Spider-Man Revisited: Clone Saga, Part 4: Power and Responsibility, Part 2

281759-4421-64630-2-spider-manThe clone sits at May’s bedside contemplating what to do. “This woman said that Peter was going to die tonight. Now here I am, questioning what to do. Hoping that you’ll come out of your coma and make it all better….like the Aunt May of my….his…memories. What do I do Aunt May? If I don’t act, Peter might die. Then, once and for all, I can have the life I’ve been dreaming of for all these years. All I have to do is sit here. Do nothing and the memories….the life…..all of it…..can be mine. IT’s not even a real question that I’m asking myself….I know what I have to do. It’s what he would do. Bottom line….I am him. Essentially, you raised us both.” He opens his backpack and pulls out a Spider-Man mask and gloves. “I kept some mementos from the old days. Just couldn’t let go of them. They….Spider-Man…..were as much a part of the life that could never be mine as you were, Aunt May.” The clone puts them on but is still wearing his jeans and jacket. He opens the window and perches himself in the frame. “Thank you, Aunt May. No matter what else happens. No matter who I am….if I die…..if….if….you….die….the memories I have of you…..have made my life seem real.” The clone shoots a web-line and takes off.

Inside Ravencroft, Traveller and Mr. Nacht stand over Spider-Man who cannot escape. “This Spider-Man has proven a disappointment Mr. Nacht. IS the other one on his way?” “Chakra believes so. Will you be greeting him Traveller?” Traveller raises his hand to his chin “No. Time enough for that later. For now I will observe this one. There must be something more to him. The minds of the inmates gathered here were obsessed with him. I must understand his essence. See to it that the other is allowed to enter. Have Boone and Medea engage him, and see to it that Boone keeps Medea under control. I want the subject undamaged….and Mr. Nacht, I expect copious notes.” Mr. Nacht nods in agreement as Traveller’s eyes turn red once again.

The clone arrives and sees all the staff, police and media outside, as well as the smokey mist covering the asylum and wonders how he’ll be able to get in. He swings around where no one is watching and attempts to push his arm through, thinking it wouldn’t work but mysteriously nothing happens and his arm passes. He decided not to contemplate on it and walks through the mist. As soon as he enters, he’s met with an energy blast of some sort but quickly leaps out of the way. Medea’s smoking gun in hand, is followed closely behind by Boone. “How’d he do that Boone? I had him dead in my sights, he should be nothing but a pile of charred bones.” Boone pulls out a massive knife “Consider yourself lucky then Medea. Traveller wants this one alive. We’re just supposed to play with him a little.” Medea starts running towards the clone “Yeah right. Now where did he go? You’re the tracker man, so find him already!”

Spider-Man struggles with his mechanical bonds, concentrating on saving the inmates to motivate him, when Traveller enters his mind again, causing Spider-Man to hallucinate all his enemies and loved ones surrounding him, all of them caught in a giant web. Spider-Man cowers to his knees as all the villains run towards him until a hand reaches his shoulder from above. He looks up and sees himself, Peter. Peter grabs him and says “There is no peace here Spider-Man. Not for us. WE have the power. WE have the responsibility. Our friends, our family….everyone, they need us. We’ve tangled them all in the web of our life. Now we have to use or power against them.” The scene changes to what’s really happening and it’s Judas just watching Spider-Man trip out and mumble the words “Power…responsibility” over and over again. Judas observes and says “What sort of man are you? What sort of man?”

Medea and Boone are still searching for the clone outside when he dashes past them and inside Ravencroft. He attaches himself to the roof and starts crawling, the whole time thinking of Aunt May to justify himself being there. His spider sense goes off and another energy blast barely misses him, causing a bit of the roof to crash. Boone and Medea have found him again. Medea kicks herself for not killing him again.

Spider-Man is still hallucinating his villains attacking him, only this time he isn’t afraid. They all crowd on him and start punching and kicking him but Spider-Man keeps fighting back. “Family, friends, all being sucked down by my life…only the villains pull free. NO MORE” He uppercuts Tombstone. “I do have the power” He throws a right hook to The Vulture. “Pain will not stop me. Madness will not stop me” He grabs Doctor Octopus’ arms and rips them out “The power AND the responsibility ARE MINE” He leaps up and kicks Kraven in the face. Peter Parker suddenly joins in and punches Kraven too “No….they’re OURS!” Spider-Man grabs The Green Goblin “YOU. You’re a part of my past. No more “gotcha.” It ends here.” He pulls The Goblin closer “NOW” He raises his fist in the air and it shakes with anger. He swings hard and fast and it lands on the goblins face, sending him flying. Peter is now trapped in webbing but is smiling “Good for you Spider-Man. Good for us. When the time is right, I’ll be back. We will be whole once more but until then remember….with great power must come great responsibility” Spider-Man emerges from his dance with madness and suddenly realizes where he is and what’s happening. He stands up and Traveller says “Shall we proceed then?”

The clone starts second guessing himself with the brutal attack Boone and Medea are giving him, when a sudden thought enters his mind “Power and responsibility” He doesn’t know where that came from but he’s grateful he thought it because he’s now a lot clearer and remembers why he’s there, also he cannot leave the likes of these two running around, he decides. As he engages the fight, he starts to notice how easily everything is coming back to him, the moves, the reflexes. He starts to realize he CAN do this. He knocks them both out and continues his search.

Traveller apologizes to Spider-Man for the intrusion he’s had to perform but at this stage, Spider-Man is too angry and doesn’t want to hear anymore. He uses that anger to channel reserve strength and shatters his hi tech handcuffs. He leaps at Traveller saying it’s over and that he’s gonna beat him to a pulp but Traveller simply catches him with one hand and says “True…but as you can see. This is one confrontation that will not be resolved with your fists. What shall we do now? What?” A sudden kick to Traveller from behind causes him to let go of Spider-Man. He turns and sees the clone. “I have been expecting you Ben.” The clone jumps to Spider-Man’s aid and says “I’m taking him out of here. Move aside…NOW” Judas laughs and replies “No. I am afraid that is NOT going to happen. Not just yet.

“Rarely has the man known as Judas Traveller been so pleased with himself. A world renowned philosopher and psychologist, he has devoted years, far more than the academic community even imagines, to the study of human nature, with a special focus on man’s capacity for evil. Thus, he has come to Ravencroft, an institution devoted to the criminally insane. He originally intended to study it’s super powered inhabitants and then, to select an appropriate test subject which he could use in a controlled experiment. Another one of his endless explorations into the human potential for spiritual greatness. To his surprise and delight, instead of a single test subject, he now has two. An original and a copy. An individual and his clone. Identical, virtually indistinguishable, in so many respects and yet, on some intuitive level, Traveller senses that one is desperately attempting to flee a life. A life the other craves with equal desperation. Though it was he who lured them both here, it is each other that they view warily, suspiciously awaiting, almost daring, the other to pounce. Realizing that neither will make the first move. Traveller steals their attention with a harsh laugh and even as they focus upon him, his eyes take on a fierce and chilling red glow. The room suddenly begins to shift, swirling in wild, chaotic patterns. Abruptly and perhaps, mercifully….consciousness fades…..”

Outside, the barrier of shimmering energy enshrouds the institute, denying access to the police, news, media and staff. Dr.Kafka still cannot make sense to any of this but Edward assures her that he doesn’t mean them any harm. After all, Traveller had him completely at his mercy but let him go. Jameson jnr then says that maybe Traveller has enough hostages inside and if he thinks they are safe, hes crazy because if Spider-Man loses, imagine what someone like Carnage will do to them when he’s free, let alone the rest of the inmates.

Traveller watches over Carnage fascinated by the interplay between Cletus Kasady and his alien symbiote when he is interrupted by Boone and Medea. Boone tells him that he’s put Traveller’s test subjects in the storage basement like he requested. “Excellent” Judas starts. “They will soon awaken Mr. Nacht. I suggest you take your observation post, and Mr. Nacht….your notes must reflect every subtle detail.” Mr. Nacht nods in agreement. From the shadows, emerges once again, Scrier, who says “Traveller, the barrier strains even your resources. We cannot contain it for much longer.” Traveller eyes agree “I understand Scrier. I will adhere to our schedule. Chakra, I have a little errand for you” Chakra walks towards him “What are my instructions?” Traveller whispers to Chakra and Medea tries to overhear but cannot, making her wonder what she doesn’t know, so she asks Traveller if he is still going to slaughter all the inmates. “Hardly my dear Medea. I am not nearly as cold blooded as you. Instead I shall simply liberate them and await the results.”

50155-2870-65611-1-spectacular-spider-mSpider-Man and his clone wake up from unconsciousness at the same time surrounded by boxes and equipment. Traveller must have somehow dragged them there. Spider-Man looks at his clone and remembers his rage “Sounds like you’re in quite a bit of pain there fella, Well I’ve got news for you….THAT’S ONLY THE START” He leaps towards the clone and takes a swing. The clone moves out of the way and Spider-Man smashes some boxes where his head just was. “Tell me what your boss is planning and I mean NOW” The clone replies “My boss…??” Spider-Man stops and says “The Traveller! You’re obviously working for him. He’s the one who must have dressed you up to look like Peter Parker, gave you that mask, those gloves and told you to masquerade as my clone.” He tries to shoot webbing at the clone but his shooters don’t work, so he leaps at the clone once again saying “Didn’t you think I’d guess the truth? Traveller’s been messing with my head, trying to drive me crazy, ever since I got here. I just want to know why!!! WHY?!” The clone catches Spidey and throws him into a wall “That’s a nice scenario but it’s pure fantasy. I didn’t have to come here mister. I did it to save you.” Spider-Man gets back up “Yeah right. My clone, my savior…Now look who’s talking fantasy” They continue to fight when Spider-Man says “I’m surprised Traveller didn’t choose a better fighter. I haven’t faked anyone out with this maneuver since junior high” The clone grunts and says back “THAT’S A LIE. You were already in high school when the spider bit you. I KNOW…I have your memories. You’ve changed Parker. You used to have a sense of humor, a flair for jokes and witticisms. What happened? Why are you so bitter and angry??” Spider-Man stops attacking “LIFE HAPPENED….Not that it’s any of your business….AND STOP CALLING ME PARKER. I’M SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN” The clone looks at him but before he can respond, they both hear a noise that seems to be getting louder. The clone opens one of the doors and sees a wild, angry mob of inmates running towards them carrying all sorts of make shift weapons. The inmate at the head yells “KILL THEM, KILL THEM BOTH..” Spider-Man says to the clone “Traveller freed the inmates, just like he said..but the energy field which is cocooning the institute must be preventing their escape.” The clone looks at the crowd “Lucky us. I hope you have a plan cos I certainly don’t.” A harsh laugh is The Spider’s only response as he eagerly springs forward, lashing out brutally, mercilessly and to the shock of the man who calls himself Ben Reilly…almost joyfully. “Get a hold of yourself Park…Spider-Man..SLOW DOWN. There’s no need to hurt these people. They’re here because they aren’t responsible for their actions. YOU ARE……….ACT LIKE IT” Peter Parker would agree with Ben’s words but The Spider merely continues his savage barrage, unleashing one punishing blow after another until the clone cannot stomach anymore. “STOP IT SPIDER-MAN. You’re supposed to be the hero here….THE GOOD GUY. Your Aunt and Uncle didn’t raise you to be some dark vigilante. They taught you the difference between right and wrong. GOOD AND EVIL. Don’t disgrace them with your actions.” The clone pushes Spider-Man off an inmate who bleeding from his mouth and Spider-Man says “That’s so easy for you to say but you don’t know the horrors I’ve experienced..” The clone goes nose to nose with Spider-Man and says “If you really hate your life so much….Give it up. I’ll take it. Gladly.” The Spider is sorely tempted. It would be so easy to allow this genetic anomaly to assume the life he wishes to discard, freeing him from all the pain, all the responsibility but the man refuses to die. “Not a chance pal.” Mr. Nacht secretly takes notes behind the corner when the clone says “Then please, work with me or neither of us will leave this place alive.” Mr Nacht then leaves his post and delivers a most preliminary report to Traveller. “The test subjects have formed an alliance” he reports. “Interesting. I was uncertain they could overcome their personal enmity.” Medea smiles and says “Do I get to play with them now? As the warrior of the host, I should be granted the pleasure of dispatching them.” Traveller stands over her and says “Be silent Medea, I will not caution you again.” She cowers and says “Y.Yes sir.” Chakra then enters the room holding a letter “Traveller. I have completed the assignment. It presented a most interesting challenge and I must say that I am very curious to learn why you required this letter to be postmarked a week ago.” Traveller takes the letter and says “It will serve as additional misdirection for the authorities.” Scrier look at Traveller with a look of concern “I am well aware of the passing time Scrier. Only a few tests remain. You may now attend to the energy barrier, while the others make the necessary perpetration’s for our imminent departure”

Outside the asylum, Dr. Kafka tells Jameson that something is happening to the cocoon but before they can work it out, it starts to grow, spreads out from the main building towards them and knocks everyone out, like puppets who’s strings have suddenly been cut.

On a airplane, Mary-Jane is heading home to visit her family when she suddenly gets sick and runs to the bathroom

Back at the institution, the Spider-Men face a barrage of villains, one who Spider-Man has never even seen before but for some reason the clone has, proving to Spider-Man that Ben must have had some sort of adventure in his exile. After they dispatch him they then turn around and non other than Carnage is standing there blocking the doorway.

Chakra reports to Traveller that they are ready to depart but Traveller tells them they cannot leave quite yet as the true Spider-Man stands on the precipice and he wants to see if he flees into the abyss or rises to the challenge.

Carnage’s arms turn to knives as he walks towards his intended victims. “Must be my lucky day. 2 web-heads for the price of one. Eenie meenie miney moe, who shall be the first to go? Not that it matters, you’ll both be splatters.” Inwardly, in the darkest recesses of his soul, The Spider rejoices. At last, a foe he can battle without restraint, without mercy….but even as he tenses for action… is the man beside him who initiates the attack. The clone leaps forward and says “We can’t let him reach the basement.” They both leap from an attack by Carnage. “The basement?” Spider-Man asks. Carnage continues attacking and the clone replies “The men down there may have tried to kill us but they’re still men.” Something in his double’s desperate tone rips through The Spider like a molten shiv, piercing to the very heart of the man he once was. The man beneath the mask. “You….you’re right” Spider-Man realizes. One of Carnage’s arms turns to tendrils and covers the clone’s face. “Excussssssse me. I know it’s rude to interrupt but I really hate to be ignored” The clone grabs the tendrils and throws Carnage into a wall. Spider-Man shouts “Hey slick, it seems like you’ve done this before?” The clone replies “Yeah but it seems like a lifetime ago. Lets bag this bozo. Nobody can beat the two of us working together…NOBODY” Silently, The Spider agrees. What follows over the next few minutes seems more like a carefully orchestrated ballet than a bloody battle, as two agile figures move in perfect harmony, striking, darting, dodging, ricocheting, delivering blow after punishing blow…..and thought it seems to go on for hours, it ends as it eventually must….with Carnage collapsed in an unconscious heap. They return Cletus Kasady to his special cell and continue on their way to find Traveller. “As far as partners go, I’ve had worse” Spider-Man says. “Flatterer. You’re just saying that because I’m a lot better looking than The Human Torch and…..hey! LOOK” The clone says as they arrive to a window. They see Traveller and his posse leaving Ravencroft. They then notice they’ve also done something to the crowd outside. Fearing they’re all dead, they both crash through the window to confront the gang. Spider-Man says “If it’s all right with you, I’ll concentrate on Traveller. You take the others.” “Sounds like a plan to me. Besides, I owe a little something special to the ones called Boone and Medea.” Boone and Medea enter their getaway limo and the clone leaps after them. Executing an incredible twenty foot somersault, the man known as Ben Reilly propels himself into the awaiting limousine mere seconds behind his targets but to his astonishment, it’s empty. Before he can think where everyone went, his spider sense goes ballistic and the limo explodes.

Spider-Man sees the blast and knows his clone didn’t stand a chance. He hated the thought of having one more doppelganger around to plague him but he knows the clone deserved better than that. He leaps towards Traveller. “At last, I’ve got you cornered.” “Do you?” Traveller responds. “You have proven to be a most interesting study. I have gained a much greater insight as to why so many criminal minds are obsessed with you…..and yet, there is so much more to be learned. It is a pity that I can no longer continue this particular experiment.” A fierce and chilling red glow fills the eyes of The Traveller. Fighting the swirling room, The Spider stumbles forward…..and even as consciousness begins to fade, he leaps….directly into the maw of sweet oblivion. “Farewell, my friend. We shall meet again.”

Sometime (is it minutes or hours??) later, the figures sprawled outside Ravencroft slowly begin to stir. Noting that the energy barrier, which once engulfed the main building has vanished, the local authorities are soon shouting orders and securing the grounds. Though warned to stay outside, Dr. Kafka employs a persuasive and fiery tongue “My patients, I must check on my patients.” She opens a door and sees Spider-Man lying on the floor, waking from unconscious. “Where’s Traveller?” he mutters. “We were hoping you could tell us Spider-Man” she says. Jameson jnr runs in letting Kafka know that all the inmates are in their cells and OK, including Carnage. Spider-Man stands up but can’t make sense of anything that’s happened. He doesn’t understand the whole night but before he can try to work any more out, Edward notices a letter on the desk in an envelope, postmarked a week ago from Judas Traveller. Kafka opens the letter, reads it and says “He…he sends his regrets. A prior commitment prevented him from accepting my invitation.” Edward then says that The Traveller they met must have been an impostor but Spider-Man then says “If that’s true…Who was he?”

In the limousine, Judas Traveller and his host drive away. Traveller looks over Mr. Nacht’s notes and says “Your notes are superb, Mr. Nacht….as usual. The TRUE Spider-Man appears to be a decent and noble individual, possessing an above-average….bordering on the obsessive…sense of responsibility. His genetic duplicate is also quite intriguing. They are both certainly worthy of future study” The limo continues on its way….

Spider-Man and Dr. Kafka both need more answers, so they approach the sergeant and ask if they’ve found anything. “My lab boys are going nuts Doc. The news media never got a clear picture of the terrorists and preliminary search has turned up zilch. It doesn’t look like they left any physical evidence behind. No fingerprints or trace elements. Nothing except that burnt out wreck.” He points to exploded limo. Spider-Man asks if there was a body inside but the policeman says no. Spider-Man doesn’t know what to believe anymore. Did his clone escape the blast or was he just another one of Traveller’s mind games? Dr. Kafka sees that something is not right with Spider-Man and asks him if he wants to talk about the night or anything at all. The man wishes he could share his troubles with the good doctor, perhaps she could help heal his shattered life……but The Spider is not ready for such ministrations. Not yet. Perhaps……not ever. “Some other time, Doc.” he says as he shoots a webline and swings away.

Some distance away, A lone figure pauses at a crossroads. Should he head north, continuing a nomadic journey begun so long ago? Or, should he follow an inner voice which directs him south, towards the spires of Manhattan? In the end, the reflexes of the man, who calls himself Ben Reilly proved equal to The Traveller’s challenge, propelling him to safety mere instants before the explosion. At last, after too many years, this man has finally returned home. Will he now stay……or return to exile?

Next on Spider-Man Revisited…..The Clone makes his triumphant return to the world of super-herodom. With a new name, costume and purpose in life. Unfortunately his very first adversary is non other than……the original…..the best…..VENOM !!!