"Dammit!" Miles Warren yelled within the confines of his lab.
"It's all ruined! All three of my clones useless!" Miles slumped into the nearest chair in apparent defeat. If I had only thought more thoroughly, this would of never happened. It was a clone of myself I sent to die at Shea Stadium* six years ago, not myself as Parker believed. It was a clone of myself designed in the form of a human Jackal that tortured Peter and Ben Reilly for so many months.** And even Carrion failed me! How could this be? Warren stood up and walked over to the large monitor that now showed the results of all his cloning.
"Original Carrion, destroyed by fire in former lab,*** Warren clone destroyed by explosion at Shea Stadium, and Human Jackal clone destroyed in an attempt to save Gwen Stacy clone. A valiant attempt, but a failure nonetheless," he muttered. "I blame Osborn, if he hadn't of tampered with my Human Jackal clone, all would be right! If he hadn't falsely implanted memories that Ben Reilly was the real Peter Parker, the human race would all be cloned now, and I would kill him and rule with Gwen by my side, but no! My Human Jackal took the DNA from Peter, resulting in the cure for degeneration not being found, and here I am to start all over," he whined. Then an evil sneer came over his newly designed features, "But now I have a chance to make it all right. First comes Osborn, then that loathsome hero Spider-Man."
*Amazing Spider-Man #149
**Clone Saga from 1994-1996 in all Spider-Books
***Spectacular Spider-Man #31 vol. 1
THWIP! Spider-Man shot out another webline as he swung towards the Daily Bugle. His wife Mary Jane is dead, and there's nothing he can do about it. I keep praying that some super-villain has her, but that can't be true! The only one capable of that is Norman Osborn and he came back into town yesterday! I'm going to have to find that madman and confront him, once and for all. I need answers. He let go of his web and landed with a soft thump on top of the Bugle. But on the other hand, the advance I got from Stark Solutions when I signed on as a scientist got me my old Soho apartment back. He smiled to himself as he slid into his civvies. But before I start grieving in full and start hunting Osborn, I do believe thanks is in order! He opened the unlocked roof entrance and ambled down the steps. But the doubts still linger, am I being too optimistic or in complete denial? Is it Osborn or do I hope it's Osborn? And with Osborn back, does that mean he's going to try to get me as the Green Goblin again? And am I--
"Parker! Do you got any new shots?" Peter was dragged out of his thoughts by the bullhorn that was J. Jonah Jameson's voice.
"I thought I told you I didn't want to see your ugly mug until you bought me some photos!"
"But Jonah, I work at Stark Solutions now, and I told you I wouldn't have as much time for photography," Peter responded.
Jonah roared, "Don't give me that Parker! I'll have your--
"Down Jonah down!" came a familiar voice.
"Jonah," Peter continued, "I came here to thank you for footing the bill for MJ's funeral and to thank you for footing the bill for my murder trial a year back."
Jonah looked at Peter, "My boy, some things are just more important in life, and one of those important things, is your friends." Jonah then walked into his office and closed the door.
Peter smiled in shock, "I think that's the nicest thing he's ever said to me."
"Don't expect it to last, Robbie chipped in. He'll be back on you in no time." After exchanging goodbyes Peter walked towards the elevator.
"Oh, and tell Spider-Man he's welcome to drop by anytime too," Robbie called after him. A knowing smile crossed Robbie's lips as the elevator doors closed. Strange, Peter thought to himself. It was almost like he knows I'm Spider-Man. Hmm...
The sleek design of the limousine cruised along 5th Avenue towards its destination. And inside, Norman Osborn sorts out his thoughts once more. It's been months since my last battle with Spider-Man, but I know he'll be looking for me. He'll probably think I had something to do with his wife's death. But alas, it does appear a plane explosion has taken her life. However, another tragedy has taken place. May Osborn, or should I say May Parker, the child I abducted from the Parkers, has passed on. I took her loss in stride, having legally adopted her, and gave her a proper burial. I've only come back to New York to seek revenge on her killer, a killer named Miles Warren. I thought the Jackal running around some months back was him regenerated, giving me reason to sabotage his memories, but it was another clone. Warren poisoned my daughter and now he must pay. Peter will have to wait his turn for reckoning.
"Mr. Osborn," Osborn's driver asked, "Would you like me to take you to the Osborn Industries offices?"
"No Thompson," Norman replied, "Take me to the Catskills."
"Normie!" shouted Mark Raxton, "Stop jumping on the furniture! Your mom didn't let me baby-sit you so you could tear her house apart!"
"Sorry Uncle Mark," said Normie Osborn, son of the late Harry Osborn.
"Now go clean up your room," Raxton said sternly.
"Yes sir," said Normie reluctantly. And with that Normie bolted through the house. Silly kid, Raxton thought to himself. So full of life and hope, just like Liz was when she first married Ha--
"Daddy!" came Normie's shout, interrupting the former Molten Man's thoughts. What?! Raxton quietly crept thru the house, looking for Normie's location. To his left in Liz's bedroom, he heard quiet voices, Normie's and one sounding eerily familiar.
"Haha, I got you ...no!" Raxton screamed in apparent shock. "It can't be!"
"Oh, but it is Mark," came the voice of one very healthy Harry Osborn. And Mark did the only thing he could do. He fainted.
In the confines of his car, Miles Warren drives through the traffic-clogged streets of New York. Osborn's back in town, and I'm sure he knows who killed his, or should I say Parker's daughter. I can't face him until I'm absolutely ready. However, that won't stop me from tracking down Gwen Sta...er...I mean her clone. It's been a year or so since my Warren clone had found her and made a life for themselves until Spider-Man had to go and ruin it.**** Hopefully, my appearance will trigger the amnesia process I added to her when I cloned her, making her forget everything, starting with that fateful night and coming back to my waiting arms. If I can't have Reilly, I'll have her for my cure. Just then a webbed, red, and blue figure swung just ahead.
"Spider-Man!!!" Warren screamed in fear. "I'm not ready for him either, he'll ruin it all again just like so many years ago! I got to run...." But before Miles could hop out his car, Spider-Man was gone. Warren breathed a sigh of relief.
"He wasn't after me, but I am curious to see where he's going." Parking his car in a nearby alley, Warren silently ran after Spider-Man.
****See Web Of Spider-Man #125
"Ah, Peter. So nice of you to join us." These were the words of one Steven McCoy, head scientist at Stark Solutions. "The meeting is just about to begin.
"Sorry I'm late, I got caught in traffic," Peter replied. McCoy smiled and led Peter into the meeting room. Can't tell him I went on a quick search for Osborn, but then again, he'd never believe me! And I still don't know what set off my spider-sense a minute ago.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," McCoy started. "As you know, in recent years man has successfully cloned animals but has failed in the area of humans. Until now. My friends, in my hands is the original copy of the journal of the late Miles Warren, the only man to successfully clone a human being!" While the rest of the room listened intently, Peter stared in horror. "Within this journal, Warren outlined the whole process and a list of all the people he ever cloned, one that we know is still alive. The clone of the late Gwen Stacy, will be coming in for a demonstration." Peter's jaw dropped. "Why so shocked Parker?" McCoy asked. "She's not going to be a lab rat, I can assure you. She will merely be here to show off the wonders Miles created. The journal will be locked in my office until I can read its entire contents. After that time, the journal will be out for all of you to peruse at your discretion. That is all."
As the scientists filed out of the room, Peter walked nowhere in particular, stunned. His journal? They had to find HIS journal? And it has everyone he ever cloned in it? That means I'M in there! I got to get to that book, or at least the part about me out of it. How would McCoy or for that matter Mr. Stark react if they found out I was one of the first people he chose to clone? Thank goodness he put Gwen ahead first. I just pray McCoy doesn't read that book anymore until tomorrow. Maybe I can sneak out of here and get to it now. Yeah, that's an id--
"And where are you going young man?" McCoy asked inquisitively.
"Bathroom?" Peter stammered.
"I know you want to look at the book now Peter," McCoy said almost laughing. "But you'll have to wait like the rest of your fellow scientists, or until YOU'RE the head scientist!" He walked away laughing.
"Yes Dr. McCoy," Peter mumbled as he watched him go. Scratch that plan; I'll wait till tonight as Spider-Man. But for now, I have some test tubes with my name on them. And even as Peter entered the lab area, he was watched by one Miles Warren who licked his lips devilishly.
"Warren!" Norman Osborn yelled. "I know you're around here! There's no use in hiding!" He pushed some glass jars onto the floor, which broke violently.
"If you won't come out, I'll bring you out." He hefted about a dozen pumpkin bombs and threw them about the lab. He couldn't help but smile at the mess he had created. He must not be here. I'll just leave him a little calling card. He placed a timed pumpkin bomb upon the main table.
"Happy trails Warren," he said. He then walked back out to limo laughing hysterically.
"Mark! Mark!" Harry Osborn frantically smacked at his brother-in-law's face.
Slowly the Molten Man came to. "Is that really you Harry?"
"Yes," Harry replied as he held Normie in a tight hug. "It's me."
"But how?" Raxton asked curiously. "Why be alive and torture Liz the way you did?"
"Remember how I planned to leave for a while before Spider-Man got me locked in The Vault?***** Well, after my apparent heart failure, I found myself awake in the morgue. The new strength-enhancement formula my father had made apparently kept an important trait, a healing factor. I switched my body with another body in the next drawer and watched as Liz bribed the man writing my autopsy report like I had done so many years ago for my father. I then took my much-needed time. I traveled Europe, Asia, Australia; I learned what it was like to be a man. And now I've returned, to claim my life again."
"Harry, what do I tell Liz?" Raxton asked.
"Don't," Harry replied bluntly. "I'll come to her when the time is right, and you keep this secret to okay Normie?"
"Okay dad," Normie said all smiles. Harry shook Raxton's hand and began to leave.
"Wait!" Raxton called after him. "Do you know about your father?"
"Yes," Harry said smiling. "And soon I'll confront him, Liz, the world, and most importantly, Spider-Man."
*****See Spectacular Spider-Man #189
Spider-Man swung silently thru the night. I just hope I can get in there without breaking and entering. Jonah would love that. He approached the Stark Solutions building and quickly let go of his webline and grasped the side of the building. He crawled his way nimbly up and peaked in the window. Oh great! McCoy's inside asleep! Doesn't he have a wife to go home to? The thought of his own wife made him shudder but he soon blocked out the thought and got back to the matter at hand. The window's open just enough for me to get a web thru and snatch the journal. If I can just aim accurately... He aimed and fired, his webbing grabbing the book with a soft THWAP. Now to pull it out... But due to his unsteady emotions , the book slammed against the window pane as he yanked on his web.
"Whaaa?!" McCoy awoke with a start. Yet there was nothing to be seen. I don't remember leaving Warren's journal over there. He then picked up the book and placed it on his desk. He then locked the window, took his coat and walked out of the office. Slowly Spider-Man climbed back to the window. Lucky for me my spider-sense warned me when he woke up! But now the window's locked, and Stark Solutions has one of the most high-tech security systems around, not to mention me without my keycard or Iron Man! Oh well, maybe in the morning... He shot a webline and swung towards home. Lost in thought his subconscious brought him to somewhere very painful: the airfield where Mary Jane's airplane exploded.
"Whoa! Got so deep in thought I had no clue where I was going! But where did I..." Spidey's words trailed off as he realized where he was standing. It was a roped off section so Peter ripped off his mask and began to weep openly. This was the first time he truly realized his wife was dead. He kept sobbing and sobbing in the pain he had only experienced when Uncle Ben died, when Gwen died, and when Aunt May had died. Then a hand came upon his shoulder.
"I'm so sorry Peter..."came the familiar voice again. Peter looked up and saw a face he thought he would never see again.
"Harry?!" he said in shock in between sobs.
"Yes, Peter," Harry said. "It is me. And I've come to put some business to an end..."
NEXT ISSUE: Will Harry kill Peter in his weakest moment? And what's Warren's agenda? And will we find out if he's present when Osborn's bomb goes off in his lab? Will I ask anymore questions? No, just be here for the next issue!