the complexity.]
Spider-Man [capt]: This has to be it. But it doesn’t look like Stark got very far.
There’s maybe a third of what should be there. At most.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man’s lenses shoot open, a lightbulb going off in his head.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Wait a minute.
Those variables… at the beginning of the sequence.
They.. they match up with the formula I’ve been writing.
This is the last piece of the puzzle!
Stark, if I wasn’t married, I would probably kiss you right now!
[Panel 4: Iron Man’s Symbiote-Infected armor slams into Spider-Man, slamming him into a computer, the screen shattering on impact.]
Spider-Man [Capt]: Guh!
Oh, yeah. Also have to take into account that you’ve got a Symbiote in your system now.
So, I take back the whole ‘I could kiss you’ bit.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man wrestles free of Iron Man’s grip, crushing his faceplate with his right hand.]
Spider-Man: Sorry for breaking your suit, Tony. Can’t afford to fix it, though. That’s on you.
[Panel 2: Venom has climbed down the shaft in pursuit as well,but is still being harassed by the Iron Man armors under remote control.]
Venom: There you are.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man 360’s Spider-Woman and Black Panther, who have just entered the fray.]
Spider-Man: Who said I was trying to hide? Or run?
[Panel 4: Spider-Man hits another panel, labeled “Tower Defenses Master Control.”, before continuing to fight, this time against an approaching Vision.]
Spider-Man: Besides, cavalry is coming.
Alright, Vision! Your turn!
[Pages 18 and 19 Double page spread.]
[Panel 1: Takes up the top of the page. Venom and the Mighties are now engaged against a swarm of Iron Man armors and laser turrets, while Spider-Man is deftly dodging, making his way over to a disabled Iron Man armor.]
Venom: Pretty soon you’ll run out of things to throw at me. And I don’t even get tired. So you’re just spitballing me with these.
Spider-Man: Oh, I wouldn’t worry about running out of punching bags any time soon.
[Panels 2 and 4 are Spider-Man hacking into the Iron Man armor, while Panels 3 and 5 are Venom slashing through armors like paper.]
[Panel 6: Spider-Man ties two wires together, completing the circuit.]
Spider-Man: I hope this works.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man picks up the Iron Man armor, struggling with the heavy weight he’s carrying.]
Spider-Man: Sorry, Tony. Hate doing this to ya, but I’m alive and you’re probably dead and/or probably not even there. So, in my book, that makes you fair game.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man throws the armor at Venom, who has just finished ripping through another armor set.]
Spider-Man: Time to test out your new bomb functionality.
[Panel 3: Close up of Venom, a look of terror on his face.]
Venom: Oh, sh-
[Pages 21 and 22]
Double page spread. One glorious show of Stark Tower’s upper five floors exploding, nobody seen escaping as the flames consume the five floors.
[The Days of Deception Continue….]
Chapter 15: Days of Deception, Pt. 4: The Custom-Made Perspective
Chapter by QuilSniv
As the Symbiotes begin their final push, Peter's mental state and patience with the Symbiotes reaches a boiling point.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #14
“Days of Deception, Pt. 4: The Custom-Made Perspective”
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar, Shaun Martineau and Jarod Cordes
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Marte Gracia
[Splash page. An aerial view of Manhattan Island, with the tactical AI grid from the previous issues.]
Tactical AI: Based on visual surveillance, a large explosion took place at Stark Tower.
Cherenkov Radiation burst detected. Source unknown.
Cherenkov Radiation burst detected. Source unknown.
Cherenkov Radiation burst detected. Source unknown.
Cherenkov Radiation burst detected. Source unknown.
Biological scans are recording 2.4 million lifeforms on Manhattan Island.
[Panel 1: The Baxter Building. Reed and Sue are rushing between consoles, having just detected the explosion of Stark Tower in the previous issue. MJ is standing in front of the massive wall monitor, hand cupped over her mouth in terror, with Annie in her arms as Felicia and Johnny try to comfort her.]
MJ: Oh God… Peter…
Felicia: Don’t worry MJ, I’ve known Peter a long time and I know he loves you with all his heart. He’ll go to the ends of the Earth to make sure he comes back to you, even if it’s just to tell you he loves you, or to try to make you laugh with one of his jokes.
[Panel 2: Mary Jane and Felicia hugging.]
MJ: Thank you.
[Panel 3: A shot from just across the street from Stark Tower, as Spider-Man’s gloved hand grasps the rooftop.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man flops down on the roof, breathing heavily, clutching his chest in pain. His right hand is holding a web-bag filled with canister-like items.]
[Panel 5: Spider-Man grabs the canisters, slinging the bag over his shoulder.]
Spider-Man: I’m okay…. Just a little breather…
[Panel 6: Spider-Man jogs across the rooftops, huffing in pain.]
Spider-Man: Alright… I’m good.
[Panel 1: Reed looks away from the viewscreen, holding a holographic keyboard as he types commands into a separate monitor.]
Reed: I’m trying to ping Peter’s location, but it’s scrambled. He’s showing up all over the city.
[Panel 2: A knock on the monitor’s camera, with all of the Baxter Building’s inhabitants looking at the monitor in relief.]
???: Sorry I took so long.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man is hanging on the side of the Baxter Building, holding the tablet and the web bag while leaning into the camera.]
Spider-Man: Had to deal with a couple of speed bumps.
[Panel 4: Peter takes off his mask as he enters through the ASM #1 trap, MJ rushing over to him.]
MJ: Peter! You’re okay!
Peter: I think so. Gonna need to sit down for a while.
But that’s not important.
[Panel 5: Peter hands over the tablet to Reed, crunched in several places and flickering, but still functioning, the rest of the formula having been added on the journey over from Avengers Tower.]
Peter: I need this formula made into a serum. It should remove Cindy’s excess healing factor without taking her powers. Custom request on her behalf.
Reed: Peter. You’re injured. Your scans on entry showed most of your ribs are cracked, and your kneecap is splintered.
Peter: I’m fine. I can heal in a few hours. Cindy has less time than that.
Sue: I’ll work on it. I didn’t get my Ph.D. in Bio-Chem for nothing.
Peter: I-- *sigh*. Thanks, Sue.
Felicia: Let’s get you to the med-bay, Pete.
[Panel 6: MJ and Felicia support Peter as he limps down the hall to the med-bay.]
Peter: We’ve got a breather…. Let’s use it.
[Panel 1: Black panel. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Cindy snaps up, panting and breathing in heavily.]
[Panel 3: Peter, unmasked, is sitting on an adjacent med-bed, as a HERBIE bot scans him over.]
Peter: Welcome back to the land of the living, Cin.
Cindy: I… thanks.
What happened to you?
Peter: I blew up Stark Tower. Still shaking off the worst of it.
HERBIE: Your recovery progress is remarkable, Mr. Parker. Your accelerated healing factor has expedited your complete recovery.
I grant you a clean bill of health!
Peter: Thanks, Herb.
[Panel 4: Peter heads out of the med-bay, Cindy slowly getting used to walking again. Peter’s eyes are worn and tired, but his stance is resolute and firm.]
Peter: C’mon. We’ve got your Symbiote boxed up and ready to be interrogated. We need to figure out more about why they’re here and what their plans are.
Cindy: How do you interrogate a pile of goo?
Peter: We’re going to give it a voice.
[Panel 1: All of the Baxter Building crew is gathered around a clear glass box, as Reed places a lab rat into the box, which contains Cindy’s Symbiote.]
Reed: I’m not sure about this, Peter.
This Symbiote could be radically different from Venom. We don’t know what it could do to the rodent.
Peter: Don’t worry, Reed. We’re giving it a small creature for a reason.
Plus, I modded the box. It has sonic containment tech. If it wants to get out, it’ll be screeching in pain instead.
[Panel 2: Peter looks over to Johnny, Felicia, and MJ.]
Peter: I’ll speak to it alone.
You guys mind giving me a couple of minutes?
Johnny: Sure thing, Pete. We’ll be right outside if you need us.
[Panel 3: As MJ closes the door behind her, Peter glares towards the reader, from the Symbiote’s POV.]
Peter: Alright, Symby. I’m not going to pussyfoot around, so here are the rules.
I’m going to ask some questions. You back-talk me? I raise the sonics up a notch. You refuse to answer? Sonics. You tell me something and I find out it was a lie?
[Panel 4: Peter’s face, teeth grinding.]
Peter: I’ll pull every trick I know works on Symbiotes, and make your entire existence a misery.
[Panel 1: Peter supports himself by gripping the edge of the table, leaning his face towards the casing.]
Peter: First off: why are your kind on Earth?
Symbiote: Because we were born.
[Panel 2: Peter turns the knob, the increased sonics causing the Symbiote noticeable discomfort.]
Peter: I’m serious. Answer me or it gets worse.
[Panel 3: Close up of the Symbiote.]
Symbiote: Our planet… is overpopulated, and with no hosts for our new spawn.
Thus, we got in contact with one of the lesser members of our kind…. The one who calls himself Venom.
Peter [op]: Eddie Brock. We’ve met.
Symbiote: He promised a way to guarantee us a foothold in your world, in exchange for a position of power among us. And when a society becomes desperate enough? You’re willing to make difficult decisions. And that includes bringing back the inferiors. The ones that pollute the gene pool.
[Panel 4: Close up of Peter’s face, where he’s sneering in anger. The sound effect of the sonics whining is getting slightly higher in the lower portion of the panel]
Symbiote: But… This form of treatment… Venom never mentioned this side of you.
[Panel 5: Johnny, MJ, and Felicia are watching outside.]
MJ: What’s he doing?
Felicia: It looks like he’s sonic-boarding the Symbiote!
[Panel 5: Peter pounds on the glass, using his other hand to up the sonics, causing the Symbiote to recoil and stretch in pain.]
Symbiote: We were told that you would-
Peter: Would what? Just sit back and let Venom take over the world?! Because I won’t!
Symbiote: But our cause is just! Your kind and ours- working together to better the other!
Peter: That’s bull and you know it!
You won’t stop at Manhattan! You’ll take this state!
Then the country!
And then the world!
That’s eight billion people in danger of being just disposable hosts!
If I have to kill every single one of you to keep Earth safe-
[Panel 6: Peter cranks up the Sonics to their maximum, shouting towards the Symbiote.]
Peter: --I’ll do it! Don’t think I won’t!
[Panel 1: Felicia tries opening the door, with little to no success. Johnny is trying to override the lock, with equally pitiful results.]
MJ: He’s killing it! We have to stop him!
Felicia: He’s locked himself in! Torch, you have the access codes?!
Johnny: He… he changed them! Only Reed can do that!
[Panel 2: Peter glowering at the Symbiote, as it shrieks in pain, slowly peeling itself off of the lab rat.]
Peter: Do you know what your kind has done to mine? To me?!
It feels like that.
[Panel 3: Cindy motions for Felicia and Johnny to move aside, with their compliance.]
Cindy: Lemme try.
[Panel 4: Cindy’s kick smashes the door down, as both Felicia and Johnny rush towards Peter.]
Cindy: Boss, you’ve gotta stop!
[Panel 5: Cindy and Johnny try to restrain Peter by his arms, while Reed binds him by the body and Sue forcefields his legs. Felicia and MJ begin altering the controls, with the Symbiote slowly recovering.]
Reed: Peter, that’s enough!
You need to calm down!
Symbiote: This… was unexpected.
Peter: Let me go! I need to stop them!
Reed: Exactly! We know why they’re here and how we can fix this!
There’s no need to cause it further harm!
[Panel 1: Peter continues fighting the combined force, to no avail.]
Peter: You don’t-- ngh- you don’t get it! We need to destroy that Symbiote now! Or else it’s still a threat!
Felicia: Peter, this isn’t you! We don’t kill!
You don’t kill!
That’s… that’s not how this works.
[Panel 2: As the group throws Peter onto the ground, panting and shaking, Peter’s bloodshot and exhausted eyes are the only color visible in shadows.]
Peter: This… This is different.
Felicia: And how exactly is this different?
[Panel 3: Massive panel. Peter has finally snapped, whipping his head around and pointing angrily at the group surrounding him. He’s broken down, eyes bagged and tears spilling down his face.]
Peter: BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW VENOM OR ANY OF HIS KIND THE WAY I DO!
[Panel 1: All the other characters are frozen, having realized the situation, as Peter shakes from his never-ending sobbing.]
[Panel 2: Peter is leaned up against the wall, slowly recovering from his quick breakdown.]
Peter: They don’t just combine with you. They become you.
Everything you know, even the little things you try to block out… they know it. It’s abusive. They know it, and they love playing puppetmaster with your sleeping body.
You know it. But the Symbiote makes it so it’s a pleasure cruise. You don’t even know you’re being drugged until it’s too late and you’ve crashed the car.
[Panel 3: Close up of Peter’s face.]
Peter: They push you. I would know. Venom pushed me.
And the only way to ever keep them from winning is if we push back. Harder. Faster.
We can’t run. The only thing that does is encourage them to overtake us. That’s all this is to them.
For our war, it’s almost a game to them. Just one giant game of chess. And they’ve set up all of the pieces just right.
Otherwise, a lot of people just… die. In stupid, pointless ways. Trying to hold a line that nobody else will.
[Panel 4: MJ has sat next to Peter, holding Annie as she sits.]
Annie: Daddy… you ‘kay?
Peter: MJ… I’m so, so sorry.
MJ: You don’t really want to kill Eddie, do you?
Peter: I’m… not sure. Only if there’s no other option.
MJ: Then you don’t have anything to be sorry for. Not yet.
[Panel 5: MJ, Annie and Peter gingerly hug. Silent panel.]
[Panel 1: Peter slowly gets up, breathing heavily.]
Peter: I need to be alone for a while.
[Panel 2: Peter walks away, holding his arms close to his body.]
Peter: -There’s some things a hug can’t fix.
[Panel 3: MJ and Annie, with Reed investigating an alarm.]
Annie: Daddy… Look out for scary monsters….
Reed: Ah, the security grid just picked up someone on the outer surface of the building.
Looks like Carol was able to make it here in one piece. I’ll let her in.
[Panel 4: MJ stands up, with the rest of the group hanging in the background, Reed in particular as he raises up questions.]
Reed: Is it… really this bad? How did we not see this before?
Johnny: I did. When we were first fighting Venom. I just assumed that it was to get Annie back.
Maybe it was.
But when he fought… it was aggressive. He looked like he wanted to get rid of Venom.
MJ: Peter wouldn’t let any of us know what’s going on.
He thinks that Venom’s presence on Earth-
-All of this-
-is his fault.
[Panel 5: Close-up of MJ, who is slightly disheartened.]
MJ: It isn’t. We all know that. But he’ll keep beating himself up over this.
And eventually, he’ll come around. I know my husband.
[Panel 1: Captain Marvel lands in the main Baxter Building atrium, as the doors seal behind her. Reed greets her by elongating himself high enough for a handshake, as the rest of the group sans Peter has gathered to greet her.]
Reed: Glad you could make it, Carol.
I just received word from Steve….
[Panel 2: Large panel. Most of the heroes assembled to fight the Symbiotes are on their last legs. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist are collapsed on the street, Moon Knight is desperately throwing every tool at his disposal to slow them down. Captain America, though beaten and with a massive splinter in his helmet, continues to fight, slamming his shield into a Symbiote, and Rom, Toxin, and Firestar are barely holding on, firing wide beams to slow down the Onslaught. She-Hulk is being infected in the background, and Falcon is keeping his distance while firing hard-light feathers from the air. Behind shattered police cruisers and busted-up tanks dropped in by the Air Force, Carlie, Yuri, and their officers, along with members of the Army and Marine Corps, fire their weapons, however ineffective, at the oncoming wave.]
Reed [Cont’d cap]: ...things aren’t looking good from their end.
Background voice: We’re being overrun!
Background voice: Hold this position!
Background voice: Are you insane?! We have to run, or we’re all done for!
Background voice: Siege units inbound! Lieutenant, west flank is falling back!
Moon Knight: We’re getting pulverized!
Toxin: That’s an understatement, Specter! How many of us are left?
She-Hulk: Not enough, Mulli- AAAAGH!
Firestar: Focus, boys! We just lost She-Hulk!
Falcon: Easy for you to say, ‘Star! You’re the only person here who can actually do something!
Cap: That’s enough, everybody! Focus on a Symbiote, and take it to town!
Toxin: You heard Cap! Avengers, A--
Firestar: Not the time, Pat!
[Panel 3: Close-up of Carlie and Yuri, as Carlie reloads her rifle, ignoring several injuries on her side.]
Carlie: We’re losing ground, Yuri. We need to start evacuating Manhattan.
Yuri: I thought you wanted to stay and fight! This is news to me!
Carlie: That was when we had a chance of holding them back.
[Panel 4: The symbiotes give up their march and turn around.]
Carlie [OP]: Wait. The hell?...
Yuri: They’re turning around.
But why? They had us on the ropes, and now they’re just gonna-
[Panel 5: Cap walks over and assesses the damage.]
Captain America: Whatever they’re up to, we should use this opportunity to treat our wounded and figure out a new strategy.
I’ll contact the Baxter Building and update them on the situation.
[Panel 1: Reed is at his monitor, when his eyebrow raises in confusion, the rest of the group joining him.]
Reed: Odd. I just received word from Steve. The Symbiotes… they’re withdrawing their forces.
They’re in full retreat.
Cindy: So we did it, then! We won!
Sue: Not likely. The fight hasn’t been going well. Last we heard, Cap’s detachment was at breaking point.
Carol: Besides, that isn’t how war works, kid. You don’t just fall back without warning and that’s it. There’s a strategy behind this one, and whatever it is, Venom’s got me pretty stumped.
Reed: Based on the technology Peter identified for us when the invasion first commenced, I’ve been looking for a specific burst pattern of Cherenkov radiation.
[Panel 2: Reed points to another monitor, stretching himself to study it closer.]
Reed: I was able to locate it.
However, what befuddles me is that there have been multiple bursts from the slipspace generator in the last hour. And I can’t figure out whether something is coming out of them or if they’re falling back.
[Panel 3: MJ looks out the window, with a look of terror.]
MJ: Hey, I think I found out for you.
[Page 13 and 14]
[Double page spread. In the center panel, Venom is standing on top of a collapsed delivery truck, surrounded by thousands of Symbiote-infected New Yorkers, covering the streets in a sea of black. Above, the Mighty Avengers are holding patrol.]
Venom: Greetings, New York!
I, like you, love this city! It’s been my home for nearly thirteen years, and I would hate for anything to happen to it!
And to this end, to prevent further collateral, I have pulled my allies back!
And this ceasefire and peaceful assimilation of your planet will come at the expense of only one man…
[Panel 1: Close up of Venom, who is still grinning maniacally.]
Venom: ….Peter Parker!
[Panel 3: Wide shot of Venom, shouting out towards wherever Peter may be.]
Venom: See, Spidey and I? We were always getting along fine!
But then Mr. Parker got in the way of that great life we shared! He convinced Spider-Man to toss me to the side, and for that act, he deserves to suffer!
[Panel 4: Venom, shouting as loud as possible.]
Venom: Peter Parker! If you can hear this, you have one hour! One, single hour, until I order the rest of my kind to slaughter the city, and puppetmaster their corpses in the streets!
And to the UN! We know your plan! We have people everywhere, including your precious orbital defenses! You would dare kill a million of your own people just to stop us!
You get one hour to turn your guns around, or we take them out for a joyride and target any location of our choosing!
[Panel 1: The Daily Bugle. Jonah and Robbie are fine-tuning the radio, and as it flickers to life, Betty, and Flash, along with the rest of the staff, gather around it.]
Robbie: Listen, people! Radio’s hot!
Radio: So if -kzzt- ‘re listen -kzzt- Parker, you’ll do the -kzzt- thing and turn yourself in-
Betty: Holy- Flash! He’s asking for Peter?! Why?!
Flash: Peter collabs with Spidey a lot, from what I’ve heard. Makes sense that he’d want Spidey’s best friend to suffer.
Jonah: Son… don’t do it...
[Panel 2: As Yuri attends to Carlie’s wounds, including a large, heavily bleeding gash in her abdomen, a soldier works on fixing the radio as it springs to life.]
Soldier: Got it. Captain Watanabe, we’ve got a signal.
Yuri: Good. Let’s hear what big, black and ugly has to say.
Radio: -because if you don’t, your loved ones and every single person will suffer the consequences. I will flood the city in Symbiotes and blood.
Carlie: Urgh… Yuri, what’s?...
Yuri: Shh. Hey, it’s gonna be okay. Looks like Venom’s calling for somebody.
Carlie: It’s… augh, damn it, it stings!
Radio: And if that doesn’t get you out of the Baxter Building, then we’ll use as many Symbiotes as it takes to tear down the door and drag you out!
Your hour starts... now.
[Panel 3: Back at the Baxter Building. As Cindy preps her web shooters, Carol’s hands start glowing, Johnny flames on and Felicia attaches her utility belt, Reed and Sue calm them down.]
Carol: That little…
I’m gonna tear both that Symbiote and Brock apart!
Reed: Carol, control yourself!
Sue: We have a way to defeat the Symbiotes that won’t risk any of us!
[Panel 4: Sue points to the Seismic Charges that Peter brought back with him, albeit less dented and scorched than when they were delivered.]
Sue: Peter brought these back from Stark Tower when he leveled the top floors.
Turns out they were seismic charges Tony built specifically to counter Peter should the Symbiote get its hands on him, and they release a massive sonic shockwave upon detonation.
We dive-bomb them and give Steve and his group an opening. Without Venom, they’ll be scattered.
[Panel 5: Peter, off-panel, catches the group’s attention.]
Peter: And risk even more people and damage to the city?
This is a save-who-we-can fight.
And if we can avoid unnecessary casualties-
-Then we’re going with it.
[Panel 1: Peter has shed his Spider-Man costume, and is dressed in civilian garb, holding a package in his right hand.]
Peter: I’m going to do it.
I’ll give myself up to Venom.
[Panel 2: MJ rushes up to Peter, tugging at his jacket.]
MJ: Peter, you can’t do it! I won’t let you!
Peter: MJ, I have to do this. I nearly crossed a line I swore I would never cross again when I killed Doc Ock.
MJ: What about me?! What about Annie?!
Peter: That’s actually why I’m here. To make some last requests.
[Panel 3: Peter turns to Felicia, a solemn gesture as he points to MJ and Annie.]
Peter: Felicia…. Take care of MJ and Annie.
Keep them safe and after all of this is over, if I don’t make it back....
Felicia: Peter, you don’t even have to ask.
[Panel 4: Peter hugs Johnny, Reed and Sue, all of them crying.]
Peter: Guys… I’m sorry about what happened back in the interrogation.
I just want you to know….
Reed: We already know, Peter.
Sue: And we’ve forgiven you.
Johnny: You’re… well, you’re you. We know you’d never do that.
Peter: And that’s why I want you guys-
-to keep doing what you do best. Explore. Discover. Innovate. Do it for me.
Reed: It’s a promise.
[Panel 5: Johnny slaps Peter on the shoulder, grinning as he gives a war-hungry smirk.]
Johnny: Just give me a promise in return, Pete.
Venom tries to take you out?
Give him one hell of a punch for me.
Peter: It’s a deal.
You just be ready to send him with his tail on fire.
[Panel 1: Peter walks over to Carol, giving her a hug.]
Peter: Carol, I know we didn’t exactly go our separate ways on the best of terms, but promise me this.
Keep being a hero. Make sure everybody else keeps being a hero.
Earth needs every single one it can get. Make sure everybody in this city goes home in one piece. Because I know you can do it.
Carol: You got it.
Stay safe, Pete.
[Panel 2: Peter walks over to Cindy, who is apprehensive about letting Peter go. Peter holds out the package to her, piquing her interest.]
Peter: Hey, champ.
Cindy: Do you really have to do this, boss? There has to be another way. You always find it.
Peter: Not this time, Cindy. I’m not going to risk innocent people to stop Venom.
I’m probably not going to make it back. Which is why I want you to have this.
[Panel 3: Cindy has set the package down, ripping open the brown wrapping.]
[Panel 4: Peter’s Spider-Man costume, with the mask on top, is folded and sitting in the brown paper. Cindy is taken aback, hands cupped over her mouth.]
Cindy: Oh, my God.
Peter: The world will always need a Spider-Man. No matter who says what.
And if I’m not going to come back from this, I want you to take my place.
[Panel 5: Cindy looks up at Peter from her seat, tears welling up in her eyes.]
[Panel 6: Cindy hugs Peter tightly, with Peter slightly recoiling from the impact.]
[Panel 1: Peter stands in front of MJ and Annie.]
MJ: Promise me something. That you’ll come home from this whole thing and we can go back to the way things were.
Peter: I won’t make a promise if I know I can’t keep it. I won’t lie to you, MJ.
[Panel 2: Peter takes MJ’s hand, cupping it in both of his.]
Peter: I want you to know that even if I die, I will never stop loving you.
And I won’t ask anything of you before I go, because you’ve already given so much so I could be who I am today.
You are my shining star in the void, MJ. You’re-- I love you so much, and-
[Panel 3: Peter and MJ kiss, both of them crying.]
[Panel 4: Peter and MJ pull apart, smiling despite their faces being drenched in tears.]
MJ: I love you too.
Go get ‘em, Tiger.
Peter: Always do.
[Panel 5: Peter holds Annie, smiling wide as he grips his daughter.]
Peter: And you… my little princess…
Annie: Daddy… don’t go.
Peter: I have to. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ll still be alive if you think I am.
Annie: I love you, daddy.
Peter: I love you too.
[Panel 1: Peter stands on the lift, his friends and family standing around as the lift remains the only thing illuminated in the Baxter Building.]
Peter: Wait. Before I go. One last joke.
[Panel 2: Peter holds up his left hand, giving the Vulcan salute from Star Trek.]
Peter: Live long and prosper.
[Panel 3: Peter begins his descent as the others laugh.]
Peter: See you guys on the other side.
[Panel 4: The lift closes, sealing above Peter and blocking his vision.]
[Panel 1: Peter stands in the lift, shuffling his hands in his pockets.]
Peter [capt]: Haven’t had time to think to myself for a while, but here we are.
What’s Venom want me for? I dunno.
But I probably won’t like it.
[Panel 2: Peter has pulled out his phone, looking at the home screen.]
Peter [capt]: But it all comes down to this.
If I’m doing this, for any singular purpose…
[Panel 3: Peter’s fingers slide across the screen, which has a picture of him, MJ and Annie fast-asleep on the couch.]
Peter [capt]: I’m doing it for them.
That’s what this has all been about.
[Panel 4: The elevator dings, with Peter putting his phone away as the door cracks open.]
Peter [capt]: I have to do this.
Do it for them…
Do it for them…
[Splash page. Peter marches out of the lift, charging his destiny head-on, an expression of determination and aggression carved into his facial features.]
[To be continued]
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #15
“Days of Deception, Pt. 5: Last Stand of the Friendly Neighborhood”
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar, Shaun Martineau and Jarod Cordes
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Stefano Caselli and Marte Gracia
[Panel 1: Aerial shot. Peter steps out into the mess of New York’s streets. Lampposts and cars are tipped over, torched buildings replacing the street lights for illumination of the night-bathed island.]
Peter: Venom! I’m here!
[Panel 2: Peter walking away from the elevator, as a collection of black shadows collect on the side of the Baxter Building.]
Peter: Is this really the only way you can get me to come out? By threatening to level a city? And then you play chicken when I actually show?
[Panel 3: Venom lands behind Peter, who remains calm despite the large threat behind him.]
Venom: Because we were bonded long enough for me to know that even without that costume….
You’re still dangerous.
[Panel 4: Venom leers over Peter, who remains emotionally calm.]
Venom: Even when you surrender, you still have a trick up your sleeve.
Peter: Wow, Eddie. That’s flattering. Even when I try to play the game by your rules, you’re still scared of me.
[Panel 5: Close-up of Peter’s face, with one eyebrow raised and a smug smirk.]
Peter: Means I’m still doing something right in the world.
And there’s no Eddie anymore. It’s Venom. Clears up confusion.
Peter: I love how you’ve made that point multiple times, but nobody really believes you.
[Panel 4: Peter starts walking, Venom staring at him in the background.]
Peter: No matter how much you want to say you’re just the Symbiote now-
-And I know you’ve probably tricked yourself into thinking that’s right-
-Eddie is still part of you. Whether you like it or not, he’s still got a say. You probably just don’t realize it yet.
[Panel 1: Peter walks out into the light, Venom towering over him as he escorts Peter.]
Why’d you ask for me and not for the reds and blues?
Venom: Well, for one….
[Panel 2: Peter and Venom continue walking. The shot is from the waist up, from the side. Venom leers from Peter’s side, as Peter keeps staring ahead.]
Venom: I have at least a modicum of respect for you and your secrets. So there’s that.
Besides, all that separates you and Spider-Man is a piece of spandex….
[Panel 3: Venom stands in front of Peter, stopping him right in his tracks, just next to the location of the Symbiote staging ground.]
Venom: And besides, I was never hosted by Spider-Man. I always stood by Peter Parker.
[Panel 1: Peter has stopped as well, looking down at the ground.]
Peter: So, new question: Now that I’m here…
What do you want from me?
[Panel 2: Venom pauses, looking away from Peter as he contemplates what he’s about to say next.]
Peter [op]: What was so important that I had to be here, without any of your Symbiote goons? The Avengers?
[Panel 3: Venom turns around, eyes showing a pang of regret.]
Venom: You always were my first host. My best host. My favorite.
I want you back. To rule this city-the world- as my host again.
[Panel 1: Peter, slack-jawed, has his mouth slightly open in surprise. Silent panel]
[Panel 2: Similar panel, but Peter’s grip on his mouth has returned, and his open stare has been replaced by resolute determination.]
Peter: What’s the catch?
Venom [op]: Catch?
[Panel 3: Venom has leaned down to approach Peter, like an ex-boyfriend to their former lover.]
Venom: The conditions are yours. All I want is for me-
-to be together again.
Peter: Gagh, you sound like a crappy soap opera.
Alright, I’ll… I’ll do it. But there will have to be conditions for this whole thing to work.
[Panel 4: Peter is standing, relatively calm, save for holding up two fingers.]
Peter: Number one. We do it together. There can’t be anything like what you and Eddie have now.
Peter: Second. Rule one applies to everybody. As long as they’re not given freedom to work alongside their Symbiotes-
-a basic human want-
-then you’ll always be fighting somebody or something. Even if it’s all under your nose.
It could even be me.
[Panel 1: Peter putting his hand down, and into his pocket.]
Peter: So… Do you accept my terms?
Venom: … Yes.
[Panel 2: Peter holds out his other hand.]
Peter: Alright then…
Come on home.
[Panel 3: Venom slowly slithers off of Eddie, the Symbiote form crawling energetically onto Peter’s outreaching hand.]
[Panel 4: Venom has overtaken most of Peter’s body, as Peter remains quiet, as if in defeat.]
[Panel 5: Peter has been completely taken over by the Symbiote, his eye being the only part unconsumed.]
[Panel 6: Complete darkness.]
Peter [capt]: I love you, MJ.
[Panel 1: Large panel. Peter and the Venom Symbiote are standing on a faintly-glowing, grid-like blue landscape. Up above, the sky is glowing with a tiny glimpse of a turquoise aurora, illuminating the two.]
Peter: Yeah. My mindscape.
Venom: But… why are we here?
The bond should have been instant. We’re too familiar for something like to happen.
And the emotions in your head… eugh. They taste… funny. Hard to chew. Almost like….like a brick.
Familiar… but wrong.
Peter: That depends on who you’re talking to. To you, they may be the most reviled thing you’ve ever encountered in the universe. But to me…
[Panel 2: Peter has control over a strand of thought dust, which forms itself as a memory of Peter and MJ in the hospital shortly after Annie is born.]
Peter: ...They’re probably the most important thing in my universe.
Venom: Your love for that woman means nothing! We have each other now. Everybody will have a bond. They’ll never be lonely ever again.
[Panel 3; Venom tries to insert himself over the thought dust, but he simply passes through it.]
Venom: What?!... Why is this…. These emotions! They’re for Mary Jane! But… with more resolve! More solidity!
[Panel 4: Venom lunges at Peter, who has grown a touch more smug with Venom realizing what he’s doing.]
Venom: YOU TRICKED ME!
Peter: Oh, don’t act like you’re free of trickery either.
[Panel 1: Peter bum-rushes Venom, tackling him to the ground ]
Peter: You led an entire campaign that could have given the Skrulls a run for their money-
-and you have the guts to say that I’m the one guilty of lying.
[Panel 2: Venom tries to stop Peter by stabbing him with several tendrils, but these simply rip Peter’s “skin” and clothes, revealing a scarlet layer underneath.]
Peter: I’m not doing this for me…. If I was, who knows? I might have lost by now.
But that family you saw? MJ? And Annie? They’re the ones keeping me going. Keeping me fighting.
I’m fighting for them.
And you? What are you fighting for?
[Panel 3: Peter has grabbed Venom by the chest, ripping him into pieces as the glow in the sky glows brighter. At the same time, the same tendrils have ripped most of the “Peter Parker” layer, revealing what was underneath him: his Spider-Man costume.]
Peter: Well, I’ve got news for you, buddy!
This whole war-
-and your… your days of deception-
[Panel 4: Peter’s head is flapping without a neck to tie down to, and Peter grips this “face”, starting to tear it.]
Peter: Now, I’m going to say this once, so best if you pay close attention-
[Panel 5: With a few shreds of skin left, Peter’s face is gone, replaced with an enraged Spider-Man mask.]
Spider-Man: -GET OUT OF MY HEAD!
[Panel 1: Medium-sized panel. Peter is on his knees, as the Venom Symbiote crawls off of him and back to an unconscious Eddie.]
Peter [capt]: That did it. Venom should be weakened. Once he’s back on Eddie-
[Panel 2: Venom has merged with Eddie, feebly using his unconscious body as a sort of meat puppet, similar to the fight scene in Spectacular Spider-Man S2 Ep 7.]
Peter [capt]: Bingo.
[Panel 3: Far-away shot, with Peter tackling Venom into the Symbiote Staging ground.]
Venom: What are you doing?!
Peter: Finishing this! Once and for all!
You’re here because of me! It’s my responsibility to fix that!
[Panel 4: Peter and Venom land on the pipe they first fought on in Issue #11, with Venom taking the impact.]
-You said you wanted to go home.
Figured it’s my job to help you along.
[Panel 5: Venom towers over an injured Peter, the Symbiote army forming a pair of jet-black pillars bending towards him.]
You and what army?
[Panel 6: Peter points towards the sky, which Venom, in quick panic, follows.]
Peter: That one.
See, you made one big error pulling back all of your forces to one area. You routed everything to a choke point.
And now… Earth’s gonna take advantage of it. If I know Carol…. She called in every favor she could. Pulled every string. And it’s going to be raining fire tonight.
[Pages 9 and 10]
[Double page spread. Captain Marvel and Captain America, side-by-side, lead the charging forces, who, while battered, have a renewed fighting spirit and are charging towards the Symbiotes/The Reader. For the first time in a while, we see not just the heroes of the world working to save it, but a plethora of villains. In the spread: Silk, Black Cat, Human Torch (both the F4 one and the Android from the Invaders) Invisible Woman, The Thing, Toxin, Cloak and Dagger, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, ROM the Spaceknight, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Hawkeye, Mockingbird, She-Hulk (the Symbiote didn’t get her completely before the army pulled back), Spectrum, Blue Marvel, Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, Nova (Richard Rider), Thor, Beta Ray Bill, Daredevil, Misty Knight, Hellcat, Shocker, Rhino, Titanium Man, Shang-Chi, Elektra, Punisher and Crossbones (the last two notably rocking flamethrowers and sonic cannons) among dozens of others not visible from the distance away from them.]
Captain Marvel: EVERYBODY!
Captain America: ASSEMBLE!
[Panel 1: As the Symbiotes have fire rained upon them from the heroes, Peter kicks a Symbiote away as Venom slinks into the shadows. Silk, Black Cat, Captain America and Captain Marvel join Peter as they also take down some Symbiotes.]
Captain Marvel: Good to see you, Pete.
Peter: Feeling’s mutual, Carol.
What’s the situation upstairs?
Carol: We’ve got the Symbiotes routed. They’re holed up in here. The only way out is through that slipspace gate.
Peter: Then that’s where we’ll push them.
Steve, get everybody to rush hard. We’re going to have to hit them with everything we’ve got.
Captain America: With pleasure.
[Panel 2: Peter punches out another Symbiote, letting it fall as Cindy arrives, with three metallic cylinders and a red bundle.]
Silk: Good to see you too, boss.
Peter: There’s my favorite-slash-only sidekick.
Love how you’re not rocking the suit I gift wrapped for you.
Silk: Well, there’s a reason for that.
[Panel 3: Silk hands Peter the red bundle, which, as it turns out, is Peter’s Spider-Man costume.]
Silk: I’m not gonna take the mantle of somebody who doesn’t need replacing.
Peter: Hey, you duct-taped the lenses! Mildly inconvenient, but it’ll work. I think.
What’cha got there?
Cindy: The seismic charges. Doc Richards upgraded them. Bigger blast radius and--
Peter: We aren’t using those.
[Panel 3: Peter and Cindy are arguing, as Black Cat shouts from behind them.]
Cindy: You said it yourself, we need to bring these things down, this is the easiest way to do it!
Peter: The easiest way isn’t always the right one, Cin!
We can do this without killing all of these innocent people they’ve got as their hosts!
Black Cat: INCOMING!
[Panel 4: Peter, Silk, and Black Cat are blown back by an explosion. A symbiote-infected police officer, with a now smoking rocket launcher, is blasted by Nova in the background.]
[Panel 1: Venom swats away Falcon, She-Hulk, and Mockingbird, while also tearing ROM in half.]
Venom: I won’t let you take me down that easily!
My brothers! Don’t let these “heroes” deter you!
[Panel 2: Venom swiftly turns around, a horrified reaction at who is calling out to him.]
???: Really? Take a good look at this costume and tell me if you aren’t deterred just a little.
Venom: Actually… now that you mention it…
[Panel 3: Peter has leaped into the battle in-costume, the seismic charges slung over his back as he slugs Venom across the jaw.]
Spider-Man: Oh, yeah! It’s me, your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!
Back and better than ever!
If you define having one eye covered by duct tape as better.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has pulled out one of the seismic charges out, using it to smack several teeth out of Venom’s mouth. In his other hand, he is pushing one into the ground, a blinking green light activating as it arms itself.]
Spider-Man: So, how you feeling now that your homeboys are in full retreat?
Venom: No retreat yet, web- GUHH!
Spider-Man: What’s that, Venom? I think the sound of metal clanging against your skull is drowning out whatever gibberish you were spitting out.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man has placed the last of the Seismic Charges, sliding out of the way as he digs the detonator out of the bag.]
Spider-Man: Nuh-uh. Not another step, Brock. You know what I have here?
Venom: A detonator. Let me guess. You plan on activating it. Quelle surprise.
Spider-Man: You know me so well. And it’s a particularly easy job.
One little push and--
[Panel 1: Close, tight shot of Spider-Man’s narrowed lenses.]
Venom: So, what’re you waiting for? Pull the trigger.
[Panel 2: As carnage rains upon the heroes, Venom looms over Spider-Man, grinning in mocking victory.]
Venom: All of that collateral… you’re not willing to hurt so many people for the greater good.
Not since you killed Doc Ock.
Looks like I’ve called your bluff, Parker.
[Panel 3: Peter looks down as a fur-covered, black latex-coated hand presses down on the detonator, his lenses widening in shock as a faint clicking sound is heard.]
Black Cat: Good thing I never played my bluff, then.
[Panel 4: A blue shockwave of sonics erupts from the three charges, knocking Spider-Man, Black Cat, and Venom (the Symbiote peeling off faster off of Eddie) back, disintegrating the surrounding rocks and digging into the walls of the staging ground. The sound effect on display is a massive “BWOMMMMMM”, like an untuned electric bass guitar being ground on Hans Zimmer’s synthesizer.]
[Panel 5: The portal slowly turns from a cool, refreshing blue into a sickly, blood red, as the Symbiote crawls away from Eddie. In the mix of red, a strong wind is brewing, with a collective mass of Symbiotes either being sucked in or running willingly.]
Venom/Eddie: No…. This… this isn’t what I wanted… home… I’ll never be able to go back… not now.
[Panel 1: Captain Marvel and Captain America are standing at the bottom of the panel, pointing out of the hole as multiple heroes race out of the pit.]
Captain Marvel: Portal’s gonna overload! Just got an update from Mr. Fantastic! When it kicks out of reverse, it’s gonna douse the area in EM radiation! We need to evac!
Captain America: You heard Carol, people! Grab our wounded and move everybody to a safe distance!
[Panel 2: In the background, multiple heroes help each other out of the rapidly-emptying staging ground. She-Hulk is carrying both ROM and Toxin, Falcon and Invisible Woman are airlifting Thing, Moon Knight, and Nova, and both Human Torches are assisting Thor up with Beta Ray Bill’s assistance, who is also carrying Punisher on his shoulder. In the foreground, Peter, mask torn from the blast, is helped up by Felicia, as the wind begins picking up.]
Peter: Fel… you did that. Why?
Felicia: You aren’t very good at compromising your morals.
It’s what makes you… well, you. Figured that if you wouldn’t give up your ethics for a split-second, I’d risk mine for you.
Peter: You… didn’t have to do that.
Felicia: I didn’t. But you would have, to save me.
[Panel 3: Peter points over to the Venom Symbiote, as it begins slithering away weakly.]
Felicia, get to a safe distance with the rest of the group! I’ll handle this!
[Panel 4: Peter slams down a plastic container over the Symbiote, which it begins banging against as the wind takes a turn for the worst. His attention, at this point, has turned to a near-unconscious Eddie, who is splayed across the ground.]
Peter: Got it!
Eddie! Grab my hand!
[Panel 5: Both Peter and Eddie have achieved lift, Peter only tied down by the container containing Venom. Dust and debris begin flying, the red glow of the gate is the only thing barely visible as several chunks of street debris bang against Peter.]
Peter: Eddie! You’ve gotta… you’ve gotta get in gear! Gimme your other hand!
Eddie: Spidey? What are we?... Oh, God! What’s going on!
Peter: Eddie, I’m not leaving you behind, no matter how much that Symbiote messed with your head! Now, c’mon! Gimme your damn hand!
[Panel 1: Eddie looks back towards the portal, filled with deep regret, holding a shank made out of a street sign behind his back.]
Eddie: No…, not this time, Parker.
You know we’ll just go back to where we started, right? I’ll get that Symbiote again, and somebody else will suffer!
Peter: Eddie, don’t talk like that! We are getting out of here, got it?
As long as Venom and I are on the same planet, nobody else is safe.
I have to do this.
[Panel 2: Large panel. Eddie’s shank has jammed into Peter’s hand, causing him to howl in pain and let Eddie go by reflex.]
[Panel 3: Eddie, finally at peace with his actions, smiles and closes his eyes as he’s sucked into the portal.]
Eddie: See you on the other side… Parker.
[Panel 4: Eddie has vanished in the portal’s glow, a tiny burst of light alerting to the audience that he has passed through.]
[Panel 5: Peter looks over towards the portal in defeat, as the dust kicks up around him, leaving his body barely visible, only by the general shape and the white of his lenses.]
[Page 16 and 17]
[Double Page spread. From the Tactical AI Satellite Display, zoomed in on New York, as a large blast of radiation covers a large mile, in diameter, circle of New York, ending in an area just near the tip of the northern section of Manhattan.]
AI: AI Sarah standing by on Oscorp Tactical Satellite Gabriel.
A large source of radiation has coated a sizable portion of Manhattan. Current projections deem this section of the city uninhabitable.
Update: an unidentified superhuman with powers similar to Spider-Man was deployed to Orbital Battle Cluster Sigma-Beta-3 and has neutralized hostile forces in control of the cluster.
Update: The Baxter Building has managed to reestablish contact with outside sources. Power was momentarily lost, and a Symbiote prisoner has managed to escape.
Update: Captain Steven Rogers has reported that all major Symbiote holdouts have been neutralized, and the slipspace gate bringing them to Earth has been disabled. There has been no contact with Spider-Man for a period of twenty minutes.
[Panel 1: The heroes of the crisis have all gathered in the street, licking their wounds. Behind them are the crippled NYPD, led by Carlie and Yuri, as well as the battered Marines and Army troops. Silk and Captain America stand at the forefront, anxiously waiting for something to come out of the glowing mist. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Close up of Silk and Cap. Cindy is visibly concerned, while Cap is a bit better at hiding it, though it is clear to the reader what he’s thinking.]
Silk: Is he?...
Captain America: I’m not sure, kid.
But until we see a body, he isn’t dead. He’s survived far worse.
[Panel 3: Felicia is adjusting her lenses to compensate for the foglike radiation, only to shout out in glee when she hits the frequency she’s looking for and looks into the cloud.]
Felicia: I found him! It’s Spidey!
[Panel 4: Just having permeated the radiation, Peter comes out trailing gas on his shoulders, managing to contain the Venom Symbiote in a bag of webbing.]
Peter: Hey guys.
I also got a Symbiote.
It’s been a… A heckuva day.
[Panel 1: Cindy and Felicia have hug-tackled him, while both Caps put their hands on his shoulders.]
Carol: Good job, Peter.
You did it.
Steve: I’m inclined to agree with Carol, Peter.
You saved us all.
[Panel 2: Peter looks up towards the radiation cloud, his singular open lens and mouth noting a disappointed and somewhat depressed mood.]
And even if we saved as many as we could….
[Panel 3: Spider-Man walks away from the cloud, as Carlie and Yuri look on.]
Spider-Man: ...I’m not sure if we did enough.
Carlie: Hot damn. He did it again.
I’m starting to think Spidey’s the only reason we’ve been getting out of these messes.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man walks up to Carlie, clapping her on the shoulder in a half-assed manner, Yuri wearing an expression that would make the reader swear she was going to draw her gun at any minute.]
Spider-Man: No, it… it wasn’t just me, Carlie.
I did some of it. But… you helped slow them down.
[Panel 5: A group of the massive team of heroes, silently gathered to both celebrate their victory and mourn their losses.]
Peter: Cap and his guys… they all played a part. They made that final push that pushed the Symbiotes back through the portal.
[Panel 1: Peter’s lens has narrowed, as he walks away from the cavalcade of police cars. Carlie is looking towards the assembled heroes and villains (note: Shocker is getting tackled in the background by Moon Knight), while Yuri glares at him menacingly.]
Peter: Wheels within wheels, Carlie. Always turning, even if we don’t realize it.
The Symbiotes were one of those wheels.
Carlie: You delirious or something? Because half of what you just said is absolute nonsense.
[Panel 2: A close-up of Yuri’s face, still glaring at Spider-Man.]
Spider-Man [op]: I dunno. Maybe I’m finally going insane.
[Panel 3: Silk and Black Cat have joined Spider-Man, as he walks out of the maze of vehicles.]
Spider-Man: Funny. All it took was getting dressed up in spandex and fighting off an alien invasion every other week.
Say, you don’t happen to have any blankets around here, do you?
Carlie: In the back of that SWAT van. Tired?
[Panel 4: Peter tries breaking open the door on the back of the van, but fails to do so, instead just smacking his fist against it.]
Spider-Man: Like you wouldn’t believe.
Actually, y’know what?
[Splash page. Spider-Man has lied down on the ground, as Black Cat and Silk sit on the bumper of the SWAT van. Carlie has turned her attention to speaking with Captain America, and Yuri has stormed off in the opposite direction, away from the cavalcade, whereas MJ (carrying Annie) have come running up with Reed to the patchwork camp of heroes.]
Spider-Man: After spending the day fighting Symbiotes?
I’m starting to think anywhere’s okay to sleep.
Spider-Man [capt]: And so we’d done it. We’d won.
Earth’s last stand. Every one of our best and brightest who rode into the valley of death.
For the first time in years, we were united. The Symbiotes had done the impossible. They’d brought us together against a common threat.
A story that shouldn’t have been needed to be told, but it was needed regardless. Good people stolen from us because we were too blind to see darkness in the light.
Now all that’s left is to rebuild. Just like we always do. And the foundation will be a moral. A simple one, but at the same time the most complex thing that we will never understand.
No matter how much pressure you put on a person, they will always find a way to succeed in some way. Because, above all else, life persists.
[To be Concluded…]
Chapter 17: Days of Deception Conclusion: Dark Side of the Morning
Chapter by QuilSniv
The heroes of the Marvel Universe are left to repair what's left and contemplate their future.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #16
“Days of Deception Conclusion: Dark Side of the Morning”
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar, Shaun Martineau and Jarod Cordes
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Teams:
“Spider-Man in: Towards Peace”
-Stefano Caselli and Edgar Delgado
“Silk in: Gwen Stacy Syndrome”
-Stacey Lee and Ian Herring
“Black Cat in: Breaking Bad Luck”
-Terry and Rachel Dodson
“Captain Marvel in: The Sum of Our Parts”
-David Marquez and Justin Ponsor
“Yuri Watanabe in: Shadow Politics”
-Travel Foreman and Keith David
[Panel 1: Close, tight shot of Peter’s eyes, previously sealed shut in slumber but just now opening drowsily.]
Peter [capt]: As the city with the single most alien invasions and supervillain attacks of all time, we have a knack for rebuilding.
[Panel 2: Peter sits up, rubbing his forehead in sleep-deprived agitation. We see that Peter has been sleeping on the floor of his lab at Horizon, with MJ on a couch and Annie in a small bed, the origins of both pieces of furniture best left unknown.]
Capt: Spider-Man in: Towards Peace
Peter [capt]: And as a man who should have gone insane after all the crap I’ve gone through, I have a good knack for rebuilding too.
What time is it?
4:00 in the morning. Perfect.
[Panel 3: Peter grabs his mask,stretching it as he advances towards the entrance to the lab.]
Peter: Well, it’s morning. It’s my turn to take watch anyways.
[Panel 4: The finals seals of Peter’s mask leave the grips of his fingers as the door opens, spilling light into the lab. Silent panel.]
[Pages 2 and 3]
[Full double spread. We see the atrium of Horizon, as well as the hallways leading out into the labs themselves, are jam-packed with people sleeping in handed-out blankets. Heroes are separating them into rows, allowing for easier mobility in the makeshift living space. On watch currently are Moon Knight, Mockingbird, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Daredevil, with Spidey joining them.]
Peter [capt]: We’ve had near constant supply drops of food and water by the air force, but it hasn’t been easy without power. SHIELD is arriving with three helicarriers worth of food and construction material to start bridge repair.
We set up shop in Horizon and brought in as many people as possible off the streets-- especially since, you know, Horizon was one of the few places actually left standing with power.
It’s been a challenge, but we’re also working on a more consistent form of feeding everybody until the bridges are repaired. Trying to turn the industrial replicators we use for materials here into food replicators.
Spider-Man: Hey. I miss anything?
Captain America: Peter, your shift doesn’t start for another three hours. Go get some sleep.
Spider-Man: Steve, I’d take you up on that, but… well, I… yeah. I just can’t sleep.
Not while we’re this vulnerable.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man leans against the wall, Steve and Carol joining him.]
Spider-Man: It just doesn’t feel right for me to kick back and keep calm.
The last time we did that was with Tony and the Mighties. And we thought we were safe back then. And this all happened right under our own noses?
How could we be so arrogant to just assume that we’d won? When did this happen?
Carol: Take it from somebody who helped everybody think they were safe.
But, we’ll do better. Always vigilant. Not letting our own agendas and politics get in the way of our job.
Spider-Man: And how long until we go right back to where we started, Carol?
[Panel 2: Tight shot of Spider-Man’s mask, as Steve and Carol pay attention.]
Spider-Man: We always say we’ll do better. But remember how we nearly declined into a full-scale Civil War? We promised we’d do better, but then three years later I beat the crap out of Tony in the middle of a street.
What about M-Day?
What about the Skrulls?
And now the Symbiotes?
Don’t you guys get it? We can change. But not forever. We’re a walking cycle of disaster.
[Panel 3: A new voice enters the conversation, surprising the three heroes.]
???: Excuse me.
[Panel 4: The speaker is revealed to be J Jonah Jameson, disheveled, unshaven, and stripped down to his dress shirt and slacks.]
Jonah: Sorry if I’m interrupting your conversation.
But… I was wondering if I could have a word with Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Um… sure.
Carol: We’ll give you some alone time, Spidey.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man and Jonah are now alone, as Carol and Steve retreat into the hallway.]
This is awkward.
Spider-Man: Tell me about it.
Can I get you a drink?
That’s about it.
Jonah: Heh. No, thanks. I’ll make this quick.
[Panel 1: Jonah and Spider-Man have sat on the table nearest them, as Jonah twiddles his thumbs.]
Jonah: About a week ago, I’d be printing my standard hit piece on you.
How Iron Man would be totally justified in bringing you in. And that Doc Ock thing…
[Panel 2: A recycled copy of the previous copy, with Spider-Man looking at Jonah this time.]
Jonah: This isn’t exactly the easiest thing to say…
Spider-Man: For what?
Jonah: For everything.
[Panel 3: A close-up of Jameson’s face, half-obscured by the shadows.]
Jonah: What you did this past week? Driving off an entire alien invasion nearly single handedly?
You proved eighteen years of my professional journalism career wrong. And that’s a good thing.
My son is making the next supply run tomorrow morning.
If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be there to see him again.
Thank you. So much.
[Panel 4: Spidey’s face, opposite to Jameson’s. While you can’t see behind the mask, you can tell he’s glad to have finally mended the bridge with Jameson.]
[Panel 5: Spidey and Jameson shake hands]
Spider-Man: You’re welcome.
This is my city. And everybody within its borders are under my watch.
That includes you, Triple J.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man leaps off of the table, approached by Captain America while headed for his lab as Jonah walks off.]
Spider-Man: Cap, I gotta go check on my family, and maybe take your advice on a couple extra hours of shut-eye. Think you can hold the fort without me?
Cap: Absolutely. Get some rest, son. You’ve earned it.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man seals the lab behind him, taking off his mask as he looks over MJ and Annie.]
Peter [capt]: 5,000 dead or missing.
36 heroes gone without a trace.
Doesn’t feel like we’ve earned this one.
[Panel 3: Peter pulls out a flash drive from a hidden pouch from his belt, examining the end and popping out the USB port.]
Peter [capt]: Still.
We need to rise above this.
We were divided before. Tony’s Mighty Avengers and Steve’s Secret Avengers.
That can’t happen anymore. We can’t afford to be torn apart. Not again.
[Panel 4: Peter plugs the USB into his computer at Horizon, reading the files that come into the viewscreen. Notably, several of the files have the Stark Industries logo, and yet others, already on his computer, have both Peter and Reed’s signatures on the paper.]
Peter: Computer. Run analysis of atomic segments of the Unstable Molecules Reed sent and run them against Stark Endo-Sym technology.
Computer: Analysis complete. Unstable Molecules’ transformative properties nullified by addition of Endo-Sym compound, and simulations produce a highly-durable substance with spandex-tier flexibility.
Computer: In theory.
[Panel 4: Peter smiles, looking at the simulations on his computer.]
Hey, Computer? Can we dye the stuff?
Peter: Awesome. Um… let’s load up file Spider_SuitMK3.
I’ve always wanted to be a tailor.
Peter [Capt]: It's amazing what we can do when we all put our heads together.
[Capt: Silk in: Gwen Stacy Syndrome]
[Panel 1: A rooftop in New York. The background is cloudy grey, rain slicking up the environment. Cindy is leaning against the support beam of a water tower, shuddering ever-so-slightly in fetal position.]
Cindy [Capt]: When I first started this gig, I thought I was gonna be unstoppable.
Just… Slap a couple of pills down my throat and I could do anything.
[Panel 2: Zoom in. Cindy is obscured by shadows, but the shuddering is even more noticeable than before.]
Cindy [Capt]: I made so many headlines. I was the new hot cakes.
Iron Man wanted me to join the Avengers.
Bad call in retrospect, but it meant I was going somewhere.
There was literally nothing to anchor my ego down to Earth.
[Panel 3: We finally get a close up and reasoning behind Cindy’s shuddering. As the shadow fades away, she is quietly sobbing hysterically, trying to calm herself down.]
Cindy [Capt]: Then today happened.
I was…Violated. Had another... thing... take over my body and nearly doom an entire city.
I nearly died for the second time in two months.
And worst of all…
I saw somebody I love-- I saw him die.
[Panel 1: Cindy barely manages to grip her knee, hoisting her body up to where her bottom reaches her kneecap.]
God, he deserved better.
[Panel 2: Cindy has slowly regained control of herself, managing to take several steps.]
Cindy [Capt]: Of course, we think after we’ve endured the worst, it can only get better.
I’d say ‘wrong’ but that’s an objective lie. It’s all about perspective.
[Panel 3: Having moved to the edge of the rooftop, Cindy bends her knees, looking down on the now smoking streets of New York, the fires doused by the rain.]
Cindy [Capt]: We only deal with the aftermath on an individual level.
Count our losses.
I dunno, I took a philosophy course for two hours when I was bored.
Made me feel smart.
[Panel 4: Cindy’s foothold on the edge of the rooftop gives out; she yells out, taken by surprise.]
Cindy [capt]: But I don’t think a philosophy class preps you for an invasion of Symbiotes.
Not feeling so smart right now.
[Panel 1: Large panel. Cindy has managed to fire a web-line at the nearest phantom anchor point, barely missing hitting the fire escape on her descent.]
[Panel 2: Cindy swings over the street, the smoke clouding her vision as she swings towards the nearest building, albeit in a clumsy recovery.]
[Panel 3: Having landed on the rain-soaked surface of the new building, Cindy slams into the roof, skidding across the wet concrete.]
Cindy [capt]: Symbiotes.
They killed him.
[Panel 1: Cindy, though trying to recover again, is still struggling, having just collided with a building.]
Cindy [capt]: I saw his bleeding corpse right there in the street.
He didn’t want to… Bond with those things… So they just up and took him out.
[Panel 2: With intense struggle, Silk is able to slowly raise herself onto her right elbow and left hand.]
Cindy [capt]: I could have saved him.
I tried every trick in the book.
He was dead before I even got there.
[Panel 3: Her left hand slipping, Cindy falls back down, her body slamming against the ground. Silent panel.]
[Panel 4: Close up of Cindy’s bloodshot and tear-drenched face.]
Cindy [Capt]: Mr. Parker said this wasn’t a game when I first started.
He was right.
It isn’t a game.
[Full page spread. Cindy has given up, curled into the fetal position as the rain continues to pour down on her.]
Cindy [Capt]: I’m scared.
[Capt: Captain Marvel in: Sum of Our Parts]
[Panel 1: Captain Marvel has flown up above New York’s skyline, basking in the glow of the freshly-risen sun. Silent panel.]
[Capt: The Next Day]
[Panel 2: Carol has slowly lowered herself, settling upon the needle of the One World Trade Center.]
Cap Marv [capt]: I needed this sunrise.
Makes me feel… Warm and fuzzy inside.
Like after everything that’s happened, it’s all finally come into focus.
[Panel 3: Cap Marv sit down upon the rooftop of the OWTC, sighing as a layer of dust kicks up upon her touchdown.]
Cap Marv [capt]: How did we get into the position?
How did I get in this position?
Where all of the Avengers-- not to mention Jess, my best friend- were taken over by space jello and I didn’t even know?
[Panel 4: As Carol sits into silent self-reflection, a thwipping noise and a soft thud can be heard lightly in the background.]
Carol: Hey, Peter.
[Panel 1: Cap Marv has turned to see Spider-Man, still wearing his tattered costume from the Symbiote Invasion, sitting on the antenna behind her.]
Spider-Man: Hey yourself.
City’s been looking’ pretty bleak and rainy today. Figures you’d come with your magical sparkle powers to brighten it up.
Cap Marv: Pfft. You always were a charmer.
Spider-Man: Guilty as charged.
Careful. I’m married.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has leapt off of the antenna, moving to sit alongside Carol.]
Cap Marv: You’re still wearing those rags? It’s been two days! At least take a shower.
Spider-Man: I’ve got a new one all blueprinted. All that’s left is for the materials to arrive. And, given how hard Endo-Sym tech and Unstable Molecules are to come by, it’ll be a while.
And… Given the circumstances, the black suit is out of the question.
So it’s either the rags or that really old one from when I was a teen.
Cap Marv: Ew, your dad flab will show!
Spider-Man: Hey, I’ll have you know that the pic I know you have saved on your phone is from a year ago.
I’ve shaved off that weight from having to train a teenage sidekick and fighting Shocker once a month.
[Panel 3: Peter, having removed his mask, and Carol share a mutual chuckle.]
Carol: You threatened to chase him to the ends of the earth yet?
Peter: Nah, I passed the word around through most of my rogues. Started with Hypno-Hustler and ended with… White Rabbit, last time I bothered to check.
I can, however, confirm that Herman is prepping for a nine-layer Inferno marathon.
[Panel 4: Peter and Carol both look disappointed in themselves for their jovial tones during the mourning period.]
Peter: Sorry, I… Just figured that with all the crap everybody’s been going through… We could use a laugh.
Carol: No, it’s cool. We needed that. Optimism is a bit of a commodity right now.
And given that you have the arguable closest ties to the invasion… Your happiness is a bit of an inspiration.
Not just to me… To a lot of people.
[Panel 1: Side shot of Peter, as his head is turned towards Carol, who is resting her head on her legs.]
Peter: So… with the whole Stark career down the drain…
What’re you planning on doing now?
Carol: Not sure yet. I’ve got a fair number of job offers lying on my coffee table.
Air Force, NASA SECCOM, JSOC. I think they’ve even offered me a job commanding Earth’s orbital battle clusters.
Peter: Y’know, if you’re looking for a more… well, down-to-Earth job.
Horizon’s been needing more security. Pays well, and having Captain Marvel watching our backs wouldn’t hurt.
[Panel 2: Carol sweeps her hair behind her eyeline, smirking.]
Carol: That’s very sweet of you, Peter.
But, I’ve been thinking.
What if we did the Avengers again?
What if we did it right, like it used to be.
Not with the government riding our backs everywhere we went.
Not on the run and poorly supplied.
Just… Avengers again.
Peter [OP]: I’m not sure if I want to back you on that idea.
Part of me is with you, but… I dunno, maybe I’m letting my bias against Tony get to me.
[Panel 3: Peter remains seated, the wind bristling against his hair.]
Peter: But. I’m gonna play neutral party here and say “But”.
We need to keep a united front. And with Tony and the other Mighties still missing… maybe a change of leadership could do some good.
So I’ll say you could give it a trial run.
Carol [OP]: You’re not gonna join? We could always use some humor, whatever roster we end up with.
Peter: This is my city, Carol. I can’t stay away for too long.
Plus, I’ve got a family now. Imagine being gone for days at a time.
[Panel 1: Peter hops onto his feet, bending so that he’s supporting himself on his knees.]
Peter: But… tell you what. Until you get some numbers filled out, I’ll help out.
And even then, I’d be willing to stay on the team. Just not… a permanent guy.
A reserve member.
And if the world’s ending… you know where to find me. Not like Cindy and I wouldn’t be there anyway.
[Panel 2: Carol holds a hand out, smiling hopefully.]
Carol: So… I’ve got an Avenger?
[Panel 3: Peter’s hand slaps into Carol’s, the thumbs gripping each other’s hand.]
Peter: You’ve got Avenger #1.
[Panel 4: Carol holds out a holographic display from her glove, her and Peter examining the rotating circle, with eight increments in the circle.]
Peter: So there’s you, me….
Anybody else you wanted to throw into the mix?
Carol: Thought I’d bring in more a more diverse powerset. Mix things up a bit.
Unfortunately, we’re a little thinned out, what with the whole alien invasion taking out a lot of heavy hitters.
[Splash Page. We get a closer look at the holographic circle, and we see several persons in the pie-like chart: Captain Marvel, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, She-Hulk, the original Human Torch, and Scarlet Witch.]
Carol [OP]: We’re going to have to make do with what we can get our hands on.
[Capt: Captain Yuri Watanabe in: Shadow Politics]
[Panel 1: Yuri, in her trench coat, stands at the base of the now heavily damaged Stark Tower.]
Yuri [capt]: Not a lot of people know the real Yuri Watanabe.
Carlie Cooper, a couple of officers I’ve had drinks with.... Not many others ‘sides them.
It’s not really a sob story. If anything, it’s proof that anybody can overcome their family’s sins.
[Panel 2: Yuri wanders, somewhat aloofly, into the lobby of Stark Tower. A few bodies, covered up by white cloths, litter the room, but otherwise is rather clean. The only lighting is the light from outside the building.]
Yuri: Joined the Marines the minute I turned 18. Graduated with honors. Semper fi and all that jazz.
Then one day I get a call from dad. He’s in jail. Did something stupid, but not exactly a big surprise.
Don’t remember the exact details, but he’s still rotting in prison and mom’s still rotting in a nursing home.
[Panel 3: Yuri steps into the stairwell, beginning the long climb up.]
Yuri [capt]: I know I sound like a total ass for saying that, but hear me out.
There’s a moral to this.
I died that day.
But not quite.
[Panel 1: Yuri continues climbing the stairs, typing into her phone.]
Yuri [capt]: My parents raised me on superstition.
Spooked me into sleeping.
They taught me about the legend of the Wraith. A being made undead without passing through death.
Yuri: Slott, this is Watanabe. I’m going to be gone for a while.
You’re in charge of the precinct until I get back.
Don’t muck it up.
Slott: You got it, boss.
[Panel 2: The door to the stairwell has opened, and Yuri exits to reveal her destination: the only floor of the Avengers living area to not to be destroyed by the blast.]
Yuri [capt]: I am a Wraith. Never technically dead, but might as well be.
But, these days, I have things to live for.
My city. My girlfriend. Stopping Spider-Man.
[Panel 3: Yuri pulls a can out of the depths of her coat, reading “Fear Gas. Suspect: Beck, Quentin. Alias Mysterio”
Yuri: Well, you won’t be missed by the evidence locker. Filled with plenty of Octobots and Pumpkin bombs.
Maybe it’s time we put some of the stuff in there to good use.
[Panel 4: Yuri tosses the can in her hand, whistling as she ventures further into the husk of Avengers Tower.]
Yuri [capt]: Time to arm up.
[Panel 1: We see the Yuri come out of the wreckage, dressed in her Wraith costume. In order for maximum edge, give the costume extra detail; lines denoting contours in the body, oriental patterning on the yellow sections of her suit, and a harder texture for the suit, giving a tougher feel.]
Yuri: Not bad.
Stark basically craps out the material for people to make their own costumes.
[Panel 2: Yuri stares at the mask, contemplating its existence in the palm of her hand.]
[Panel 3: In the shadows of the debris of Stark Tower, Yuri slips on the mask. Silent panel.]
[Panel 4: Similar framing. Yuri has finished putting on the mask, the lenses glowing upon the mask coming on all the way.]
Yuri: Alright then, Spider-Man--
[Splash page. Yuri is now completely dressed as the Wraith, pushing her body as her wrappings shoot out of her body like Doc Ock’s tentacles. Her eyes have narrowed and are glowing as she assumes a stance of power.]
Yuri: --Time you met the new sheriff of New York.
[Capt: Black Cat in: Breaking Bad Luck]
[Panel 1: A back alley. The back door slams off its hinges as two masked individuals make a quick and frantic exit from the building.]
Man: Hurry! Before the cops show up!
Woman: You’re the one who wanted to stick around to nab that Crimson Hyena piece!
If we get caught, it’s all your fault!
[Panel 2: The two figures bump into some trash cans, the contents spilling behind them as they continue their escape.]
Man: ‘Ey, it’s not my fault that I inherited dad’s amazing taste in art!
Woman: You’re right. It’s Dad’s. When we make a clean getaway, I’ll be sure to write him and thank him.
[Panel 3: The two make it to the curb, where a mid-size sedan is waiting for them.]
Get in. I’ll drive.
[Panel 4: Before either can get in the car, it erupts in a ball of flames.]
I paid good money for that car!
[Panel 1: As the two run down the street, a black-clad figure leaps out from the alley in their direction.]
Woman: Whatever, we can make it on foot before the cops show!
???: Not if I can help it.
[Panel 2: Somersaulting over the two, the black figure uses their shoulders as a pivot point, upsetting their balances.]
???: Sorry, but you guys are stealing my gimmick. Besides--
[Panel 3: Felicia lands on her toes as the two thieves collapse from their balance loss, blowing a strand of hair out of her face during her landing.]
Felicia: --You pick when the city is probably at its most vulnerable to go out thieving?
At least my generation did our stealing when there were superheroes able to catch us.
[Panel 3: Felicia looms over the two, twiddling a baton in her left hand.]
Felicia: Also, cat ears? C’mon, you’re stealing my motif; even then, I never went that far!
Man: But… bu-bu-b--
[Panel 4: Felicia grabs the male accomplice by the collar, with him gasping for air.]
Felicia: Listen, buddy. How deep do you reach into the Maggia?
Judging by the fact that you’re dressed like a goddamn cat, I’m gonna guess taking you two down is gonna be like a mosquito bite.
Whatever. Just send a message to your bosses. Or the cops. Whoever decides your worth quicker.
[Panel 1: Felicia has tied the two together, slapping her hands back and forth to clap off the dust.]
Felicia: Tell ‘em that Black Cat is upping her game. But the rules’ve changed.
[Panel 2: Felicia tosses her baton up into the air, walking away.]
Felicia: Still stealin’, but I’m throwing a twist in. I’ll do something good with what I steal.
[Panel 3: Shot of Felicia’s front, while she’s walking away.]
Felicia: Trying to go straight for a bit.
For all we know, it could crash and burn.
[Panel 4: Same panel as Panel 3. However, we see the baton come down, smacking the female goon in the face as Felicia looks back, smirking.]
Felicia: Or who knows?
Maybe I’ll get lucky.
Chapter 18: Night of the Wraith, Pt 1: Forward Unto Dawn
Chapter by QuilSniv
Two/three months have passed since Days of Deception, and with Spider-Man and Silk busier than ever, somebody decides to exploit the void left by the Symbiotes...
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #17
“Night of the Wraith, Pt 1: Forward Unto Dawn”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Sara Pichelli and Marte Gracia
[Panel 1: We start off in a moldy warehouse in the nastier parts of Manhattan. Grime lines the walls, and a roach scurries across a mold-lined crate in the foreground. In the background, we see several goons alongside their leader, Smokescreen (For the uninitiated, he’s the main villain of the Spider-Man, Storm and Cage PSA), busting open new crates that have just arrived.]
[Capt: Three Months Later….]
Smokescreen: This all of it?
Mook: Aye, boss.
Smokescreen: This isn’t what we were promised. Shipment’s five crates short.
Tombstone isn’t gonna be happy.
[Panel 2: A closer look up at Smokescreen, who is caressing one of the stolen firearms in the crate.]
Smokescreen: Gear ‘em up. We need to ship them out to No Man’s Land. Otherwise Hammerhead’s forces are gonna be taking a good bite out of Negative’s turf.
[Panel 3: A web-line grabs Smokescreen, who yells as he’s yanked back.]
???: See, I don’t really like that plan.
I have an alternative, though. Wanna hear it?
No? Too bad.
[Panel 4: From the floor, the shot is angled so that we can see Spider-Man and Silk, in their new costumes, with Smokescreen hanging by the hood of his costume. While the designs of the costumes are the same from before Days of Deception, the texture is far different, similar to that of the material used for Spidey’s costume in the MCU. The blue sections of the costume retains a glossy texture, and Silk’s black parts also have that glossy texture.]
I’m Spider-Man. This is my associate, Silk.
Spider-Man: We’re here to do business.
[Panel 1: Side-shot of Spider-Man, who has leveled Smokescreen to match his eyeline.]
Spider-Man: So, here’s what I had in mind.
You’re going to lay down your weapons, and we’ll send you to the NYPD. You’ll tell us where Tombstone is and where we can find him. And your lawyers guarantee ten years off your sentences.
How’s that sound?
[Panel 2: A wave of guns cocking is heard as Smokescreen’s goons point their firearms at the two.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man’s lenses narrow.]
Spider-Man: Sorry, wrong answer.
[Panel 4: A cut in scenery to the sixth Precinct. Smokescreen and three of his henchmen are hanging from a lightpost, Spider-Man perched above them as Carlie and several more officers come out. Note that the NYPD’s uniforms have changed in the months since Days of Deception: more bulky and form fitting, lined with Kevlar, and field hats. Also of note is the patches on their shoulders, which will be expanded upon further in.]
Spider-Man: Hey, Cap’n Cooper. Got your daily dosage of gun smugglers, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Silk couldn’t make the delivery, so I guess I’ll just have to take all the credit and leave it at that.
Carlie: Hot damn. Nice job, Spidey.
Clemson, DeMonico, you two take it from here.
[Panel 5: Spidey has descended to meet up with Carlie, who has her arms crossed with an edgy smirk. We get a closer look at the patch on her uniform arm: similar to the MACO badge from Star Trek: Enterprise, it is triangular in shape, though instead of a shark, the logo is instead a double helix, with the phrase “Deorum Inter Homines” (“Men Among Gods” in Latin) stitched in underneath “NYPD: Superhuman Response Division”.]
Carlie: You’ve stepped up your game in the last two months, Webs.
Heard you broke the record for most carjackers arrested in one hour last week.
Spider-Man: Not a choice, Carlie.
[Panel 1: Close up of Spider-Man’s face, looking downwards and to the side.]
Spider-Man: Ever since the Symbiote invasion, well… with all of the heroes still missing, somebody’s gotta pick up the slack down here.
Carlie: It doesn’t all have to be your burden.
You wanna talk about this inside?
[Panel 2: In Carlie’s office. Carlie is pouring coffee from a pitcher into two styrofoam cups. Peter, meanwhile, is sitting on her desk, fiddling with a Rubik’s Cube he came across, mask strewn across the desk.]
Carlie: Y’know, we haven’t had time to hang out in, like, forever.
Peter: Duty calls. You got promoted, I had a kid. Things happened.
Carlie: Well, let’s consider this a chance to catch up.
How you been?
Noticed the new suit.
[Panel 3: Peter leans back, accepting the cup Carlie hands him.]
Peter: Burnt out. Between Horizon buying Stark Tower, working with the Avengers, family, training Cindy, regular patrols.... My time’s been stretched a little thin.
Carlie: Yeesh. You’re doing a little bit much for just one guy.
Here. Not the best brew I’ve ever made, but it keeps me awake.
Peter: Thanks. Been awhile since I had swill.
[Panel 4: Peter has hopped off the desk, as Carlie digs a file out of her cabinet. In the background, the landline on Carlie’s desk is ringing.]
Carlie: I get it. Tell you the truth, it’s been a little rough for everybody for the last few months.
And, as it happens, I have an in at that new bowling alley a couple blocks down.
Whaddya say next week we gather the whole gang and knock some pins down? Blow off some steam.
Peter: Sounds fun. I’m game.
[Panel 5: Carlie picks up the landline, holding up a single finger to Peter as she looks down with a hardened grimace.]
Carlie: One sec.
Another Wraith case? Who was it this time?
8-Ball? Alright, send the info to my desk, I’ll take a look at it.
[Panel 6: Peter leans against the desk, sipping his coffee as Carlie pinches the bridge of her nose.]
Peter: The Wraith? Wait… I remember the Wraith. Brian DeWolff, right? Jean’s brother. I thought he was dead.
Carlie: He is. Probably just some lunatic running around using his name for their crusade. As for what that crusade is… well, we don’t know.
We know they’re a she, but that’s about all we’ve got about them. And that’s only because she sent the information out across the internet.
I swear to God, I’m gonna go gray before I hit forty.
[Panel 1: Peter holds his hand out, as Carlie hands him the file she was looking for.]
Peter: Maybe I can help connect some dots.
What’ve you got so far?
Carlie: Not much.
The most we’ve got is a few hits on known supervillains.
Hypno-Hustler, Tumbler, Hazmat, Grizzly… heck, she got really ballsy and managed to get the jump on FACADE.
[Panel 2: A close look at the file. Medical reports and crime scene data are littered across the pages.]
Carlie: The reports from the hospitals… yeesh.
Nearly all of them are hooked up to life support.
FACADE is the only one to get away without injuries that won’t cripple him for life. But his vocal chords are shot and his face is really messed up. Can’t figure out who he is.
[Panel 3: A close-up of a photo in the file of one of the Wraith crime scenes. Blood is splattered all across the location, and the victim, Tumbler, is sprawled across the concrete, a stab wound in his elbow and a large gash across his abdomen.]
Carlie [OP]: Whoever she is, she’s a monster.
We’ve had squads on full alert, but we haven’t had any luck taking her down.
[Panel 4: Peter holds up the file, picking up his mask as he nears the window.]
Peter: Hey, you mind if I take this file? I might find something the CSI guys might’ve missed.
Carlie: Sure thing. Not sure what you’ll find, but you’re welcome to take a look.
Besides, I’m helping my boys look into some random serial killer. With all of us spread thin, wouldn’t hurt if somebody picked up a dead case.
[Panel 5: Peter swings off, file in hand.]
Peter: Keep safe, Carlie.
Phone, dial Mary Jane.
Hey, Honey. Yeah, I’m swinging on back home. Need me to pick up anything on my way back?
[Panel 1: Yuri walks into the office, taking off her hat as she comes in. Carlie bolts up straight, neglecting to move the cup Peter left behind.]
Yuri: Hey, babe. How ya doin’?
Carlie: Fine. What’re you doing here? And why are you bringing me the Wraith files from the front desk?
Yuri: Was coming to see you. Offered to take the files up since I was headed here anyways.
[Panel 2: Yuri and Carlie kiss, leaning against the desk.]
Yuri: Glad to see me?
Carlie: A little. C’mere.
[Panel 3: Having broken apart from their kiss, Yuri notices the half-full cup of coffee Peter left on the desk, still slightly steaming but losing its heat.]
Yuri: Y’know, you are tense as hell.
Not to mention that there’s two cups of coffee on your desk.
You wanna tell me something?
[Panel 4: Carlie sighs in defeat, slumping her head to her shoulders, Yuri bolting upright at what she’s hearing.]
Carlie: *sigh*... I wasn’t going to say anything, but since you brought it up…
I’m turning over the Wraith case to Spider-Man.
Carlie: You heard me. Our guys in CSI aren’t getting a lead on whoever the Wraith is, so I handed it over to Spidey. If he can’t find anything, no one can.
[Panel 5: Yuri, at a near loss for words, jams the tips of her fingers into her forehead.]
Yuri: Okay, this is going too far, Carls.
I don’t even like the guy, but you’re willing to drag him into police cases? Classified ones?
Carlie [OP]: Yuri, he does good work.
Yuri: That doesn’t give him the right to butt into police business.
If we just deputized every superhero that came up to our doorstep, we’d look like we were arming up for some massive fight against gangs in the city.
Carlie [OP]: But we’re not. He’s just one guy.
[Panel 6: A close up of Yuri’s eyes, as she glares daggers at Carlie.]
Yuri: You sure?
Because it sure feels like you’ve got a one-man army on your payroll.
[Panel 1: Cooling off, Carlie attempts to de-escalate the situation, with Yuri already trying to storm out.]
Carlie: Look, it’s a precinct affair. And besides, as part of the Superhuman Response Division, this is kind of my job.
But, let’s put all of that behind us.
Yuri: I’m sorry, Carls. But I can’t do that.
[Panel 2: Yuri attempts to open the door, but Carlie intercepts her, slamming the door shut.]
Look, a lot of it’s on me.
We’re still down a lot of manpower and… I dunno, when Spidey offered to pitch in, I couldn’t just turn him down.
The last three months… haven’t been easy. For anybody. Especially the people in my precinct.
[Panel 3: Carlie sighs, looking sideways at the floor.]
Carlie: I’ll be honest… I still feel a little unsafe sleeping at night.
[Panel 4: Yuri opens the door, placing her hand on Carlie’s.]
Yuri: I know.
But, I’m gonna make a promise--
--and it’s gonna be a stupid promise, because I know I probably can’t keep it--
--but it’s a promise anyways: I’m going to fix this.
[Panel 5: Yuri has moved in, hesitantly kissing Carlie.]
Yuri: Spider-Man and everything tied up in his web?
I’ll take care of it. ‘Kay?
See you back at the apartment?
[Panel 1: Yuri closes the door to Carlie’s office, as police chatter, though muffled, sneaks in through the side of the panel.]
Police Radio: This is Baker and Helon, responding to a hit-and-run by Steeplejack and Shocker…
[Panel 2: Yuri is walking away, slowly pulling out her Wraith mask.]
Police Radio [fading]: Units in pursuit, but have lost visual…
[Panel 3: Having changed into costume, the Wraith leaps off of the rooftop, her clothes flying off into the wind.]
Yuri [capt]: Hate having to ditch my clothes.
Carlie’s gonna kill me for losing another pair of Calvin Kleins--
[Panel 1: The Parker Family apartment. Peter has all of the materiel from the Wraith case file strewn across the coffee table in the living room. MJ has come into the room, carrying Annie as she moves towards Peter.]
[Capt: 33rd West End Avenue. The Apartment of Peter, Mary Jane and Annie Parker]
Yuri [cont’d cap]: --But something tells me it’ll all be worth it in the end.
MJ: Hey, Tiger.
Care to explain why you’ve decided to give our coffee table a paper wrapping?
Peter: Ha, ha.
Sorry, MJ. I’m looking into the case that Carlie’s division hit a dead end on.
The Wraith. Or at least that’s what she’s calling herself.
[Panel 2: Annie leans forward as MJ sits down next to Peter on the couch.]
Annie: She a bad lady?
Peter: Not sure, Munchkin.
She’s been taking down supervillains, granted, but still…
[Panel 3: MJ scoots closer to Peter, leaning in to examine the pictures he has on the table.]
MJ: Who do we have here?
Hypno-Hustler, Grizzly, Tumbler…. Is that FACADE?
Peter: That was the armor. Still can’t figure out who he is since Wraith beat him so bad. I had them move it to Horizon so that I could analyze the specs and catalogue it.
MJ: But… there’s criminals all over the city.
Why is she going after your usual supers?
[Panel 4: Peter strokes his chin, as MJ looks on at his mind racing.]
Peter: Wait… you’re right.
And only my rogues.
None of Matt’s. Or Luke’s. There’s tons of street-level supers that she could take out.
But she’s only going after mine.
MJ: Maybe she’s trying to send a message. Get your attention or something.
[Panel 1: Peter bolts up, MJ leaping backwards in surprise.]
Peter: Oh my God, you’re right!
Why only go after my rogues and take them out of the picture?!
This has to be it!
[Panel 2: Having calmed down, Peter puts his hand on his chin again, as MJ rises, putting a hand on Peter’s shoulder.]
Peter: Is it?
Can’t be sure.
‘Course, if I really want to be sure, I’d run a couple hundred tests, prove my findings and send it in to Sajani for rigorous peer review.
And I’d have probably killed myself by that point.
MJ: Well, Mr. Scientific Method, I’m gonna put Annie to bed. I think we bored her to sleep.
[Panel 3: Peter takes Annie from MJ, as she starts to stir.]
Peter: Here. I’ll tuck her in. You’ve been doing it a lot recently.
Time I stepped in and did my job as a dad.
MJ: ‘Kay. I’m hitting the sack then.
Peter: I’ll be there in a bit.
[Panel 4: Peter has carried Annie into her room, placing her in her new bed; a twin-size.]
Peter: Alright, kiddo. You want me to read you a story before you go to sleep?
Annie: No, Daddy.
Peter: Alright. Sweet dreams, sweetie.
Annie: Night-night, daddy.
[Panel 5: Peter has closed the door to his and MJ’s room, MJ already under the covers.]
Peter: Alright, kid’s in bed, and I swear I just heard snoring coming from her room.
MJ: So, we good?
[Panel 1: Large panel. Peter has clambered on top of MJ, who has her back hitched up to line up with him. Peter has managed to remove his shirt, tossing it off to the side.]
Peter: Oh, yeah.
[Panel 2: In the same poses, though silhouetted. MJ, having managed to turn out the light, cloaking them in moonlight and blue outlines.]
[Panel 3: A thinner panel of pitch black.]
[Panel 1: A pile of Peter and MJ’s clothes, strewn across the floor of their bedroom, as a phone rings in the background.]
[Panel 2: A shot of Peter’s head, wedged into his pillow as the ringing phone is revealed to be Peter’s, vibrating against his nightstand as Peter moves to look at it.]
[Panel 3: Peter looks at the phone, as MJ stirs in the background behind him.]
Peter: Nnngh… It’s 6:30… Who the hell is calling this early?
[Panel 4: A close-up of Peter’s smartphone screen, which has Carlie’s contact ID and a call/ignore button on the bottom.]
[Panel 5: Peter puts the phone up to his ear as MJ slings her arm over him, rubbing up against him.]
Peter: Carlie, what is it? It’s 6:30.
Carlie: The Wraith case?
I think it just got worse.
[Panel 1: Large panel. Peter lands on the concrete of the crime scene, yellow barrier tape flapping as he lands. Carlie is standing there, waiting for him, along with three other officers.]
Officer 1: Whoa!
I got your call. Show me what happened.
[Panel 2: Carlie lifts up the sheet covering the crime scene, and Spider-Man’s eyes widen in terror.]
Spider-Man: Oh, God…
Carlie: Yeah. Bad enough that we had to barricade it off and cover it up.
[Panel 3: A squad of officers look over the scene, with Spider-Man and Carlie joining them at the bottom of a large business complex. Shocker is crumpled on the ground, his gauntlets smoking and his forearm bones shattered. Steeplejack isn’t much better off: his hat discarded to the side, dents covering it, his face is swollen and bruised, multiple gunshots piercing his abdomen. A large and abnormal amount of staple bullets (Similar to what Silver Sable used in Spectacular Spider-Man) have pierced his suit, binding him to the wall. Blood is everywhere, but the majority of it has been used to spell out five simple words: Spider-Man, I’m Coming For YOU. (Five words? Hyphen makes it one word or is six? Spiderman. Spider-Man. Five words.)]
Spider-Man: Holy hell.
She did this?
Carlie: I… I think so.
[Panel 4: Close shot of Carlie and Peter, with Carlie a little more than queasy at the sight.]
Carlie: I knew she was dangerous… but this?
This is an entire new level.
Spider-Man: I… yeah.
She needs to be stopped.
But… first, I’d like to find out the motive.
Carlie: Yeah, he’s still alive.
I’d take it easy with him, though. He’s… not in the best of shape.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man crouches, standing next to Shocker, who grunts in pain.]
Spider-Man: Hey, Herman.
How’re you doin’?
How d’you think, Webs?
Both of my arms… Wraith overloaded my gauntlets. My arms… broken. Shattered beyond repair.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man puts a hand on Shocker’s shoulder, causing Shocker to wince in pain.]
Spider-Man: I know. And… I think I may be able to help with that.
But… you’ve gotta tell me what Wraith wanted.
[Panel 3: Shocker looks down at the ground. We don’t see much expression, given his mask, but we can tell he’s as puzzled by the whole thing as Spider-Man is.]
Shocker: I’m… I’m not sure.
Said something about you being too dangerous to let you live….
I think she also mentioned something about the Symbiotes…
I dunno, I was a little busy have my arms blown up. The screaming and sonics kind of drown out the outside stuff.
[Panel 4: A close shot of Shocker, who is wincing in pain.]
Spider-Man: Is that it?
Shocker: Nah… she mentioned somebody else. And there was a face.
Your friend from a while back… what was her name?
[Panel 5: Spider-Man’s face. Close enough that the reader can see the creases in his mask from his brows tightening over his eyes.]
Shocker: You alright, Spidey?
Spider-Man: ... No.
[Panel 6: Spider-Man pats Shocker on the shoulder, standing up as Carlie approaches.]
Spider-Man: Thanks, Herman. I’ll talk to some friends. See what they can do about your arms.
Take care of yourself in the hospital, ‘kay?
Carlie: Spidey, I’m heading back to the precinct with most of my guys. Medics are gonna wrap up here and take Shocker and Steeplejack to the hospital.
In the meantime, I’m going to take the lead on that serial killer we talked about.
[Panel 1: Carlie gets in her squad car, shutting the door as Spider-Man leans on the frame.]
Carlie: We have a name. Marcus Lyman.
We’ll devote as many spares as we can to that case, but we’re spread pretty thin.
Spider-Man: Don’t worry about the Wraith. Pull everybody off of that case.
I’ll deal with her.
She’s taking out my rogues; that makes her my responsibility.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man looks back, the crime scene being relatively unchanged as Shocker and Steeplejack are removed from their original position by paramedics.]
Spider-Man: And given how she’s stepped up her game from the last attack on Grizzly--
--something tells me that I won’t have to find her.
She’ll come to me head-on. And I’ll be ready for her.
[Panel 3: As the NYPD crew speeds off around the corner, Spider-Man remains in the dust, the yellow tape coming loose.]
Spider-Man [capt]: At least, I hope so.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man swinging across the New York cityscape. The tone is nightly, lights bringing up shades of all different colors to clash against the black and violet night sky’s dulcet tones.]
Spider-Man [capt]: This has gone on for too long. She needs to be stopped, no matter what.
I may not like my rogues, but brutalizing them?
It’s only going to make things worse.
[Panel 2: A shot from the side of Spider-Man swinging. In the edge of the panel, we see a purple boot with yellow highlights step onto the edge of the roof.]
Spider-Man [capt]: They hold back all the time.
Most of my bad guys don’t do it to kill. It’s usually money, with a few deaths as an unintentional consequence.
But if somebody goes all the way? They learn somebody’s willing to put people in graves to stop them?
They’d start going all-out. Nothing to lose.
[Panel 3: Tight, small panel. Spider-Man is blindsided by a fist. His face contorts with the punch.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man is gripped, quite strongly to boot, by his assailant, the Wraith.]
Spider-Man: What the?!--
I’m here to kill you!
Spider-Man: Why introduce ourselves when we can just try to kill each other?
Oh wait, that’d make too much sense!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man uses his elbow to, by extension, move the Wraith’s elbow, and jam it into her face.]
Spider-Man: Here, let’s start over.
Hi, I’m Spider-Man.
You must be the Wraith. I’d like to introduce you to your own elbow. It’s very excited to meet you.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man fires off a webline, slinging the two inside a building still under construction.]
Spider-Man: What I’m really curious about, though, is the fact that you managed to not set off my Spider-Sense.
Really gets the noggin workin’, eh?
Wraith: Built in Spider-Sense jammer. Courtesy of Stark Industries.
That’s not the only trick this suit has, Spidey.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man skids across the floor, sticking the landing near a pile of girders.]
Spider-Man: Look, Wraith.
I get it. You want me dead. I have no idea why, but I know that you want it.
But this stops now. Because if you don’t, I’ll stop it for you, before things get too far out of hand.
[Panel 4: Action panel. Wraith dodges a web-ball, charging as she draws back her fist.]
Wraith: Over my dead body!
You wanna stop me? Tough!--
[Panel 1: Wraith’s fist slams into Spider-Man, visibly knocking the wind out of him.]
Wraith: --Because I’m just getting started!
Spider-Man [capt]: Holy!--
That punch was way more powerful than it should’ve been!
She must have hydraulics in there. Only way to justify that much impact.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man maneuvers in-between Wraith punches, pushing one arm away while ducking underneath another.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Without my Spider-Sense, I’m running into this fight blind.
And with those hydraulics, I need to watch my step.
Spider-Man: Boy, your aim is really off today.
Mind if I tinker with your hydraulics? Try to turn them off?
Or how about that Spider-Sense jammer you’ve got there?
[Panel 3: Pulling back her fists, Wraith uppercuts Spider-Man with her leg.]
[Panel 1: The third precinct. Carlie finishes typing into her computer, handing freshly printed papers to an officer.]
Carlie: Alright. Here’s the next report. Send this down to the front desk, then head home for the night.
Officer: You got it, cap.
Carlie: Thanks. Sorry for keeping you at the office so late.
Tell the wife and kids I said hi.
[Panel 2: The door has closed, and Carlie sighs, typing into her phone.]
Carlie [text]: Hey, headed back home. See you there?
[Panel 3: A moment has passed. There is no response. Carlie’s response to this is a frown.]
Phone AI: Voice command ready.
Carlie: Call Yuri Watanabe.
[Panel 4: Carlie puts the phone to her ear, only for the phone to go straight to voicemail.]
Voicemail: Hi, this is Yuri Watanabe, I’m not able to get to the phone right now. Please leave a message aft-
[Panel 1: Carlie’s attention is drawn by a muffled gunshot noise.]
[Panel 2: Carlie hangs up her phone, drawing her own firearm as she nears the door.]
Carlie: Hoya? That you?
[Panel 3: Carlie has wandered out into the hallway, mouth gaping as she sees the same officer from earlier, Hoya, lying in the middle of the hallway. A bullet hole is in his chest, and blood is drenching the floor, the papers he was supposed to deliver ruined by said blood.]
Carlie: Oh, God.
[Panel 4: A gun presses up against the small of Carlie’s back, as she flinches in response to the long metal barrel pushed up against her.]
???: Scream, and you get a cap in your back.
Scream at that, and you get another one in the back of your head.
[Panel 5: Masked by shadows, the only thing we see behind a panicked Carlie is a wicked, pure toothy grin.]
Carlie: And you must be Marcus Lyman.
Pleasure to meet you.
Lyman: And you too, Captain Cooper.
Now, what say you about a little walk?
[Panel 1: Wraith pulls out a glock, standard issue for the NYPD, and fires off into the air.]
[Panel 2: The bullet hits a wire holding a large bundle of girders, the bindings coming loose.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man looks up, lenses widening as he sees the danger above him.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man side-rolls out of the way, as the pile of girders smashes into the floor. Off to the side, a pair of yellow tendrils made of wrappings come out of the shadows ]
Spider-Man [capt]: That was close.
Wait, what are--
[Panel 5: Spider-Man’s throat and hands are gripped tightly by the Wraith’s wrapping tentacles, choking as she holds him midair, his kicks not enough to upset her balance.]
Wraith: You’re the cause of almost all of this city’s problems, Spider-Man!
So let's fix that. Permanently.
[Panel 6: A cloud of dust and debris erupts as the Wraith’s tentacles slam Spider-Man into the concrete floor. Silent panel save for the sound effect of the impact.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man groggily crawls out of the small crater, the Wraith’s feet seen behind him walking towards him.]
Spider-Man: Noooo…….. Aunt May, I don’t want wheatcakes right now….
[Panel 2: Wraith’s purple fist grabs Spider-Man by the back of his head, pressing the barrel of the gun to his head with the other hand.]
[Panel 3: From the floor, we see the Wraith gripping Spider-Man’s mask to pull it off, still pressing the gun into his cheek.]
Spider-Man: Please… don’t…
Wraith: Mask off, Spider-Man!
I wanna see your face before I save New York!
[To be continued]
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #18
“Night of the Wraith, Pt 2: Leave Behind the Worst of Us”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Sara Pichelli and Marte Gracia
[Panel 1: Continuing directly after the final panel of the previous issue. Wraith is still tugging at the edge of Spider-Man’s mask, but the mask won’t budge. This frustrates the Wraith, who fires a bullet into the ground.]
Why won’t your damn mask come off?!
It’s a piece of spandex!
[Panel 2: Close side shot of Spider-Man’s mask, lenses narrowed in a more tired state than angered.]
Spider-Man: Do you really think that after the dozens of times I’ve been unmasked, I’d overlook that when I made a new suit?
I thought of a solution. Fingerprint locks.
[Panel 3: A cross-section of beneath the mask at Spider-Man’s neck. The mask is sealed against the main costume, secured by a large line of locking mechanisms with a fingerprint scanner lined along the entire belt.]
Spider-Man [OP]: The whole neck area is lined with a fingerprint scanner.
If your fingerprints don’t match the ones registered in that neck lining?
Sorry, no secret identity.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man’s fist, which is gripping itself with growing intensity.]
Spider-Man [OP]: And the suit itself? It can withstand me tearing it apart.
Thanks, by the way.
Wraith [OP]: What?
Spider-Man [OP]: For letting me get my strength back.
[Panel 1: Large panel. Grabbing Wraith by the gun hand, Spider-Man has leaped up and recovered, tossing Wraith off of him and letting go of the pistol.]
Spider-Man: Glad to know Stark built his tech lightweight.
Makes throwing my rogues easier.
[Panel 2: Wraith slams into a metal pillar, a loud crack of metal-on-metal being made on impact.]
Spider-Man [OP]: Oops. Guess I broke the power supply of your hydraulics.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man crushes the glock in his hands, mocking surprise at his super-strength.]
Spider-Man: Oh, gosh! I just broke your gun, too!
I’m so, so sorry!
Except not really.
[Panel 4: Wraith holds her finger to her head, which Spider-Man casually dismisses.]
Wraith: Still-erk- still got the Spider-Sense jammer lodged in my mask.
Spider-Man: Right. Because I’m really worried about you hurting me with that.
Just give it up--
[Panel 1: Spider-Man has yanked off the Wraith’s mask, to reveal (to himself, not the audience since we already know) Yuri, who is panicking at how quickly the tables have turned.]
Spider-Man [OP]: --Captain Watanabe?!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man webs up Captain Watanabe by the wrists, holding her by the back.]
Spider-Man: Y’know what, I don’t care.
Let’s just get you to the nearest precinct.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man tightens the webs to get Yuri’s attention, lenses narrowing.]
Spider-Man: Which, as it happens, is Carlie’s precinct.
Boy, things are really not coming up your way, are they?
Yuri: Urgh… shut... up.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man directs Yuri towards the stairs, putting her mask on her head as she moves towards the edge of the panel.]
Spider-Man: Here. I’m not going to humiliate you by parading you in public.
Not my game.
[Panel 1: Spidey begins to question the Wraith, as they walk down the streets, civilians looking at the two over their shoulders.]
Spider-Man: So, gotta ask, for personal reasons.
You went after me.
You went through a large swath of my D-list rogues, but I was your endgame.
And not only that, but you steal the face of Jean DeWolff- a good cop- to run around the city on some crazed crusade.
[Panel 2: Close up of Wraith’s face, whose lenses are scrunched in anger.]
Wraith: Because you’re responsible for every one of those super-freaks.
[Panel 3: Wraith, on a black background, with all of Spidey’s living rogues in white lines.]
Wraith: You coddle your supervillains. Make lame jokes. Visit them in prison, even.
Tell them they have a chance to do better.
That’s not how justice works. They hurt innocents, and the punishment needs to be just as severe, maybe even more.
Because letting people off with a prison sentence won’t tell them that they’re doing the wrong thing. The only way to deter them is to lay down the lay the only way your kind knows. Brute force. They don’t stop unless you make them stop.
And I figured that you’d do everything in your power to get them back on their feet, but that would just lead them down the same path. Keep encouraging them to go back to the good ‘ol days. And I figured, “Hey, maybe if I stop the cancer…
Maybe I can get this city off chemo.”
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has stopped Wraith, standing in front of her as they stand on the deserted sidewalk.]
Spider-Man: And what happens when they recover?
Spider-Man: Those people you put in hospital.
Grizzly, Hypno-Hustler, 8-Ball…
They’ll get out of their hospital beds eventually.
Then go to prison for a bit, no matter how much you tried to stop them from getting there.
And then? They go after you.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man has leaned in closer, lenses narrowed and thumping his index finger against her chest.]
Spider-Man: Except you’ve changed the rules.
In their favor.
They don’t have to hold anything back now. It’s just you against a wave of bullets. You stepped up your game, what’s to stop them from stepping up theirs? And what happens when your tactics were the best you had?
Wraith: I… No.
Not how it works.
Spider-Man: That’s what you think.
Because you don’t understand the average supervillain the way I do.
Your method… it’s simply get rid of them. Without any attempt to convince them to give it up aside from brute force.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man begins walking, pushing Wraith to keep up with him.]
Spider-Man: And take it from somebody who was pushed around a lot as a kid.
The more you try to force people to stop? The less likely they are to actually change.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man parks in front of the precinct, Wraith slowly coming to a halt.]
Spider-Man: Well, looks like our little therapy session is over, Captain.
Hope you enjoy those windows they put in the cells, because they may be your favorite sight for a while.
Hey, maybe I can send Black Cat over to sing Memories from Cats. Big hit with the last tour.*
*-See Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do- Neil
[Panel 3: Spider-Man pushes open the door, looking away from the sight behind them. Wraith, however, has noticed, her lenses widened in horror.]
Spider-Man: In you go.
In all seriousness? I want you to think about your--
Wraith: Oh, my God.
Spider-Man: What? No, I--
[Panel 4: Similar panel to the previous one, only Spider-Man’s head has turned to match Wraith’s line of view.]
[Splash page. The background light from the streetlamp outside is providing a shadowy perspective of Spider-Man and Wraith. Lying in the floor is a pile of corpses as blood flows like a fountain, leaking and pooling on the floor in front of the two.]
Spider-Man: --somebody tell me this isn’t happening.
[Panel 1: Wraith is struggling against her restraints, frantic to escape and search every inch of the building. Spider-Man is knelt on one knee, examining the pile of bodies.]
Spider-Man: Oh, man… I knew this guy.
We played poker once.
Wraith: Gagh! Lemme outta here!
I gotta find-
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has gripped Wraith by the wrist, calming her down as he talks to her.]
You’re going to hyperventilate.
I’ll find Carlie. Make sure she’s safe.
In the meantime, I want you to calm down.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man has turned his Spider-Signal on, cautiously tip-toeing his way down the hall.]
Spider-Man [capt]: The blood dripping down the walls doesn’t exactly get my hopes up.
But I’m not letting anybody else die if I can help it.
The Symbiotes already took too much away from us.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man steps over Hoya’s corpse, blood stains marring the boots of his costume as he continues his trek.]
Please be okay, Carlie.
Please be okay.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man has kicked down the door to Carlie’s office, light gleaming through the debris from Peter’s waist.]
Spider-Man: She’s not here.
No bullets in the wall. No blood stains.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man pokes around on Carlie’s desk, until his hand finds what he’s looking for.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Hang on a sec.
What do we have here?
[Panel 2: Spider-Man’s hand has a business card gripped in it, reading in fine cursive “Courtesy of your Friendly Neighborhood Lyman”.]
Spider-Man [OP]: Figures that somebody would start stealing my card gimmick.
Guess I gotta drop that out of poor taste, too.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man walks back into the main lobby, Wraith having given up escaping from the webbing and now seated in one of the chairs.]
Wraith: Did you?...
Spider-Man: She’s not dead here, at least.
Her unit was looking into a Marcus Lyman last time she and I talked.
He probably has her held somewhere. As leverage.
Wraith: Can you take off the mask? I… I need some air.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man yanks off Yuri’s mask, as she begins to slow her breathing and regain control.]
We were running that case together. Marcus Lyman.
Crazy bastard. Shot up a law firm and didn’t flinch once.
Spider-Man: I know what you’re thinking.
And no, I won’t let him kill Carlie.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man pulls out his smartphone, a spider-symbol appearing on a map app.]
Spider-Man: After the Symbiote Invasion, I wanted to make sure that my close friends and family were safe.
So, I offered Carlie, among others, a Spider-Tracer. In a less morally ambiguous manner, I sort of micro-chipped her.
I began linking them to my smartphone on a secure radio-wave rather than relying on my Spider-Sense to drag me in multiple directions.
So, if I zero in on her--
[Panel 2: A close-up of Spider-Man’s lens, where the address is reflected in the one-way chrome glean.]
Spider-Man: Yep. Got it.
I’m going there to get her.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man attempts to put the mask on Yuri, who resists furiously.]
Spider-Man: You’re staying here.
Wraith: Nuh-uh. I’m coming with.
Spider-Man: Says the maniac who beat Shocker and Steeplejack near death.
[Panel 4: Yuri wrestles with her bonds, lunging her top half at Spider-Man.]
Yuri: Think of it this way.
Lyman will be expecting you. Have some kind of way to overload your Spider-Sense.
But he won’t be expecting me.
I’m a wild card. The one variable he has no idea is even there.
Face it, webhead. You need me on this one.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man looks off to the side, sighing heavily.]
[Panel 6: Spider-Man rips the webbing off of Yuri’s wrists, giving her more freedom of movement.]
Spider-Man: Fine. I’m willing to look the other way this time.
But once this guy is dealt with, the web zip ties go back on. Clear?
Yuri: I don’t care what happens to me. I just want Carlie to be safe.
Spider-Man: You’d go to the ends of the Earth for her, wouldn’t you?
Yuri: ...Yeah. And then some.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man holds up a small, velvet box in between his thumb, index and middle fingers, the Wraith noticing the object in his hands.]
Spider-Man: Well, that explains this.
--did you frisk my pockets when I wasn’t looking?!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man looks over to her, pocketing the box in his suit.]
Spider-Man: Honestly? I trust you about as far as I can throw you.
Which, admittedly, would be pretty far, but the point remains.
I’ll let you tag along, if only to keep an eye on you.
[Panel 3: Yuri dons her mask again, frowning as she tugs the spandex on.]
Yuri: But I’m still gonna have to complain about the fact that you microchipped my girlfriend.
Spider-Man: Hey, not like I just dumped nanoprobes in her body without her permission.
Like you preached on earlier, we do have ethics.
Those tendrils still work?
[Panel 4: As Spider-Man and Wraith exit the precinct, Spider-Man puts his hand up to his bluetooth, as Wraith looks on in confusion, one lens raised in confusion.]
Wraith: Uh, yeah.
Spider-Man: If we’re gonna free Carlie, we need a plan.
Phone, dial Silk.
[Panel 5: Close up of Spider-Man’s face, as he looks back towards Yuri.]
Spider-Man: Yeah, gear up, kid.
We’re giving a crash course in web-swinging.
[Panel 1: A dark, musky workroom. A large, burly man, Lyman sits in his office chair, polishing the barrel of one of many guns hoarded in his room. Also present are a large and varied assortment of knives, with fluids still coating the blades.]
Lyman: Did you know, Captain Cooper, that Turtle Wax is my preferred choice for cleaning my weapons?
All of my former friends-- traitorous lot, mind you-- said it was combustible. I proved them right.
On that note, I’m fairly certain Spider-Man will come for you.
[Panel 2: Carlie, unconscious in the corner of the room, is blissfully unaware of Lyman’s monologue.]
Lyman: Thankfully, I’m more than prepared enough to take him on.
Even that sidekick he has.
Oh. You’re still asleep. I apologize for interrupting your beauty rest.
[Panel 3: Lyman’s attention is caught by a figure off-panel, in the direction of the window.]
Lyman: Allow me to allow a more permanent sol-
??? [OP]: You kidding? Just give her the usual 8-10 hours!
Works wonders for me.
[Panel 4: A stream of bullets pierce the window and brick wall, as Silk leaps off of the windowsill.]
Silk: I mean, I’m only twenty, and Captain Cooper’s, what, forty?
Wraith [Comms]: Thirty-six!
Silk: Still, sizable age difference.
Alright, Chief, you’re good to go.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man bum-rushes the room, creating a crater in the wall before rolling to the ground.]
Spider-Man: Thanks, kid.
Attention, Axe-Crazy man with a ton of guns! Your name is stupid and you’re holding my friend hostage!
Why don’t you come quietly and we’ll discuss this over a nice glass of prison?
[Panel 2: Another rifle of generic make has come into Lyman’s grip, firing into the space where Spider-Man was seconds before.]
You plan on showing up anytime soon?
Silk and I can dodge bullets all the livelong day, but, you know, it gets pretty monotonous after awhile.
[Panel 3: Wraith is charging up the stairwell, panting as she clears the fourth floor.]
Wraith: Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.
Doesn’t help that he parked himself in tight on the fifth floor.
I’ll be up there as fast as I can.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has webbed up the gun, though the bullets easily break through the webbing and grazes Silk’s costume on her right arm.]
Spider-Man: You good, kid?
Silk: Yeah, just a graze. I’m still ready to go.
Now, if I’m timing this right…
[Panel 1: The door to Lyman’s home bursts down, a flurry of wood splinters and metal flying as a purple boot smashes through.]
[Panel 2: The Spider Duo take advantage of Lyman’s distracted state, tackling him with enough force to loosen his grip on the gun.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man has Lyman pinned down on the ground, hands behind his back, while Silk fires her webbing on a spread setting to secure him.]
Spider-Man: Alright, ya walking massacre.
Just sit tight and I’ll have the lovely assistant take you away to the nearest precinct that isn’t filled with bodies.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man points in the opposite direction of Silk, addressing her as she stops spraying webs on Lyman.]
Spider-Man: I’ll take care of the Wraith.
Think you can take care of Lyman here?
Silk: You got it.
I’ll take him over to the third precinct. Watanabe’s guys have been looking for Lyman since the Symbiotes came from the dark below.
[Panel 5: Silk begins trying to lift Lyman, initially struggling but slowly gaining momentum as Spider-Man exits the room..]
Silk: Alright, up you go!
Ooookay, you’re a bit of a heavy--
There we go!
[Panel 1: Spider-Man has entered the room where Carlie was held, but holds his tongue at the scene off-panel.]
Spider-Man: Hey, we got the bad guy and-- oh. Sorry.
[Panel 2: Yuri has taken off the Wraith mask, holding a still-unconscious Carlie in her arms. Spider-Man’s leg can be seen, though not much.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man sits down next to Wraith, crossing his legs as he lowers himself down.]
Yuri: Sorry. She’s sleeping. She hates to be moved when she sleeps.
Spider-Man: I… I get it. I think.
[Panel 4: Close up of Spider-Man’s face, as well as Yuri’s on Panel 5.]
Spider-Man: You really love her, don’t you?
That’s what this is all about. You want to keep her safe.
Yuri: I do. More than anything or anyone.
Spider-Man: She says the same thing about you.
Spider-Man: That she does her whole cop gig to keep you safe. She loves you more than you’ll ever know.
[Panel 6: Spider-Man’s face, with a gray, ghostly image of Peter and MJ snuggled together on their couch with Annie.]
Spider-Man: If the last three years have taught me anything…
It’s that I’m Spider-Man to keep my family safe. They’re my greatest responsibility.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man’s hand slaps the velvet box from earlier into Yuri’s palm.]
Spider-Man: I want you to have this back.
I said that Carlie loves you more than you’ll ever know.
Act on it. Trust me, you’ll regret the rest of your life if you don’t.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has stood up, Yuri looking up at him as he leaves.]
Spider-Man: Marry her. Give her the life and happiness she deserves.
Yuri: Thank you. I… I mean it.
You went to all of this for me… after I tried to kill you?
I don’t know what to say.
[Panel 3: Forward shot of Spider-Man’s front as he walks away from Yuri and towards the reader.]
Spider-Man: I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing it for Carlie.
You make her happy. And her happiness is important to me. So I’m going to take a gamble.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man has ripped open the window, wind blowing in as Yuri braces herself.]
Spider-Man: Here’s how this works out.
Tonight, the Wraith died. Never unmasked, simply… vanished, forever.
The mystery that was never solved.
[Panel 5: Tight panel, of Spider-Man’s lenses narrowed in a mix of disappointment and a need to make this happen, all tucked away in the cloak of shadows.]
Spider-Man: And you have to live with everything you’ve done as the Wraith. Never able to tell anybody how you feel about it without getting cuffed.
Nobody gets away scot-free. Especially not people like us. We have to live with the blood on our hands.
[Panel 6: A quick motion blur as Spider-Man swivels around quickly to point a finger at Yuri.]
Spider-Man: And if I ever find out that the Wraith is back in business--
--Even as some kind of knock-off Lethal Protector schlock--
--I will bring you in. Regardless of how much you claim to have changed.
Yuri: I understand. Thank you.
[Panel 7: Spider-Man swings off into the night, the light from the moon illuminating his exit.]
Spider-Man: Have a safe night, Captain Watanabe.
[Panel 8: Yuri looks down at a still-unconscious Carlie.]
[Panel 1: Carlie’s eyes snap open as she notices the first major change to her situation: white sheets, and a purple and yellow fleece throw. She’s been changed out of her police uniform in her sleep into a cozier hoodie.]
[Panel 2: As Carlie has risen, the shot has expanded outwards, to showcase her environment; her and Yuri’s room (See FNSM #4 for continuity in room design and layout.)]
Carlie: What the hell?...
How’d I get back home?
[Panel 3: Opening the door, Carlie sees only darkness in the main living area, the sole light source being from the bedroom.]
Yuri? You there?
[Panel 3: A light from off-panel catches Carlie by surprise, as she covers her eyes to recover.]
Yuri [OP]: Hey, Carlie.
We need to talk.
[Pangel 4: Yuri is seated on their couch, with only a lamp off to the side providing any form of light. Her hands are held together, almost like she's trying to stress-ball her nerves away with her hand.]
[Panel 5: Carlie sits down, rubbing her eyes and yawning as she sits down on the couch.]
Carlie: Yeah, I--
What happened at the precinct?
Yuri: I have my officers cleaning up the place. Maybe ten casualties, no more.
You were kidnapped. Some kind of hostage situation.
[Panel 1: Yuri puts her hand on Carlie’s shoulder, the shadow masking half of her face.]
Yuri: I was so worried. Spider-Man… he saved you.
The Wraith helped.
Carlie: The Wraith? But… why? After all the bad things she did, I wouldn’t have--
Yuri: Maybe we didn’t know everything about her.
It’s possible that underneath all of that… maybe there was a good person who just lost their way.
[Panel 2: Yuri’s face turned away from the light; we can’t see any of her face except the slightly lit edges of her mouth.]
Yuri: When Spider-Man saved you from Lyman?
It made me realize I had lost my way, too. What it meant to be a good person, cop, and girlfriend.
[Panel 3: Yuri’s hand has slipped into her pocket, pulling out the same box from earlier, covered in small dings and finger dents from the earlier scuffles.]
Yuri: I want to fix this.
I mean it.
But… I can’t do it alone.
It’s gonna need both of us to do it.
[Panel 4: Yuri is getting on the floor, Carlie quizzically looking at her.]
Carlie: Uh, what’re you--
[Splash page. Yuri has gotten down on one knee in front of the couch, opening the box to reveal a ring large enough to fit on Carlie’s finger. Not much flair to it, just nice enough to believe you could buy it on the salary of a police captain. Carlie’s reaction to this is pretty standard; absolute shock, just frozen in place and unable to emote beyond a mix of small amounts of all emotions racing through her system.]
Yuri: Carlie Ellen Cooper…
Will you marry me?
[Panels 1-4 are completely silent. Panel 1 is Carlie shuffling uncomfortably, almost rejecting of the proposal, but not outright saying it.]
[Panel 2: Carlie shifts off the couch, still a little uncomfortable, to join Yuri on the floor. Yuri has dropped the box, and also shifted to match.]
[Panel 3:Having finished maneuvering, Carlie stares Yuri eye-to-eye.]
[Panel 4: Carlie, now smiling, cups Yuri’s face in her hands, slightly tearing up.]
[Panel 5: The two have now touched noses, rubbing against each other. Carlie’s eyes are now freshly spilling tears, Yuri’s instead shocked by the response.]
[Panel 1: The two kiss. Nothing fancy.]
[Panel 2: Outside. Next to the window is Spider-Man, having just moved away from looking through the window.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man’s hand is pressed up to his bluetooth, looking at the smartphone in his hand as he listens in through Carlie’s Spider-tracer.]
Carlie [Tracer Comms]: Oh my God, I’m getting married!
[Panel 4: Spider-Man drops down into the alley of the apartment building, the light of the moon casting a shadow over his front as he leaps down.]
[Panel 5: Spider-Man has landed on the cement, near a dumpster with the lid closed, a purple glove with yellow lining hanging out the side. Silent panel save for the slight splash from impacting on a small puddle of water.]
[Panel 1: POV of the dumpster’s interior, as Spider-Man lifts the lid to see the Wraith’s costume tossed in, parts covered by other garbage.]
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has picked up Wraith’s mask, examining it thoroughly as he holds it in both hands.]
Spider-Man: Good choice, Captain Watanabe.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man’s grip on the mask intensifies, snapping the fibers and causing the glass of the lenses to shatter as he pulls in opposite directions.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man looks to his belt, noticing his smartphone ringing.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man picks up his cell-phone, acting calm and collected as he views the contact information while pressing his bluetooth.]
Spider-Man: Ah-- Hey, Carlie.
No, I’m not busy. What’s up?
[Panel 2: Peter feigns surprise, acting as though he wasn’t just hearing what Carlie is describing.]
Peter: Congrats! What? No, I- I’m really happy!
Come over soon! We’ll celebrate!
Yeah, I’ll tell MJ.
Okay, have a nice night. And congrats; I mean it.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man has launched himself into the air, swinging away with a flurry of web-lines.]
Spider-Man: Trust me. After all the crap we’ve been through recently?
[Panel 4: Perspective against the sidewalk. In the far background, we can see Spider-Man swinging away. In the foreground, however, we see the Wraith’s mask, torn apart with shattered chrome glass sprinkled across it.]
Spider-Man: I think we deserve a bit of happiness.
Chapter 20: Family is But An Illusion, Pt 1: Down the Rabbit Hole
Chapter by QuilSniv
Peter, Cindy, and Black Cat got caught up in the puppet strings when Mysterio chooses now of all times to make a comeback. It's not a fun time.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #19
“Family is But an Illusion, Pt 1: Down the Rabbit Hole”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Alex Milne and Joana Lafuente
[Panel 1: The Parker family apartment. Peter is in the background, with the stove on and flipping wheat cakes. MJ is playing with Annie at the table, grinning as their child giggles excitedly. Notably, the odd variable in the mix is Cindy, dressed in her Silk costume, standing upside down, using three of her fingers to balance herself.]
Peter: Alright, Parker family! (And Cindy.)
Time for some wheat cakes!
Annie: Yay, breakfast!
Peter: Okay, then. MJ, how many you want?
MJ: Feed Cindy first, Pete. I think you left her balancing herself there for about ten minutes.
[Panel 2: A closer shot of Cindy, who is, upon closer inspection, struggling to maintain her balance and sweating lightly.]
Cindy: Yeah, I think I lost all feeling in my fingers.
Some food would be nice.
[Panel 3: Peter flips the wheat cake, steam pouring off of it as it goes into the air behind him.]
Go long, Cin!
[Panel 4: Cindy flips into the air, catching the wheat cake on her fingers.]
Thanks, Mr. Parker!
[Panel 1: Peter pours more batter on the griddle, as Cindy sits down at the table, taking a large bite out of the wheat cake in her hand.]
Peter: You like it?
Cindy: Holy hell, this tastes amazing!
Is that the recipe I saw on your fridge?
Peter: Sort of. Made a few mods to it so that it was my own thing.
[Panel 2: A shot of the mixing bowl next to the stove.]
Peter [OP]: The original recipe was my aunt’s. Decided to update it and retire it to honor her.
[Panel 3: Closer panel from the POV of the wall, as Peter pours more batter on the griddle.]
Peter: Like I always say, if you want to honor what’s already great, just change it up a little to maintain familiarity but introduce something new.
Have I said that?
Peter: Yeah. Figures.
[Panel 4: Peter hands MJ a plate, forcing a protein bar into his mouth as he strips, revealing his Spider-Man costume. Below him, at the table, Cindy points towards Peter, while MJ replies to her.]
Peter: Eat up, Cin. Soon as you’re done, we’re going crime-hunting.
Here you go, MJ.
MJ: Aren’t you going to eat?
Peter: Got a big time clock to punch.
I’ll just eat this on the go.
Cindy: Is he always like this?
MJ: Only when he plans to coop himself up in the lab.
[Panel 5: Peter kisses the crown of MJ’s head, picking up Annie as wiggles his mask on with his shoulders.]
Peter: Hey, I promise I’ll stick my head out the window for fresh air.
And I’ll eat.
Okay, that last one isn’t a promise, but I’ll do my best to make it happen.
MJ: Love you too, honey.
[Panel 6: Peter kisses Annie’s head, as his daughter snuggles into his chest.]
Peter: Love you too, Munchkin.
Annie: Love you, daddy.
[Page 3 and 4]
[Double Page spread. Panel 1 is Peter handing Annie back to MJ, as he sticks his leg out the window.]
Peter: Don’t worry. I’ll be back in time for dinner. Promise.
Peter: 8:00. I swear.
[Panel 2: Peter, pulling on his mask as he chews the rest of the energy bar, has dove out of his window, shooting a web-line off-panel in the direction of the reader. Cindy is relatively close behind, vaulting over the window sill to flip into the air.]
Peter: And away we go!
Cindy: So, what’s on the agenda today, boss?
[Panel 2: Spider-Man and Silk have moved into an alleyway, in the middle of a gang war between Hammerhead and the Owl. From the wall, Spider-Man has grabbed Owl with a web-line, yanking him down towards his own minions. Silk, meanwhile, has resorted to dodging the head and fists of Hammerhead, flipping over his head.]
Spider-Man: First, a little de-escalation of organized crime.
Lord knows we have enough gangs running around in No-Man’s Land.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man and Silk have leaped on top of an armored van, evading blasts of fire from Blaze. In the background, police cars are in pursuit, klaxons blaring.]
Spider-Man: Next up: find some supervillains and foil their plans.
Y’know, the whole reason we exist.
[Panel 4: In their civilian clothes, Peter and Cindy walk into the main atrium of Horizon Tower]
Peter: And, for the first time in a very long time--
And, for the first time, in the all-new Horizon Tower!
Cindy: Wait, isn’t this Stark Tower? Why are we here and not at the seaport?
[Panel 5: Peter holds up a hologram of the new Mighty Avengers headquarters: an airfield in upstate New Jersey.]
Peter: Well, it’s not gonna be permanent.
Without Stark or government supervision, Carol’s new Avengers team doesn’t have a way to pay for their operations.
So, given that they have some ownership over the Tower, they sold it to Horizon for some seed money to soften the financial worry.
Max is just transferring all senior staff and think tanks here to make sure we have everything in place, and then my think tank has full control over the building on the Seaport.
Doesn’t exactly make me happy, but I’m willing to go along with it.
[Panel 5: Close up of Peter and Cindy, as Peter leans in to whisper to Cindy.]
Peter: Mostly because it’s the end of the fiscal quarter and I need to get my new tech finished.
We might’ve been hit by a Symbiote invasion, but the economy doesn’t stop because a city got the crap beat out of it.
Cindy: That’s a little important.
Peter: I want my kid to go to college one day. Gotta pay for it somehow.
[Panel 1: Max Modell has appeared for the first real appearance in the Friendly Neighborhood Universe. Fairly similar to his 616 character, he maintains a low-exercise physique, and bright ginger-shaded hair that is tied back in a ponytail, peppered with specks of age-marking grey. Peter and Cindy are standing next to him, Peter handing him specs on a tablet (Horizon-made, of course. Brand loyalty.)]
Max: Ah, Peter. Good to see you.
How’s your progress on that latest craft of yours?
Peter: Specs are green, Max. All it needs is your signature and we can move into beta testing.
[Panel 2: Max skims over the designs on the tablet, his eyes widening in amazement.]
Max: Oh… oh, my!
Mr. Parker… these designs would be revolutionary!
If we could get these field tested as safely and quickly as possible…
[Panel 3: Max hands an enthusiastic Peter back his tablet, clapping his shoulder in approval.]
Max: ...We’d be able to usher in a completely new era of connection around the world.
Once again, you more than justify your paycheck, Peter.
[Panel 4: Max turns to Cindy, using the tablet-less hand to gesture to her.]
Max: And you, Miss Moon?
Cindy: Oh, it was Mr. Parker’s designs. I mostly do triple-check work.
You should see Mr. Parker at work. When his mind is on all cylinders, it’s amazing.
Max: I’ve heard great things about you from Peter. He speaks very highly of your scientific prowess.
When you graduate from college, you just might have a place in our think tank.
Cindy: Wow. Wow.
That… means a lot coming from you, Mr. Modell. I… yeah. Wow.
[Panel 5: Peter and Cindy walk into Peter’s lab, Peter removing his bag as he closes the door.]
Cindy: Holy hell, do you know how awesome that is? To actually meet Max Modell?
[Panel 1: Peter places his bag on the table as Cindy hops onto a lab stool.]
Peter: A little excited, slugger?
Cindy: I mean, it’s Max Modell.
Aside from you, he’s, like, the coolest guy on the face of the Earth!
You don’t get much better than the guy who cleaned up Detroit’s air.
[Panel 2: Peter opens up the Black Box (his own personal safe opened only by his touch) to walk in, Cindy making herself comfortable as she plops down on the lab chair.]
Peter: So, I’ve been devising new methods of stopping supervillains. Specifically, putting away the rest of my rogue's gallery.
But first? We need to find them before we can stop them.
Cindy: Got it. Who’s first on the list?
[Panel 3: Peter lugs a holo-tank into the lab, tossing it onto the table.]
Peter: Well, that’s easy. If we want to make things simpler, we rip off the band-aid and look for the one person who makes getting away a parlor trick.
[Panel 4: The holy tank flashes on to show a large, albeit only partially rendered hologram of Mysterio. The resolution, while sharp, has degraded around the legs, and a hologram of the Earth with various location markers across the U.S. and statistics appearing next to him.]
His illusions make him arguably one of the most dangerous people I’ve ever faced. He’s good enough that I still have trouble figuring out what he’s capable of or if what I’m facing is real.
Not only what, but where.
He just… Vanished off the face of the Earth two years ago. I’m not sure where he is, but if he doesn’t want to found?
He won’t be.
Cindy: The guy with the fishbowl hat? Rockin’.
Where do we start?
[Panel 1: A close shot of Peter scratching his head, reluctantly admitting defeat.]
Peter: That’s the problem.
I don’t know.
[Panel 2: Peter clicks on the projector, which zooms in on the marked Earth hologram, to a specific location: a small atoll in the Micronesian Islands.]
Peter: The last place there was a sighting of him was here: Bikini Atoll.
Officially, it was bombed out by nuclear testing, but SHIELD keeps a base there to keep more… Unmentionable things there.
Cindy: Unmentionable? In a bad way, or happy twist?
Peter: A little bit of both. Things that would change the course of the human race if they got into the hands of the general public. Kind of like a modern-day Area 51.
Horizon was one of the companies contracted to oversee some of the technology. I was brought in with Sajani to catalog and identify some old stuff.
[Panel 3: Peter pulls up a badge signifier; a Decepticon badge.]
Peter: One of them was hacked; so much data in there we might never be able to fully decode all of it. Called himself “Killmaster”. He was part of a faction of warring robots that brought their fight to Earth. Managed to keep themselves under deep cover for a really long time.
As Peter Parker, I’d never seen this kind of stuff, but I’ve been up close and personal with them as Spider-Man.* Nasty stuff.
*See Marvel’s The Transformers #3! (That’s #5-6 for our readers on the other side of the pond!) -Narrative-Plannin’ Neil
[Panel 4: A close up of the holo-tank, with a hologram long, stick-like structure with multiple data points running off specific junctions and points of interest.]
Peter: Point is, this specific one that we caught after they left was, as far as we can tell, a specialist in bi-locational weapons tech.
And, given that is was shaped like a wand, Mysterio thought it would make a nice little addition to his card trick.
I wasn’t able to stop him, and he took off with that wand. Bit big, but the guy managed to do it.
[Panel 1: Close up of Cindy as she leans in close, inspecting the hologram.]
Cindy: Well, how am I supposed to help? I’m a 20-year-old who hasn't even earned their physics degree.
Peter [OP]: Because your eyes are a fresh set. I know Mysterio’s tricks, but there’s something that he’s doing to keep me from using those tricks.
Figured if I had you look it over, you’d see something I missed.
[Panel 2: From behind Peter’s head, a shot locked on Cindy as she explains her theory.]
Cindy: Wait… You said you know how to track Mysterio’s energies, right? Down to a science, you said.
Peter: Yeah, so?
Cindy: I did that reading you told me to on your rogues. Mysterio hates repeating the same tricks. And if he wants to avoid repetition…
Peter: He’d throw me off by doing the exact opposite of what he normally does.
[Panel 3: Peter zooms in on the New York area, squinting as he notices a new reading.]
Peter: Whoa. That’s weird.
Cindy [OP]: What is it?
Peter: Some kind of new energy reading. And if I’m right…
[Panel 4: The screen above Peter compares the energy from the recent burst to the energy displayed at Bikini Atoll.]
Peter: ...It’s the Wand energy at play.
We’ve got him. It’s Mysterio.
[Panel 5: Peter stripping off his normal clothes, revealing his Spider-Man costume underneath, attaching a small monitor to his web-shooters.]
Peter: Suit up.
And remember, Mysterio’s a master of illusion. Anything that looks like me dying?
It’s probably a trick. Anything else?
[Panel 1: Spider-Man and Silk land on the street where the energy burst was detected. The street, however, appears to be empty, with not even a trace of Mysterio in sight.]
Peter [cont’d capt]: Well, that just comes down to intuition.
Spider-Man: I don’t get it. It should be here.
I narrowed it down to this location and there’s no Mysterio!
[Panel 2: Spider-Man kicks a rock in frustration, Silk sitting down in confusion.]
Spider-Man: This doesn’t make any sense. There’s nothing here that could tell us what’s going on.
Silk: Well, now we know he’s got a good disappearing act.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man looks down on Silk, lenses thinned in similar frustration to his rock kick.]
Spider-Man: He’s always had a good getaway tucked in his sleeve.
The problem is, it’s never been this clean. This is the only source of the energy that wand burns on, and there’s no sign of him.
[Panel 4: An explosion across the street blows out the windows, and the two stand ready for a fight.]
Spider-Man: Never mind.
I found him.
[Splash page. We get a good, solid view of the new design of Mysterio. While keeping the same design, there are slight modifications. As opposed to the scaly look most artists give him, the design is more streamlined and leather-crafted, giving off more of a sorcerer's appearance. The fishbowl helmet remains the same, but with a smoky substance floating around inside the helmet, two beady, glowing red dots giving the impression of eyes. The cape has also been upgraded, with the environment behind him being transparent through certain parts of the cloak, and the inclusion of a hood over the fishbowl.]
Mysterio: Good to see you, Spider-Man.
Have to admit, it’s been a long time. Too long, I might add.
However, I’m far overdue for a return trip home.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man and Silk web themselves inside the store, barricading the wall with a large web.]
Spider-Man: Yeah. Welcome back, Quentin.
I got a homecoming party right here for you.
Forgot to bake you a cake, though. My bad.
Silk: Nice hood, though. Think I could rock one of those?
Spider-Man: No. Trust me, had a brother do that once. Never looked good when the hood was up.
[Panel 2: Mysterio throws a “spell” on the ground, green smoke protruding from it to scatter across the entire room.]
Mysterio: I’m afraid my homecoming is not here, Spider-Man.
Rather, it is where my home lies that I must return.
I didn’t want to have to fight you.
But if I must do so to protect my home….
[Panel 3: The smoke settles to reveal an army of Mysterios, all assuming a fighting stance.]
Mysterios: So be it.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man slides underneath a Mysterio, webbing it backward to pull off an armored plating. Silk, in the background, has ripped the helmet off, the smoke inside revealing a simple sphere with computer chips tapped in.]
Silk: How do we tell which one’s the real Mysterio?!
Spider-Man: Easy! Just punch them!
If their head falls off, don’t freak out, it’s probably just a bot!
Silk: And if it isn’t?
Peter: Then I’ll have one helluva conversation with MJ about restraint.
[Panel 5: Peter is dogpiled by a group of Mysterios, lenses widening from the impact of about a dozen or so robots tackling him.]
Peter: Okay, he’s gotten a bit better at programming these things!
They’ve- gagh!- at least got group tactics down!
Keep your distance, kid!
Silk: Easy for you to say!
Need a hand?
[Panel 1: Peter rips the head off a bot, using the body as a bat to bash another one. However, he is still being swallowed by a copious number of Mysterios.]
Peter: Nah, I can take care of it myself.
Not that I want to.
[Panel 2: A clawed hand rips into the head of the Mysterio on top of Peter, sparks flying as it’s pulled away.]
Thanks for the save, junior!
Silk [OP]: Um, I’m over here!
Spider-Man: But… who?...
[Panel 3: Black Cat uses Spider-Man as a pivot point, aiming high and kicking a Mysterio through the torso.]
Felicia: Hey, Swinger. Happy to see me?
Damn, Mysterio’s using cheap metal on these ones.
Spider-Man: A little.
Heard you were going straight. Think you can provide some proof?
[Panel 4: The Mysterio bots all vanish in a cloud of lavender smoke, Black Cat landing on her toes and the two Spider-heroes collapsing without any bots underneath them. Gravity sucks at times, doesn’t it?]
Mysterio [OP]: Sorry, folks. Show’s over.
Black Cat: Aw, really, Mysterio? But I wanted to show Webs that I’m a good guy.
Spider-Man: If it makes you feel better, you’ve been jumping over the line and back enough that I’ll buy it.
Mysterio: I have what I need. But what the hell.
[Panel 5: A blast of green energy zaps Felicia, Spider-Man’s lenses widening as her lower half disintegrates.]
Mysterio: I’ve been needing to practice my disappearing act.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man, in the background, panics as Felicia’s Horizon Lenses clatter to the floor, a smoking circle similar to a blasting charge all that’s left.]
[Panel 2: Spider-Man whips around, fingers poised to start firing webs at any minute; Silk, near him in the background, is mimicking him in another direction.]
Spider-Man: What’d you do to her?!
Cin! I’m not getting anything on my Spider-Sense! What about you?
Silk: That’d be a no.
[Panel 3: Silk is also zapped, yelling at being taken by surprise.]
Okay, Quentin! It’s just you and me!
Let’s settle this man to man!
[Panel 4: A large swath of pink smoke fills the room, as multiple Mysterios are conjured around Spider-Man. All of them (About two dozen) are pointing a miniaturized version of Killmaster’s wand at him.]
Mysterio: I concur. But your terms are so… macho.
I prefer a more… practical approach. Especially since I pride myself on not leaving any loose ends behind.
[Panel 5: Mysterio’s wand glows on the tip, priming for a firing.]
Mysterio: This one’s a classic.
[Splash page. A black, voided page, with a slight green-and-purple hint forming the silhouette of Mysterio (but barely visible on the page), a minor blotch of pink for the mist. Most of the dialogue balloons are blurred out, but the final one is able to be read.]
Mysterio: ...Aaaand there we are.
I think you’re gonna like it here.
[Panel 1: A shot of Peter in a bed, slowly opening his eyes to the noise of an alarm clock going off.]
[Panel 2: Peter’s hand clamps down on the alarm. Note that, rather than instantly shattering the device on impact, Peter’s light tap simply silences the clock, putting it in snooze mode.]
Peter: Shhh, clock.
Five more minutes.
[Panel 3: A woman’s hand, with painted nails and a flawless skin job, rest upon Peter’s shoulder.]
???: Hey, honey. Rise and shine.
You gotta get the kid ready for her big game.
Peter: Pfft. She can take care of herself.
In the meantime…
[Panel 1: Peter pulls the woman from behind him and positions her above him. However, it’s not Mary Jane; it’s Felicia. (Dun-dun-dun) Hair unkempt, they’re both completely nude, covered only by the bedsheets and comforter on their bed. Sun cracks in on the small sliver of window in-panel, coating them in the light.]
Peter: --I’ll be making you purr.
Felicia: Nice try, swinger.
Parker Industries needs its CEO at work, and while I would be happy to deny them of that?
I dunno, you losing the company you built to a bunch of money-hungry corporate sharks just doesn’t sit well with me.
But you owe me one.
Felicia: I’m counting on it.
[Panel 2: The two kiss. Don’t worry, you’re supposed to feel discomfort. It isn’t right. And you know it.]
[Panel 1: Felicia is dressed in a bathrobe, heading into the shower as Peter exits, steam rising from the floor as he buttons his pants on. A shirt is slung over his shoulder, and his face is cleanly shaved compared to a light stubble he had when he and Felicia woke up.]
Peter: Shower’s open, Fel.
I’m going to wake the kid up.
[Panel 2: Peter knocks on a door further down the hall, while the door to the master bathroom is seen closing in the background. Judging by Peter’s frustrated expression, this is a rather frequent occurrence within this fake reality.]
Peter: Hey, superstar.
Up and at ‘em.
Breakfast is gonna be ready in a few minutes. I’m doing wheat cakes.
???: Gimme a couple minutes. Hair’s all over the place.
Peter: You’re going to play hockey, kiddo. Hair’s gonna be screwed either way.
You’ve got five. A second longer and I’ll make you come out.
[Panel 3: Peter opens the fridge, using his spider-powers to balance a carton of eggs and pancake mix in one hand while holding a gallon of milk and a mixing bowl in the other.]
Peter: “Gimme a few minutes.”
[Panel 4: Peter cracks the eggs, pouring them into the mixing bowl.]
Peter: I. Am the coolest dad.
[Panel 1: Peter and Felicia are in the kitchen, with Peter sliding a wheat cake onto Felicia’s plate.]
Peter: Here you are.
Felicia: And the handsome Mr. Parker prevails once again.
Only one with your talents could manage to make the same thing consistently taste good.
Peter: Hey, if you’ve got a talent?
[Panel 2: Felicia’s hand caresses Peter’s chin, scraping with the nails as she walks away; Peter is simply amused.]
Felicia: Oh, I do.
[Panel 3: A blacked-out figure walks into the kitchen, obscured by shadow, as Peter turns around, greeting them.]
Peter: Hey, superstar!
Ready for breakfast?
[Panel 4: Peter flips the wheat cake into the air, small amounts of batter flipping with it as he jerks the griddle upwards.]
???: Sure thing, pop.
Peter: Go long!
[Panel 5: The hand, with trimmed, unpainted nails, catches the wheat cake by the tips of her fingers, almost missing it.]
???: Pro-tip, dad…
[Panel 1: Large panel. As she takes a bite out of the wheat cake, we see Peter’s “daughter”: Cindy. Wearing a workout shirt multiple sizes too large for her, (Not to mention with a completely different name of “Cervantez” labeled on the front) her hair is notably still mildly disheveled from waking up. Peter is in the background, smirking.]
Cindy: ...if you want to make a sports reference, at least make one about the sport that I actually play.
Peter: Now where’s the fun in that?
[Panel 2: Peter hands Cindy the syrup bottle as she sits next to Felicia at the kitchen island, pouring herself a cup of coffee.]
Felicia: Mornin’, sport.
Cindy: Ha, ha.
You two are hilarious.
Peter: Anyways… state finals are today. Then your team is off to the national bracket.
Cindy: If you call getting out of bed at eight in the morning excited, then no.
[Panel 3: Peter is sitting across from Cindy with a cup of coffee, with Cindy beginning to pour syrup on the bitten-into wheat cake.]
[Panel 4: A repeat of the previous panel, only with the syrup dripping around Cindy’s hand, having coated onto the wheat cake and spilling onto the countertop.]
[Panel 5: Similar repeat, but the syrup has piled on below the wheat cake, making a small mountain. Peter has moved slightly to intervene, but Cindy speaks for him to stop.]
Peter: I think maybe you should--
I know what I’m doing.
[Panel 1: Peter grabs a bag off of the table, as Cindy folds the wheatcake and eats it in the background. Felicia has stood up, pecking him on the cheek as he exits through the door.]
Peter: Hey, I gotta get to work.
Cindy, you mind if Felicia drives you over to your game? I’ll be there before halftime, I promise.
Cindy: Works for me, if she’s up to it.
Felicia: I’ll get my keys.
[Panel 2: Peter opens the door to the hall outside, dangling his own keys on his index finger tip as he heads out.]
Peter: Alright guys, I’m headed out. See you guys-
[Panel 3: A large panel of Peter freezing up. The space of the panel has instead been taken up by various panels from previous issues of Peter, MJ and Annie, almost as if an epileptic sensation.]
[Panel 1: Peter snaps back into reality, cold sweat beading from his head.]
[Panel 2: Having exited the apartment, Peter looks around, not seeing anything that could have caused his mental episode.]
[Panel 3: Peter has entered the elevator, clicking a button. The back wall of the elevator is made up of glass, and the view outside is of a gleaming New York skyline. Unlike previous issues, where the lower streets of Manhattan have been more realistically grimy and gritty with some exceptions (giving a more consistent feel with other street-level books) the skyline is glamorous, almost pulled out of Slott’s volumes of ASM. Inside already is a man with a black bowl cut for hair, a mole on his right cheek and a sly, gambling smile.]
Peter: Hey. You’re… you’re new.
Could’ve sworn I saw you guys when we were moving in.
???: Yeah. I live a few doors down.
[Panel 4: The man holds out his hand to shake, which Peter does.]
???: My name’s Quentin.
Quentin Beck. Used to be a special effects specialist for Hollywood, but hey, realized you get more out of magic acts. So here I am…
[Panel 5: A group of generic-looking people, your typical nuclear family, walk into the elevator with the two, waving silently as the doors close. A pretty blonde lady, just a smidge shorter than Quentin; accompanying her are a young boy, maybe six or seven, with dirty blonde hair, and a girl (On the younger side, about 15-16) with a very “I just entered puberty for realsies and I hate it” complexion, topped off with a bob cut of light brown hair.]
Quentin: ...And this here is my family.
Peter: Nice to meet all of you.
[Panel 1: As the elevator stops on the first floor, Peter exits, waving to Quentin and his family, who remain onboard.]
Peter: Well, it’s been real.
Hey, maybe you guys should come over for dinner one night!
My daughter’s really been wanting to meet people outside her hockey team.
Quentin: Count on it-
[Panel 2: An eerie close up of Quentin’s smirking face (add a touch of extra smugness) with a bottom shade of light lavender to accent his true identity.]
Quentin: - Mr. Parker.
[To be continued]
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #20
“Family is But an Illusion, Pt 2: Puppet Strings”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Alex Milne and Joana Lafuente
[Panel 1: The Baxter Building; Parker Industries. Basically, what your average futuristic building in a modern day sitting. Holograms, robotic lifts, and programmable matter runs rampant as Peter walks into the main lab on the higher floors, the future coming to life today. Peter’s secretary, Felicity, smiles upon Peter entering, handing him some memos.]
Felicity: Good morning, Mr. Parker!
I have all your appointments scheduled out, and some notes filed out for your convenience.
Peter: Thanks, Felicity.
Anything from Otto?
Felicity: Dr Octavius arrived… hmm, about an hour ago?
He’s resumed work on the Unstable Molecules project.
[Panel 2: Peter scratches his chin in confusion.]
Peter: Wait, what?
I thought we finished that project last year.
There’s gotta be some mistake.
[Panel 3: As Felicity flips through her holographic interface, Peter walks into the lab, confused to the current situation.]
Felicity: Sorry, Dr. Parker.
Nothing in our records says anything about completing the Unstable Molecules project.
Peter: I’ll look it into it.
[Panel 2: Peter walks up to his lab’s elevator, pressing a key code into the holographic keypad.]
Peter [capt]: This doesn’t make any sense.
I don’t remember getting a doctorate. Otto has one, but I don’t.
[Panel 2: Peter has entered the elevator, the door closing as he takes a tablet out of his bag.]
Peter [capt]: And for that matter, the Unstable Molecules have been finished for months now!
Why are they still being worked on when we’ve already completed the-
[Panel 3: Shot of Peter’s tablet. In the reflection of the screen, we can see a woman’s hand on Peter’s shoulder.]
[Panel 4: Peter leaps back, to see a translucent image of Mary Jane and Annie, and bumps against the edge of the elevator, absolutely spooked by the presence of somebody else in the elevator with him.]
Peter: Who the hell?!--
[Panel 1: Peter reaches out to touch MJ, just as the door to the elevator opens right behind him. In the background, Otto Octavius, powerless here, is paying attention to the experiment in front of him, using only sound to recognize Peter’s entrance.]
Peter: Who are you?
Otto: Peter? Who’s that you’re talking to?
[Panel 2: Peter looks up, confused at Otto’s sudden detail to his work.]
[Panel 3: Peter looks back to his side. MJ, along with Annie, have vanished into thin air.]
[Panel 4: Peter steps up off the elevator, trying to clear his head as he enters the lab.]
Peter: Nah, never mind. Was just practicing some…. Puppet theatre.
Otto: Puppet Theatre? Really?
Peter: Yeah… keeps me on my feet.
[Panel 5: Peter and Otto are facing each other, Peter’s head and fist pointed at the experiment Otto is working on: a batch of Unstable Molecules.]
Peter: Why are we back on this project?
I thought we cleared it with the Ethics Committee last year.
Otto: What are you talking about, Peter?
Yes, we cleared it with the Ethics Committee, but that was simply the conceptual papers.
[Panel 1: Peter holds his hand to his chin, scratching it again in thought.]
Peter [capt]: Wait… Parker-Octavius Molecule.
That’s what it’s called. Not just Parker Molecule.
Is everybody just cracked in the head?
[Panel 2: Peter hands Otto the tablet from when he was in the elevator, pulling up some of the notes.]
Peter: Here. I… uh, finished the equation last night.
It’s like you knew the formula before completing the puzzle.
[Panel 3: Peter pulls on some goggles and latex gloves, holding a glove in between his arm and torso.]
So, we getting this show on the road, or what?
I got somewhere I need to be in about two hours.
Otto: What could be more important than creating a breakthrough in programmable matter?
[Panel 4: Peter and Otto continue their work, examining the matter swallow a piece of test material.]
Peter: My daughter’s hockey game.
[Panel 1: Change in location to a ice-hockey rink. Cindy is butting against another player from the other team, while Peter watches from the sidelines.]
Peter [capt]: Not the biggest fan of sports.
I was never the jock, or even a groupie. Just kept to myself on the sidelines.
I also hate large, noisy stadiums. Just… eh.
But you know something? It makes my kid happy.
So I guess by definition of parent, I’m happy.
[Panel 2: An action panel of Cindy hitting the puck with her stick towards the reader.]
Peter [capt]: Not to mention that she’s good at it.
[Panel 3: The puck bounces off a wall, into the air.]
Peter [capt]: Every once in a while, she’ll make a crazy shot. In the wrong direction.
Everybody panics. They go “Hey, Parker. Your kid might be nuts.”
But what they don’t realize…
[Panel 4: Cindy hits the puck again with pinpoint accuracy, sending it into a curved arc.]
Peter [capt]: … is that she’s just diverting your attention.
Just so she can catch you off guard…
[Panel 5: The goaltender for the opposite team fails to catch the puck as it dives into the net, scoring for Cindy’s team.]
Peter [capt]: ...Just so she can make the killing blow a little less painful for you.
[Panel 1: Large panel. Cindy is being lifted in the air by her ecstatic teammates, somebody carrying a large water cooler filled with water in the background.]
Peter [capt]: She’s grown a lot.
I’m proud of her.
[Panel 2: Cindy has just exited the player’s pit, as Peter ruffles her now wet hair playfully (A callback to FNSM #5)]
Peter: There you are!
Cindy: Hey, you actually showed!
And here was me thinking you’d stay cooped up in that lab with Doc Ock!
Peter: You kidding? And miss my kid’s hockey final?
Not on your life, Cin.
[Panel 3: As Cindy pulls off her jersey to reveal a workout tank top, Peter sits down on one of the rafters.]
Cindy: Well, we’ll be off to national brackets in… oh, a month or so?
Plenty of time to keep getting better.
Peter: Kiddo, at this point, you might as well be coaching your team.
You’re pulling off moves that would put--
[Panel 4: On Cindy’s right arm, Peter notices a bullet grazing, the wound healed but the scarring remaining. (Take note: this happened back in FNSM #18)]
Peter: Whoa, Cin.
What happened to your arm?
Cindy: What about it?
Peter: Were you shot at?
Look at your right arm.
[Panel 5: Cindy’s left hand hovers over the injury (specifically, her right elbow) unsure how to react.]
Cindy: Honestly, I….
I don’t know.
It could be a scratch from another player’s stick, dad.
Peter: Nah, it’s too narrow and… yeah, it’s too deep to be just somebody whacking you.
When have you been even close to a gun?
Cindy: I… I haven’t.
That’s part of why I’m so confused.
[Panel 1: Peter stands up, checking Cindy’s injury.]
Cindy: Think we should get my trainer to look at it?
Peter: Wouldn’t hurt.
But we should probably head home.
Felicia just texted me. We’ve got company.
[Panel 2: Peter and Cindy walk out of the stadium, towards the locker room. Cindy is in a skippy pace, energetically keeping up.]
Cindy: Really? Who?
Peter: Neighbors. They live just down the hall from us.
[Panel 3: Peter sniffs the air, leaning in towards Cindy as he does so.]
[Panel 4: Peter recoils, Cindy smiling sheepishly as she walks down the hall to the women’s locker room.]
Peter: Shower, superstar.
You reek of onions.
And is that?...
Cindy: I borrowed Felicia’s shampoo before I left.
But… no biggie, right?
[Panel 1: Peter looks into the janitor’s closet, as Cindy walks down the hall to the locker room.]
[Panel 2: What Peter was looking at. The same hallucination of MJ and Annie from multiple times before, obscured from afar in panel 1 by the shadows.]
[Panel 3: A close-up of Peter’s face.]
[Panel 1: Peter and Cindy in the glass elevator, relatively silent as they head up.]
Okay, if you’re not going to say anything, I will.
Look, Hector and a bunch of the team are going camping this week, and they invited me along.
Can I tag along with ‘em?
[Panel 2: Peter looks up at the floor indicator, Cindy leaning on the rail in the background, watching the floor beneath them shrink.]
He’s on your team, right? Power forward?
Cindy: Hey, you know something about hockey!
Peter: I don’t. I can name two hockey positions.
I can name one hockey position.
[Panel 3: From Cindy’s side, as she brushes hair out of her face in surprise.]
Peter: Uh, I guess. Just… stay safe?
Usually I have to fight you to do this kind of stuff.
What’s with the sudden change in attitude?
[Panel 4: Peter looks off to the side, a curious frown on his face.]
[Panel 5: From Peter’s side, in his POV. Off to his right, where he’s looking, are MJ and Annie again, ghastly wavering and all.]
Peter: Maybe I’m just having a bit of self-reflection.
Been a bit too… protective recently.
That and I have this really weird itch on the back of my neck.
[Panel 1: Peter exits the elevator, Cindy trailing close behind him.]
Peter: You greet the neighbors, sport.
I gotta check on something.
Cindy: Um… ‘kay.
(Crazy old man…)
[Panel 2: Peter flings open the door to the apartment, Quentin and his family sitting in the living room with Felicia as Peter rushes by, gripping the back of his neck.]
Felicia: Hey, hun!
The new people are really nice! They baked us a cake and-
Where’re you goin’?
Peter: Be back in a sec.
Gotta clear my head.
[Panel 3: Peter closes the door to his and Felicia’s bedroom, locking it behind him as he sighs in calming.]
[Panel 4: Peter leans against the door, taking a deep breath.]
[Panels 1, 3 and 5 are Peter looking up and to the side at what appears to be nothing. Having sat down at a desk, Peter has a pen and paper in front of him. Panels 2, 4 and 6 are of him scribbling down something onto the paper, which the reader is unable to decipher due to the angle.]
[Panel 1: Peter rubs his temples, frustrated to a previously untold degree.]
Who are you?!
[Panel 2: As a knock on the door snaps Peter out of his tunnel vision, as he rubs his neck while getting out of his chair.]
Felicia [OP]: Peter?
Are you okay?
You’re acting really weird.
[Panel 3: Outside the room. Felicia is standing in the hallway, knocking on the door as “Quentin” stands in the hallway in the far background.]
Felicia: Okay, Peter. You’re scaring me.
If you don’t open the door in the next ten seconds, I’m busting it down, houseguests or not.
[Panel 4: The door suddenly swings open, Peter pulling Felicia in as “Quentin” looks on in surprise.]
[Panel 1: Peter and Felicia stand together in the darkness, only lit by the flashlight in Peter’s phone.]
Felicia: What are you doing?!
Are you insane?!
Peter: I know this is weird, but you have to trust me.
Felicia: Trust you on what?!
[Panel 2: Close shot of Peter’s poorly-lit face.]
Peter: Felicia, something’s wrong.
I… I can’t put my finger on what exactly is wrong.
But I know it is.
[Panel 3: Peter rubs the back of his neck, walking over to the desk where he was at in the previous few pages.]
Peter: I’ve been… seeing things.
And I have a feeling that they’re important.
[Splash page. Peter redirects the flashlight towards himself, holding it close to the drawing he was making. It’s a sketch of MJ and Annie, and as Peter holds up the drawing to the light, he turns his head away in shame.]
Do you know this woman?
[Panel 1: Felicia holds the picture up close, Peter shining the flashlight on it.]
Peter: I… I can’t explain it. I know her somehow, but I’ve never…
Felicia: Sure you have.
Wasn’t she your ex? Heck, I think I still remember her name.
Was it… Marvin Jay? Mary Kane?
Mary Jane! That’s it! It’s--
[Panel 2: Peter keels over, the back of his neck (Because I’m OCD, exactly where he was rubbing) glowing a sickly green color, Felicia backing up, panic visible as her face is lit up by the glow. (The glow is replacing the flashlight, which has landed on the floor.]
[Panel 3: Peter yanks at the glow on his neck, the glow leaking out of the gaps between his fingers.]
[Panel 4: Peter’s hand. In it is a smoking neural chip, a faint green glow slowly flickering away.]
[Panel 5: Peter crushes the chip as he holds his hands up to his head, breathing heavily.]
Peter: Oh, God…
I-- I remember everything.
[Panel 1: Peter turns to Felicia, standing up.]
Peter: Felicia, we don’t… we don’t belong here.
Felicia: I don’t get it.
Peter: You don’t need to.
[Panel 2: the light in the room has been turned on, a shot from the closet as Peter opens it.]
Peter: I just need you to follow me.
[Panel 3: Peter opens up a box, frowning as he looks at the contents of the package.]
I’ll fix this.
[Panel 4: Peter grips the mask of his Spider-Man costume, pulling it out of the box.]
Peter: I need to tie up some loose ends.
[Panel 1: Peter kicks down the door, fully dressed in his Spider-Man costume.]
Peter: Hey, Quentin.
[Panel 2: Peter has turned to face down the hallway, where Quentin has enveloped himself in green smoke.]
Spider-Man: I said this to the Symbiotes, and since I think it’s a pretty good line, I’m going to repeat it to you.
[Panel 3: A close shot of Peter’s narrowed lenses.]
Spider-Man: Get out of my head.
And I think that applies to my sidekick and ex as well.
[Panel 1: “Quentin” has vanished from the green smoke, Mysterio taking his place, the fishbowl now glowing inwards with a blue/purple flame.]
Mysterio: Oh, I’m not in their head.
[Panel 2: Mysterio’s “Wife” appears from around the corner.]
Sarah: Quentin, I thought I heard-
[Panel 3: Mysterio grasps his wife by the shoulders, almost like he… loves her. (Jeez, I hate writing descriptions like that. He loves her, I think we’ve established that, not so much dramatic flair in the friggin’ panel descriptions.)]
Mysterio: Hey, Sarah.
Why don’t you take the kids home, I have some business with Mr Parker.
[Panel 4: Mysterio’s head turns back to face the two, as Cindy comes swerving around the corner.]
Mysterio: Alright, now that everybody’s safe, let’s get on with the show, shall we?
[Panel 1: Peter lunges towards Mysterio, who vanishes in a puff of smoke.]
Well, guess what, “Quentin?”
You’re not dealing with Peter Parker anymore. Not the guy who’s married to his ex.
[Panel 2: Peter punches into the smoke, Mysterio no longer present. In the background, another plume of smoke has blown out, Mysterio apparating into it.]
Peter: And I’ll say it once.
After all the crap I’ve been through…
I’m going to say it once.
My memories are the single most important thing to me.
[Panel 3: Peter swings backwards towards Mysterio, his foot making contact and the sound a sharp crack is noted.]
Peter: And you can never take them away from me.
[Panel 4: Peter has Mysterio pinned to the wall by the face, using his foot to apply pressure.]
Peter: You can cut me up.
You can whip me raw.
You can torture me in every way you can imagine.
And you can kill me.
[Panel 5: A close shot of Peter’s face, his brow and eyes narrowed to the point where they might as well be shut.]
Peter: But you can never mess with what’s up here.
[Panel 1: A close up of Mysterio’s face, Spider-Man’s boot and all. Through the cracks in the glass, we see wisps of smoke escape, but not enough to mess with the smoke effect inside the helmet.]
Mysterio: I’m a master of illusion, Parker.
What do you think I’ve been doing since Bikini Atoll? Sitting around and playing cards?
Illusion is an art. There’s no perfection of the craft.
[Panel 2: Mysterio presses a button on his wrist, a green glow emanating from the cracks.]
Mysterio: And for that to happen, everybody needs to be in character.
For example, your wife.
[Panel 3: The skin on the back of Felicia’s neck begins to glow a barely noticeable, sickly green color.]
Mysterio [OP]: Now, Felicia?
This man doesn’t look familiar to you, does he?
[Panel 4: Felicia’s eyes. The pupils have shrunk to pinpricks, with, again, a faint, sickly green glow.]
Felicia: You’re… you’re right.
[Splash page. Felicia has leapt into the air above, descending in a crazed, feral state. Peter, shocked by the sudden turnaround, has whipped around, releasing Mysterio to turn his attention to the higher priority threat.]
Felicia: Who the hell are you?!
And what’ve you done with my husband?!
[To be continued…]
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #21
“Family is But An Illusion, Pt 3: Paradise Lost”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Alex Milne and Joana Lafuente
[Panel 1: Shot from around the abdomen. Felicia is charging Peter, clawed fingers swinging wildly to land a hit on him. Note that before, Felicia has been favouring precision combat, but here she is just acting like a feral animal, just clawing around until she lands a hit. Peter, on the other hand, is deftly avoiding each blow, web shooters at the ready and his fingers on the triggers.]
Felicia: Get back here and tell me what you did with Peter!
Peter: Felicia! Calm down and listen to me!
This isn’t you!
[Panel 2: Felicia lands a lucky shot, an elbow landing in Peter’s nose. A bone crunch is heard and spurts of blood can be seen flying out.]
Felicia: Like hell!
Now tell me what you did with him.
[Panel 3: Peter catches one of her punches, securing her wrist as he moves to restrain her.]
It’s Peter, and deep down, you know it.
Felicia: You’re lying!
[Panel 1: Peter grips the back of Felicia’s neck, talking her down as he binds her.]
Peter: Felicia, stop it!
Mysterio’s playing you!
[Panel 2: Peter holds her, firm but comforting.]
Peter: Oh… This is what you wanted.
Fel, I’m sorry, but… it can’t happen.
It had a chance, but once MJ came back into my life, this… this had no chance.
[Panel 3: Peter pulls back the skin on Felicia’s neck to reveal the same chip that he was wearing.]
Peter: I love you. I really do.
But I can’t live this life. Because it isn’t mine.
You’re one of my best friends, Felicia.
And that’s why this is gonna hurt me a lot more than it hurts you.
[Panel 4: Black and white panel. White silhouettes of Peter and Felicia against a black background. Peter has just ripped the chip out, the only color being the light green sparks from the chip trailing out.]
[Panel 5: Peter catches Felicia as she collapses, smoke pouring out of the spot on her neck where the chip was.]
Peter: I gotcha!
[Panel 1: Felicia’s hand hovers against Peter’s cheek as he holds her.]
Felicia: I’m sorry…
I remember all of it. Every little minute.
MJ’s gonna kill us, isn’t she?
Peter: Hey, she’s learned to put up with people messing with my head.
This won’t be any-
[Panel 2: Cindy’s fist connects with Peter’s face,causing him to drop Felicia and fly backwards.]
Cindy [OP]: Down, boy!
[Panel 3: Large panel. Cindy in a sweaty fighting stance, eyes the same color as Felicia’s previously. Behind her, Mysterio is standing at a safe distance, pressing multiple buttons on his gauntlet.]
Cindy: *Huff*…. C’mon! Stand up and fight!
Mysterio: See, Spidey, there’s one big flaw with my memory override chips.
You can only control one person at a time. It gets a little tricky to assume direct control three people at once.
Now, think of it like this…
[Panel 4: Mysterio plants his hand firmly on Cindy’s shoulder, using his other hand to point at Peter with dramatic flair.]
Mysterio: Cindy here is looking for her dad.
To her, you look nothing like him.
So, Cindy, you wanna get your dad back?
My suggestion is to kick him back into yesterday.
Cindy: You sure?
Mysterio: More than certain.
[Panel 5: Cindy cracks her knuckles, her eyes taken over completely by the glow, escaping the pupils and overtaking the entire eye.]
Cindy: Alright then.
[Panel 1: Cindy swings a wild one at Peter, hoping to catch him off guard by ditching her usual precision strikes that Peter taught her. Spider-Sense prevails, however, as Peter goes into a limbo-like position, swinging under to dodge the punch.]
Peter [capt]: She’s strong. And fast.
But I’m stronger and faster.
[Panel 2: Peter dodges another blow, flipping onto his hands as Cindy smashes the wood around her fist.]
Peter [capt]: The media has always called Cindy “Poor Man’s Spidey.”
They have no idea how close they are.
See, Cindy may have a copy of my powers, but she caps a lot quicker. A little less strong, slower, her Spider-Sense is more sensitive.
[Panel 3: Using the momentum from his backflip, Peter spins on his elbows, the motion blurs on his legs indicating that his legs move with enough force to knock Cindy back.]
Peter [capt]: The power gap isn’t that easy to point out. Heck, if you saw her in the field, you probably couldn’t tell the difference.
But when you hook the two of us to machines and test our max, it becomes a little more noticeable.
[Panel 4: Peter shoots a webline, the tip closing in on the reader.]
Peter [capt]: Combine that with an eighteen year experience gap…
And, well, it becomes a lot easier to exploit.
[Panel 1: Shot of the length of the hallway. Peter yanks the webline back, Cindy being pulled back along with it.]
Peter [capt]: And it helps that I’m not-
[Panel 2: Cindy has used the situation to her advantage, gripping Peter’s chest with her adhesive feet and getting out of the web grip.]
Peter [capt]: Whoa.
Didn’t see that one coming.
Pardon the rude interruption.
[Panel 3: Peter and Cindy grapple, Felicia still smoking and unconscious from earlier in the background.]
Peter: Cindy, I need you to fight this!
I can’t do this for you!
Cindy: I don’t need you to!
I’m already doing it myself!
[Panel 4: Close up of Peter’s Spider-Symbol, which is glowing a deep shade of red and crackling with energy. (Remember that he was wearing his costume sans mask at the end of the previous issue.)]
Peter: Doesn’t seem like that to me, champ.
Peter [capt]: Anyways, back to the point.
Just because I like to play fair doesn’t mean I won’t play dirty if I absolutely have to get the upper hand.
[Panel 1: Panel takes up about half of the page. Peter has let go of Cindy as red energy surges through her, shocking her enough to stun her, but not down her completely.]
Peter [capt]: Case in point.
Something I added to my new suit: a taser built directly into the emblem.
Holds enough charge for one use, which is probably enough to down most of my rogues.
But Cindy can take it.
Peter [capt]: ...I think.
[Panel 2: Peter grips Cindy by the arms using only one, using his right leg to hold her down, as his other hand reaches for the chip in the back of her neck.]
Cindy: Lemme go!
Peter: Sorry. Can’t do that.
Cindy: You don’t get to tell me what to do!
You're not my dad!
[Panel 3: Peter, with a miserable face. You can tell the words actually kind of hurt him.]
Peter: You’re right.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever not take care of you.
[Panel 4: Cindy is heavily panting and struggling to break the grip, fresh tears forming in her eyes.]
Cindy: You’re lying!
A few days after the Symbiotes? You came to me and said your boyfriend was killed by them.
How you wanted to die too.
You didn’t tell your parents. You went straight to me. And that scared me because it tells me that you’re alone.
[Panel 5: Peter tightens his grip, eyes still in a miserable glaze.]
Peter: Let me tell you something, kid.
You aren’t alone.
As long as you need me and MJ?
We’ll always be there for you.
You’re an honorary Parker. You’re family.
[Panel 1: Peter pulls the chip out of Cindy’s neck. It’s already smoking and sparking.]
Peter: I’ve got you, kid.
[Panel 2: A close shot of Peter’s fist, crushing the chip to pieces.]
[Panel 3: Cindy has squeezed Peter’s torso in comfort, hysterically sobbing as Peter soothes her with a comforting hug.]
Cindy: I’m sorry.
I’m-- *sniff*-- I’m so, so sorry.
Peter: ...You haven’t done anything wrong, kid.
I’ve got ya.
I’ve got you.
[Panel 4: Peter helps Cindy up, as she strips to reveal her costume, wiping away the tears and composing herself. Peter’s other hand is dedicated to helping a still-injured Felicia up, as she leans on his shoulder to support herself.]
Cindy: I’m… I’m okay.
Peter: So, who wants to have one last family trip and--
Felicia: Kick Mysterio’s shiny metal ass?
Count me in.
I was gonna say “smash his fishbowl”, but sure, that works too.
[Panel 1: Peter opens the door, allowing Felicia and Cindy to walk out, Felicia with a light limp.]
Peter: Ladies first. Figured that I’ve busted down enough doors today.
Felicia: You have a quota for property damage?
Peter: I’m trying to be a better role model.
Cindy: I can hear you!
Peter: That’s the point, kid!
[Panel 2: The group walks down the hall. Note that off to the side, there’s some patch in the lighting. Some sections of the wall are acting as if there’s a full sun obscured by clouds, others are acting as if there isn’t anything at all.]
Felicia: So what happens now?
What’re we going to do with Mysterio?
Peter: Main goal is to get a ticket out of here.
We’re going to break Mysterio out of here, turn him over to the authorities, and suffer the consequences of whatever we did while we were in here.
[Panel 3: Cindy is pointing towards the outside of the window, Felicia and Peter’s gazes following her finger.]
Cindy: Uh, guys?
You might want to take a look outside.
Peter: In a sec, Cin.
I- Aw, you gotta be kiddin’ me!
[Panel 4: Large panel. From the backs of the three, we get a look outside. Large portions of the world outside have begun disintegrating as if it was never there. Instead, all that remains where it once was are splotches of dimensional tears. Black void, with nothing inside them.]
Peter: This is not good.
Cindy: I’m… a little lost.
Peter: Mysterio’s replica of Killmaster’s wand must be imperfect. Instead of just leading to a prison dimension, the tears in space it makes must cause that space to decompress around the person entering.
Mysterio must have been crafting this illusion to trick space itself into not decompressing. But when we broke free and realized it was all fake…
Cindy: The whole thing is falling apart, isn’t it?
Felicia: One helluva house of cards.
Peter: The plan’s changed, guys!
We need to grab Mysterio and get out, now!
[Panel 1: Peter kicks open the door to Mysterio’s apartment, rushing into the room, quickly pulling on his mask as they rush in.]
Peter: Mysterio, we’re booking it!
Pack your bags!
[Panel 2: Mysterio surrounds himself and his family with purple smoke, blue lightning sparking out of it.]
Mysterio: You don’t go anywhere near them!
Spider-Man [OP]: Quentin, listen to me!
This whole place is coming apart!
Mysterio: I don’t care!
This family is the one thing I have left!
And I will not let you take them from me!
[Panel 3: Peter rolls over to the side as a pillar of vines slams into the ground. Felicia, using the vine pillar, vaults on top, using it as a pivot point.]
This is worse than I thought.
Cindy: Do tell.
Spider-Man: Mysterio’s illusions have gotten good.
Like he said, an art needs to be practiced.
But they’re too good. They’re almost real.
And they’re so good that--- well, I think Mysterio thinks they’re real.
And that family of his…
Felicia: They’re illusions too.
[Panel 4: Felicia kicks Mysterio’s wife, as a blue liquid comes out, along with several sparking teeth.]
Felicia: How do you feel about widowhood?
[Panel 5: Mysterio whips around to see his “wife” collapse from Felicia’s punch, eyes rolled into the back of her head.]
Felicia: Yes, Sarah.
Take a look, Mysterio.
Wifey is a little less real than you thought.
[Panel 1: Mysterio kneels over his wife, cradling her limp form in his arms.]
[Panel 2: Sarah’s form is revealed to be a hologram; it flickers away to reveal a robotic skeleton.]
Don’t leave me.
[Panel 3: Mysterio grabs Black Cat by the throat, slamming her against the wall. In the background, Peter and Cindy are tearing out the pillars, tossing them off to the side.]
Mysterio: You’ve ruined everything!
Without her, my children have no reason to exist!
It’s all falling apart!
And it’s YOUR FAULT!
[Panel 1: As Cindy deals with the rest of the pillars in the background, Peter has moved to the foreground. His hand is gripping Mysterio’s forearm, which still has an iron grip around Felicia’s throat.]
Peter: Quentin, don’t do this!
She’s just letting you open your eyes! You’ve been deceiving yourself!
[Panel 2: Mysterio lashes out towards Peter. The flame on his helmet has grown in intensity, and changed from a light purple to a raging blue, almost like lightning.]
Mysterio: SHUT UP!
THEY’RE GONE AND YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE!
Peter: Quentin, no!
Wake up! They’re just robots and holograms! Your usual schtick! They aren’t real!
[Panel 3: Large panel. Mysterio presses Felicia into the wall, the flames in his helmet erupting into a raging rainbow of color.]
Mysterio: THEY WERE REAL TO ME!
What part of that don’t you get?!
[Panel 1: Peter’s mask makes a depressed lens, shape similar to his miserable expression from earlier.]
Peter: I know how real this could get.
I do. I almost fell for it too.
But you can’t escape the real world by delving into some fantasy. Or by hardwiring people to think they live a completely different life.
At some point, we have to face the consequences.
[Panel 2: Peter’s open palm jams itself into Mysterio’s neck, causing him to collapse and release a gasping Felicia.]
Peter: Sorry, Quentin.
Hope this is a good wake-up call.
[Panel 3: Peter picks up Mysterio, helping Felicia. As Cindy falls in behind them, Felicia rubs her neck, trying to soothe the pain from Mysterio’s hand choking her while gasping for air.]
Peter: Hey, you good?
Yeah, I’m good.
Let’s… let’s get out of here.
[Panel 1: Peter grabs the downsized replica of Killmaster’s wand, pointing it towards the reader.]
Peter: Alright, let’s see if I can’t replicate Mysterio’s magic.
Um... screw it, let’s just get out of here.
[Panel 2: A beam from the wand hits the air, forming a portal.]
Everybody out. Let’s go.
[Panel 3: As Felicia walks through the portal, Cindy turns to Peter, who has Mysterio slung over his shoulder.]
Felicia: Don’t have to tell me twice.
Cindy: So… what happens now?
Peter: ...I don’t know.
I guess just… live through the consequences.
[Panel 1: Peter claps Cindy on the shoulder, his legs entering through the portal.]
Peter: It’s how I accepted that I killed Doc Ock.
I didn’t try and bury what happened. I took what I had done and owned up to it.
We just have to do that again.
Now, c’mon kid…
[Panel 2: Large panel. Peter and Cindy walk through the portal, Mysterio still unconscious as the world around them crumbles.]
Peter: ...Let’s go home.
[Panel 3: Blank white panel.]
[Panel 1: A ring of smoke surrounds Peter, Cindy, Felicia and Mysterio as they come back to the real world.]
[Capt: The real world.]
Cindy: Did it work?
Are we back?
Peter: Yeah… we’re back.
What’s the monkey’s paw this time?
[Panel 2: Peter pulls out his smartphone, checking the time as Cindy takes Mysterio from him.]
Peter: Here. Take Mysterio. I’ll check the date.
Cindy: I hope I didn’t miss too much. I can’t afford to miss any more classes.
Peter: Don’t worry, I’ll vouch for you.
An alumni has some sway, and--
[Panel 3: Peter’s lenses widen as he notices the date, which is off-panel.]
Peter: Oh, God.
[Panel 4: Peter turns around to Felicia and Cindy, who have equally shocked body postures, especially since facial expressions can’t be seen from behind.]
Peter: We’ve been gone three days.
Cindy: Three days?...
[Panel 5: Peter catapults himself into the air, frantic emotion expressed through his lenses. Cindy and Felicia stand on the ground, however, watching him take off.]
Peter: I have to go.
Cindy: So, uh… what should we do about?...
Peter: Lock him up. But take his gear off before you send him to Carlie.
Cindy: Oddly specific, but, sure, what the hell.
What’re you gonna do, Mr. Parker?
[Panel 1: The Parker residence. MJ is sitting in bed, curled up on her side as she looks to the empty side of the bed. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Peter lands on the fire-escape off-panel, MJ’s eyes widening in response to the sound. Again, silent panel save for the sound effects.]
[Panel 3: Peter slings himself clumsily through the window, desperate to see his wife.]
Peter: Oh, thank God.
When I saw it’d been three days…
[Panel 4: Peter has torn off his mask, collapsing at the side of the bed. MJ has lifted the sheets and turned to the side, letting Peter rest his head on her legs.]
Peter: MJ, I’m so, so sorry.
MJ: Shhh. Hey, it’s okay. Carlie called me.
Cindy brought Mysterio over to her precinct.
The real one, not just some drone.
[Panel 1: Peter begins sobbing into MJ’s lap, as she runs her hands through his hair.]
Peter: No… MJ, I didn’t… I caught him, but…
MJ, I screwed up.
[Panel 2: MJ places Peter’s head on her lap, comforting him as he cries.]
MJ: It wasn’t your fault. We’ll get through this. And we’ll fix it.
[Panel 3: A ceiling shot of the two, as Peter leans further into MJ.]
MJ: I promise.
??? [Capt]: Well, if it ain’t Quentin Beck…
[Panel 1: The Vault, as described by the captions. Quentin, having lost his equipment, is in a set of prison fatigues. His cellmates are Electro (complete with a power nullifier collar from Trask Industries) and Chameleon, whose face and half of his body remain obscured by the shadows.]
Electro: ...back from the dead to mess with our brains again!
C’mon, do a sparkle or disappear!
Or are you just a ‘bot?
Quentin: Nah, it’s the real me.
And even if I wanted to cast my illusions, I can’t.
Spidey and that new sidekick of his- what’s her name, Silk?- took my gear. Don’t know where they took it, but it’s probably long gone by now.
[Panel 2: Chameleon rises from the shadows, an edgy smirk on his face as he approaches Quentin.]
Chameleon: Now, now, Quentin.
Your technology may be gone, but the man behind the curtain is still with us. And while your magic is easily replaceable, you aren’t.
We’re getting the gang back together. And then some.
And it would be good to have you back.
[Panel 3: A ceiling shot, which goes through the skylight of the prison. Chameleon sulks in the corner, as Quentin sits in his own. Electro, meanwhile, leans on the bars, whistling.]
Quentin: ...I don’t do that anymore. I won’t.
I nearly screwed myself over with my own illusions.
And if I can’t tell my own illusions from reality?
[Panel 4: Shot from inside the prison, up on the skylight. Dusk has fallen outside, and Felicia (in her Black Cat costume) is sitting on the skylight, wearing a bitter expression.]
Quentin [OP]: Well, I don’t want to be a puppet.
Or a puppet master.
[Panel 5: A close up of Felicia’s face as she looks down on the prison.]
Quentin [OP]: Not anymore.
Peter [OP Capt]: I don’t hate Mysterio.
[Panel 1: Peter and Cindy are standing on a rooftop, in costumes sans masks, with a collection of Mysterio’s gear in an emptied dumpster. Peter has a box full of matches, and has one out to strike it. The only piece of Mysterio’s gear not in the dumpster is his revised fishbowl helmet, which Cindy is holding in her hands as she’s perched on a ledge adjacent to the building they’re on.]
Peter: I don’t hate him.
I can’t forgive him for what he did, but… I dunno, maybe if we just left him alone, he would’ve been better off.
[Panel 2: Peter strikes a match against the box, lighting it. His expression is dour, with indication that he was probably crying a little while before.]
Peter: I know that he’s a bad guy, but… if he removed himself from the game willingly, I wouldn’t have stopped him.
Cindy: … ‘Kay.
So, why exactly did you have me steal his tech?
Peter: Same reason I doused it in gasoline and I’m lighting a match.
Felicia told me that he’s out for at least a while.
And I intend to take advantage of that.
[Panel 3: Peter tosses the match into the bin full of Mysterio’s gear, Cindy’s gaze following the match’s trajectory.]
Peter: Because if he’s already off by his own prerogative, I can kill his motivation from multiple prongs.
[Panel 4: Same panel, but the bin has erupted into flames. It’s more a comforting flame, but intense enough that Peter and Cindy are at a distance.]
Peter: I’d call it a more permanent solution.
A bit pragmatic, and a lot more pyrotechnical than I’d like, but hey, Mysterio was always a fan of viking funerals.
[Panel 5: Peter and Cindy are standing side-by-side, completely silent and somber. The only light source is of the dumpster fire, and the pale moonlight.]
[Panel 1: Similar panel to panel 5 on the last page, only Cindy is leaning to the side opposite of Peter and looking diagonally into the sky.]
I remember what you said back in Killmaster’s prison dimension.
… Got a little emotional, huh?
[Panel 2: Small panel. Close shot of Cindy’s torso and head, as she waits with a pregnant pause for Peter to say something (On panel with only his torso and folded arms), with her looking at him with expectancy for a reaction. Utter silence.]
[Panel 3: Similar, only Cindy is looking back towards the fire with a slightly bummed-out expression.]
Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you.
[Panel 4: A shot of Peter’s face. It’s blank, not much emotion but not sad or angry, just… a blank stare, with glazed over eyes.]
Cindy [OP]: What I really want to know is… did you mean it?
Or was it just a way to play on my emotions and free me from Mysterio’s grip?
[Panel 5: Peter places his hand on Cindy’s shoulder, with her giving a surprised look as a response.]
Peter: I meant it.
Every word. MJ and I will always be there for you, Cin.
[Panel 6: A side shot of Peter, Cindy looking up at him as he talks.]
Peter: A long time ago I got backstabbed by a friend.
And I didn’t give him the help he needed because I was so angry I let my anger and judgement cloud my compassion. And by the time we made up, it was too late.
I don’t intend to make that same mistake again with you.
[Panel 7: Cindy smiles softly at the fire as she listens to Peter.]
Peter [OP]: I don’t think I judged you wrong, kid.
I think I chose right.
[Splash page: shot from the back of Peter and Cindy, as they watch the dumpster fire burn, Mysterio’s tech giving off smoke as it burns away. Cindy is curled up around Mysterio’s helmet, and Peter is leaning against the rooftop, arms crossed in blank exhaustion.]
Cindy: Thanks, dad.
Peter: Anytime, kid.
Chapter 23: House of Spiders, Pt 1: Deep in the Heart of Texas
Chapter by QuilSniv
When Kaine calls from Houston, the Parker family makes a special day trip to find things are way worse than Kaine made them out to be.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #22
“House of Spiders, Pt. 1: Deep in the Heart of Texas”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Ryan Stegman and Marte Gracia
[Panel 1: Horizon Labs’ kickball field, about a half a mile from the main labs. Multiple members of the Horizon think tank (Ones that we haven’t really utilized before now) are scattered around the field, mostly notably Sajani Jaffrey, Jurgen Muntz, Bella Fishbach, etc. Peter is up to bat, with MJ, Annie and Cindy in the rafters with Max and his partner, Hector.]
Sajani: And first at-bat for Horizon’s seasonal kickball game…
The one and only Mr. Peter Parker!
Jurgen: Man, we’re gonna lose fast.
[Panel 2: Peter kicks the dust off of home plate, lining himself up for the shot.]
Peter: Aw, don’t sell yourself short, Jurgen.
I’m not that good.
[Panel 3: Sajani rolls the ball from the mound to home, smirking.]
Sajani: That what you think, “Thunder-thighs?”
Because you carried your team last game. And something tells me--
[Panel 4: Peter kicks the ball, a small crater rippling into the ball as he kicks it full force.]
Sajani [OP]: --That’ll be the case today.
Peter [Capt]: She’s right.
Just because I’ve learned to gauge my spider-powers doesn’t mean I control it all the time.
[Panel 1: The entire Horizon crew has stopped moving completely, their heads looking up as the ball goes high. Not even Peter has started running, watching his handiwork go into play.]
Peter [Capt]: ...I just like to cut loose just enough to tease the world…
[Panel 2: The ball, along with the heads of the Horizon crew, has moved towards the scoreboard, colliding with one of the steel pillars to bounce off.]
Peter [Capt]: … and let them know that their favorite skyscraper-swinger is a little closer to the ground than they may think.
[Panel 3: The scoreboard collapses with only one pillar holding it up, the views of the Horizon crew scattered to avoid looking at it.]
Peter: Oooh… that isn’t coming out of my paycheck, is it?
Bella: Yeah… I say we just give Parker the home run and leave it at that.
[Panel 4: Cindy and MJ (holding Annie) in the rafters. Cindy looks less than interested, preferring to eat the burger (complete with a faux-aluminum wrapping) in her hand, while MJ and Annie are ecstatic, cheering Peter on.]
Cindy: Honestly? Sports were never my thing.
S’good for my tan line, but other than that it’s not my cup of tea.
MJ: Are you only saying that because you weren’t allowed to play as an intern?
MJ: Eh, don’t worry about it.
Whooo, Pete! Hit it out of the park!
Annie: Go, Daddy!
Hit the ball!
[Panel 5: MJ watches over the field, as the assembled Horizon players change positions on the field. As Peter is walking over towards MJ and her mini-posse, Sajani slaps Peter on the butt, spooking him slightly.]
MJ: And here comes our star-
[Panel 6: A circular panel of MJ’s face, mouth curved in a disappointing frown.]
[Panel 1: Peter climbs up on the chain link fence, MJ walking over to greet him.]
Peter: Hey, there, pretty lady.
Peter: How did I do?
MJ: Fantastic. I’m practically swooning.
Oh, Spider, My Spider.
Annie: You did awesome, daddy!
[Panel 3: Peter holds Annie, lifting her over the fence as MJ leans over it, her eyebrow raised just enough to show a bit of contempt for Peter’s coworkers.]
Peter: Of course I did.
I’m your dad. You’re supposed to think I’m awesome!
MJ: And that you are.
But your coworkers on the other hand…
[Panel 4: Peter looks over towards the dugout in confusion, to see Sajani, in particular, biting her lip and leaning on the dugout wall.]
Peter: I think that’s just Sajani's thing.
We call her the “Home-Plate-Wrecker” for a reason.
I wouldn’t take it personally, Red.
Besides, she’s not really my type.
[Panel 5: Peter kisses MJ on the cheek, her blushing as she leans down.]
Peter: I already have a thing for redheads.
MJ: You shameless flirt.
Peter: Guilty as charged.
[Panel 1: Peter’s phone vibrates in his back pocket, with Sajani whistling off-panel.]
Peter: Can it, Sajani.
MJ, we haven’t heard that ringtone in ages.
[Panel 2: Cindy is sitting on the fence (As your average edgy teen does), looking over Peter and MJ as they look at the phone’s message.]
Cindy: Who’s it for?
Peter: Kaine. My brother.
Cindy: Wait, you have a brother? And you didn’t think to tell me?
Peter: First, off the fence, Cin. Second, there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me.
Third, Kaine is a bit of a… unique situation.
We don’t talk a lot.
MJ: When was the last time you called him? Or vice versa?
Peter: Ages ago.
Maybe a year or so.
[Panel 3: Cindy is hopping off the fence, joining Peter and MJ on one of the stands. Peter is pulling his phone out of his pocket to view the text.]
You gonna open the message or what?
Peter: Yeah, yeah.
I’m working on it, champ.
[Panel 4: Peter looks at the phone, his eyes in a concerned expression.]
Peter: Oh, Lord.
[Panel 5: Peter turns to MJ, putting his phone away as he hands Annie back to her.]
Peter: Pack your bags, MJ.
We're traveling to Houston.
Annie and Cindy: Woo! Day trip!
[Panel 1: An airfield in Upstate Jersey. Pristine woodlands surround the place, while neatly carved out of the woods is an abandoned Air Force base. We’ve already seen it in hologram form, but what you’re looking at the new headquarters of the Mighty Avengers. There’s still some renovating to be done, but what has been fixed is pristine, with the repairs to the rest of the facility moving like clockwork. In the foreground, however, we see Peter, MJ, Cindy and Annie (who is sitting on MJ’s shoulders) getting out of an either rented or bought car, each with a small overnight bag with enough clothes to last a few days. Captain Marvel is walking up to them, waving as she approaches.]
[Capt: Avengers Airfield]
Peter: Well, here we are.
The new headquarters of the Avengers.
And here comes the team mom herself.
[Panel 2: Peter and Carol shake hands, with MJ, Annie, and Cindy in the background.]
Peter: Good to see you again, Carol.
How’s the team holding up?
Carol: Eh, there’s still some friction and growing pains, but we’re starting to get our rhythm together.
Still not the same without you here full-time.*
Peter: Like I said, family matters.
[*Editorial Note: Peter joined as a reserve member in Captain Marvel and the Mighty Avengers #1! -Neil]
[Panel 3: Carol looks over to the others, smiling warmly at them.]
Carol: Hey, MJ. How’ve you been?
MJ: Eh. Life’s never boring when you’re married to a superhero, so there’s that.
Carol: Yeaaaah…. Sorry we raided your home a while back.
We’re trying to do better than that now.
MJ: Water under the bridge.
Annie: Captain Marvel?
[Panel 4: MJ lifts Annie off her shoulders, handing her over to Carol, who smiles even warmer than earlier. In the background, Peter mildly coughs, catching Carol’s attention.]
Damn, Peter, your kid is seriously lucky. She’s going to meet every superhero by the time she’s ten.
And that’s not even mentioning their-
Carol: Right. Back on task.
You said you needed to borrow something.
[Panel 1: A black-and-white silhouette panel, as the five walk into a hangar, no lights powering it.]
Carol: Here we are.
MJ: Wait… this is supposed to get us to Houston?
Peter: S’cheaper than airline tickets.
[Panel 2: The lights flare on, revealing what’s in the hangar: the Slipspace gate generator from Days of Deception. It’s not as well-put-together as it was during the Symbiote invasion (Several large pieces have been torn away and replaced with bulkier, more primitive human technology as opposed to the bulbous, exotic feel of Symbiote technology) but it looks relatively the same, with a young African American woman poking at it with a blowtorch: Lila Rhodes. (It helps to read the Iron Patriot mini)]
Cindy: Uh… are we sure using the Symbiote’s Slipspace gate is a good idea?
We didn’t even cross it. We blew it up.
Speaking of which… how did you get it here?
Peter: Carol and I went into No-Man’s Land a couple of weeks after the Symbiote invasion.
Given that we’re two of a handful of people who could survive that much radiation, we got the gate out and began repairing it. Probably easier-- not to mention cheaper-- than maintaining a constantly-crashing Quinjet.
As for maintaining it? Ms. Rhodes here has done an excellent job keeping it in tip-top shape.
[Panel 3: Lila hops down, walking over to the control panel while absentmindedly waving to the group.]
Lila: You gave me a piece of alien tech and said: “Figure it out, Lila.” Still working on it.
There’s so much I’m still learning about this tech, and…
[Panel 4: Lila talks herself down, settling down at a control panel as she types into the panel.]
Lila: Whew… cool it, girl… leave the rambling until after they’re gone.
Alright, I’m good.
Anyways, you said you wanted to get to Houston, right?
One portal, coming up.
Just let me put in the coordinates…
[Panel 5: MJ leans over to Peter, whispering up into his ear as he looks up in defeat.]
MJ: I’m not sure if I trust this.
Peter: You got a better idea for quick travel to Houston?
Kaine needs our help, and it’s faster coming here than commuting to JFK. Especially during rush hour.
MJ: I’m just saying I’d like to hold a little caution regarding the giant wormhole generator that brought an army of Symbiotes and took over the planet.
[Panel 1: Peter walks over to the gate, giving Lila a thumbs up. Lila, in turn, flicks a switch in the background.]
Peter: We made sure the Symbiotes can’t link it to this side. They won’t be able to get through this baby anytime soon.
Fire ‘er up, Lila.
Lila: One sec.
Filtering out excess molecular mass and background radiation…
[Panel 2: A swirling green, blue and purple vortex, barely taller than Peter and his posse, bursts to life in front of them. Their hair slightly blown back, Cindy and MJ stand back, while Peter merely looks on in marvel.]
Peter: This, ladies, is the future at work.
[Panel 3: Peter begins walking into the vortex, his body slowly disintegrating as he walks into the slipspace bridge. Cindy is quickly following, every save her torso, the back of her head and her jogging leg having been consumed by the vortex.]
Peter: C’mon, MJ. It’s like walking over a bridge.
Y’know, one that cuts a shortcut through time-space.
You, uh, get used to it. After the first few times.
At least, I did.
Cindy: Houston, here we come! Whoo!
[Panel 4: Takes place a couple of seconds afterward. MJ looks at the slipspace gate apprehensively, while Lila studies the readings in the background.]
Lila: Just read vitals from Parker and Moon. Confirmed arrival at destination.
Mrs. Parker, if you and daughter are ready?
[Panel 5: MJ gets her “game face” on, marching into the wormhole with Annie holding her hand as they walk through.]
MJ: Oh, yeah. We’re ready.
Bye, science lady!
[Panel 6: Everything in MJ’s front, save her top head, has vanished into the bridge, as she squints to avoid going blind.]
MJ: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, Tiger.
I swear, this had better be worth it.
[Panel 7: A blank, white light.]
[Panel 1: Large panel. MJ and Annie have just fallen into Peter’s arms, the portal instead opening parallel to the ground rather than perpendicular. Cindy, meanwhile, in on the ground, blood dripping from her nose as she groans in pain.]
Good catch, Tiger!
Peter: That wasn’t expected. Sorry about getting the lead role in Jackass: Sci-Fi Edition.
Cindy: Dammit. I think I broke my nose.
[Panel 2: Peter puts MJ and Annie back on solid ground. In the background, Cindy leans up against the alley wall, pinching her nose to stop the flowing blood spewing out.]
Peter: Well, congrats. You guys are the first non-superhumans to make slipspace transition.
Make of it what you will.
You gonna be okay, Cin?
Cindy: Yeah, I… *sigh* I think I’ll be okay.
Peter: See, Parker Luck in full effect right now.
It’s when the universe decides that you’re its punching bag for the--
[Panel 3: An explosion up above catches the attention of the four, pieces of debris raining down on them. Peter is pointing his web shooters at the ground, not aiming at anything in particular.]
Everybody, get down!
[Panel 4: Peter’s webbing, still in a slightly fluid state, cascades around the group, forming a small dome of hardened webbing.]
[Panel 5: The web-dome has completely shrouded the group, debris raining down and pinging down on them.]
[Panel 1: We get our first glimpse of Kaine and Aracely. Kaine’s Scarlet Spider outfit hasn’t changed much aside from the Spider-Symbol, which is altered to look more like the ANAD-Spider-Man symbol. Aracely, aka Hummingbird, is wearing more or less the same costume of her 616 counterparts, with a lighter shade of green on her cape and hood and contour lines on her shoulders. They’ve just landed in the alleyway, costumes riddled with scuff marks and holes and avoiding their pursuers: several members of the Assassin’s Guild.]
Kaine: Dammit! Peter?!
Aracely: Is this your brother you’ve been talking about?
Kaine: I thought I told you not to do that anymore.
[Panel 2: Peter tears open the web dome, him and Cindy having already changed into their costumes under the cover of the web dome.]
Peter: Say my name and I appear!
[Panel 3: Peter helps Kaine against the building wall, as he grips his bleeding chest in pain.]
Peter: Here, lemme give you a hand.
Kaine: I’m fine, dammit!
I need you to get those things off my tail!
[Panel 4: Peter points towards the oncoming Assassins’ Guild members, a lens raised in confusion.]
Peter: Wait, those guys?
They look like Assassin’s Guild members to me.
Why are they chasing you?
[Panel 5: Peter pokes a finger at Kaine, lenses narrowed in suspicion.]
Peter: Kaine, tell me.
Why in the hell is the Assassins’ Guild chasing you?
What did you do?
Kaine: That doesn’t matter right now! What matters is taking them out!
[Panel 1: Peter helps Kaine onto the ground, MJ rushing over with Cindy and Aracely.]
Peter: Fine. But you’d better have one really good explanation when we’re done here.
Silk! Game face!
Cindy: On it, boss!
[Panel 2: Peter and Cindy leap out of the alleyway, to the surprise of the Guild members.]
Spider-Man: Salut! Comment es toi aujourd-hui?
(French for “How are you today?”- I-took-a-French-class-and-barely-passed-in’ Neil!)
Singer: The Fu- More of them?! How many Spider-freaks are there?
Spider-Man: Ugh. Always with the drama.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man is in a grapple-lock with Flower, breaking free long enough to elbow her in the face. Silk, in the background, is brawling with Gris Gris, taking a fistful of powder to the face.]
Silk: Hey, boss!
Any reason why you keep giving me the hard ones?
Spider-Man: Depends. What makes you think that?
Silk: Well, how about the fact that my frickin’ eyes are on fire?!
[Panel 4: Spider-Man spins a web-line, flinging Flower into Gris Gris and sending both flying several feet..]
Spider-Man: I’d offer to trade dance partners, but that wouldn’t be accurate.
Here. Let’s even the playing field a bit for you.
[Panel 1: Silk rubs the powder out of the area surrounding her eyes. In bold yellow lines (transparent coloring) Peter’s Spider-Sense goes off, with his lenses widening.]
Spider-Man: You good?
Silk: Yeah. Yeah, I’m good.
Some of it’s still in my eyes.
Spider-Man: We’ll get them cleaned as soon as-
[Panel 2: Peter webs Cindy out of the way, ducking as a hail of bullets streaks over him. The sender is Smithy, teleporting a semi-automatic into his hands.]
Silk: What the hell?!
Why didn’t my Spider-Sense go off?
[Panel 3: Spider-Man dodges another round, flipping background to avoid the bullets as Smithy brings in heavier firepower: a fully automatic assault rifle.]
Spider-Man: That guy you were fighting?
X-Men fought him once. Told me he has powders that kind of work like Mr. Fear’s gases.
They might be forcing your Spider-Sense to focus on that rather than your surroundings!
[Panel 4: Using his hand as a balance, Spider-Man flips sideways, spreading his legs out to avoid the bullet spray.]
Spider-Man: So I need you to-
[Panel 1: Lifting his other hand, Spider-Man fires a web-ball upside down.]
Spider-Man: A little dose of impact webbing.
From Web-shooter with love.
[Panel 2: The impact webbing explodes around Smithy’s gun, causing the gun to explode on itself.]
Spider-Man: Here’s to giving Bullseye a run for his money.
[Panel 3: As Smithy tries to summon a new gun, Silk slugs him in the face, downing him as an SMG crosses across planes of existence.]
Silk: Denied, sit down!
Spider-Man: Damn. Kid, don’t take his jaw off.
[Panel 4: Rubbing her wrist, Silk joins Spider-Man, who is standing over the unconscious Smithy.]
Silk: I didn’t kill him, did I?
Spider-Man: Nah. You probably gave his brain a good rattling, though.
[Panel 5: A green coloring takes over the panel as Spider-Man and Silk are electrocuted, smoke pouring off of their bodies.]
[Panel 1: A smoking Spider-Man manages to pull himself together, weakly getting on his knees as Harvester stands over him and an unconscious Silk.]
Harvester: Aw. Two more Spiders.
I’ll kill your knock-off brother, then come back for you two.
Is this seriously how I’m going out?
A Deadpool knockoff with punisher’s fashion taste?
[Panel 2: Harvester grips Spider-Man by the throat, leering as his eyes narrow.]
Harvester: Y’know what? Never mind. You’re first.
Best to kill the orig-
[Panel 3: Eyes widening in pain, Harvester’s head lurches back as he releases Spider-Man.]
[Panel 4: Spider-Man rises up, recovered, helping Silk as Aracely joins them, hand pressed against the back of Harvester's masked head.]
Harvester: No. No. No. No. No. No.
Spider-Man: Up you go, kid.
Silk: Urgh… thanks.
Spider-Man: Don’t mention it.
Aracely, right? Hummingbird. What did you do to him?
Aracely: I’m not sure. I’ve only been using these powers for a few months, but Kaine’s been teaching me.
Something called a Weapon of Mass Delusion.
Spider-Man: Mass Delusion?
[Panel 5: A panel of Aracely, shrugging as she tries to explain the science behind it.]
Aracely: Kaine says that when our brain fills with delusions of grandeur, the structure of our mental state becomes easier to fracture.
When it becomes exposed by extreme concentration, it’s easier to find a shatterpoint in the mind and exploit it. And thus, if you find a way to challenge those perceptions of reality, their entire mental state collapses.
I think it’s just magic, but Kaine says different, so I just go with it.
[Panel 6: A shot of Spider-Man and Silk, with blank stares as they sit with no way to reply.]
[Panel 7: Aracely shrugs.]
Aracely: Like I said, I just prefer to go with magic.
[Panel 1: Aracely shakes Spider-Man’s hand, Peter taken aback by the intensity of her handshake.]
Aracely: But it’s nice to finally meet you, Spider-Man!
Aracely: You’re freaked out. Don’t worry, I do it to everybody!
Spider-Man: What-- how did you?...
Aracely: I’m an empath!
Isn’t that the coolest thing ever?!
Anyways, nice to meet you.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man whips around to see Kaine, supported by Mary Jane, who is also holding Annie.]
Kaine: Right… here.
MJ: Peter, he’s hurt. We need to get him to ground.
Kaine: Running won’t help. We need to take them out and--
We’re not going to be killing anybody. I know your morals are a lot looser than mine, but we’re playing by my book now.
You have somewhere we can hang out and patch you up?
[Panel 3: Spider-Man helps Kaine up, taking the weight off MJ as they walk over to the side of the street.]
You got a phone?
I’m gonna call some friends over. They’ll be happy to meet you.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man’s lens narrow, with Kaine’s unchanging as he stares at him.]
Spider-Man: I don’t think that’s--
Kaine: Relax. They know who I am. But, uh… you might want to change into civvies before we get there.
You too… uh….
Cindy: It’s Silk.
Kaine: Right…. You.
[Panel 1: Scene transition to Kaine’s apartment; the penthouse room at the Four Seasons hotel. It’s relatively well-kept; though no housekeeping services are evident (the pile of bottles in the corner and last night’s burger trash on the couch is the first clue.) it’s pretty clean. Peter and Cindy (Now in civilian clothes) have helped Kaine onto the kitchen table, with the help of Doctor Donald Meland, while MJ shakes hands with Officer Wally Layton.]
Donald: So, you’re Kaine’s famous brother?
Peter: Lord, you’ve heard of me?
Donald: Oh, Kaine won’t shut up about you. Says you’re the biggest thorn in his side since he was born.
Peter: Aw. I’m flattered.
Aracely: He’s lying when he says that, by the way.
He actually really likes you and just says it to sound edgy.
[Panel 2: Peter, with surgical precision, places a Horizon-brand medical patch over Kaine’s gaping chest wound, as he grunts in pain.]
Peter: Hold still for a second, bro.
This is gonna sting a little.
Damn. You weren’t kidding. That thing has a kick.
Peter: Well, it’s pumping bio-mimetic gel into the wound to patch it up and repair your skin tissue. So I would kind of hope so.
Y’know, in a non-sadist way.
[Panel 3: Wally walks over, patting Kaine on the shoulder.]
Wally: Not knowing when to pick your battles?
Never change, Kaine. Never change.
Otherwise, Donald’s gonna be bored to death just sitting in his office.
Kaine: Cute. But I don’t exactly get hurt for your husband’s entertainment.
[Panel 4: Kaine sits up, asking Wally and Layton to leave as MJ approaches the table, Peter placing his spare medical supplies in his bag.]
Kaine: Could you give us a minute?
Peter and I need to talk. It’s a bit of a… family matter.
Wally: Of course. Take all the time you need.
[Panel 1: As the door closes, Peter turns to Kaine, who is holding hands with Annie.]
Annie: Hi, Uncle Kaine!
Kaine: Aw. You taught her to call me “Uncle.”
Because I totally deserve that name.
So… Doc Ock?
Peter: Yep. Six feet under.
[Panel 2: Peter sits down next to Kaine, twiddling his thumbs as Kaine picks up Annie, balancing her on his knee.]
Peter: All for her. I didn’t want to do it, but-- well, sometimes you’ll cross lines to keep family safe.
Kaine: If it makes you feel any better?
He always was a stubborn--
[Panel 3: Peter and Kaine both, reflexively, look over at Annie, who is still on Kaine’s knee and smiling as though nobody said anything.]
Kaine: Uh…. He was a stubborn--
Peter: Bum. He was a stubborn bum.
Should’ve stayed dead the first time you killed him.
[Panel 4: Peter looks at Kaine, who smirks with a hint of annoyance.]
Peter: Wait. I only killed him once--
Kaine: No, but… y’know, I killed him.
And I’m a--
Peter: Yeah, well, my sense of humor has definitely been instilled in you.
[Panel 1: As Peter rises from the table, Kaine helps Annie off his knee, as Aracely points towards her room, Cindy in tow.]
Kaine: Aracely, the adults need to talk.
Why don’t you show Annie your war trophy collection?
Aracely: Oohh, she’ll love it!
Annie, have you ever seen a severed salamander tail?
Because I have a huge one!
Cindy: I’ll tag along. This is something that sounds Parker-exclusive.
Aracely: You’re welcome to come! I have this crazy collection of old Mandroid brains!
[Panel 2: As yet another door closes behind them, Peter and MJ surround Kaine, who is picking up his tattered suit.]
Peter: So… war trophies?
Kaine: That’s just what I call them. Aracely thinks of them more as souvenirs.
But that’s another story.
Peter: So is this afternoon.
Kaine, what the hell are you doing running from the Assassin’s Guild?!
That’s not even the Houston branch, it’s New Orleans! Gambit turf! How did you manage to get mixed up with them?
[Panel 3: Large panel. Kaine’s upper body, as he’s removing the medical patch from his chest, the wound has healed. In the background, elements from Yost’s Scarlet Spider run (specifically #3) are shown (Remember that various elements of Kaine’s Scarlet Spider run are relatively similar in the FNSM universe.)]
Kaine: Long story short… the Guild’s had a restructuring.
For some reason--
--and I’m sure you and your buddies in New York had something to do with this--
--Kingpin has been handling affairs of individual factions less and less over the past year.
It’s gotten to the point where factions are fighting for control over each other’s turf.
And Belladonna Boudreaux won out against the Texas leadership.
As it turns out, she’s pretty pissed off at me for stealing some of her contracts. And given that she has control over the area, well…
Now they’re gunning for me.
[Panel 1: Peter and MJ, leaning on the table.]
So, why exactly is Belladonna mad for stealing contracted kills? Is it the money or something else?
Kaine [OP]: It’s exactly the money.
After I took Aracely in, they came and told me they would be coming.
[Panel 2: Kaine concentrates, the suit regenerating in his hands as he continues talking. (I dunno, I kinda like the regenerating Scarlet Spider suit. I’ll just handwave it away as Peter making that feature as a good-luck present for Kaine.)]
Kaine: Being the idiot that I am, I didn’t think anything of it.
Peter [OP]: But here they are.
Here they are.
[Panel 3: The suit having completed its regeneration cycle, Kaine slips on the top, reaching for his gloves as he fits one hand.]
Peter: So. That brings us to today’s question.
Why exactly did you call me here?
Kaine: So that you know what I’m about to do.
It’s a line you’re afraid to cross, but I’m not.
I figured you’d be safer here, especially if we combined our numbers. Especially considering that Kingpin is right on your doorstep.
[Panel 1: Peter leans over as Kaine pulls out a box from underneath a chair, trying to piece together the puzzle.]
Peter: Kaine, Fisk doesn’t know who I am under the mask.
Kaine: Maybe. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t members of the Assassin’s Guild living across the street from you.
Here’s an offer. You guys stay in Houston for a while.
The Avengers can handle New York. They have practically everybody up there.
We’ll be the Spectacular Spider-Brothers of Houston.
Plus, you know, an empath and Spider-Girl.
[Panel 1: As Kaine sets down the box, Peter folds his arms, pulling Mary Jane closer.]
MJ: We can’t just leave New York, Kaine.
We have lives there. You can’t expect us to throw them away to hide for God knows how long.
Peter: Plus, the superhero community is a bit less… stable than it was three months ago. I’m needed there. Cindy, too.
You of all people should know, being one of… two people who use their powers for good here.
[Panel 2: Kaine opens the box, the contents unknown. Instead of the fake cheerful expression he slapped on moments ago, he’s turned deadly serious.]
Kaine: Fine. I won’t stop you.
But I’ll still advise it. Because what I’m about to do will probably put you in a few crosshairs.
Get me kicked out of the New Warriors.
But I don’t care.
[Panel 3: MJ and Peter have a look of shock at what’s in the box. We still don’t know what it is.]
Kaine [OP]: I’ll do whatever it takes to protect the life I’ve built up here.
My first real life.
Peter: Kaine… you’re not planning on…
I think he’s serious.
[Splash page, and final cliffhanger page because this chapter is way too long as it is. Kaine is standing in front of a window, the pale moonlight illuminating his costume as he holds the content of his box in his hand; a six-round revolver, with only one bullet in the chamber. Peter has MJ move behind him, ready to take the bullet.]
Kaine: I am.
I’m going to fix this once and for all, and solve the problem at the source.
I’m going to put a bullet between Belladonna Boudreaux’s eyes.
[To be continued]
Chapter 24: House of Spiders, Pt 2: Thy Fearful Symmetry
Chapter by QuilSniv
As Kaine rushes to kill Belladonna, Peter must catch up and convince him to not cross the line.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (2016) #23
“House of Spiders, Pt 2: Thy Fearful Symmetry”
Writer: Neil Bogenrieder
Assistant Writer: Mohammed Jaafar
Editor: Mark Alford
Preferred Art Team: Ryan Stegman and Marte Gracia
[Panel 1: Kaine is inspecting the revolver as Peter and MJ approach him, trying to talk him down.]
Peter: Kaine, you can’t kill Belladonna!
If you do, the Assassin’s Guild will gun for everybody to figure out who you’re related to! And they won’t stop there!
Kaine: You’re wrong. I’m going to fix this.
MJ: I’m siding with Peter, Kaine. This won’t work, and you know it.
[Panel 2: Kaine points accusatory at MJ, Peter rushing to her defense.]
Kaine: Says his wife.
Of course you of all people would take his side.
Peter: Oh, that’s bull!
MJ, remember when Cindy first got her powers?
You tried to stop me from training her!
MJ: If I recall, you went through with it anyway.
Peter: But my point is, you were the voice of reason. You held me back from making some really dumb decisions.
Kaine, you can’t do this.
I won’t let you.
[Panel 3: Kaine walks away, not saying a word as he shoves past. Peter, however, is having none of it, gripping Kaine’s shoulder as he tries to rush out.]
I’m not going to let you kill. Not even if you have some crazy delusion that a bullet will magically fix all of your problems.
[Panel 4: A narrow shot of Kaine’s eyes, as he narrows those as well.]
[Panel 1: Kaine socks Peter in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him.]
Kaine: -I don’t recall asking for your permission!
[Panel 2: Picking him up, Kaine tosses Peter into MJ, sending them both crashing into the floor.]
Kaine: I don’t care what you have to say.
I’m going through with this.
Peter and MJ: Gah!
Kaine: And trust me when I say it’ll all work out in the end.
[Panel 3: Webbing Peter and MJ to the floor, Kaine pulls on his mask.]
Kaine: I promise. Once this is over, we’ll all be able to go back to the way things were.
The status quo.
[Panel 4: Smashing through the window, Scarlet Spider fires a web-line, propelling himself over the city.]
[Panel 1: Cindy, Aracely and Annie burst into the other room, to see MJ and Peter webbed down. On the adjacent wall, Wally and Donald also burst in, along with a new arrival; Annabelle Adams.]
Cindy: We heard shouting and windows-
Peter: Cin! Little help here?
[Panel 2: Cindy helps Peter and MJ out of the webbing, as they help each other up.]
Cindy: Here ya go.
Peter: Took off. He webbed MJ and me and threw a couch at the window to make a getaway.
He’s lucky he keeps paying up.
Would it kill him to just… I dunno, open a window?
Peter: Yes. It would.
[Panel 3: Peter opens up his shirt, pulling his out his Spider-Man mask as he reveals his costume.]
Peter: I’m going after him. Hopefully I can talk him down before he does something he’ll regret.
MJ, you’re in charge until I get back.
MJ: Are you implying you were ever in charge?
Peter: Uh… ever since we started this whole… what are we, Spider-Family?
Too many of us running around.
[Panel 4: Peter continues to strip, having gotten down to his pants, as MJ leans on his shoulder. Cindy, on the other hand, is pointing at where his eyes should be, in the direction of the reader.]
Peter: What’re there, seven of us? I dunno.
MJ: Of course, dear. Whatever you say, dear.
Peter: Ha, ha.
Cindy: Uh, boss?
Peter: Yeah, what’s up?
Cindy: Uh. Present company.
[Panel 5: From Peter’s back, we see Wally, Donald and Annabelle staring at Peter changing, faces gaping at the revelation. Absolute silence.]
[Panel 1: Peter looks over to MJ, who shrugs with no idea as to what to do. Silent panel.]
[Panel 2: Peter swaps the way his head is facing, instead looking at Cindy. Cindy, however, is standing stiffly, looking away to avoid culpability.]
Peter: Really, kid?
[Panel 3: Now fully strong down to his entire costume, Peter is shrugging, pulling his mask out of his jeans pocket.]
So, I’m Peter Parker. And I’m Spider-Man.
Hope you’re happy.
Wally [OP]: Not really. But it answers a few questions.
Peter: Right. So, here’s my plan.
I go after Kaine, because physically I’m the only one here who could stand up to him.
Aracely will stick around here and make sure that the Assassins’ Guild doesn’t come after you while I’m gone.
[Panel 4: Peter motions Cindy over to the side, talking to her as the others look on.]
Peter: I’m pretty sure you won’t need to blow your cover to protect these people.
Cindy: As in, Aracely can do better than me at my job?
Peter: No. As in, I’m pretty sure you do your job just as well as she can.
My point is, if you need to, don’t hesitate.
These people are important to Kaine. So we treat them like family.
Watch out for MJ and Annie for me?
Cindy: You got it.
[Panel 5: Peter leaps out the window, pulling on his mask as he swings off.]
I’ll be back with a Scarlet Spider and maybe some dinner.
No promises on that last one.
[Panel 1: Peter swings across downtown Houston, with passersby noticing that he isn’t their resident hero as he makes his way across the cityscape.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Let’s see...
If I were Kaine, and I were on a bloodthirsty and misguided quest to keep people safe, where would I hide?
Civilian (1): Yo, Scarlet! Love the new duds!
Civilian (2): Lookin’ just like the OG!
Civilian (3): Wait a sec, I think that is the OG!
How cool is that?!
Spider-Man [capt]: Okay, that’s new.
I mean, people like me back home, but this?
It took years for civvies to stop blaming me for all their problems.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man runs on the side of a building, firing off another web-line at a random phantom anchor point.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Maybe they just don’t have a lot of superheroes here in Houston.
They’re a novelty in this neck of the woods.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man, from the front, as he swings over the city.]
Spider-Man [capt]: Kaine’s needed here. And if he kills Belladonna….
He can kiss his whole life here goodbye.
He’ll be forced to pack up and leave. Hit Mexico or--
[Panel 4: Back shot of Spider-Man, as he descends towards the rail system.]
Spider-Man [capt]: No. I won’t let him lose everything he’s built up here.
He has friends. Family. People like him in and out of costume.
For the first time in his life, he’s whole again.
I can’t let him tear it all down.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man lands on top of the metro train, startling the driver.]
Spider-Man [capt]: I won’t.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man wall-crawls on the side of the train, knocking on the glass to get the driver’s attention.]
Spider-Man: Knock, knock.
Spider-Man: I know. Reds and blues gave it away, huh?
Anyways. New in town, and I’m wondering.
If I was looking to find a large group of people, and they were hiding in plain sight, where would I go?
[Panel 2: The driver points outside the train, Spidey’s head following his arm and finger-pointing.]
Driver: I’m guessing you’re talking about supervillains.
Spider-Man: Big surprise, right?
Driver: Yeah. You’ll want to head over to George R. Brown.
You can’t miss it. Huge convention going on and everything.
Spider-Man: Right. So, I guess I’ll head over there.
[Panel 3: Firing a web line, Spider-Man continues talking to the driver.]
Driver: You wouldn’t happen to be related to Scarlet Spider, would you?
Spider-Man: ...You could say that. I mean, we share a motif and all that, but we’re not exactly close right now.
Driver: This have anything to do with him?
Spider-Man: Not if I have anything to say about it.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man swings off, waving in thanks to the driver.]
Spider-Man: Right. Thanks, Darryl.
[Panel 4: As Spider-Man swings off, he comes to a realization mid-pivot.]
Spider-Man: George R Brown. Convention center, right?
I have no idea where that is.
[Panel 5: A couple of civilians move to the side next to a map kiosk* as Spider-Man lands next to them, spooking them briefly.]
*Yes, Houston does have map kiosks all over the city. -- Former Houstonian Neil
Spider-Man: ‘Scuse me.
[Panel 6: Spider-Man reads the map kiosk, curious civilians watching him. (One even pulls out their phone.]
Am I reading this right?
George R Brown is… north, right?
Civilian: Yeah. Just hit Rusk street and head up north. You can’t miss it. Big red pipes and a lot of glass.
Spider-Man: Right. Thanks.
How’re you guys liking the World Series?
[Panel 1: Cut back to the Four Seasons Hotel. MJ and Cindy are currently in the middle of cleaning up Kaine’s mess; though they don’t have a panel of glass to replace the one that he destroyed, they have taped a bedsheet to the window, closing off the loud winds from the height. Everybody else (Wally, Donald, Annabelle and Aracely (who is accompanying Annie)) are assembled in the room, in various places.]
MJ: There. That should seal the hole until you get a replacement pane.
Annabelle: Wow. That’s pretty precise. You have a lot of practice doing this?
MJ: Honey, we live in New York and my husband is a superhero.
Everybody has experience with this. Not just us.
[Panel 2: MJ shakes Annabelle’s hand, sheepish about her husband’s secret identity.]
MJ: Speaking of which?...
Annabelle: Don’t worry about it. We go through the same schtick with Kaine.
Your secret is safe with us.
[Panel 3: MJ flops back on the couch, breathing heavily. Cindy, meanwhile, hops onto the adjacent seat]
MJ: Thank god.
Between Carlie finding out and Venom almost unmasking him during the Symbiote Invasion…
I’m worried that Peter’s just going to unmask and get it over with.
Cindy: Actually, to be fair, he told me that half of his rogues know who he is.
Of course, I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, so take it with a grain of salt.
[Panel 4: MJ lifts her feet, frustrated beyond belief.]
Annabelle: I’m pretty sure everybody in Houston knows what Kaine looks like under the mask. For a while, he ran around shirtless and without a mask.
Took him a while before he actually became Scarlet Spider.
MJ: Oh lord, I keep forgetting that Kaine is literally an always angry Peter.
Is he just so angry that when you’re around him you’re desensitized to it?
Wally: I have, at least.
[Panel 5: Close up of Wally, shrugging as he replies to MJ.]
Wally: Kaine really does mean well. He just uses being a total pain as an excuse for people to not get close.
It doesn’t work, though. He’s a good person; it just takes putting up with him to really understand him.
[Panel 6: Wally moves over to Donald, patting him on the shoulder.]
Wally: Kaine’s saved my husband’s life more times than I’d care to admit.
I owe him. And if that means putting up with a constantly angry man, then I’m more than willing to go with it.
[Panel 1: MJ rubs her temples, sighing as she collapses back into the chair.]
MJ: I… *sigh* I’m sorry.
I’ve been through a lot of crap recently. My husband got brainwashed into thinking he was married to his ex, and that just scares me.
Because it makes me feel like I’m not good enough to him.
And Kaine is a side of Peter that I’m not scared of.
It just worries me that this side of him has begun to pop up more and more. That’s what scares me.
[Panel 2: Cindy sits down, legs crossed, on the floor next to MJ, whose head has moved to acknowledge her.]
Cindy: Gonna be honest. I’ve only seen Mr. Par-- Dammit-- Peter mad once.
Like, really mad. And that was during the Symbiote invasion. The absolute breaking point.
[Panel 3: Close of Cindy, with a mildly depressing face. (But I guess add a slight underbite so that it’s still cute.]
Cindy: In Mysterio’s pseudo-reality, I was his daughter.
I don’t think that’s what he wanted, but more of how I perceive him.
He’s kind of like that cool dad you always wish you had. My real dad’s cool and all, but I just gel with Peter a lot more.
Y’know, the one you can tell about all your problems and he’ll call you sport and cook you a burger on Sundays.
[Panel 4: As MJ picks up an excited Annie, Aracely leans on the back of the chair, as Cindy continues talking.]
Cindy: --I dunno, when he said I’m family, that just… validated me.
Made me feel like I wasn’t just tagging along.
[Panel 5: Cindy leans back, her legs never leaving their original positions, as Aracely hovers over her.]
Aracely: I get that.
You view Peter as a father figure. A sort of compass.
Kaine is kind of the same for me. A bit more… aggressive, but he’s a good person when he tries.
Cindy: When you put it like that…
[Panel 1: MJ picks up Annie, acknowledging Cindy and Aracely’s diatribe.]
Jeez, Annie, you're getting heavy.
--Like Peter said. You’re family, Cin.
And we’re here for you if you need us.
[Panel 2: Cindy rushes over, giving MJ a super-powered hug, both knocking the wind out of her and making Annie giggle.]
Cindy: You have no idea how much that means to me.
You have every right to hate me for just walking into your life.
But this…. I always thought you hated me. For walking into your life unannounced.
[Panel 3: MJ ruffles Cindy’s hair (This is a classic Peter move, for those who recall), smiling comfortingly.]
MJ: Don’t mention it, Cindy.
We’re lucky to have you as family.
Not to mention you make a heckuva big sister for Annie.
Cindy: Aw, bless.
Annie: It’s true!
[Panel 4: MJ gestures over Aracely, who looks at them with curiosity.]
MJ: You too, Aracely.
You’re family, too.
[Panel 5: Aracely looks over at Kaine’s friends, who gesture towards MJ off-panel.]
[Panel 1: Aracely hugs MJ from the other side, also knocking the wind out of her. (Keep in mind, it’s not from her super-strength. She’s just got canonically cartoonish hugging powers.)]
Aracely: You guys are the coolest!
MJ: Don’t mention it. Please don’t crush my neck.
[Panel 2: MJ looks up, smirking at Aracely, who readjusts her grip.]
Aracely: Sorry, I’m just really excitable.
So… about Kaine and Peter.
[Panel 3: Both Cindy and Aracely release from MJ, as she leans back in her chair. Off to the side, Wally, Donald and Annabelle come over.]
MJ: *sigh* I don’t know. Kaine and Peter are… complicated.
But Peter doesn’t stop until he gets results. It’s probably one of his greatest qualities.
If he says he can stop Kaine from killing Belladonna and bring him home?
I trust him.
[Panel 4: MJ kisses Annie on the forehead as they talk.]
Annie: Promise? Can daddy really save Uncle Kaine?
Once this is all over, we’ll go back to the way things should be--
[Panel 1: Spider-Man swinging towards the George R. Brown convention center. Traffic beneath him is heavy, but ultimately meaningless to him; he’s making good web-swinging time.]
MJ [cont’d capt]: --one big, happy Spider-family.
Peter [capt]: Whoa. That’s… a crowd.
Guess everything is bigger in Texas.
Even the waffles.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man has landed on the roof, using one of the many red vent systems to enter into the building.]
[Panel 3: Spider-Man comes out of the vent inside the building, onto the main exhibition hall. Down below (this shot is from his rear right) we see the floor is crowded with superhero fans. In the back of the building (around the middle of the shot) you should be able to see Scarlet Spider. He sticks out in costume, but given that he’s a local, nobody seems to really mind his presence.]
Spider-Man: Alright, Kaine.
Good for you to blend into the environment.
Now, where are you?
[Panel 4: A zoomed in shot of Scarlet Spider from the previous panel, as he steps into the room nearest his position; a stairwell to the next floor.]
[Panel 5: A close up of Spider-Man’s lenses as they narrow.]
[Panel 1: Scarlet Spider exits the stairwell, on a scene cut to the second floor.]
[Panel 2: Side shot of Scarlet Spider, mostly obscured by shadows, as he comes full stop into the hallway.]
[Panel 3: Pretty much copy-pasted this panel from the last one.]
Scarlet Spider: You found me. Guess you found your way around Houston.
I’ll give you a medal and send you back to New York.
[Panel 4: Shot that focuses on Scarlet Spider’s front. In the background, Spider-Man hangs upside-down, also masked by shadows.]
Spider-Man: Aw. I’m touched.
Scarlet Spider: You being here doesn’t change jack. I’m still going to go through with this.
Spider-Man: And I’m still going to stop you.
[Panel 5: Spider-Man lands on the floor precision, sticking the landing from the vent as the cover clangs on the ground.]
Spider-Man: Kaine, you’re not wrong. Belladonna needs to be taken down.
But we don’t need to kill her.
There's a better way to do this.
A slightly less illegal way.
Kaine: I’m sorry, Peter.
But I have to do this. I don’t have a choice.
[Panel 1: Spider-Man has stood up, now pointing his finger at Kaine.]
Spider-Man: That’s a load of crock.
You always have a choice.
Scarlet Spider: Choice words from the man who killed Doctor Octopus.
[Panel 2: Peter points at himself, lenses flared in anger, as he rails on Kaine.]
Spider-Man: No. You don’t get to turn this on me.
I heard enough of this crap from Iron Man.
He was inches away from my daughter. If I didn’t kill him, she’d be dead. There was no compromise that day.
You on the other hand, have a choice.
[Panel 3: Kaine turns around, but only the top of his body; he’s just now acknowledging Peter.]
Peter [OP]: Please. Make the right one.
And you’re right. I did kill Doc Ock. I did what I thought was right.
But with that choice came consequences. I still live with them, and I don’t like them, but I have to accept them because I can’t avoid them.
I’m telling you to stop because if you don’t, you’ll be plagued by the same nightmares I was.
Just stop this before you do something you regret.
[Panel 4: Kaine walks over to Peter, looking down in supposed shame.]
[Panel 1: Kaine sucker punches Peter again, sending him flying.]
[Panel 2: Spider-Man rubs his bruised cheek, lenses narrowed in anger.]
Spider-Man: That’s it.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man leaps into the air, surprising Kaine with his aggressiveness.]
Spider-Man: You don’t get to cry about how everybody’s out to get you when you’re about to kill their leader.
I’m taking you home, brother. One way or the other.
[Panel 4: Scarlet Spider gut-punches Peter, as Peter grabs onto Scarlet Spider’s head.]
Scarlet Spider: Quit it with your moral high ground!
Spider-Man: I’m not doing this for me! Trust me, you do this.
You’ll regret it for the rest of your life!
[Panel 5: Peter slams Scarlet Spider into the ground, the latter’s lenses wide with surprise.]
Scarlet Spider: Oof!
That… was new.
Peter: Hope it lets you know how serious I am about this.
[Panel 1: Peter points his fingers at the now disabled Scarlet, relaxing but still keeping him down.]
I won’t pretend that I haven’t done things I regret.
I regret them everyday.
Doc Ock is just the latest in a long string of screw ups since I was some fifteen year old kid in Queens.
[Panel 2: Spider-Man lets Scarlet go, pointing towards the window, and by extension, Houston.]
Spider-Man: Look at you.
I’m not mad, Kaine. I’m proud of you. You managed to build your own life here, from ground zero.
You’re a dad… ish. You’re a New Warrior.
You fixed yourself. Not because you had to, but because you wanted to.
Scarlet Spider: As Parkers do.
[Panel 3: Spider-Man sits down next to him, sighing as he eases up.]
Spider-Man: That’s why I don’t want you to kill Belladonna.
Not because of some cooked-up moral high ground.
If you go through with this, you’ll tear down everything you’ve built up here.
[Panel 4: Spider-Man uses his left hand to put it on Scarlet’s Spider, attempting to empathize with him.]
Spider-Man: I want you to be happy, Kaine. I do.
But you can’t expect a second chance to do the exact same thing.
[Panel 1: Kaine inspects the revolver he brought with him, tilting his head as he looks at it.]
Kaine: I still want to stop the Assassin’s Guild.
Spider-Man: And I’m not saying you can’t.
But you can do it in a less… bloody way.
Where should we start?
Scarlet Spider: Not sure.
Ever since I got on their hit list, they’ve known that playing with Spiders isn’t exactly the easiest business.
Last I heard, they got some extra--
[Panel 2: Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider look up to see a grenade fly through the window, shattering the glass.]
Scarlet Spider: --Muscle.
[Panel 3: Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man stand up, as the grenade (pinless) clatters to the ground.]
Spider-Man: I take it that’s one of them?
Scarlet Spider: Well, you know. People don’t toss grenades inside closed rooms very often in Houston.
So I’d take a gamble and say yes.
[Panel 4: Outside shot of the room. A flash of light goes off; the grenade was not an explosive one, but merely a flashbang.]
[Panel 1: Spider-Man and Kaine are taken aback, Spider-senses going haywire (with little static waves in the waves to indicate this] as they lean on each other for support.]
I feel like I was flash-banged!
Kaine: That’s because you were, dammit!
We need to get out of here, now.
[Panel 2: A gun barrel is seen on the far side of the panel, pointed at Spider-Man and SS as they stumble around.]
Scarlet Spider: Before Belladonna’s thugs get the jump on--
[Panel 3: A bullet flies past the two, landing in the wall behind them.]
???: Aw, c’mon! I had a perfectly clear shot!
Is that plot contrivance I smell?
[Panel 4: Spider-Man facepalms, as Kaine looks at him in confusion.]
Spider-Man: Oh, no.
No, no, no.
Of all the assassins in the world. It could’ve been Ghost, Crossbones, Bullseye.
But no, Belladonna had to hire him, didn’t she?
Scarlet Spider: Who?
[Panel 1: Massive panel taking up the majority of the page. From Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man’s back perspective, we get a good view of their assailant; Deadpool, in all of his fourth-wall breaking glory. His assault rifle smoking, he draws one of his katanas, pointing it at the Spider-brothers. (I know Kaine said it earlier to cover up his tracks, but screw it; I like it, so we’re keeping it in a metafictional way.)]
Deadpool: C’mon, man! I’ve got one of the highest-selling comics at Marvel and the highest-grossing R-rated movie of time!
I gave his friggin’ daughter a plushie of me back in issue 9!
How do you not know me?!
Spider-Man: Yep. Should’ve known Deadpool was their new gun.
Deadpool: Wait a sec! I asked how you didn’t know it was me when you should’ve been totally neutered by light!
But here you are, instantly recovered just in time to say my name in a flashy logo text!
I knew there were writing shenanigans afoot!
Spider-Man: What are you even talking about?!
[Panel 2: Minimalist action panel, as Deadpool moves in for an attack run.]
Deadpool: Silence, you fool!
It’s part two of the story and we need some contrived conflict!
[To be continued]