Mary Jane Watson had fought many difficult battles in the year and a half since she had become the spectacular Spider-Woman. She had fought dozens of murderous supervillains, often lucky to escape with her life.
None of those battles, however, had been as difficult as watching the people she cared about suffer. It had been wrenching for Mary Jane to watch her mother Maddie Watson-Lieber come to terms with being a battered spouse, her friend Kitty Pryde deal with the fact of being outed as a mutant and now her boyfriend Randy Robertson having to live with his parents clinging to life in the hospital after a community rally in the black community of Harlem suffered a deadly bombing. Growing up in the broken home her abusive father Phillip Watson created for himself, Mary Jane knew all too well what they were likely going through.
In both her civilian and costumed identities, Mary Jane had done what she could to help her loved ones, but things never got any easier. Now, as she approached Randy's apartment, she could only wonder how he'd been getting on. She hadn't been able to see him in almost two weeks, as either she was tied up with work or some other issue while Randy wasn't available when she tried to get in touch with him. Fortunately, she'd been able to finally get him on the phone, and they agreed to meet in a nearby park where they could catch up. As Spider-Woman, Mary Jane had tried investigating the bombings, and she'd learned from the Heroes For Hire that the bombings had been done by some organized crime group, and were not a hate crime like many people had originally speculated.
Now, sitting in the park waiting for Randy, Mary Jane waited anxiously for Randy to show up.
Don't you be doubting him, Mary Jane reproached himself.
After all the times he showed that he believed in you, show that you believe in him, too!
After everything he's done for you, everything you've been through together, it's the least of what you owe him!
"NASTY BOYS WILL BE NASTY BOYS"
Looking all around her, Mary Jane's eyes lit up as she saw Randy approaching. Calling out to him eagerly, she stood up and quickly advanced to meet him, walking much more quickly than Randy was.
"How are you doing, Randy?" Mary Jane asked eagerly, hugging Randy tightly.
"I'm alright," Randy said calmly, as he went back with Mary Jane to sit down on the bench. "How have you been?"
"Worried," Mary Jane replied. "Are you doing alright? How are your parents?"
"They're still the same," Randy replied, his tone still as flat as ever. "A lot of people weren't as lucky, though. I've had to attend four funerals so far this week. Four of them! And that's just this week!"
"Oh my God," Mary Jane said sympathetically, taking Randy's hands in her own.
"…That's why I haven't been around much," Randy explained. "I'm sorry for neglecting you, MJ, it's just-"
"What are you apologizing for?" Mary Jane interrupted him. "I'm just worried about you, that's all! Grandma Robertson was really worried about you too," she continued, reminding Randy of Martha Robertson, whose fire and spirit had not been diminished at all by her advancing years.
"Yeah, but with everything that's happened…" Randy trailed off.
"The Harlem bombings?" Mary Jane asked needlessly.
Randy just nodded.
Taking a deep breath, Mary Jane silently prayed that her words would have the effect she was hoping for.
"I've been investigating them as Spider-Woman," she began, "and I met Misty Knight."
A look of shock crossed Randy's face, before he turned to regard Mary Jane incredulously.
"…You have?" Randy said in disbelief. "Does that mean…"
"Misty and the other Heroes found that it wasn't a hate crime," Mary Jane explained. "Some criminal organization did it."
"…You've got to be kidding me," Randy breathed. The look on his face was strange to Mary Jane-one moment he seemed shocked and dismayed, the next he seemed almost…relieved?
"Misty said it had something to do with some new criminal outfit that wants to set up in New York," Mary Jane continued. "We're not sure what their goals are, though."
"…Not a hate crime…" Randy murmured, not seeming to hear Mary Jane's words.
"I'm going to find out who was responsible for this, Randy," Mary Jane resumed speaking, "and I'm going to make sure they answer for what they did."
Randy didn't say anything at first, simply looking back at Mary Jane. To her relief and delight, she saw some of the old light back in his eyes.
"MJ?" he asked her.
"Yeah?" she replied.
"Thanks," he replied with a smile.
"…For what?" she asked, slightly puzzled.
"For being there," he grinned as he stood up. Holding out his hand to Mary Jane, he pulled her to her feet and put his arm around her, before they set off down the path.
Mary Jane just smiled, happy to see Randy so full of life again.
Like other cultural centers such as Miami and Los Angeles, New York had no shortage of wealthy, upscale socialites known as much for their sense of style as their money. Carl Wilkinson was just one of those socialites, combining DC tennis shoes with Kingsley sports jackets and professional slacks. Everything else about him, from his slicked-back ponytailed hair to the one earring he sported, radiated style and glamour. Following the trend of many young mutants, he had adopted the nickname of Crimewave, even though he was not a mutant and otherwise had no superpowers.
The nickname wasn't the only thing that made Wilkinson stand out from many of his fellow socialites. There was the also fact that he had made so much of his vast fortune as head of one of the Eastern Seaboard's most powerful criminal syndicates. Despite being the youngest crimelord New York had ever seen at only twenty-nine years old, he'd outlasted rivals like the Kingpin, the Green Goblin and Silvermane, who had all either been killed or run out of business in the last few years. Now, there was only Crimewave himself and the French expatriate Philippe Bazin left running organized crime in New York.
Unfortunately, New York was such a fertile criminal ground that new outfits were continually trying to get in on the action. The latest up-and-comer was some mysterious figure who'd made himself known with precise surgical strikes that had caused no end of trouble for Bazin and Crimewave, marking all of his crimes by leaving roses at the signs of his minions' attacks.
Crimewave had no intention of taking any newbie's crap lying down, and he'd taken steps to respond to the problem. He'd already hatched a plan to get some more information about this new up-and-coming crimelord, and now all he needed were the right operatives to help him.
They came swaggering in the door like they owned the place, dressed in the leather jackets, piercings and biker boots so common among street thugs. While their attire was typical, their appearances were anything but. One of them towered over the others at over twenty feet tall, another one had purple, shiny rubbery skin and another one looked like a cross between a man, a porcupine and a wolfhound.
Unlike many super-powered mutants, the Nasty Boys loved showing off their powers.
Many street gangs had come together based on a shared ethnicity, but the Nasty Boys had come together based on the fact that they were all mutants. Since coming to New York, they had worked for the Kingpin as enforcers and assassins, most notably during the gang war last year that had contributed to destroying the syndicates of the Green Goblin and the Maggia. Now, they had gone freelance, and had been eager to sign on with Crimewave.
"You sure you needed all of us to be here?" Gorgeous George, the purple rubber-skinned mutant, demanded as he sat down in one of the chairs Crimewave's staff had set out for their boss's guests. They were in the private VIP section of one of the nightclubs Crimewave owned, and many of the Boys were none too pleased at missing out all of the good times out on the main floor. The expressions on the faces of Hairbag, Ruckus, Slab, Solarr and Ramrod reflected their disdain at having to sit in on mission briefings, which were usually left to Gorgeous George as the leader.
"Yeah I do, because this is important and I don't want anything fucking it up," Crimewave said calmly as he put his feet up on the table. "That's why you all need to hear about this."
"Fine, whatever," Hairbag rolled his eyes. "Let's just get this over with, alright?" he continued, spitting on the floor.
"You boys are going to be working security at one of my major operations three nights from tonight," Crimewave said calmly. "I've got a major heroin deal coming through," he said, before describing exactly which building the heroin was being delivered to. "I'm expecting a pretty big attack, and when it happens, you're going to stop them."
Gorgeous George didn't miss the choice of words.
"…'Stop' them?" he asked curiously. "You don't want them killed?"
"Oh, they'll be killed," Crimewave smiled evilly. "I just want to make them suffer a bit. So yes, I want them taken alive, especially any leader-types."
The Nasty Boys all looked at one another uncertainly. They typically did enforcement work and street violence rather than security detail.
"You'll each get fifty grand, plus all the booze, babes and blow you can consume in one night," Crimewave offered, "provided you get me what I want. Anyone who fucks up loses their reward."
$50,000 each for one job was more than the Kingpin had ever paid them, and the Nasty Boys would never say no to an evening of good times on someone else's tab.
The eager looks that replaced the skeptical expressions on their faces showed how eager they were to take the job.
Go on and laugh, Crimewave thought to himself as the Nasty Boys went back into the main room to enjoy the rest of the night. You dumbasses do know that I chose you for this mission because you're expendable, right?
Based on the reports his intelligence people had prepared for him, Crimewave had come to suspect that his men were being eavesdropped on somehow, most likely whenever they conversed about their business in some public place like the Bar With No Name or the Libertine Restaurant. His technical staff had confirmed that there were no listening devices at any of his own bases, nor were his computers being hacked, so Crimewave could rule all that out.
Knowing he had to get more information about this new crimelord, whoever he was, Crimewave got the idea of baiting a trap. He had ordered his lieutenants to focus all of their attention on a major heroin deal he'd negotiated, one whose importance could not be understated. With luck, word would get back to this new crimelord after they overheard it from Crimewave's minions, and his unknown rival would try to strike.
The Nasty Boys were dangerous enough, and had a successful enough track record, that they stood a very good chance of capturing some of his rival's minions to interrogate them. There was the risk that his unknown rival might smell a rat and not attack the operation, or that the Nasty Boys might fuck up and the operation be destroyed, but that didn't really bother Crimewave. The heroin operation was actually fairly small compared to some of his other operations, and if it was destroyed he wouldn't be hurt very badly.
And if any of the Nasty Boys were arrested or killed in the crossfire, they were perfectly expendable.
Crimewave smiled, before pushing a button on the intercom, ordering a bottle of champagne.
Three days later…
Well, that's that, Mary Jane thought to herself as she logged out of Empire State University's online registration service.
"How'd it go?" Mary Jane's cousin Kristy Watson asked as she looked up from her own smartphone.
"Not that great," Mary Jane sighed. "I put off scheduling my classes too long-my first class this semester is going to start at 8:30, and my last one is going to start at 4:00."
"Ouch," Kristy frowned sympathetically. "How come you left it so late? Were you just busy?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," Mary Jane shook her head, knowing that would have been the case even if she wasn't juggling a superhero career along with everything else she had been doing this summer. Even though it was still early in the evening, she found herself yawning and stretching, worn down from the effort of working at the Gloom Room A-Go-Go, patrolling as Spider-Woman, checking up on Randy and finishing up her modelling with Desiree Vaughn-Pope.
School's going to be starting soon, and then there's those films Jonathan Caesar told me about…
"Are you okay, MJ?" Kristy asked in concern, seeing the fatigue on Mary Jane's face.
"Yeah, I'll be fine," Mary Jane reassured Kristy. "I just have so much stuff going on…"
"Well, whatever you do, don't push yourself too hard," Kristy reminded her. Things had gotten so bad for Mary Jane at one point that she'd had a nervous breakdown, which was one of the reasons she'd moved back home to live with the rest of the Watson clan.
"Hey, I was just thinking of taking some down time," Mary Jane grinned. "Are you up for ordering a movie or something like that?"
"Just us girls?" Kristy grinned. "What about Mom and Aunt Maddie?"
"They're going out with some of their friends," Mary Jane reminded Kristy. "What did you want to order?"
"How about The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants?" Kristy offered. "The sequel just came out a few weeks ago, but I want to go back and see the original first."
"Works for me," Mary Jane grinned.
Broadway was one of the cultural hubs not just of New York, but of the entire United States. Theatregoers came by the thousands every year to see the fabulous plays and musicals, whether beloved classics like Cats or new productions like August: Osage County. It was an iconic part of the city, as significant as landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty.
Hence it was all the more shocking when the street exploded and a dark figure emerged from the crater that had suddenly erupted. The woman was remarkably tall, clad in a dark green padded costume with a facemask that covered the top half of her head while exposing her wickedly grinning mouth, her manic green eyes and long dark hair. Her hands ended in wickedly tipped slashing claws, but what caught most peoples' attention was the dangerous-looking mechanical tail attached to her back. Dancing as if it had a mind of its own, the tail slithered up, down and around Scorpia's frame, its deadly pointed tip shining brightly in the afternoon sun.
Several people screamed in horror, and others cried out in confusion, and a few just stared in amazement. The woman shifted her gaze all around her, even as the end of her tail seemed to come up beside her, standing at attention as its tip almost seemed to follow her gaze.
"Surely I'm not that disturbing?" the woman asked, looking at her tail and then at the screaming people all around her. "I mean, I know I'm an unstable psychopath, but I can't have that much notoriety yet, can I? Or are you all mistaking me for the Scorpion?"
Some of the people standing nearest to the woman heard her words and blanched in terror, knowing all too well how dangerous Mac Gargan, alias the Scorpion, was. In recent years his string of victories against superheroes, his body count and his general reputation as a supervillain had all dramatically increased, and any appearance by him was all but guaranteed to cause panic in most New Yorkers.
"I can't just go coasting off dear old Mac's reputation forever," the woman sighed, shaking her head. "I mean, I've got to earn my own reputation, and be my own woman!"
The woman casually strode forward as her tail scythed all around her, slashing through the people it came in contact with. People screamed and fell to the ground, clutching at torn limbs, chests, throats and faces, but the woman seemed not to notice their agony. Her tail then rose up behind her, firing a flurry of energy blasts at other people who tried to run, blasting the stronger targets unconscious and outright killing the weaker ones.
A couple of brave souls charged the woman, wielding impromptu weapons, but she almost casually lashed out with her clawed hands, slashing their throats and leaving their corpses behind her as she continued her slow, steady march. Her tail continued its murderous work as well, easily maneuvering in front of the bullets some determined bystanders shot at her and deflecting them as if they were made of cotton. Through it all, the woman continued walking towards one determined man, who stood there filming her with his camera phone.
Suddenly, her tail lashed out, wrapping around the man and dragging him forward, even as it left his arms free.
"What's your name, sweetie?" the woman asked, smacking her lips.
"C…Colm Glover, reporter for the Daily Bugle," the man replied, swallowing hard but managing to keep his tone even, despite the beads of sweat appearing on his brow.
"I couldn't help but notice you filming little old me," the woman smirked. "I take it you're going to be giving me front page billing?"
"You're…" Colm began, more calmly this time. Working for the Bugle as a reporter, he was used to high-stakes situations, although he'd never been quite so closely involved as he was now.
"I know, I know, I'm front page news," the woman grinned, "so naturally my face is going to be all over your paper's website. Believe me, I know your boss," she continued. "You have been getting my good side, haven't you?"
Colm didn't say anything else, not wanting to set this woman off.
"Haven't you?" she demanded, as her tail tightened its grip slightly.
"Y-yes I have," Colm replied, forcing himself to remain calm. If she was going to kill him, Colm wanted to go out like a man.
After all, he knew the risks journalists in this city had to take to get the best stories.
He wasn't afraid to die.
"Oh, goody!" the woman leered, as her tail suddenly relaxed its grip and dropped Colm to the ground. Landing on his rump, Colm slowly began backing up as the woman laughed. He thought that she had forgotten about him, but then her tail suddenly lashed out again.
He closed his eyes, expecting the tail to tear his face off, but he opened them in shock after he felt the tail caress his cheek.
"You know, since you're such a hottie, I'll give you a little exclusive," the woman continued smiling. "This is just my little way of saying hello to the world, and letting them know who I am."
"…Who are you, then?" Colm asked, as he slowly got to his feet and resumed filming.
"…I'm Scorpia," the woman finished, before spinning around dramatically.
Before Colm knew what was happening, Scorpia had disappeared back into the crater she'd blown in the street, leaving him surrounded with the bodies of the dead and wounded, the air filled with their anguished cries.
Once the movie had ended, Kristy went up to bed, and Mary Jane was about to join her. Before she did, though, she booted up her computer, intending to check her e-mail to see if Jonathan Caesar had e-mailed her the details about the films he was bankrolling and that he was inviting her to star in.
She never got the chance, as the news site she had set as the default for her browser depicted the headlines of the gruesome crimes Scorpia had just finished committing. Mary Jane felt a thrill of horror as she read the article, aghast at what the scorpion-tailed villain had done to the innocent people she'd targeted. Her fatigue vanished in an instant, as she immediately thought of suiting up as Spider-Woman and going out to bring the psychotic Scorpia to justice…
…but then she shivered at the thought.
The first time Spider-Woman had battled Scorpia, Scorpia had defeated her without Spider-Woman landing even one successful blow. Instinctively, Mary Jane wondered if the outcome would be any different if they fought a second time.
…Why shouldn't it, though? Mary Jane wondered at that realization. I've lost fights before-I've been beaten by the Constrictor, by Will O' the Wisp, by Jack O' Lantern…so why wouldn't it be any different against Scorpia?
It wouldn't be, she realized. That's not what makes my skin crawl…
…it's what she said to me, Mary Jane thought.
When she'd fought Scorpia as Spider-Woman, Scorpia had commented on how Mary Jane was such a 'delicious little morsel', that she could just 'eat up and spit out', before commenting on how she hoped they would be able to have 'another playdate' sometime soon.
Mary Jane felt the same kind of revulsion that she had when several of her male supervillain opponents had commented on her beauty. That had made her angry, and given her additional motivation to fight them…
…but when Scorpia did it, Mary Jane simply felt her skin crawl.
Don't be stupid, Mary Jane reproached herself as she stood up and began changing costume. Scorpia's no different than anyone else you've fought. Jack O' Lantern tried to destroy your whole identity and brainwash you into becoming his heir-what could Scorpia do to you that could possibly compare to that?
Spider-Woman repeatedly made that point to herself as she emerged from the window of Anna's townhouse and swung off into the night.
"Fuck, this is boring," Ramrod complained to his fellow Nasty Boys as they sat waiting in the shadows. Crimewave's men had deliberately dragged out the counting and packing of the heroin that had been delivered almost two hours ago, to give the attackers more time to come.
"Just shut up, will you?" Gorgeous George shot back. "Just think about what we'll be able to do once Crimewave pays us for this job. And remember-anyone who fucks up loses their share of the reward. Don't go expecting the rest of us to share."
"I know we're not going to share," Ramrod shot back. "I'm just saying that-"
Ramrod was silenced by the gunfire that broke out, as shots pierced through the walls of the building. Crimewave's men ran for cover, several of them screaming to fake injury, although they'd all been equipped with bulletproof vests and other equipment to protect them from bullets. Gorgeous George reacted instinctively, stretching his purple, tar-like body into a protecting dome around the rest of the Nasty Boys, easily catching the bullets in his rubbery, elastic hide.
They expected the attack to come through the main garage door, but then a hole was blown open in the rear wall by a bazooka shot, and a gang of heavily armed men came charging in, guns blazing.
Their eager cries turned to screams as Ramrod focused his mutant powers on the wooden pallets and planks they were walking on. Using his ability to psychically control wood and plants, Ramrod made the planks expand into thorned pillars and snares that caught several of the men, tripping them up and tearing gashes in their lower bodies. They were the just the lead force, though, as several more came up behind them. Ruckus was ready, blowing several more men off their feet with the sonic screams he could emit.
Hairbag and Solarr were about to follow up with their razor-sharp throwing quills and fireballs, when a thrown tear gas bomb exploded in their midst.
Coughing and hacking from the gas, the two mutant gangbangers sank to their knees as the rest of the Boys scattered.
I don't know if I'm even going to find her, Spider-Woman realized as she swung through the darkening skies. Somehow I doubt she's going to be sticking around in Broadway after everything she did. If she had, she would have probably already run into the police or another superhero by now, she continued.
I shouldn't even be out here tonight, she realized. What was I thinking, just suiting up and going out on patrol? What made me think I could find her? I've never marked her with my pheromones, so-
Spider-Woman's train of thought was interrupted as she heard the gunshots. She'd been passing through an area of warehouses, thinking that Scorpia might have gone to ground there in a safehouse owned by her mysterious boss, whoever he was, but so far nothing had panned out.
Swinging closer to the building, Spider-Woman could see a large group of men standing at the entrance of a large hole in the building's wall, firing their weapons at someone inside. Wondering if they were police, Spider-Woman eventually landed on the building's roof and glanced in at the scene below through the open skylight.
Inside was a scene of pandemonium, as the gunmen were fighting fiercely against a group of punks who wielded weapons like fireballs, sonic blasts and their own brute strength against the gunmen.
It was then that Spider-Woman recalled where she'd seen these thugs before. They were the Nasty Boys, a collection of mutant gangbangers who'd ravaged the street that her friend Harry Osborn lived on. Alongside Spider-Man, Spider-Woman had confronted the Nasty Boys, but they had been badly outnumbered and were eventually defeated by the mutants. Glancing at the men they were fighting, all of whom wore a variety of clothing that looked nothing like the tactical uniforms that she would have expected police officers to wear, it was clear that they weren't the good guys either.
I'm not going to be saving the day on this one, Spider-Woman realized. They're probably fighting over whatever's in those packages there. This is something the police would be better suited to handle-and I don't have a cell phone on me, Spider-Woman realized, cursing her luck.
She was about to turn away, hoping to find an office or something that she could enter to use their phones, but the mutant Slab happened to be blown back by the bazooka wielded by one of the attacking thugs. Slab's mutant power was the ability to grow to give himself the size and strength of a giant, and so the bazooka blast, while painful, was not a killing shot. He also got a good look at the skylight as he sat up, and his eyes locked with Spider-Woman's.
"What the hell is she doing here? Guys, it's Spider-Woman!" he called to his buddies.
Spider-Woman bitterly cursed her luck, knowing she was completely outnumbered. She hated to run from a fight, but she knew she didn't have a chance against all six of the Nasty Boys and that they'd kill her if she tried to fight them.
If Spider-Woman thought that her luck was bad before, she realized it was all the worse as Gorgeous George's tarry purple body oozed up onto the roof to face her, slithering up through the hole blown in the side of the garage.
"Well, well…" he smirked. "And here I thought tonight wouldn't be any fun. You know what they say…all work and no play makes us dull Nasty Boys…"
Spider-Woman wasn't sure what she was more appalled by, the ugly grin on Gorgeous George's face or the way he'd mangled the saying.
Dodging out of the way of the tarry arm that Gorgeous George shot at her, Spider-Woman shot a double sting blast, aiming one at his extended arm and the other at George's face. George howled in pain as one of the bolts struck his arm, and the other hit the hand he'd extended to protect his face. That didn't stop him, though, as he came after her in a wave, widening his body and extending his arms as he seemed to come at her from all sides.
Thinking quickly, Spider-Woman did the exact opposite of what Gorgeous George expected, charging at George and shooting him in the face with a burst of webbing. As he sputtered and cursed, reaching up to clear his vision, Spider-Woman leaped over his head and came down behind him, running down the side of the building towards the street below.
It was then that she saw the unwelcome sight of Ruckus grinning up at her, before releasing another powerful sonic blast. Awkwardly trying to dodge while running down the side of the wall, Spider-Woman managed to avoid the full force of the blast, but she was still stunned temporarily, and ended up blown to the ground as Ruckus screamed at her again.
Spider-Woman's head was spinning from the impact of Ruckus's attack, but she managed to recover in time to web his mouth shut as he tried to scream at her again. Quickly reeling him in with her webline, Spider-Woman blasted Ruckus with a sting blast from her free hand and punched him in the face, before dropping the mutant in a dazed heap at her feet. A burst of light flashed in front of her, and she shielded her eyes briefly before seeing Solarr flying towards her, emerging from the warehouse and riding on a large fireball.
Spider-Woman managed to dodge the fireballs that Solarr tossed at her, but he managed to avoid the sting blasts she shot at him in response. Looking around frantically, she sought out some way to escape, knowing that she wouldn't stand a chance if the Nasty Boys managed to catch her. Spinning a web barrier between her and Solarr, Spider-Woman turned and fled down another alley, hoping that the barrier would give her the opportunity to escape.
Hearing the sound of Solarr blasting at her web barrier, Spider-Woman's spirits lifted, thinking that she'd managed to temporarily lose her pursuers. Unfortunately, her heart sank again when she heard the sounds of running footsteps across the roof above her. Looking up at the shadowy figure running across the roof of the nearby building, she briefly wondered what that whistling sound was before screaming in pain as several of Hairbag's thrown quills lanced into her, tracing lines of blood all across her costume. Howling viciously, Hairbag leaped down towards Spider-Woman, his bloodlust all too eagerly revealed in his eyes.
Backflipping out of the way as he came down, Spider-Woman realized that Hairbag was probably tracking her by her scent. Cursing her bad luck once more, she struck Hairbag with a double shot from her sting blasts, causing him to yelp in pain. Snagging him with a webline, she whipped him into a pile of wooden crates placed against the building on the other side of the alley, leaving him stunned and bruised before she struck him down with another double shot of her sting blasts.
Pausing briefly to catch her breath, Spider-Woman realized the fight wasn't over as Solarr now came after her, still riding on that flying fireball. Already tiring from the chase and the wounds that Hairbag and Ruckus had inflicted on her, Spider-Woman wasn't sure how long she could last against Solarr, who still seemed more than ready for another fight. Bracing herself for yet another fight, Spider-Woman felt her hopes rise as she glanced around, hoping that she would be able to time her next maneuver right.
"You think you're clever, you little bitch?" Solarr sneered at her as he looked up from the battered and unconscious body of Hairbag. "Let's see if you're still laughing when you're a corpse!" he yelled, throwing a massive fireball at Spider-Woman.
Spider-Woman sprang out of the way at the last moment, and Solarr's fireball crashed into the front office of the shop behind her. A loud alarm started blaring as the shop exploded into fire, as Solarr realized what was happening. Cursing angrily, Solarr picked up the unconscious Hairbag and took off back towards the warehouse where the heroin deal was taking place, calling out to his buddies that they needed to get going.
Everything had gone as Spider-Woman hoped-she'd seen the signs in the shop's window warning people of the sophisticated alarm system the place was equipped with. She suspected that the Nasty Boys didn't want anyone knowing what was going on here, and the last thing they wanted to deal with were the police and fire crews.
Not wasting the opportunity, Spider-Woman turned and swung off into the night.
Congratulations, girl, Mary Jane thought to herself as she applied ointment and bandages to her injuries after she'd gotten home. Not only did you completely fail to find Scorpia, you nearly got yourself killed by the Nasty Boys and failed to stop whatever it is that they were doing. And, just for good measure, you've lost a good four hours sleep running around out there when you could have been resting up for tomorrow.
Groaning to herself, Mary Jane put on her pajamas and fell into bed, wondering how the whole debacle could possibly be any worse.
"Nice work, boys," Crimewave smirked at Slab, Solarr, Gorgeous George and Ramrod as his thugs finished lining the prisoners up in front of him. "I was just expecting you to bring back maybe one or two, but I never thought you'd retrieve eight guys," he continued. "I notice you don't have Hairbag and Ruckus with you-were there any snags?"
"That Spider-Woman girl stumbled on the scene," Solarr explained with an angry scowl. "She took down Hairbag and Ruckus before she got away. The little bitch got me to blast this shop and set off an alarm! We had to get out of there before the cops came."
"Hmmm," Crimewave thought for a moment at that. "And she's the one who tangled with that new Scorpion girl, right? The one who everybody says is working for the guy with the roses?"
The Nasty Boys and Crimewave's thugs all looked at each other, wondering why Crimewave would ask something he already knew the answer to.
"You know, I always wanted to sit down and have a little heart-to-heart with one of these superhero types," Crimewave said, as he sat down in a chair in front of him. "And you guys are going to help me arrange that," he continued, turning to the Nasty Boys.
"You mean you want us to bring her in?" Gorgeous George asked for his buddies.
"I'll want her alive, of course…for the time being, anyway," Crimewave continued, taking on a much more serious tone than he normally did. "But if she's already tangled up with this new syndicate, she's going to tell me what she's done."
The Boys looked at one another with mixed emotions. Having successfully delivered the goods on their mission, they weren't keen on another assignment without being able to enjoy their pay first. On the other hand, they were quite eager for some payback against Spider-Woman, particularly after what the little cow had done to their buddies Ruckus and Hairbag.
"When do you want it?" George asked with some trepidation.
"Not for a little while yet," Crimewave said absently without looking up, shifting his intense glare to the men now tied up in front of him. "I have some other things I still need to deal with…one of which is picking these guys' brains," he leered.
"Yeah, and what if they don't spill?" Slab asked, grinning knowingly at the answer he was sure was coming.
"Then you guys pick their brains for me," Crimewave smirked. "Call it a little fringe benefit…"
The crimeboss, his thugs and the mutant gangbangers all laughed, even as the captured prisoners looked at each other and started to tremble.
They knew what Crimewave was talking about.
(Next Issue: The new school year begins for Mary Jane, even as she begins working on Jonathan Caesar's new independent films. At the same time, she continues working at the Gloom Room A Go-Go, but she soon starts getting an uncomfortable suspicion about some of its clientele. She doesn't have much time to dwell on it, though, as Crimewave and Philippe Bazin both begin the next steps in their counterattack against the Rose! The Rose hasn't been idle, though, and he plans to take his own schemes to the next level with the help of Scorpia! All this and more in Spider-Woman #63: Master Of The Game!)