Comics : Web of Scarlet Spider #2

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This story is part of an Arc: "Cyber-War"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4

This story is part of a Lookback Series: Worst of the Worst

This review was first published on: 2008.

Background...

Dr. Octopus II and rival gang leader Jason Tso have been involved in a minor war over an advanced technology: cyberneural inductors. Tso and his business partner Alistaire Smythe have succeeded in acquiring some of these components for Smythe's new spider-slayers.

Seward Trainer, confidant of Ben Reilly aka the Scarlet Spider, has recently been put into a coma after a virtual reality battle in cyberspace separated his mind from his body. His consciousness survived as a digital presence. He is currently floating through cyberspace and spying on Dr. Octopus (who happens to be his daughter). He occasionally makes contact with Ben through any nearby electrical device to fill him in on his daughter's plans.

In Detail...

"True Deceptions!"
Web of Scarlet Spider #2
Dec 1995 : SM Title
Summary: Smythe's new Spider-Slayers attack
Arc: Part 1 of "Cyber-War"
Editor:  Eric Fein
Plot:  Tom DeFalco
Writer:  Todd DeZago
Pencils:  Tom Morgan
Inker:  Don Hudson, Hector Collazo, Randy Emberlin
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Articles: Aura & Override, Ben Reilly, Doctor Octopus II (Carolyn Trainer), Joe Wade, The Looter, Smythe, Alistaire

Ben tries to locate Seward in cyberspace by using the VR equipment at his (Seward's) penthouse. Despite his best efforts, he is unable to find him. He then leaves for Club Noir, where he is employed as Jason Tso's bodyguard.

At Club Noir, Tso is concluding a video conference with Smythe. Tso is livid at the extensive damage Octopus' employees did to his club. Smythe advises him to calm down and meet him at his complex to discuss their plans for Octopus. He leaves the club ignoring Ken Ellis and Angela Yin who want to conduct a follow-up interview with him.

At this point Ben arrives and is noticed by Angela. She pulls him aside, mistakingly thinking that he's Peter. Ben struggles to come up with a plausible excuse, but Angela beats him to the punch. She thinks that he's working undercover for a story and promises not to reveal this to Ellis.

On the Upper West Side, Tso meets with Smythe who shows him his new spider-slayers. He explains that he's following in his father's footsteps, constantly adding cutting edge technology to his slayers. However, his funds are very low at the moment. He decided to perform one last upgrade to the slayers - incorporating a VR control system using the inductors - and put them up for bids on the black market. Before he does this, he needs a trial run. They agree that the Octopus gang will be a suitable test.

At her headquarters, Dr. Octopus is chewing out her operatives (Looter, Aura, and Override) after they failed to retrieve the inductors from Tso. She explains to them (and us, finally) that the inductors will be used to complete a virtual reality wave generator. At this point she receives a call from Tso asking for a meeting on neutral ground. Conferring with her mystery partner, they agree that this is a setup but they plan to turn it to their advantage.

Tso contacts Kannor and instructs him to gather his forces and meet him and the Children's Zoo in Central Park in one hour. Kannor is shocked at the location, but follows his orders.

Seward contacts Ben about the Octopus/Tso meeting. When he arrives (as Scarlet Spider) Aura, Override, and Looter attack him. Then the new spider-slayers appear, being controlled remotely by Tso and Smythe . In between dodging energy blasts, he's trying to keep the fight away from civilians.

Eventually the tide turns in Scarlet Spider's favor as the slayers focus on Aura, Override, and the Looter. When FBI agents show up, the slayers retreat, leaving Scarlet Spider and the three weakened Octopus henchmen. The Scarlet Spider swings away before they can arrest him.

Octopus is furious they she lost all three operatives. She blames Tso, naturally, but plans to destroy the Scarlet Spider for his interference.

In General...

Ok, having supervillains fight in a children's zoo? Man these guys *are* evil. I do wonder exactly how Tso had Octopus' phone number. I doubt it's listed anywhere.

The upgrade to the spider-slayers makes sense. Incorporating VR technology into the slayers' operating system to control them seems like a logical step forward.

Once the fight was over, Override and Aura have no powers to speak of without the cybernetic systems. The Looter, however, still has his "regular" enhanced strength. Why didn't he escape? Perhaps he was too embarrassed after being knocked out by the newbie spider? I'd say he didn't want to face an angry Octopus.

Overall Rating...

2 webs. After struggling to get their bearings in the "Virtual Mortality" arc, they seem to be off on the right foot. This is still formula, but it's much better than the previous arc.

Footnote...

Seward Trainer's mind was separated from his body in Amazing Scarlet Spider #1. He's been playing digital Obi-Wan to Ben's Luke Skywalker ever since.