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The Amazing Spider-Man #473

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  • Flint
    Spider-Man dropped down from the ceiling, tired after a full day of work at Stark Solutions and an evening of webslinging. He had worked on the Sub-Mariner
    Message 1 of 21 , Apr 7, 2007
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      Spider-Man dropped down from the ceiling, tired after a full day of
      work at Stark Solutions and an evening of webslinging. He had worked
      on the Sub-Mariner study all day, and kept developing theories even
      while fighting off the Scorpion with the White Tiger's aid. (1)

      With the press of a hidden button on his wrist, the dark crimson-and-
      blue costume shifted and was sucked into his watch. It was still
      weird to get used to the new nanosuit, but it had been helpful in
      adjusting to the life of the friendly neighborhood webspinner once
      more. Ben Reilly felt as though his power level was returning to
      normal now that he was regularly engaged by the likes of the Black
      Tarantula and the Jack O'Lantern again. While he had been dealing
      with power fluctuations before, his strength and stamina were
      rebuilding through constant exercise, and his ability to stick to
      walls and spider-sense were guaranteed successes once more.

      He probably didn't even need the suit anymore, with its power
      amplification, but it didn't hurt. As long as his training wheels
      suit didn't come to life and try to kill anyone like other costumes
      had done for Peter in the past.

      Ben slipped into bed and set his alarm to wake him in the morning. He
      had another full day of work tomorrow.

      He quickly fell asleep, a very deep sleep.

      When he awoke, it was to his spider-sense blaring to the tune of a
      five-alarm fire. Ben opened his eyes, searching for the threat whose
      presence exploded throughout his brain, but saw nothing. No direction
      seemed safe, and so his instincts refused to take over and direct him
      as to where to go. Everywhere was danger, according to his mysterious

      Then, his body exploded with pain sensations as his head already was
      doing. He fell out of bed, shaking arms raised to his face in an
      attempt to shut out the terrible sensations his every nerve was
      reporting to his brain. Whoever was attacking him was doing a
      marvelous job of it, and Ben struggled to maintain enough conscious
      thought to figure out who it could be; the biggest foe he'd faced
      since his return had been the Black Tarantula, and he didn't know
      Spider-Man's true identity and lacked the power for this sort of

      Someone who knew his identity... someone with psychic abilities?
      Perhaps it was a psionic attack? Maybe Xavier had become Onslaught
      again and was striking out at the heroes preemptively?

      No, it had to be something else, Ben thought... before passing out
      from the pain.

      When Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained great
      power; but when the naivety of youth resulted in the death of his
      beloved Uncle Ben, he learned that with great power, there must also
      come great responsibility. Now, with Peter Parker having accepted
      greater responsibilities, Ben Reilly, his clone, has claimed the
      title of the Amazing Spider-Man, to strive against evil however it
      might strike...
      Alternate Marvel Presents: The Amazing Spider-Man!

      The Amazing Spider-Man #473
      March 2007
      Writer: John Flint
      Editor: Josh Greer
      Webmaster: Liam Gibbs

      [An early morning hour.]

      The Black Tarantula stood at the end of a long, dark table, hands
      behind his back, calmly and quietly awaiting his lieutenants'
      reports. Men and women sat along the sides of the long table, both
      those who were publicly known to be super-villains and those who were
      unknown to the general populace or considered to be merely shady
      businessmen with questionable ethical practices.

      The Jack O'Lantern on Tarantula's left hand side spoke first. "We
      heisted millions in diamonds and gold last night," Jack said, "that
      secret midnight shipment we were told about was on the money. It'll
      be in the morning papers, though, so I should lay low for a few
      nights, let some of the other boys build up their reps while I work
      on staging the next big theft."

      The Black Tarantula nodded silently in agreement.

      The Ringmaster, on the Tarantula's right hand side, spoke next. "As
      you requested, I've hypnotized the police in narcotics who were
      sniffing around and about to expose the dirty cops who helped us in
      our drug trafficking. They won't be bothering us again, and since we
      didn't have to bump them off, no one will ever think anything of it,
      except that they found nothing in their investigations. We should be
      free and clear to sell our drugs in New York for some time to come."

      The Black Tarantula also nodded to this.

      Tombstone reported next. "My line of business is going as well as
      everybody else's. I've infiltrated the Maggia and gained their trust.
      I report directly to Hammerhead, who likes to think of himself as one
      of the East Coast heads of the organization." Tombstone laughed at
      this idea. "Poor sap, but he lets me get away with taking some of
      their critical files. I've got another batch for you, including some
      files on the Assassin's Game and some hero-spy ring called The Order."

      The Black Tarantula nodded to this as well.

      He continued to listen as his men listed off their weekly activities,
      almost all of which went smoothly. A few had trouble with local
      vigilantes, but nothing of any consequence. The Tarantula focused his
      thoughts on a bad feeling he couldn't shake; something big, something
      bad, was coming down. He didn't know what, but he knew it would spell
      trouble for the Mafia Syndicate.

      And it involved Spider-Man, somehow, as weak as he had proved to be.
      Somehow, he would bring ruin to the Mafia Syndicate. The Black
      Tarantula cursed himself for toying with the bug, and swore he would
      stop playing games and finish him off before his bad precognition
      could come to fruition.


      Ben woke again, semi-delirious, and crawled to the bathroom, feeling
      as though he was about to explode or fall apart. One hand at a time,
      he slowly brought himself up the wall with his adhesive fingertips,
      until he was standing level with the sink's mirror.

      He opened his eyes, and saw his skin cracking and almost visibly
      shifting. He looked away, at his shaking hands, and they too seemed
      to be undergoing some transformation, as though they had destabilized
      and were now falling apart. He returned his gaze to his own face, his
      own faltering, falling apart face, and thought of Kaine.

      As a clone, the possibility of cellular degeneration was ever
      present. He thought that the danger was in the past after an eventful
      meeting with the High Evolutionary. (2) He thought himself cured,
      though the procedure that saved him also robbed him of most of his
      super-powers. He should have known; with his spider-powers returning
      nearly to full power, it was only a matter of time before his cure
      would also fall apart, and he would return to the nonexistence he had
      before the Jackal had given him artificial life...

      "I can't die," Ben said to his ugly, warped face in the mirror, "Not
      now. Peter needs me--he needs me to be Spider-Man. If I'm not around
      anymore, he'll feel responsible again and put the entire life he's
      put together in jeopardy. I can't... I won't let him throw that

      Ben began to sink once more, under the depths of darkness. The pain
      was consuming him again, and he wondered if he would be able to keep
      fighting for long, or if the degeneration would go beyond any help
      and he would perish. He collapsed to the floor, which felt sticky. He
      didn't know if he was bleeding or if his powers were running rampant,
      so that he now adhered to everything. Maybe it was both, or neither.

      His hands went numb as something seemed to pierce his wrists, pushing
      through them and out.

      "Won't die," Ben promised himself in a whisper before passing out


      One older man watched as Ben Reilly collapsed in his bathroom. It had
      been easier when he was in his bedroom; the man had to use binoculars
      and find a narrow angle to see in through the bathroom window. The
      repositioning had taken several minutes to perfect.

      "I almost pity the poor boy," The older man said as he saw Ben's
      seizuring body cracking up. "He isn't through with the worst of it

      The man's name was Ezekiel and he was crouching on the side of the
      building just across the street from Ben Reilly's apartment complex.
      He kept himself fixed by the balls of his feet, which clung to the
      vertical side of the building as though it were the horizontal ground.

      He had some idea of just what Ben Reilly was currently going through.
      He had suffered through it himself, not so long ago. He wasn't sure
      how many other beings ever reached this point, or how, or why. All he
      knew was the great pain it brought, pain which, while now long gone,
      still seemed fresh in his memory. It was a mental scar which would
      never be forgotten.

      Ezekiel's belt vibrated, and he removed his cell phone and turned off
      the alarm. It was time to return to work. Ben would have to wait;
      Ezekiel had a feeling he would get through this. The fact he wasn't
      already a pile of ash meant he had a fighting chance.

      Leaping from the building, Ezekiel fell several storeys before firing
      a line of white webbing from a wrist, which caught the side of
      another tall building. The old man proceeded to websling across town,
      towards his workplace, whilst the real Spider-Man was oblivious in
      his humble abode.

      Any onlookers simply assumed it was Spider-Man out of costume; he
      went by too quickly to be identified and no one looked long or hard
      enough to notice his snow white hair or wrinkled skin. All they saw
      was a human figure on a web, and they saw that high above, for a
      second or two, before he was gone.

      [Noon. Stark Tower.]

      Anthony Stark called Ben Reilly's home phone number, now worried
      about the man. In the short time he'd been an employee of Stark
      Solutions, it was already apparent that he wasn't one to just quit
      showing up for work without leaving a message. Now that Stark knew
      his double identity, he even called in to let Stark know he'd be a
      few minutes late when he encountered a bank robbery in progress on
      his way to work.

      The fact that nobody knew where he was worried Stark; given that he
      was Spider-Man, it was entirely possible that he was in the clutches
      of Dr. Doom or sinking to the bottom of the river or any other morbid
      possibility. And Tony Stark didn't care to think such maddening
      thoughts about his employees; he greatly preferred to know that they
      were safe or at least in trouble that they could handle and get out

      "Maybe Iron Man should give him a visit," Tony thought to himself.

      [Early afternoon.]

      Ben Reilly looked down and found he was wearing the Scarlet Spider
      costume once more. He spun around, and found Spider-Man, Kaine,
      Spidercide, and the Jackal all around him. "What're you doing with
      them, Peter?"

      Kaine's stomach began to bleed, and Ben remembered that he was dead,
      killed by Carnage. Spidercide had been killed by Kaine earlier. (3)
      The Jackal had been dead already. "Oh, a dream, I get it. I'm in a
      dream, or a hallucination. Who am I fighting this time?"

      "No one," Spider-Man said, walking up to Ben, "You've got to distance
      yourself from us, Ben. You may have started out life as my clone, but
      you're about to become something... else. You'll have to find your
      own path instead of relying on mine. You'll have to become your own

      "Care to be a bit more specific? What exactly do you mean?" Ben
      asked, but it seemed as though Peter and the rest were all getting
      further and further away, until Ben could no longer make out which
      darkened figure was which. He looked down again, and found that he
      was no longer in the Scarlet Spider costume.

      He was dressed as Spider-Man, in his traditional red-and-blue
      costume. "How am I supposed to distance myself when I'm wearing his

      Ben asked, then woke up. He found himself on the mat in his bathroom,
      drool in a puddle around his mouth. "Ugh," he said, as he rubbed his
      still aching head, the reverberations of the internal attack still
      echoing in his brain. He looked down at his watch, which he had
      apparently smashed in his thrashing about, and now fell off his
      wrist, a pile of inert mechanisms. The invisible nanites which
      composed the suit bled out all over the floor, forever inert.

      "Guess I'll need a new costume," Ben shrugged still aching shoulders.
      He turned to the mirror and stopped dead, unable to comprehend what
      he was looking at.

      His face was no longer cracking and ugly, but it also was no longer
      what it had been before. He no longer looked exactly like Peter
      Parker--like a relative, a brother or cousin, perhaps, but not an
      identical twin. He appeared to be his own man, now.


      Ben raised an eyebrow at the noise and looked down, expecting to see
      a webstrand flowing from the wall to his webshooter on his wrist. He
      was wearing no webshooters, however; the webline followed into his
      wrist, coming from a small spinerette. "Oh," Ben said to himself,
      loudly. "Oh."

      [To be continued...]

      1. See Spectacular Spider-Man #10.
      2. In an as-yet untold tale that occurred prior to Ben's work in
      Generation X.
      3. Both murders took place during Kaine's Quest.

      Morbius, the Living Vampire
      "The Living Vampire Strikes!"
      March 2007
      Writer: John Flint
      Webmaster: Liam Gibbs

      [Over the Atlantic Ocean.]

      Morbius saw the waves of the ocean approaching, as he fell closer and
      closer to them. Dawn was impending, and upon his transformation back
      into mortal Michael Morbius, he would surely drown in the cold
      waters. Fear captured him for but a moment, and then the years of
      life as a pseudo-vampire took hold, and the Living Vampire spread
      wide his arms and legs and glided on the terrific winds.

      The wind pushed him up and closer to the Hellicarrier which was
      almost hovering in midair, its momentum stalled as it fell under
      attack from a mere six Mechanimen, cyborgs protected via sorcery from
      mundane weapons. Morbius himself had been hurled from the
      Hellicarrier by one such Mechaniman, and he was ready for a rematch.

      Morbius swooped back inside, via the same hatch he'd been thrown
      from, and swiftly shut it tight to avoid anyone else suffering the
      same misfortune. "Oh, no," he whispered to himself, as dawn's first
      rays shined in through the window hatch, and he felt his metabolism
      undertake a bloodcurdling change. "Not yet!"

      Whilst the Living Vampire shook, his meager form warming, softening,
      a hand took to his shoulder, squeezing firmly. Michael Morbius looked
      up, half expecting to find one of the Mechanimen ready to pound him
      into paste.

      Instead, it was Agent Carter Grant. He still wore his suit, though it
      was now stained with blood. The sight of the blood made human Dr.
      Morbius sick to his stomach with the memory of the macabre thirst he
      experienced nightly. "Ill-prepared, weren't they, Mikey?" He asked,
      between puffs on his pipe, "six Mechanimen against a Hellicarrier
      full of SHIELD agents and Super-Soldiers? I mean, really, what did
      they expect?"

      "We beat them?" Michael asked, holding his throat and fighting the
      urge to vomit.

      "Of course we did," Carter laughed, "We're interrogating them now.
      We'll learn why they came here, and how."

      "Then I can go?"

      "By all means," Carter said, "get some shut-eye, old boy, we may need
      you tonight."

      Dr. Morbius slumped off to his quarters, then rolled into bed and
      slept, his dreams filled with nightmares.

      [Later, somewhere in England.]

      "The Mechanimen failed," the representatives of They announced, in
      the spacious living room of Sir Nigel Carruthers' country estate.

      "Not because of my spells," Warlock Prime responded, "I did exactly
      as you asked, to the letter! The only reason they failed is because
      you sent too few against too many! Nothing could have--"

      "Our master's magic could have," one blond man in a suit said before
      pushing up his glasses, "unfortunately, he dares not use it himself,
      else his hand will stand revealed for all to see."

      "His magic is that distinctive, that powerful?" Warlock Prime asked,
      curious as to just who the true master of They could be. Dormammu?
      Mephisto? Nightmare? "I have been working on a few new spells,
      perhaps I could--"

      "You will," a woman with auburn hair stepped forward, handing Warlock
      Prime a scroll on which was written his next assignment. "You have
      been invited into They, so long as you pass the initiation described

      Warlock Prime's eyes visibly scrolled along the parchment as he read
      his mission. He wasn't confident in his own abilities; prior to last
      evening, his only run-in with the Marvels, as the Americans had taken
      to calling them lately, was when he'd summoned up the Abomination to
      destroy the Silver Surfer for him, a spell that went horribly wrong
      and could have easily cost him his life. (1) In the years since, he
      had studied long, hard hours, gathering more and more mystical might.

      "I accept," Warlock Prime declared, as the scroll suddenly erupted
      into flames in his hands. He yipped as he instinctively dropped it to
      the floor, where it evaporated into nothingness.

      "See that you do not fail They," the representatives said before


      The SHIELD Hellicarrier hovered over the busy city, whilst Moonraker
      oversaw the transportation of several oddities into a secret SHIELD
      warehouse. These items were of a high enough priority that, after
      intercepting a transmission between members of an unknown
      organization called They, they had to be removed for fear of an
      attack on the base wherein they had been held.

      "Careful with that," Moonraker scolded, pleased with himself that he
      had gotten into such a position of power in the organization. He was
      in plainclothes, as the SHIELD agents working on this project
      appeared to be a shipping company, hauling many great boxes into an
      old warehouse. "This is the last shipment of the day; I know I've
      been working you boys hard, but you won't mind the overtime when
      payday comes."

      A mist crept in, and Moonraker eyed it suspiciously. The Mechanimen
      had proved to be in the service of They, the same shadow organization
      that wanted these crates. The Mechanimen had magic applied to their
      bodies, and Moonraker remembered something about command of nature in
      magic. If this was no ordinary fog...

      The mist materialized into the form of a thin, pale man. "I have a
      bad feeling about this," he warned.

      "Well," Moonraker came up to him and growled under his breath, "maybe
      if you wouldn't come here, breaking cover..."

      "I," Morbius began, before something exploded within his mind, and
      his vision was filled with unimaginable colors and horrific sounds.
      He grabbed at his head, snarling, pushing away at the dark thoughts.
      Moonraker backed away in fear, motioning for the SHIELD agents to
      hurry up with their work.

      "Morbius," Moonraker said, "are you...?"

      Morbius looked up at the super-hero with blood-red eyes. He bared his
      fangs, hissing, his fingers curling up slowly into fists at his
      sides. The Living Vampire's muscles began to flex involuntarily, as
      his conscious mind battled the dark urges within. He could no longer
      see or hear what was going on, his mind filled with hallucinatory

      A blue-robed figure stood in the shadows, pleased with the scene. All
      was going precisely to his plans. The Living Vampire was under his
      control now.

      "Stay back," Moonraker warned, voice shaking as he rolled up his
      sleeves, "don't make me hurt you."

      The Living Vampire leaped, clutching the Super-Soldier by the neck.

      [To be continued...]

      1. See Silver Surfer, Volume 1, #12.
    • Flint
      This ain t right! Death Shield shouted as he hurled his namesake, a razor-tipped titanium alloy shield, at the bouncing figure before him. Somehow the man in
      Message 2 of 21 , May 26, 2007
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        "This ain't right!" Death Shield shouted as he hurled his namesake, a
        razor-tipped titanium alloy shield, at the bouncing figure before
        him. Somehow the man in the red and blue costume dodged it perfectly,
        and the shield slammed into the wall, stuck in place.

        "Yeah, I think you need some more practice with that thing," Spider-
        Man replied, bouncing over a table and kicking Death Shield in the
        face. "It's supposed to return to you, like a boomerang."

        Death Shield stumbled back, the kick lighter than he'd expected.
        Spider-Man wasn't sure how much to pull his punches; he wasn't used
        to dealing with this villain and he wasn't sure just how strong he
        was yet. "I'm actually kind of busy right now, so if you could just
        surrender and save us both the effort, I'd--"

        "Surrender?" Death Shield growled, "This was supposed to be an easy
        gig, just hold up the bank, get the money, and go! I wasn't even
        going to reveal my costume until you had to show up!"

        "And if you hadn't tripped that alarm, I wouldn't be here now!"
        Spider-Man said, socking Death Shield in the jaw, knocking him off-
        balance. Spider-Man ducked a sloppy lunge and sliced his feet through
        Death Shield's legs, knocking the former Taskmaster student
        down. "You've only got yourself to blame, Cap'n Sloppy."

        "Ugh," Death Shield said, either to his landing or the
        nickname. "Only one of us is gettin' out of here in one piece, bug,
        and it isn't gonna be me!"

        Spider-Man sat beside him, quickly leaning back to avoid another
        sloppy punch. "Okay, wait... what? Did you just admit you're losing?"

        "Huh? No, I meant--" Death Shield began as Spider-Man webbed him to
        the floor. Death Shield struggled in vain, but the new organic
        webbing was apparently just as strong as the old synthetic stuff.

        Death Shield sniffed. "Man, this junk reeks."

        Spider-Man shrugged, embarrassed, and leapt towards the open window,
        through which he shot a line of webbing and returned on his path to
        work at Stark Solutions.

        When Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider, he gained great
        power; but when the naivety of youth resulted in the death of his
        beloved Uncle Ben, he learned that with great power, there must also
        come great responsibility. Now, with Peter Parker having accepted
        greater responsibilities, Ben Reilly, his clone, has claimed the
        title of the Amazing Spider-Man, to strive against evil however it
        might strike...
        Alternate Marvel Presents: The Amazing Spider-Man!

        The Amazing Spider-Man #474
        "The New Sinister Syndicate Strikes!"
        May 2007
        Writer: John Flint
        Editor: Dean Conley
        Webmaster: Liam Gibbs

        [Stark Tower.]

        High Tech was looking over the latest security reports when he heard
        a tapping at the window behind him. He turned, to find Spider-Man
        hanging upside down outside the tower, in his classic costume. High
        Tech pressed a button at his desk and the window slid open.

        "Nice to see you're back to the old duds," High Tech said as Spider-
        Man entered. "The new outfit was kind of weird."

        "Yeah, thanks," Spider-Man replied, "Is Tony in? I need to talk to
        him about some stuff."

        "I was just about to talk with Mr. Carr about his brother," Tony
        Stark said as he stood in the doorway. "Stark Solutions thanks you
        for your assistance on that case." (1)

        High Tech assumed that Spider-Man must have been in the tower for
        some special case he was working on with Mr. Stark, and that was why
        he was here again now. "Come with me to my office," Tony said, and
        Spider-Man followed him.

        "I was beginning to worry," Tony said as they walked down the
        hall, "You didn't so much as call, and I hadn't heard anything on the
        news. Even the Bugle was strangely silent about you yesterday."

        "Probably too busy writing about their golden preacher," (2) Spider-
        Man replied as they stepped into Tony Stark's office. Tony Stark
        closed the door behind him. "Anyway, sorry about that. I... underwent
        some sort of transformation. I'm still not entirely sure how it
        happened or what it means."

        Tony sat on his desk and crossed his arms. "Well, what kind of

        "I thought it was cellular degeneration at first," Spider-Man
        explained, "like my clone body was going to finally fall apart, but
        instead it... shifted... in some way, changing me into... someone

        Spider-Man removed a glove and shot a web at Tony's desk. "I don't
        need web-shooters anymore, for one thing."

        He then removed his mask, and Tony's eyes widened a bit as he looked
        upon an entirely new face. It looked similar to the one Ben Reilly
        had before, except it was not quite right. It was as though he was a
        sibling or cousin to the man he had been.

        "And then there's that," Ben said, mask in hand. "What do you think?"

        [Elsewhere in the city.]

        The Black Tarantula stood before his assembly of super-villains,
        looking each over from head to foot, sizing up their assets and
        weaknesses. "I have assembled this strike force for one particular
        reason," he began.

        The super-villains stood at attention, listening with focus. Jack
        O'Lantern and the Ringmaster had been working under the Black
        Tarantula in the Mafia Syndicate for some time now, so they knew what
        to expect. The Rhino and Constrictor, however, were new recruits;
        they were on loan to the Syndicate from Agency X, and word was that
        it cost the Tarantula a good sum of money to pay the Rhino's way out
        of prison. (3)

        "I expect you to be able to perform your duties without incident,"
        Tarantula said, looking specifically at the Rhino and Constrictor,
        who were unhappy with each other to say the least, "and you will be
        rewarded handsomely. The task is a simple one: we shall utterly
        destroy Spider-Man."

        The Rhino laughed, while Ringmaster looked as though he'd taken a
        shot to the gonads, the Constrictor continued to listen as though
        nothing out of the ordinary had been said. Jack O'Lantern's visage
        was obscured by the flaming pumpkin helmet he wore, but he shifted
        his stance uncomfortably at the thought.

        "Other strike forces such as ours have failed in the past," Tarantula
        continued, "because they were poorly organized, and its members could
        not quit clashing long enough to kill him! Put your egos aside for
        this one mission, and you will all, all of you, be among the most
        infamous members of the underworld."

        "And we'll get major points in the Assassin's Game," Jack O'Lantern
        added as an aside. (4)

        Constrictor said, "You paid me to do this job, I'll do it. But you
        know my rate; it doubles if my mission specifically involves dealing
        with a Marvel."

        "Fair enough," Black Tarantula agreed, "Is everyone ready, then?"

        Ringmaster scratched the back of his head, while the Rhino snorted.
        Constrictor said, "I'm ready," and Jack O'Lantern nodded his flaming

        The Black Tarantula's face underneath his mask was emotionless.
        Spider-Man had been weak when last they tangled, but the Tarantula
        had bad omens about the wall-crawler. Somehow, he could bring the
        Mafia Syndicate down. If he wasn't removed from the playing field
        soon, he would surely do just that.

        [Stark Tower.]

        "Well?" Spider-Man asked, hanging from the ceiling of Tony Stark's
        office. "How'd I do? Pass? Fail?"

        "You're healthy," Tony replied, closing the door behind
        him, "amazingly healthy. Your cells have certainly mutated, though
        without a sample of how they were originally, and how they would have
        been without the original transformation of your body, I can't
        rightly say how much. It does appear that you... somehow, you have
        spider DNA interwoven in your own human DNA. It shouldn't be
        possible, not in the least, but that's what I've found."

        "You don't think it'll change again, do you?" Spider-Man
        asked, "Worse than before...?"

        "It seems to have stabilized, whatever it was that acted as catalyst
        for the change," Tony said, sitting at his desk. "I don't anticipate
        any further problems, though I do think you should go home and rest
        for the next few days. The effects of the transformation on your body
        have been so thorough that you have to rest and let yourself heal
        before you can go back to active duty as--"

        "Sir," HOMER interrupted, "I hate to bother you while in conference,
        but I thought you may want to know that a group of villains calling
        themselves the Sinister Syndicate are taking hostages in the Daily
        Bugle and demanding Spider-Man come at once and give himself up.
        Considering that Spider-Man is in your office, I thought it best to
        inform you--"

        Spider-Man dropped from the ceiling, wobbling for a moment on the
        landing, and then hopped out the open window. Tony Stark watched him
        go, until he was out of sight.

        "He isn't really well enough to go into battle with a group of super-
        villains," Tony said, "he's still too shaky from the change. I don't
        want to get into another man's affairs, but I can't just let him go
        off like that..."

        Tony Stark reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a tiny Iron
        Man armor. He took a small straw to his mouth and blew, shooting a
        dust over the red and gold armor. He then set the armor on the floor,
        as it began to rapidly expand, until it was large as a man.

        "HOMER," Tony said as he rose from his chair, "Cancel my afternoon

        [To be continued...]

        1. See Spectacular Spider-Man #11.
        2. See Josh Greer's Thundersword.
        3. He was caught after his team-up with the Constrictor in AltMarvel
        Team-Up #23.
        4. Yes, it's still going on.

        Morbius, the Living Vampire
        "They Stand Revealed!"
        March 2007
        Writer: John Flint
        Webmaster: Liam Gibbs

        [London, England.]

        Morbius threw himself forward, hands clasped around Moonraker's neck,
        hurling them both forward to the ground. Moonraker gasped for air,
        struggling against his stronger, more feral foe, shocked by the
        suddenness and savagery of the attack. Finally, fearing for his life
        as his world darkened and his skin purpled, Moonraker fired a blast
        of corporant flame at the Living Vampire's face, searing him.

        Automatically, Morbius released the Super-Soldier and fell back,
        snarling and smacking at the magical flames burning his moon-white
        face. Moonraker took the opportunity to return to his feet and
        motioned at the other SHIELD agents present, posing as movers, to get
        the last great crate into the old warehouse and quickly.

        Once it was within, it would be sent down a massive elevator shaft to
        an office below the Thames itself, in a shelter that even the atomic
        bomb wouldn't be able to penetrate. Once it was within, that was.

        Moonraker looked on in horror as his fellows were zapped in the backs
        with fire-like rays of supernatural force. They fell, two at a time,
        turning to smoking skeletons by the time they'd hit the ground. All
        were dead in a matter of moments, while Moonraker spun to see Morbius
        still reeling from the flames in his face.

        A blue-robed figure strode forward. "You won't ruin me," Warlock
        Prime warned, smoke rising from his fists. He'd spent all of his own
        energy in the death blasts, but he still had his mental mastery over
        the Living Vampire, who was clearing up from the pain now.

        "Kill him," Warlock Prime commanded, pointing at Moonraker, and the
        Living Vampire hurled himself at the Super-Soldier once more. Warlock
        Prime walked up to the massive crate, several feet taller than he was.

        "Hey, stop it," Moonraker cried out, punching and kicking at Morbius
        to no effect as the Living Vampire continued to rampage against him,
        swiping and grabbing at him. "Cut it out!"

        Warlock Prime, meanwhile, held a hand on the great crate while
        quietly reciting ancient verses. He still had to recite such lines to
        enact such a powerful spell; in time, and with great study and
        practice, he hoped that this would no longer be so. Until then, he
        finished up the lines and watched a swirling vortex form all around
        him, a portal which he could mentally control for another few seconds
        before it would dissipate, his mental power not enough to maintain
        such a feat for long.

        Warlock Prime and the SHIELD property disappeared into the night,
        while Moonraker kicked Morbius across the street. Morbius howled like
        a demon, and Moonraker charged up for another blast of corporant
        fire. "Whuh?" Morbius said, wiping at his eyes as his vision began to
        clear up.

        "Traitor!" Moonraker exclaimed as he punched Morbius in the face,
        rage overcoming fear in the Super-Soldier's mind. It was because of
        his momentary fear that the warlock had gotten in and stolen

        Morbius dropped to one knee, still reeling from the hallucinations
        he'd been experiencing moments before, while his body was operating
        mindlessly at the command of Warlock Prime. "Wait, I--"

        Moonraker kicked him in the head, the back of which rebounded against
        the solid wall of the building behind him. Morbius fell, totally
        exhausted from several minutes' futile fight with his living

        [In the country.]

        On the Carruthers' Estate, a great crate appeared beside Sir Nigel
        himself, his grin beaming from ear to ear. "I did it!" He
        exclaimed, "I defeated SHIELD!"

        "Very good, Sir," the blond man, a representative of They, replied
        emotionlessly, "Now, if you'll just step through here."

        The auburn-haired woman pressed a series of buttons on the electronic
        pad in her hand, and the wall seemed to practically explode as a boom
        sounded, a portal activated of some science or magic previously
        unknown to Warlock Prime. A massive beast of a man with a full mane
        of brown hair and angry red eyes, stepped out of the portal. He had
        an axe in his right hand.

        "I will carry that," He said, indicating the mighty crate, "you," he
        looked at Warlock Prime with disdain, practically spitting the word
        at him, "will follow."

        With his free hand, the gladiator grabbed at the crate and dragged it
        across the floor, into the blinding white cone of the portal.

        "Who's he?" Warlock Prime asked.

        "Mongu is the world's mightiest warrior," the auburn-haired woman
        said, her eyes sparkling, "and the master's personal guard. It is
        said that he has been loyal to our lord since long before there even
        was a They."

        "Silence," the blond man snapped at her, "Sir Nigel will learn what
        he will learn, when our lord wills it."

        The trio followed after Mongu into the portal, which closed up behind

        [SHIELD Hellicarrier.]

        "It would seem that it was only temporary," Agent Carter Grant said,
        as Morbius returned to the land of the living. "Hm. It does appear
        that Mikey is waking up. You've caused us a bit of trouble here,

        "Wh-what?" Morbius felt dry, his head spinning, his throat full of
        sand. He was bound in place, with lights blinding him.

        "You were possessed for a few minutes tonight, it would seem," Agent
        Grant continued, puffing on his pipe, "by someone whose exact magical
        signature is unknown to us. Someone very minor, no doubt, though he
        or she has been studying a great deal and has chosen now to step into
        the limelight with us. Very foolish of them, if you ask me. No doubt
        someone in the service of They."

        "Is Moonraker?"

        "He's alive. Don't worry, you didn't kill anyone, though the sorcerer
        who controlled you killed several of our men," Grant shrugged his
        shoulders, "just young kids, easily replaceable, so no big deal
        there. However, what they did get ahold of... well... it could prove

        "What? Why is that?"

        "Because... they stole the Bi-Beast."


        Warlock Prime stood in the darkened castle of They, looking around at
        the high walls and the lifeless armors of long-dead knights standing
        near the walls. He heard a great cracking, and spun to see Mongu
        smashing open the crate.

        "Ah, good! He is in perfect working condition," A man on a throne
        laughed, stroking his carefully clipped goatee. He wore a green and
        orange magician's costume, complete with tiny stars and moons on the
        cape. It would have been utterly ridiculous if it weren't for his
        loyal servant, Mongu, smashing through the crate with obviously
        superhuman strength. No one would have dared to laugh for fear of

        "Who are you?" Warlock Prime asked, bowing before his new lord. "You
        are the master of They?"

        "They is one of several terms, to confuse and bewilder our enemies,"
        the magician on the throne revealed, "I myself have acquired many
        names over the years; Merlin, the Warlock; I presently prefer Maha
        Yogi. Now that you are a member of They, you may be told its true

        Mongu smashed through the last layer, revealing the inert orange form
        of the mighty Bi-Beast android. With a blast of mental force from the
        master, the Bi-Beast awoke, smashing the rest of his bonds like so
        much paper.

        "We have been revived, Skull-brother," the top head spoke.

        "But to whom do we owe our return?" Asked the lower head.

        "You owe it to the Maha Yogi," their new master declared, rising from
        his throne, "and Sirius."

        [To be continued...]
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