No time has passed since the end of Spectacular Spider-Man #29 (except this time Carrion says, "I charge you, Spider-Man, with the cold-blooded murder of Gwen Stacy and Professor Miles Warren!" Do you think he said it twice?). So read on as we continue our Looking Back on Carrion (which we started with Spectacular Spider-Man #28.
|Cover Art:||Keith Pollard|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1|
As Carrion and Spider-Man fight it out in the gym, they spar verbally as well. Peter is astounded at how much Carrion knows (that Warren was the Jackal, that he died in an explosion, and so on) but notices that the villain's perspective seems as skewed as the Jackal's was.
Elsewhere in the gym, the White Tiger and Darter duke it out. The Tiger leaps up to grab the gymnastic rings and succeeds in entangling the pursuing Darter in the criss-cross of ropes in the rafters. Darter appears helpless but the White Tiger is unaware of the "fingertip lasers" Carrion built into his henchman's costume.
Spidey continues to dodge Carrion's touch of death, so the villain tosses a handful of "red death" at the Wall-Crawler. Spidey's little jokes ("You cannot run from death forever, fool!" "Why not? I've been avoiding the IRS for years.") stick in his throat when he sees the deadly powder actually eat into the metal of the gym's bleachers. He decides he needs to get outdoors to have more space to maneuver but accidentally takes the door that leads to the indoor pool instead. He thinks he has put some space between himself and his opponent but he has forgotten about Carrion's ability to teleport. Suddenly, the cadaverous criminal is right above the Webhead and his vicious kick sends Spidey falling toward the pool. Pete just manages to hang on to the adjacent railing but Carrion floats down and steps hard on his fingers. Because, as Carrion puts it, "My physical form repels any living thing it comes in contact with!" (ooh! misplaced preposition there, Carry ol' buddy), Spidey's fingers burn at the touch. He lets go and plunges into the water in the pool.
Spider-Man falls down to the bottom, then pushes off hard with his feet. This allows him to spring right back out of the water and clip the levitating Carrion with a right to the jaw. "El Disgusto", as Spidey calls him, falls into the water and our hero barely hangs on to a nearby diving board, his blistered fingers interfering with his clinging ability. Suddenly, below him, the water turns black, starts to froth and boil, then flies with a force right out of the pool. Carrion stands at the bottom reminding Peter that organic matter "be it solid or liquid" is repelled by his touch. Spidey's response: "I've gotta hand it to you, Rags, you're the most repulsive baddie I've ever hadda fight." (This was before Spidey met Venom or Carnage or Mr. Styx or... you get the idea.)
Out in the main gym, Darter has freed himself and attacks the White Tiger with his blaster. The Tiger responds by grabbing a wrestling mat as protection but the beam from Darter's weapon shoots right through. Hector throws the mat at Darter instead, uses Darter's confusion to knock him to the floor, then disses him by saying, "That you are merely Carrion's lackey is painfully apparent! Be thankful that I have not slain you!" Hector turns to follow Spidey into the natatorium but Darter, determined to do his job (which is to keep the Tiger from helping Spider-Man) quickly rises and attacks again.
At the pool, Spidey is still helplessly hanging on the diving board as Carrion levitates up to his level. He tries a shot of webbing but Carrion's hand causes it to "crumble to dry paste". (Hey! An old Drom the Backwards Man trick!) "Rags" leans in with his touch of death, but before he can strike, he is hit in the back by an onrushing Darter who has fallen for the White Tiger ducking in the doorway.
As Carrion and Darter tumble to the far side of the pool, the Tiger leaps to the diving board to rescue Spider-Man. He manages to pull Spidey up from his predicament but cannot respond in time to Spider-Man's warning. Carrion has suddenly appeared behind the Tiger and, with a kick, sends the hero falling into the now-empty pool. Hector tries to land on his feet, but the fall is too short. He lands with a heavy "Wathroom" on his back, hurt and unconscious.
Spidey isn't looking too good himself. Still perched on the board, he is easy prey for Carrion's crimson dust, which is not lethal this time but drugged. The Wall-Crawler falls unconscious, lying on the board.
Meanwhile, back in the South Bronx apartment of the Ayala family, Awilda Ayala discovers that her brother Hector is not home. As the time goes by, from one AM to three AM, she becomes convinced that Hector has gone back on his word and become the White Tiger again. What does this have to do with anything? Who knows? Let's move on.
Back at the pool, Darter recovers from his collision with his boss and discovers that Carrion and Spider-Man are gone. "No!" he proclaims, "He wouldn't have left me here to be found by the police if he hadn't meant to renege on his promise!" Pre-occupied with his rage, Darter never notices the White Tiger's recovery. The henchman flies to Carrion secret hideout for a confrontation, with Hector Ayala right on his heels.
And at that secret hideout, Carrion has dragged Spider-Man in and strapped him to a table. The hideout is in a basement somewhere, with garbage on the floor outside (it doesn't look like it's in the bottom of a smokestack though). Inside, however, is state of the art equipment. It is the secret labortory of Professor Miles Warren... "here where Gwen Stacy was reborn".
Carrion picks up a hypodermic needle and extracts something from Spider-Man's tissue. (All the while raving about being "the ultimate negation... the Anti-Life!") He takes the hypo to what we now know quite well is a clone chamber and injects the extraction into the fluid inside. Then he gives Peter a few slaps in the puss to bring him to consciousness. Spidey comes to, mumbling that he was hoping Carrion was "just a bad dream". But he is far worse than that. The villain strips off Spidey's mask to reveal Peter's face underneath, then tells our hero how he can know so much about Gwen and the Jackal and Spider-Man. "Fool!" he says, "Can it be that you still have not guessed the awesome truth? I am the living clone of Professor Miles Warren!"
On the letters page, nobody had a single good thing to say about the Hypno-Hustler who appeared in PPSSM #24. Carlton Danaghe (No address) was representative when he asked "Who's the fool who came up with the Hypno-Hustler? Didn't he first appear in a Batman Twinkies Advertisement?" And the answer to Carlton's question? "Bill came up with the Hustler one day after eating a Guacomole Burger at a local greasy spoon. He's hoping to live it down." You know what I say about the Hypno-Hustler? "Bring him back! Bring him back! Bring him back!"