Astonishing Spider-Man #8
Astonishing Spider-Man
The Return
by Ryan Jent

Just moments ago, in the body of Ben Parker -- who's the son of Mary Jane Parker and our hero the astonishing Spider-Man -- Peter Parker explained to his wife of another time who he was, and what happened to him. It was shortly after that time, that she told him she could help. It was at that moment he remembered exactly why he wanted to grow old with her.

"What can you do?"

"This is incredibly odd," Mary Jane said on another topic, "knowing it's you in there, Peter.. and seeing our son."

"What? Doesn't he have any of my traits?"

Mary Jane arched an eyebrow, "It's not like that.. and what I can do, my love, is something you couldn't accomplish, for once. Oddly enough, I've got the superhero connections in this family," she grinned.

"Is that so?" Peter smiled, "I'm.. proud?"

"That is if you don't count Ben," she added. "What would you say if I told you that I happen to know a certain Avenger who could get you back home?"

"How would you know an Avenger? Unless you count me, of course," Peter asked, in a half smirk.

"It's not important how," Mary Jane spoke, "It's just important that I know him. Bruce Banner, Peter.. I know Dr. Banner."

"The Hulk..? You know the Hulk?!" Peter gasped. He had expected Captain America, Giant Man, or maybe the Scarlet Witch. . But the Hulk?

"He's not the Hulk anymore, Peter.. The Avengers cured him. A long time ago. With the help of the Shi'Ar. He's a brilliant doctor, Peter. Not to mention he has ties to Tony Stark, and Henry Pym."

"Once again, you've saved my life," Parker said with sincerity.

"I'd kiss you," MJ said, "But you're in my son's body. Hurry up and get home, Tiger, so that I can show you how much I've missed you."

"Do your thing, Mrs. Parker," he mused, "so that I can do mine."

Moments later, Mary Jane put down the phone, "Bruce is going to do what he can. Meet him at Avengers Mansion."

"The police won't be there this time?"

Mary Jane smiled and waved him out the door after a hug. Her husband had returned to her after all these years. And, as Peter said, if he got home... then she would never have had to be without him.

"I'm here to see Dr. Banner," Peter spoke into the equipment before him, which stood just outside of the gates of Avengers Mansion.

"As I was informed," the robotic voice replied. "The gates are opening. You can come in."

Once inside, Peter was greeted by the thin doctor, and a handshake. "Mary Jane explained everything to me, Peter."

"I'm glad, dude," Peter began, but paused. Did I just say dude? I'm becoming more and more like my son.. I have to hurry. "We have to hurry, Dr. Banner. Time Warp said Ben's persona would push mine out after awhile; and I think it's happening as we speak."

"I'll have to run some tests," Banner began, "Along with the help of Dr. Pym, of course. If you'll come this way, to the labs."

Numerous tests later, Peter sat in the body of Ben Parker, his thoughts his own. He had many. Things ranging from his long-term past, to what had just happened recently. What if this was his future? He was intrigued by it, no doubt. He wanted to know everything that had happened. Not only to his own family, but to the world.

The Fantastic Four minus Reed Richards? Bruce Banner cured of the creature known as the Hulk? There had to be countless other things, but he hadn't the time to observe much more. He was already running out of time, Ben Parker's consciousness beginning to invade his own.

"Dr. Banner and I have concluded an number of things, Mr. Parker," Hank Pym spoke, looking down at Peter, "And we've both came up with similar results. We can get you home. The Avengers have the technology. But..."


"Not without a number of problems. That is, if Time Warp doesn't return with you."

"You're saying he has to go with me, if this thing's going to be safe?"

"I'm afraid so," Pym answered.

"But. .why? Why can't I just go alone?"

"Time and Space are an incredible phenomenon," Dr. Pym explained, "Time Warp brought you here, creating a rift in the barricade of time. He changed history as we know it. Altering this world in some way, no matter how small. If you're going to return, and make everything normal once more.."

"I get it," Peter confirmed, "If I'm going back, I have to go with the man who brought me here.. to equal out the balance of time and space."


"But the question is, how do I do that? I don't have my spider powers in this body, and I'm struggling to hold consciousness as it is. Ben Parker could take over at any time."

"I have a device that can send you both back. Not of his free will, of course. When he returns; the Avengers can take him to the proper authorities. You'll have to go with us, but the Avengers can return you both to your own time. I'll explain it further on the Quinjet, if you agree?"

"How could I not, with logic like that?" Grinned Parker.

As the Quinjet soars through the sky, Peter Parker looks on at the Avengers who surround him. Hank McCoy; the mutant known as the Beast. The She-Hulk, which made an interesting combination; considering Dr. Banner was an Avenger now. Tigra, whom he'd worked with before. Quicksilver, an older Franklin Richards, Giant-Man.. obviously; and someone he didn't recognize. The Avenger was a female, no doubt.. and there was something about her costume that reminded him of a spider.

"Mattie, are we ready nearly there?" Giant-Man spoke to the unrecognizable person.

"Almost, Hank," she replied.

"As I explained earlier," Pym began; looking to Parker, "you'll simply clamp one side of these handcuffs to yourself and the other to Time Warp. They'll ignite a chain reaction, sending the both of you back. Your consciousness will return to your physical body, your son's mind in the right place once more. Now, Time Warp and Ben will have to return, of course. They'll do so on their own, returning in the handcuffs. We'll free your son, returning him home.. while at the same time, capturing Time Warp for his crimes. It's simple, really. Understand?"

With a simple nod, the Quinjet landed firmly upon the top of a building. They were about to send Parker back to his own time. Exiting, they stood atop the roof; save for this "Mattie," the Beast, Tigra, and Franklin Richards.

She-Hulk, Quicksilver, and Giant-Man began to act. One side of the handcuffs were already attached at Peter's wrist. Phase one was complete. Using her sheer force, She-Hulk slammed into the top of the building, creating a hole large enough for the Avengers plus Peter, to get inside. The fall to the floor wasn't far, even Peter in Ben's body managing to make the fall unharmed.

Time Warp stood, his eyes enlarged. He quickly went for his bo-staff, and pointed it at the three Avengers, freezing them in time instantly, "It seems I've underestimated you. Hmm; That's too bad. I didn't plan on destroying your son's body, as well."

Parker leapt forward, slamming into Time Warp before he could react. The staff went flying, shattering on the ground as it hit. The Avengers returned to their normal state to find Peter and Time Warp struggling with each other.

Time Warp easily kicked Peter back. "In this body, you're nothing more than a boy, Spider-Man! Don't forget that!"

Quicksilver darted forward, catching Parker before he could be hurt. He stumbled to his feet; the blur that was Pietro Maximoff racing towards Time Warp.

"Activate it, Parker! Do it, now!"

Pressing a few buttons on the handcuffs, Peter nodded. "It's ready!"

She-Hulk grabbed Osborn from behind, holding him. "Let's go!"

Parker ran forward, and slapped the handcuff upon Time Warp's wrist. "Thanks, Avenge--"

The three stood, alone.. the blinding light that had come from the teleportation dissolving. They had sent Spider-Man home.

Seconds later, Time Warp appeared; Ben Parker along with him. Acting quickly, Quicksilver removed Ben Parker; and slapped the other handcuff on Time Warp-deactivating the teleportation capability.

Ben, on the other hand, fell limp into the arms of Giant-Man. "He's had quite a day, I think.. Let's take this boy home, shall we?"

"It'll be out second stop," She-Hulk smiled, "We have a criminal to deliver justice to, first."

Peter Parker gasped as his eyes fluttered open. Darkness, all around him. It was a cramped space, and it didn't smell very good. He shifted his stiff joints, his bones popping. Where was he? Then it occurred to him.. He was in... his coffin!

Using his spider-strength, Peter broke the lid of the coffin from it's hinges... and above, an old graveyard worker jumped as a hand plowed through the dirt and grass in front of the tombstone marked Peter Parker.

Crawling from the abyss of soil, Peter gasped for air, "I'm.. home. But how long has it.. been?"

"Oh my god!" The graveyard keeper shouted, "Night of the living dead! Please, kind sir.. Don't eat my brains! Louie's up in the office.. He don't got much. .but I'm sure they taste better'n mine! Oh lord! Leave me be!"

"It's alright, Sir.. I'm.. not a zombie!" Peter tried to assure him. "This was.. all a.. um.. a publicity stunt for the Daily Bugle. I work there."

"I aint' seen nobody do that before.. If I remember correct.. I even helped bury ya! How'd you manage to get that coffin door off? And all that dirt.. What are ya, some kinda mutant?!"

"It was all rigged," Peter sighed. "This.. tux.. it isn't even mine. It's rented!"

Later, as he walked the streets, Peter Parker thought to himself. I wonder if everything worked out alright... If the Avengers got Time Warp, or not... If my... son, was okay. Heh.. My son? Why does it sound so weird even saying that? It feels good to be my old self, again, at least. "Hey, Do you have the time?" Peter asked a bypasser.

"Midnight," the old woman spoke as she walked by.

Good. Not many people out. I'm surprised I actually ran into one. At least in this part of town, Peter continued to think, no one will spot me. I wonder what they'll say.. What they'll ask. And what was it Mary Jane said to me? That Ben was. . alive? I can only pray that future is mine. Because if it is.. not only does that mean MJ's alive, well, and symbiote free.. but that my brother's returned to me, as well.. I'll go home in the morning.. Surprise Mary Jane.. if she's there.

Peter's shoes slammed into the concrete patio of the apartment the Black Cat took residence in, secretly, really having nowhere else to go; if not home. He wasn't ready to deal with the fact that MJ may not be there.. So he went to her.

The lights were out, but he pulled the door open from outside. His spider-sense went off, and he didnít even take the time to enjoy it, as the Black Cat's hands were around his neck. Pulling back, and flipping over her, he hit the light switch as he hit the ground.

"Peter Parker, party of two," he said; looking at her.

ď...Peter?" the Black Cat said, looking at him in disbelief, "How...?"

"I'll explain in detail tomorrow morning, Felicia," he said, "Right now.. I just want to get some sleep.. I think I've earned it."

Next: Peter returns home, but to what? New York has been with a Spider-Man since he left, will he take up the webs again...if he's not needed? Find out in Astonishing Spider-Man #9!