Spider's Advent, Part 1:
Chapter 1: "No More Secrets"
Disclaimer: Spectacular Spider-Man belongs to Marvel Comics and Marvel Entertainment. Street Fighter belongs to Capcom. Associated characters and related properties are also owned by Marvel and Capcom, and I make no money whatsoever from this story. This is solely for kicks.
Author's note: As those of you who followed me through "Advent of Midnight" and associated polls should know, this continuation will be more of a Marvel/Capcom crossover with the Spectacular Spider-Man universe as the focal point. Familiar characters from both Marvel's and Capcom's franchises will be reinvented for this story, just as Spectacular Spider-Man reinvented Peter Parker and his supporting cast and foes. This first arc will be based on Street Fighter, with Spider-Man teaming up with other street-level heroes from the Marvel Universe and famous faces from Street Fighter canon to take on the sinister combination of M. Bison and . . . that would be telling.
"Agent Romanoff, your report," Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. requested, although his tone made it sound more like a command. Then again, the hardboiled soldier just had that effect on people.
Agent Natasha Romanoff, alias the Black Widow, stood before Fury and began to give her report. "After rendezvousing with the requested recruits . . ."
"Now that's a face only a mother could love," Hank Pym, garbed in the Giant-Man armor, remarked sardonically as he looked upon a horde of demons.
"Screw their mothers," Hawkeye grunted, drawing the string back on his bow and releasing a flurry of roughly 30 arrows in the space of one minute. The thirty arrows embedded themselves in thirty demons' heads and the arrowheads detonated, taking the demons' heads with them.
"Was that necessary?" Giant-Man asked.
"If you're squeamish about this sort of thing, I understand," Hawkeye responded.
"Enough," Winter Soldier whispered as he drew his pistol, preparing for the surviving demons' attack. Just before he could fire, Captain Marvel went into a high-speed charge that ended in a brutal uppercut to the foremost demon's chin, sending said demon flying into the sky.
"Not bad if I do say so myself," Hercules remarked.
"Leave some for the rest of us, huh?" Janet van Dyne, garbed in the Wasp Model armor, quipped. A quick electrical blast from her arm took down several demons.
"Wow, these guys are really . . . really . . . weak," Amadeus observed.
"Thank you, master of the obvious," Hawkeye remarked. "But you're right. For demons, they don't put up much of a fight."
"Never mind the fighting," Black Widow admonished. "This is a rescue mission, not a war game."
"Right," Winter Soldier acknowledged. "Except we won't be saving anyone if we can't get past these creatures." This he said as he was calmly shooting the demons with his pistol. Luckily for him, the rounds were high-powered explosives.
"Wished for more of a fight, did you?" a malignant voice asked, and the Avengers were suddenly face to face with a robed demon with a fiery head. "You have one now."
"Who the hell are you?" Hawkeye asked. "On second thought, I don't give a damn who you are. You're toast." He shot a barrage of arrows at the mysterious demon, who merely stood there like he didn't care about the arrows flying at him. Of course, he had good reason not to care; the arrows simply exploded against his skin and clothing without penetrating in the slightest. "What the hell?"
The robed demon smirked. "You haven't even begun to see hell." Then he punched Hawkeye, so fast that the archer never saw it coming, even with his sensory augmentations.
"Hawkeye!" Wasp shouted. She turned to the demon and shot him with another electrical blast, which the demon merely absorbed.
"Do you foolish humans think you can touch me?" he asked.
That was when Captain Marvel and Hercules both attacked the robed demon, only for the demon to vanish from sight. He reappeared behind them, striking both between their shoulder blades and brutally knocking them both to the ground. The demon tilted his head to evade a high-powered bullet that would have blown his head off . . . for all the good that would have done.
Reappearing behind Winter Soldier, the demon struck him brutally in the back of the head, disorienting him. Black Widow moved to attack the demon with an electrical blast from her gauntlets, only for the demon to absorb the energy. He then cracked the vertebrae (or whatever he had that filled that same role) in his neck, his eyes burning with malice.
"I hope that wasn't all you had," he mocked her. "Although you are a brave one. Perhaps I should take you back home with me to be my plaything."
"Go to hell," Black Widow spat.
That was when a car suddenly lunged toward the demon at its absolute maximum speed, which was roughly 160 mph. Throwing himself out through the driver's door before the car made its brutal impact against the demon was none other than Amadeus. Seeing his plan, Winter Soldier shot the car's fuel line, making the car explode into flames as it crashed into the demon.
"You ok, kid?" Hawkeye asked Amadeus.
"No big deal," Amadeus replied. "I know how to fall."
"Did we get him?" Hawkeye asked.
"No . . ." the demon growled. He wasn't seriously hurt, but he was seriously angry. "Clever, clever, clever little humans."
"Humanity is stronger than you think, demon," Captain Marvel hissed. "I've seen it for myself."
At that moment, Giant-Man lived up to his name and grew until he was 60 feet tall. As he was about to try crushing the demon underfoot, that demon merely grew in size to match him. "Uh-oh," Giant-Man muttered.
The demon smirked. "Did you really think a simple growth spurt would be enough?" He punched Giant-Man in his helmeted face, hard enough to make him stagger. Giant-Man struggled for balance.
"Shame I never tested this before," he muttered.
"Hank!" Wasp shouted, zipping up to attack the demon with more electrical blasts. The demon attempted to grab her so he could crush her, but she darted out of his grasp and shot him right in the eye.
"Damnable wench!" the demon snarled, angrier than before as he unleashed a wave of hellfire that knocked her out of the sky and cut down a skyscraper or two.
"Jan!" Giant-Man shouted, catching her with his giant hand. "You all right?"
"Yeah," Wasp replied.
"Good," Giant-Man said, and then punched the demon in his face, hard enough to stagger him this time. Unlike Giant-Man, the demon had no concern for the damage he would cause during the fight, although he did struggle to regain his balance so he could fight Giant-Man and show the size-shifting hero his superiority.
"How about a little teamwork of our own?" Captain Marvel suggested to Hercules.
Hercules nodded and grabbed Captain Marvel, throwing him into a missile-like attack on the demon. Engulfed in photonic energy, Captain Marvel struck the demon hard enough to knock him down this time. The demon began to shrink back to human size, and Wasp flew out of Giant-Man's hand as Giant-Man began to do the same.
"I think we nailed him," Hawkeye remarked.
"What was this guy's name?" Nick Fury asked, interrupting Natasha's report.
"A man named Doctor Strange called him 'the Dread Dormammu,'" Natasha replied.
"The magician?" Fury surmised skeptically.
"Yes," Natasha confirmed. "Only he possesses genuine sorcery . . . and he isn't a half-bad physical combatant."
"And what happened next?" Fury prompted.
"Divine intervention," Natasha answered dryly.
"You mean all those angel sightings people were claiming?" Fury asked. "Those were real angels?"
"Apparently," Natasha confirmed. "Whatever they were, they radiated this aura of . . . purity, not that it was any bit reassuring. To tell you the truth, we were just as wary of them as we were the demons."
"God almighty . . ." Fury murmured, pinching the bridge of his nose. Regaining his composure, he looked at Natasha. "How are our men handling the cleanup down in NYC?"
"As well as can be expected," Natasha answered. "We did happen to run into some of the locals."
"Like whom?" Fury questioned.
"Spider-Man . . . and five others with his motif and similar abilities," Natasha replied.
Fury smirked. "I've been keeping an eye on that kid, but I didn't know he had imitators."
"Who do you presume they are?" Natasha inquired.
"Wannabes," Fury answered bluntly. "The real one has potential. Don't know about the others."
"Are you considering recruiting him?" Natasha asked warily.
"Why not?" Fury replied coolly. "Amadeus Cho isn't much older than he is. And if our friends from Interpol are right about what's brewing, we might very well need his help."
Speaking of Spider-Man, the web-slinger was on his way to another day of school. It had been such a screwy few months – succubae, vampires, demon hunters, vampire hunters, and even a warped clone of him that had tried to take his head off . . . There had been some good that had come of it, though; he and Gwen were together, and Gwen even knew the man behind the mask. Granted, so did Liz, Mary Jane, Ben, and Harry, but Spider-Man trusted them.
What did concern him, though, were his five new emulators. One in red-and-black, though mostly red, one in green-and-black, one in black-and-red, and two girls who had been colloquially referred to as "Spider-Girls" or "Spider-Women" depending on the media outlet in question. Good old Jonah, being who he was, had simply declared that they were all part of the gang that Spider-Man was allegedly recruiting for the sake of taking over the city. The only sightings of them so far had been during the demonic invasion some weeks back, but Spider-Man was on the lookout for them in case they came out again. If they did, he'd teach them a thing or two about violating copyright laws.
Making it to school, Spidey ducked somewhere he could change back into regular Peter Parker. Upon finishing the change, though, he found Gwen leaning on the wall like she'd been waiting for him. "Gwen!" he exclaimed in surprise. Calming down enough to whisper rather loudly, "You're aware I have a secret identity to protect, right?"
"It's ok," Gwen whispered. "I'm not gonna tell anyone. I just thought I'd hang out and wait for my boyfriend to show up."
"And who is this lucky fellow?" Peter teased.
Gwen chuckled. "Who do you think?" She gave him a kiss on the lips, and this time, he wasn't frozen from shock. It felt nice . . . really nice. He guessed he was finally getting used to beautiful girls kissing him, and it emboldened him just enough for him to kiss back tentatively. Gwen pulled back with a smile on her face.
"Second time's the charm, huh?" she quipped.
"Yeah," Peter replied bashfully.
They went inside Midtown Manhattan Magnet High School, arm in arm like the hopelessly-in-love new couple that they were. "Hey, Tiger," Mary Jane greeted him, leaning against her locker with an impish smirk on her face. "Hey, Gwen. How's couplehood treating you?"
"So far, great," Peter replied.
"I guess that's the high of a new relationship," Mary Jane remarked.
"What about you?" Gwen asked. "How are you and Scott?"
"Scott?" Peter echoed. "Who's Scott?"
"Scott Summers," Mary Jane replied. "He's a transfer from a special boarding school for 'the gifted.'"
"School for the gifted?" Peter repeated. "Would I have heard of it?"
"No," Mary Jane replied. "It's pretty exclusive, from what I hear."
"So what's he doing here?" Gwen wondered.
"Just wanted to meet some new people," a polite voice remarked. "I think I'm doing all right with that."
Gwen and Peter turned to see a tall, lithe brown-haired teenager with red-tinted sunglasses and dressed in a polo shirt and cargo pants. Said teenager offered his hand to shake. "Hi. I'm Scott."
"Peter Parker," Peter replied as he shook hands with Scott.
"I hear you and Mary Jane are pretty close," Scott remarked.
"Yeah," Gwen admitted.
"Hey, Scott . . ." Mark Allan ran up to greet the other teenager. "I never got the chance to say thanks, for me and my sister and all."
"It's cool," Scott replied. "I was just doing the right thing. You guys would have done the same for me."
"That reminds me," Mark said as he looked at Peter. "Where were you when all that was going down?"
"Trying to find shelter," Peter lied. "And mostly trying to stay out of the way while all those guys were fighting those monsters out there." He didn't mention that he was one of the ones fighting monsters, albeit in his Spider-Man alter ego, and while in real danger of becoming one of those monsters himself.
"Sure," Mark assented, "but you scared the crap out of Liz. She's real sweet on you for some reason."
"Uh, yeah?" Peter uttered stupidly. No wonder she didn't look so happy when she saw me and Gwen together. . . .
"Yeah," Mark replied.
"No need to give him such a hard time," a familiar tanned blond boy remarked as he came up to them. "It's not like he's as in tune to the female mind as you and I."
"Reilly," Mark acknowledged.
"Yeah, that's me, but I prefer Ben," the boy replied.
"Hey, Ben," Peter greeted.
"So what were you up to, shutterbug?" Ben asked.
"The usual," Peter replied. "Just trying to stay alive while Jameson made me cover all that mayhem going on out there."
Ben chuckled. "I was just trying to stay alive, but whatever. You hear about the tournament?"
"What tournament?" Peter asked.
"I'm not surprised you don't know, Puny Parker," Flash Thompson sneered, but there were traces of affection in his mockery. "It's only the biggest fighting tournament in the world! It's kinda like MMA, only they do it outdoors and in big cities like this one, and anybody who thinks they got the skills can join in!"
"Sounds like fun . . ." Peter muttered cautiously.
"According to what I heard from my dad, the police are going to cordon off specific areas of the city so that the tournament can go on without endangering innocent people," Gwen commented.
"Better having to figure out another route than ending up in the hospital or worse," Mary Jane remarked. "I've heard some scary stories about these tournaments."
"Like what?" Peter inquired.
"Like the fighters, some of them at least, have actual superpowers," MJ replied. "Throwing around fireballs, kicks like hurricanes, punches that make sonic booms, and this one guy is supposed to even have a technique that drags you to hell."
"Whoa . . ." Peter uttered. "That sounds . . . not pleasant."
"So you wanna go in?" Ben asked Flash pointedly.
"I'm a lover, not a fighter," Flash replied.
"Well, at least you know your strengths," Ben drawled sarcastically.
Even Sally snickered a bit, but then the girl was addicted to insulting and demeaning other people, so Ben figured he'd impressed her slightly in that department. Then again, that wasn't exactly such a worthy accomplishment, but he digressed. Beside him, Mark coolly rolled his eyes, and Flash huffed in irritation that Peter's cousin had gotten the better of him.
"Well, what about you, tough guy?" Flash taunted. "You gonna go in?"
"Maybe, maybe not," Ben replied. "Either way, you're not gonna see my face."
"Hey, what do you think of all those Spider-Man imitators running around out there?" Mark asked.
"They're nothing but posers," Flash replied haughtily. "This city only needs one Spider-Man – the real one!"
"That's nice to hear," Mary Jane commented, faking disinterest. Truth be told, she was quite curious herself about the other Spiders. If the reports were accurate, they'd been seen fighting with and against various monsters. What troubled her, though, was that she was sure what had happened to Peter to make him Spider-Man had been a onetime occurrence. If somebody had managed to replicate it . . . what would that person have in mind? Replacing Spider-Man? Killing Spider-Man?
"They made five of them because they knew it'd take five to match the real thing!" Flash continued his boast on behalf of the web-slinger. Oh, if only he knew that the aforementioned web-slinger – and one of the so-called "posers" – was right next to him.
"Let's just go to class, ok?" Gwen suggested.
"Yeah, that's a good idea," Peter agreed.
Above the hustle and bustle of the world's big cities, a private jet sliced through the skies. Two extremely imposing men were sitting inside the jet's cabin, facing each other while sipping wine. One of them was a large, bald man in a tailored white suit that seemed barely capable of restraining his mass, his blue eyes glittering with ruthless intelligence.
The other appeared much more muscular, and was dressed in a red military suit and cap that reminded the first man of the old Nazi uniforms. Not to mention his eyes virtually glowed with utterly inhuman malice that almost frightened the man in the white suit. He would not admit it, though, for to do so would be to acknowledge weakness – and Wilson Fisk was anything but weak.
"Dictator Bison," Fisk addressed the other man. "It appears you and I want the same things, or at least our goals run concurrent. We will have a most profitable alliance."
"I assure you, Wilson Fisk, I am no stranger to the powers possessed by New York City's miscreants," Dictator M. Bison replied. "However, your city's talent will be a welcome addition to my own forces . . . and in return, I will help you depose the man who has usurped your place as the Big Man of Crime."
"Then L. Thompson Lincoln will be a dead man," Fisk sneered. "But we will need a distraction. This World Warrior Tournament will only do so much, and there are those in New York City who would put a stop to us both were they focused on us."
"You have prisons full of very dangerous men," Bison replied. "Men that could cause a great deal of damage were they freed . . ."
"A prison break, you say?" Fisk deduced, smirking. "I like how you think. And I even have the perfect someone in mind for it."
"Ah, do tell," Bison leered.
"I think I will play this close to the chest for now," Fisk responded coolly.
Hours later, the Vault, a prison built and modified specifically for the super-powered menaces that seemed to be multiplying in New York City, exploded into chaos – literally and metaphorically. It just happened to be that it occurred while Spider-Man was on patrol, and he could see the smoke billowing quite clearly from the distance he was at.
"That's not good . . ." the web-slinger muttered, changing his direction so that he was headed straight for the Vault.
In the private lab that Miles Warren had managed to eke out for himself through some judicious veiled threats to Doctor Curt Connors' career, given the scaly skeletons in that man's closet, the sinister doctor calmly stared at the news bulletin playing before him. That was when Benjamin Reilly, Harold Osborn, Brian Kornfeld, Anya Corazon, and Martha Franklin entered the lab, dressed in their costumes sans masks.
"Your turn now," he spoke to the assembled Web Corps without pausing to look in their direction, useful for keeping them from seeing the smirk on his face. "Time to show this city what you're made of."
"This is a little big, don't you think?" Harry, codenamed Tarantula, uttered nervously.
Brian, codenamed Spider-X, glared at Harry. "Coward," he sneered.
"Hey, back off," Ben, codenamed Scarlet Spider, defended Harry. "We haven't had anything this big since that incident with the demons crawling out of the woodwork. You gotta admit it's a little daunting."
"You scared, too?" Brian sneered.
"Hey, back off!" Anya, codenamed Arana, repeated Ben's words, but more forcefully. "You'd have to be crazy not to be a little scared! Doesn't mean we aren't going!"
"It's gonna be ok, you guys," Mattie, codenamed Spider-Woman, cut in. "We're the good guys, remember? Just like Spider-Man! We'll make it through!"
"Some people don't think we're the good guys," Ben remarked dryly.
"Screw Jameson," Brian spat. "He's just a know-nothing loudmouth."
"He's still my uncle," Mattie said.
"Never mind that now," Warren interrupted, still not looking at the Web Corps. "You have a prison break to stop."
"He's right," Ben admitted, donning his mask. "Let's go."
By the time Spider-Man reached the Vault, it was chaos incarnate, with the super-powered inmates attempting to scatter to the winds. Some of them he recognized from his previous encounters with them, some he only knew through the news due to never encountering them personally, and some he didn't recognize at all. Whoever these guys were to him, they were dangerous and they were not going to be allowed to roam free again.
The web-slinger immediately dived into the midst of the fleeing inmates and shooting webs at them to trap them. "And where do you think you're going so soon?" he taunted.
"Spider-Man!" one of them shouted.
"Oh, hey . . . Mysterio, was it?" Spider-Man asked. "You better not be a robot this time, jerk, or you're really gonna get it!"
"So what if I am?" Mysterio taunted.
"You know what? Screw you," Spider-Man retorted. "I don't have time for this." He bound up Mysterio with so much webbing that it'd be impossible for him to escape until the webs dissolved. His spider-sense blared just in time for him to dodge a rush from Rhino, who had the good grace not to be able to stop before his horn embedded itself into a wall. Spider-Man webbed him to the wall, too – just in time for a sandstorm to engulf him, the sand forming blades that cut into the web-slinger.
By the time it was over, Spider-Man was bleeding from what felt like a thousand small cuts all over his body. "Changed your costume again, huh, Web-head?" Sandman taunted as he reformed into a human shape.
"Shame you didn't," Spider-Man retorted. "Really, the pinstripes don't look good on you."
Sandman formed his arm into a battering ram and punched Spider-Man with it, knocking him into and through a wall. Spider-Man just jumped through the hole he'd made to attack Sandman again with impact webbing. The web bullets peppered Sandman's form, pushing him back but not staggering him completely. As Spider-Man kept up the assault, his spider-sense screamed at him again, compelling him to jump backward into the air . . . just in time to avoid a Vulture dive-bomb.
"Hey, Vulch!" Spider-Man greeted cheerfully. "How the hell are ya? The food been good to you? Been getting plenty of sleep?"
The Vulture swung around to attack Spider-Man again. This time, Spider-Man webbed his mechanical wings and used them to pull the Vulture down while vaulting up into a kick to the Vulture's armored chest. The clashing kinetic forces from the Vulture's descent and Spider-Man's kick knocked the geriatric super-villain for a loop and he crashed into a heap. By this point, though, Sandman and Rhino had regrouped . . . and were attacking Spider-Man as a team.
Damn, Spider-Man thought. Rhino might not be that maneuverable, but get him charging . . . And even if I didn't have to deal with him, Sandman's really creative with his powers for being the poster boy for stupid crooks everywhere.
In a desperate move, Spider-Man jumped into the air to avoid Rhino's charge and contorted in midair to snatch Rhino with his webbing, then . . . used the webbing as leverage to throw Rhino at Sandman. The brutal collision resulted in Sandman losing the cohesion that allowed him to maintain human form and Rhino being knocked for a loop. Of course, that move hadn't exactly done Spider-Man any favors; the strain of his desperate attack had torn several muscles in his arms.
That . . . might not have been such a good move, the web-slinger thought, his arms aching quite unpleasantly. His spider-sense went off again, just in time for him to get clipped by Vulture. "Son of a . . ."
"Nice move, boy," Vulture mocked. "But all you did was leave yourself open for the Vulture!"
"Referring to yourself in the third person isn't exactly a sign of a healthy mind," Spider-Man taunted.
"Spare me," Vulture sneered. "You know as well as I do that you just did yourself in with that move."
He's right, Spider-Man admitted reluctantly. Vulture might be overestimating how screwed-up I am, but that move hurt more than I was thinking. Was I even thinking?
"Any last words, wall-crawler?" Vulture taunted.
"Yeah . . ." Spider-Man replied. "Look out behind you."
"Like I'm gonna fall for –" the Vulture's jeering was cut off by a cord wrapping around his throat and yanking him back into a punch from a red-gloved fist. As the Vulture collapsed to the ground, unconscious, Spider-Man looked up at his savior.
"Are you a Satanist or something?"
The man in question was garbed in blood-red motorcycle leathers, flexible enough to allow him freedom of movement but with light armor underneath for impact dampening. His face was concealed by a red cowl made of the same armored leather with a pair of small hornlike protrusions up front that made him resemble the classical depiction of the Devil. Distinguishing his outfit was a holster for a baton of some kind and a pair of interlocked D's on his chest.
"No, I'm Daredevil," the leather-clad man replied stoically. "By the way, you might wanna look out."
The next thing Spider-Man knew, he was dodging a tidal wave of sand created by none other than the Sandman. At that same moment, his spider-sense went off again and he had to fire a web to swing out of the way of a massive electrical blast that would have instantly fried him. As it was, Sandman ended up on the receiving end and was fused into glass for his trouble, glass that Daredevil callously shattered.
"What the hell!" Spider-Man yelled. "Did you just kill him!"
Daredevil just stared at Spider-Man as though Spider-Man was being an idiot. As for the one who'd fired that electrical blast, Electro just smirked nastily. "Fine by me. I never liked that guy, anyway."
"Dillon!" Spider-Man yelled.
"It's ELECTRO!" Electro screamed, creating a lightning storm directed solely at ending Spider-Man's life.
"Lucky for me, I came prepared," Spider-Man muttered, webbing Electro, who would have burned it off except for the fact that he couldn't. "See that? I mixed some insulating polymers into my web formula, just in case I ever ran into you again . . . which I should have figured was a lot likelier than I was thinking." He paused. "Ok, that's Mysterio, Sandman, Rhino, Vulture, and Electro. Hmm, anybody else I know?" Then he turned to Daredevil. "As for you, I ought to let you know that I am totally not ok with lethal force!"
Daredevil again just stared at Spider-Man as though the wall-crawler was an idiot. This time, though, he actually said something. "He's made of sand. He'll eventually reconfigure himself."
"Oh," Spider-Man uttered in embarrassment. "I . . . knew that."
Daredevil snorted. "Let's make sure the others don't get too far from here, all right?"
"Yeah," Spider-Man agreed dumbly.
By the time Spider-Man and Daredevil had made it out of the Vault, they found the Web Corps, along with another team of superheroes Spider-Man didn't exactly recognize, handling things. The funny thing about the Web Corps, now that he was seeing them in action for himself, was how much they moved and fought like him. There were subtle differences, though, that he chalked up to their individual personalities.
The black-clad one with the red web patterns growing out of his equally red spider symbol fought more aggressively and viciously than Spider-Man normally tended towards. Helping in the aggression were the talons on his fingertips that he used as slashing weapons – in addition to their presumed use of wall-crawling.
The green-and-black-clad one, whose costume design was similar to Spider-Man's, was a lot more cautious in how he fought. The one in red with the huge black spider symbol on his chest seemed even more cheerful about it than Spider-Man often portrayed himself, casually mocking his foes as he acrobatically evaded their attacks. The Spider-Girls (or was it Spider-Women?) were particularly given to bending and flipping and contorting like actual gymnasts, with the one in black-and-white carrying it off too well to be entirely new to this – new to crime-fighting, yes, but not exactly new to gymnastic stunts.
It faintly occurred to Spider-Man that he should not be eyeing someone that, for all he knew, could have been another clone like that symbiote-fused maniac he'd had to deal with. Contrary to popular assumption, having a female doppelganger of oneself was not an occasion to fantasize about sexy time, it was an occasion to freak out over how goddamn creepy it was. He sincerely hoped she wasn't a clone. He'd had enough of clones.
By the time it was over . . . it was over. Spider-Man clapped, slowly, almost sarcastically. "So I meet my adoring fans," he quipped with a smile.
"You . . ." the black-and-red Spider-Man snarled.
"Yeah, that's me," Spider-Man confirmed. "Now who are you?"
"A better Spider-Man than you," the black-and-red Spider-Man shot back angrily.
"Hey, X, cool down," the red-clad Spider-Man advised. "I apologize for him, he's a bit on edge . . . all the time."
Spider-Man recognized that voice. After all, he used his mask and some clever vocal work to disguise his own voice, so he was keen to the same trick being pulled on him by someone he knew. He'd have to get this red Spider-Man alone, for him to confirm his suspicions. In the meantime, he quipped, "Like this guy?" He jerked his thumb at Daredevil to make his example.
Daredevil scowled. "Amateurs."
"But with potential," a beautiful redhead cut in with a tinge of Russian in her voice. She wore skintight black leather with metal cuffs around her wrists and a belt with a black widow-style red hourglass emblazoned on the buckle slung low on her hips. She turned to Daredevil with a look that said she was familiar with him, and the devil-styled vigilante returned that look with the same familiarity. To her right, the blond archer clad in black and purple with the H-strap over his torso stared irritably at them, while the youngish-looking brunet man in soldier's armor stared stoically ahead.
"Who are you guys?" the black-and-white-clad Spider-Girl (or was it Spider-Woman?) asked fiercely.
"The Avengers," the redhead answered.
"You sound like you're with the government," Spider-Man remarked. "If you are, can I sue these guys for blatantly copying me?"
"Did you put a patent on 'Spider-Man'?" the archer asked with a sardonic grin.
"Oh, crap . . ." Spider-Man murmured.
"Then you can't sue," the archer explained simply. "Besides, there's no law against dressing up like a kid who thinks he's in a comic book."
Spider-Man gritted his teeth, while the Spider-Girl (or Woman) whose costume was almost exactly identical to his save for bluish-silver in place of red and lacking webs pointed her finger angrily at the archer. "Hey! Don't insult Spidey! If it wasn't for him, this city would be a cesspool by now!"
"Fangirls . . ." the archer muttered, while the leather-clad redhead had a good chuckle at his expense.
"There's no reason to antagonize them, Hawkeye," she said. At that moment, an imposing man in white-and-green armor that vaguely reminded Spider-Man of an Ancient Greek warrior made himself known.
"Some of them slipped past us."
The redhead cursed under her breath in Russian. Regaining her composure, she turned to the rest of her Avengers, two of whom were a couple wearing armors modeled after insects. The man's armor, colored red and blue, made him resemble an ant, while the woman's armor, colored black and gold, made her resemble a wasp – and she had the waist for it, too.
The other one was a tall, muscular, and jovial-looking man in what seemed to be a tan leather vest and brown pants made of lizard hide. "Interesting bunch here," he remarked cheerfully. "Shame the girls are too young."
"Too young for what?" the Spider-Woman (or Girl) in blue-tinged silver and navy blue asked.
"What do you think?" the Spider-Woman (or Girl) in black and white responded. "Freaking perv."
"Don't worry, fair maidens!" the brown-clad man responded airily. "I have no intention of sullying your virtue this soon in your tender lives."
Spider-Man just stared at him. "Uh, who are you?"
"No, I am not, noble youth! I am most assuredly Hercules, the Prince of Power!"
"Yeah, fine, let's roll with that."
"You do not believe me?" Hercules asked.
"Enough," the redhead in black leather interrupted, sounding irritated. "Spider-Man, Daredevil, the two of you are to come with us. The rest of you can go home."
"You mean . . . we don't . . ." the green-and-black Spider-Man uttered disappointedly.
"Not like we need you," the black-and-red Spider-Man snarled angrily. "You government pricks never did jack to protect the people of this city!"
The archer looked like he wanted to make an issue of it, but the soldier-styled man held him back. "It's not worth it, Hawkeye."
Hawkeye, as he was identified, deflated slightly but with a hard glare aimed at the black-and-red Spider-Man beneath his goggle-eyed shades. "Fine."
Spider-Man turned to his emulators. "Uh . . . you guys hold down the fort here. I'll be back!" His awkward attempt to encourage them in the face of the leather-clad woman's dismissal sounded lame even to his own ears.
"Thanks," the red Spider-Man replied. "Come on, you guys. We got a city to look after. Let the big kids have their fun."
With that said, Web Corps leaped and swung away from the Vault, leaving Spider-Man and Daredevil alone with the Avengers. "What do you want with us?" Daredevil asked.
"Come with us, and Colonel Fury will explain everything," the woman replied.
"Ok . . ." Spider-Man uttered, not really convinced but willing to roll with it until he saw or heard something that fully persuaded him. This better not be a trap . . . I'm sick of traps . . .
End Notes: And thus, I have completed the beginning chapter of Spider's Advent! If you're wondering why Spider-Man doesn't sound so convinced of Hercules' divinity . . . wouldn't you think somebody was nuts if they started calling themselves by the name of a literal god or demigod? Granted, Spider-Man has had encounters with demons and vampires as of the original story, but not actual gods or even angels just yet.
For the record, the Web Corps will play a role in the continuity of this story. They'll probably get their numbers trimmed a bit at some point, but they'll still be important throughout. Ben Reilly and Harry Osborn, now the Scarlet Spider and Tarantula, know that Peter's Spider-Man as of Venom and Demitri Maximoff's hostage-taking at the midpoint of the original story, and Peter seems to recognize Ben, but will he recognize Harry?
Poor Harry, though; guy always feels like he's playing second best to Peter, even when they're both superheroes. Is that gonna put another wrench in their relationship, and if so, will it be exploited by someone like Miles Warren, who knows Peter's dual identity thanks to cloning him? What of Warren's agenda, and how does it coincide with that of Norman Osborn . . . or is he playing at a scheme of his own?
Most pertinent to this arc's plot, the deposed Kingpin of Crime has teamed up with the Overlord of Shadaloo to re-conquer New York's criminal underworld! What sort of resistance will Tombstone mount against this deadly alliance, and what does their plot have to do with the World Warrior Tournament and the newly freed Vault prisoners? For the answers to all those questions, you'll just have to keep on reading! Thanks, and be sure to review!