Astonishing Spider-Man #18
Astonishing Spider-Man
Maximum Vengeance
Part III: Revenge
Writer: Chip Caroon
Editor: Ben Kaine
Editor-in-Chief: Brian Provow

Previously in Astonishing Spider-Man . . .

Ben Reilly has returned from the dead, only to accidently impersonate Peter Parker and sleep with Mary Jane. Distraught over his action, he has disappeared. Actually, unbeknownst to the Parkers, he has moved to Chicago with the mobster son called Jimmy-Six, performing barely legal missions as a private investigator to earn his new paycheck.

Meanwhile, in New York, Peter Parker struggles to discover a new way to make money now that the Daily Bugle is no longer accepting photos of his superpowered alter-ego. Fortunately, he may have a new buyer: His own fanzine!

Peter may soon have more media attention than that, however. Unbeknownst to him, the once-Kingpin of Crime Wilson Fisk has enlisted the vigilante Daredevil to stop a killing spree in which all signs point to one murderer: Spider-Man!

Peter Parker and Ben Reilly were clones: Two separate entities based on the same DNA. While their lives and thoughts were the same up to one point, for many years, they have travelled different paths, thought different thoughts, and encountered many different things.

However, at this one moment, in one of those weird quantum oddities, both Peter and Ben are miles apart, yet still having the same thought run through their minds.

"Aw, crud!" they both thought. Peter was in New York, as Spider-Man, about to face his long time ally Daredevil. Ben was in Chicago, on a plane that had just been hijacked by Blacklash.

"This is going to be a long day," they thought simultaneously.

Spider-Man lay on the ground, looking up at a very familiar figure clothed in scarlet. While he was used to seeing this figure, he was not used to this point of view.

"Daredevil?!" Spidey exclaimed. "Have you lost your mind?"

Daredevil didn't respond, launching forward with a punch, but Spider-Man had regained his bearings and with a single leap, had put a street’s distance between them. Ignoring any and all cars, Daredevil followed across, darting after his former friend. He could hear tires screeching, cars crashing. He paid no attention.

One of those cars was a yellow cab. The driver got out and raised his fist. "Look what you did, you stinking superhero!"

In his single-mindedness, Daredevil dismissed it. He ran up on where Spider-Man had landed. However, the wallcrawler wasn't there!

"Surprised, Hornhead?" Spider-Man asked. Daredevil looked up and saw Spider-Man jumping down from the side of the building.

They had fought together many times. Daredevil knew what his old ally was was planning, stepped to the side. But Spider-Man anticipated as much and using his agility to maneuver himself, whirled to kick Daredevil lightly in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground.

'What in the world is into Daredevil?' Spider-Man thought. He fired a webline. 'I mean, he knows that I don't kill, and even whether we were allies or not, he would still know that I'm not a killer. Could Kingpin have put him on Death's Arrow* again? Oh, great-'

*(a powerful hypnotic drug, seen in the Spider-Man/Kingpin: To the Death one shot - Chip)

Daredevil was following him again. But at least now, the battle wouldn't be in the streets, just like Spider-Man had planned.

'It's times like this, I miss when I stopped being Spider-Man,' Spider-Man thought.

Speaking of clones, Ben Reilly wasn't exactly faring much better than his genetic counterpart. In fact, he was probably worse off.

Standing in front of him was a man clad entirely in black, glaring at him through a mask that allowed only the portion of his face below his nose to be seen. The only distinguishable mark upon the killer was the lime green plume coming out of the back of his head. Well, that and the exceedingly-dangerous whip that Ben Reilly saw in the mercenary’s hand.

Ben turned around and shouted to his partner: "Jimmy! We're in trouble!"

"No kiddin'!" Jimmy-Six yelled back. "We're stuck between a rock and a hard place!"

"What do you mean?"

Suddenly, Ben heard a loud noise on the side of the plane. It was the men who had chased them out of the terminal. It had taken him by surprise and the advantage was used. Blacklash suddenly sent Ben reeling from a powerful blow, knocking him to the side, and began walking forward to his prize: Brigham.

Daredevil threw a quick right jab, easily ducked by Spider-Man, through with a left jab, forcing Spider-Man to release his webline. He bounced around several buildings before landing on the ground. And began running.

'No sense changing into Peter Parker,' he thought. 'Daredevil knows who I am. He'll just exploit it. Wonder what's ticked him off. This doesn't seem like him.'

Suddenly, Spider-Man saw his answer. Reaching down, he lifted the manhole cover at his feet and jumped in, carefully replacing it. He gently lowered himself into the sewer system, and quickly jumped onto the dry concrete of a wall.

'Nope. Hornhead would never come down here. Now I just wait.'

Daredevil had lost track of Spider-Man about the time that the Webslinger had let go of his web. He tried following, but there were too many people in his way, and Spider-Man was superhumanly fast.

The crimson swashbuckler sighed and landed. He would search for Spider-Man the old-fashioned way.

Wilson Fisk sat in his office, watching the fight on TV. He was able to get any angle he wanted, thanks to his clever mastery of camera signals. He leaned over and pressed the intercom button.

"Blackguard," he ordered. "Leave a message at Matt Murdock's law firm for him to call Wilson Fisk at his earliest convience." As an afterthought, he added, "Oh, and there's a number that I placed on your desk this morning. Call that person, and ask him to come here. I want to reward him for his service."

Sitting back, Fisk thought about how he would maneuver the two heroes into one place so he could take them both out at once.

'Or maybe, I can just let Daredevil take out Spider-Man, and I can take care of Daredevil.'

The Kingpin thought back to the recent incident where he had used the deadly Death's Arrow drug on Daredevil.* That whole disaster seemed like a loss, except that he had grown wiser, and made several new allies. Allies including the one had helped him frame Spider-Man, and put Daredevil on his trail.

*(Spidey/Kingpin one-shot -- Chip)

Spider-Man climbed up the sewer ladder. He was sure that fifteen minutes would be plenty of time for Daredevil to stop his search.

He climbed up out of the sewer. Just as he was putting the manhole cover back on, his spider-sense warned him of danger.

Seemingly, out of nowhere, a flash of red came up and tackled Spider-Man.

"Daredevil!" Spidey exclaimed. "You waited?"

"I knew it was only a matter of time before you would come out. After that, I just got lucky."

The momentum through the two into an alley.

"Does this place look familiar?" Daredevil asked.

"I dunno . . . maybe? After a while, all of these alleys look the same."

"This one should be familiar. It's where you murdered someone two nights ago!"

"What’s gotten into you, Hornhead?! What makes you think I did it?!"

Daredevil answered with a punch that, surprisingly, slammed Spider-Man into the ground.

"Okay, it's time to take off the kid gloves," Spider-Man said. "I'm tired of being tossed around. I don't want to hurt you, man, but I need to snap you out of whatever daze you're in."

With that, Spider-Man jumped up, and did a spiral kick in the air, which smacked Daredevil into a wall himself. However, Daredevil quickly stood (How? Shouldn’t he have been down? Daredevil was only human!), and landed a punch in Spider-Man's gut. Spider-Man barreled over and Daredevil brought both of his fists down on the webslinger's back.

Spider-Man fell to the ground once more. His spider powers allowed him to get up faster though, and he fired a webline at Daredevil, hoping to tie him up. Daredevil's senses warned him of this, and he was able to grab the webline and fling Spidey into the air, yet another amazing feat of strength- that resulted in the disappearance of Spider-Man. The Webslinger had escaped?!

Daredevil heard a beep. It was his pager. Matt Murdock needed to get back to the office. He cursed, but reminded himself: Spider-Man the Murderer could always be found.

In Chicago, the Enforcers had their own problems to face. Blacklash had pushed Ben out of the way - and then Ben Reilly had returned into his path, standing once more as an obstacle. He pushed. The Enforcer didn’t budge.

"Move," Blacklash said.

"Um- No?" Ben said, sending his right fist into Blacklash's nose.

The villain fell backwards, barely avoiding most of what might have been a knockout blow, and flung his whip at Ben. It missed Ben's face by an inch. Ben grabbed hold of it and yanked. Blacklash fell to the ground. The villain rose once more.

"Benny," Jimmy-Six exclaimed. "We have to get off of ‘dis plane!"

"Go ahead! I'll handle Blackie here!" Ben shouted back. Blacklash leaped, yelling: "You aren't keepin' me from my target, Punk!"

"What do you want with Brigham?"

"I want his life!"

Spider-Man saw a circus. He was standing in the middle of a three ring circus, and a man in yellow and red was in front of him. He felt dazed. He could tell that Daredevil was in front of him, but why was he in the old costume? And more importantly, why were they fighting?

Was it because Daredevil thought Spider-Man was a killer? No. It didn't seem like that. Why were they at a circus? And why did this seem so familiar?

Suddenly, it hit the Webslinger. He was reliving one of his earliest meeting with Daredevil. He remembered a hat. And some funny looking guy called . . . The Ringmaster?

Yes, that was it. Spider-Man had been hypnotized by the Ringmaster, who managed to entrance everyone under the big tent. The trance didn't work on Daredevil because he was blind.

After a brief fight, Daredevil was able to reverse the trance, and return everyone back to normal, including Spider-Man. Together, the two took down the Ringmaster, and enjoyed the rest of the show in peace.

The circus faded, and Spider-Man opened his eyes. He was in his home, on his couch, but Daredevil was nowhere to be seen. He must have fallen asleep, exhausted, when he had returned. Lifting his glove, he looked at his watch.

"Oh, no!" he exclaimed. "I'm late for my appointment. I'm going to have to go home and reschedule!"

It was only then that he realized a worried Mary Jane was beside him.

"I heard about your fight on the news," she said. "Why was Daredevil after you?"

"He thinks I really committed those murders."

"But- He was your friend, one of your best. He couldn’t possibly-"

"‘Was’ is right. We had a disagreement a while back*. But this is a bit extreme."

*(As seen in Astonishing Spider-Man Annual #1 -- Chip)

"So what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to take a shower, and then call the fanzine again, hoping I can still get a job there."

Ben grabbed Blacklash's shoulder, spun him around and punched him, landing him on the floor. "Okay, mister, tell me what's going on!"

"I'm not telling you anything, Jerk!" Blacklash said, even as he wiped the blood from his nose.

Meanwhile, Jimmy-Six and Winson Brigham climbed out of the plane. They were instantly surrounded by ten men, all in black suits.

"Brigham," Jimmy whispered. "Hang on. I'm going to try to get to my car."

"What about your partner?"

"He'll be okay."

Jimmy-Six grabbed Brigham's wrist and began running. All ten men pulled out their guns and fired. Most of them missed, but one landed right in Jimmy's calf. As Jimmy-Six fell with a growl of pain, he tossed his car keys to Brigham. "You know what it looks like, right?"

Brigham nodded quickly. "I saw you pull up."

"Good. Get outta here!"

Brigham began running and Jimmy-Six stood up. The ten men ran up.

"Hiya, guys," Jimmy-Six said, smiling. "You put a bullet in my leg. That makes me mad. And the madder Jimmy-Six gets- Well, ya know the rest!"

Jimmy-Six grabbed the nearest guy and put him in a chokehold. The man dropped his gun. Jimmy ducked a punch and hurled the man into his friends. Picking up the fallen gun, he pulled out his own as well, and began to empty the contents of both into the men. As they fell, Blacklash leaped off the jet. Ben did the same, chasing him.

'Sometimes I wish I still had the webshooters,' he thought. 'Best not think on what I don't have, though. Just gotta take him down!'

Back in New York, the man once called the Molten Man sat with his nephew, Normie Osborn, in the visitor's lobby of the prison. They were waiting for the guards to come out and escort them into the visitation area.

"Is Mom going to get out soon?" Normie asked.

"Maybe," Molten Man replied. "It all depends on how her hearing goes."

"When's that?"


Before either could say anything else, one of the correctional officers came out and escorted them into the visitation area. Molten Man sat down at the usual place, and picked up the phone.

"Liz," he said. "You might be free soon . . . "

Matt Murdock returned to the firm and walked straight into his office.

"Mr. Murdock, there's a message on your voicemail," his secretary said as he walked in.

"Yes, thank you. I know."

Matt closed the door to his office and sat down behind his desk. He picked up the phone, pressed the voicemail button. After listening to the message, he called Wilson Fisk.


"Fisk," Murdock said. "What do you want?"

"I wanted to let you know that you did a good job. Granted, you let him get away, but it was a nice show."

"And you had me call you just for this?"

"I only wished to tell you that you’d best move more quickly. After a while, some people may start to sympathize with Spider-Man, and turn against you."

"Don't worry, Fisk," Murdock said. "I’ll get him. And one day- You."

Peter dialed the number to the fanzine once more. Stanley King answered.

"Mr. King!" Peter said. "This is Peter Parker. I-"

"Peter! Where were you?"

"I got busy. I went by the Bugle to do something and then got caught up the Spider-Man/Daredevil mess."

"Did you get photos?"

"I tried, but I had just ran out of film. By the time I got some, Spidey and Daredevil had disappeared. I spent the rest of the morning looking for them."

"So, are you coming over?"

"Sure! Is two o'clock fine?"

"Of course. I expect you to be prompt this time!"

"Yes, sir!" Peter said as he hung up the phone.

Winson Brigham reached the parking lot. He knew he was in the general area, and he knew the color of the car. He pressed one of the buttons on the keychain.

It set off the car alarm. Brigham ran to the car making the commotion and turned the alarm off. He opened up the door, through his stuff in the back seat, and started the car, locking all of the doors. He had to drive back and get his bodyguards. He had to know what was going on!

As he raced back, a man wearing a black suit slammed onto the hood. He rolled off, and regained his footing. Blacklash looked into the car, and raised his gun, aiming it right for Brigham's head!

Next issue: Who framed Spider-Man? Revelations come fast and furious in Astonishing Spider-Man #19!