Appearing in "When the Chips Are Down"
- Johnny Storm (Main story and origin in flashback)
- Sue Storm (Main story and origin, as well as impersonates Doctor Doom, in flashback)
- Man-Wolf's henchmen
- Trevor (Real name first revealed) (Death) (Only in flashback)
- Doctor Doom (Victor von Doom) (Death) (Only in flashback)
- Nightmare! at the Nightclub (First appearance; poster) (Topical reference)
- Peter Parker (Photo)
- Mary Janes
- Pete Best (Mentioned) (Topical reference)
- Jackal (Miles Warren) (Mentioned)
- Reed Richards
- Bodega Bandit
- Pine Cone (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Earth-65 (Main story and flashback)
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
- United States of America
- Latveria (Only in flashback)
- Earth (Main story and flashback)
- Prime Marvel Universe
- Venom Symbiote
- Susan & Johnny's Uniforms (Main story and flashback)
- Doctor Doom's Armor (Only in flashback)
- Ticket to the Multiverse (Behind the scenes)
Synopsis for "When the Chips Are Down"
Turning over Man-Wolf's captured henchmen to the NYPD, Ghost-Spider web-swings home, not noticing Sue and Johnny Storm watching from a nearby alley. Unable to shake her suspicions that something is terribly wrong despite being elated at finally having allies, she returns home and startles her father - who is having breakfast.
George Stacy, still irritated over their argument the day before, remarks that he wasn't sure she was going to come home and quips that he's happy she still remembers how to use doors. Transforming her symbiote into a white T-shirt and black jeans, Gwen fills him in on her team-up with the Storms; George wryly asking what Vice thought about her messing up their sting. Gwen retorts that unless he informs her about ongoing police actions she's going to inevitably disrupt them, George bluntly stating that civilian interference in ongoing police investigations is a crime. Exasperated, Gwen asks her father why he can't just be proud of her; George protesting that while he's always proud of her he doesn't like that she's always risking her life. Gwen replies that the Storms had her back, though she's uneasy about not knowing what happened during the five years they went missing. George assures her that the Storms likely have a good reason for not telling anyone what happened - citing her keeping her own identity a secret - and that in the event they don't she'll figure it out; Gwen stating that she hopes he's right.
Five years prior, Susan and Johnny Storm wander through the streets of Latveria with Johnny's friend Trevor. As Johnny remarks on how creepy the medieval-style village is, Sue tells him to stop griping. Johnny, sure that he and his older sister are an unshakable team and that she will look out for him, follows her into Castle Doom. Doctor Doom, the armored dictator of Latveria, greets them and kneels before Sue, who introduces herself and her brother. To Johnny's shock and horror, Sue dismisses Trevor as worthless surplus and Doctor Doom kills him. Susan puts herself and Johnny through a gruelling training regimen to hone their physical abilities to their prime; flirting with Doctor Doom while her brother uneasily watches from the sidelines. Fulfilling Susan's ruthless ambitions, Doom imbues the twins with superhuman powers; Susan and Johnny brutally sparring with each other to master them. Susan continues to seduce Doctor Doom while slowly usurping authority from him; and once she decides that she and her brother no longer have anything left to learn from Doom she murders him. As Johnny immolates Doom's corpse, Susan dons the tyrant's armor and usurps his identity to become the ruler of Latveria.
In the present day, Gwen returns to her bedroom lamenting that her father doesn't really understand what being a superhero is like. Noting that she needs to rest and gorge herself to heal her suit, Gwen decides to let Sue and Johnny handle superheroing while she recovers. Her phone buzzes, and she picks it up dreading an angry rant from MJ berating her for missing band practise again. Gwen is surprised to see an urgent message from the Storms saying they need to talk immediately, and confused as to how they got her number. Getting a vaguely threatening followup message specifying to meet at Times Square, Gwen sets out - inwardly panicking that something bad must be happening. Upon arriving, she's both relieved and even more confused to see the Storms leisurely waiting for her, asking if everything is alright.
As Johnny expresses amazement at Ghost-Spider saying she can out-speed trains, Sue tells him to focus. Ghost-Spider again asks if everything is okay, Sue dropping her friendly demeanor and replying that for them it is but for her it isn't. As Ghost-Spider reacts in shocked outrage, Sue demands that she leave New York immediately, declaring that the city belongs to her and her brother. As Johnny watches uneasily, Ghost-Spider angrily refuses to go anywhere, her hood becoming jagged and spikes jutting from her shoulders. Ghost-Spider tells Sue and Johnny that she's willing to put this incident behind her if they back down and leave immediately. Encasing Ghost-Spider's head in a bubble, Susan coldly retorts that she promised Johnny she'd give Gwen a chance to comply instead of killing her outright, but that since Gwen refused they're doing things her way; declaring her intent to kill George Stacy as well. As Ghost-Spider tries to pull the bubble off her head, Sue coldly states that she and her brother not only have more followers and a better reputation but are more skilled, adding that no-one will ever find Gwen's body. As Johnny protests that Sue promised she wouldn't kill Gwen, Sue retorts that she said she'd try not to but that things are so much simpler if Gwen just vanishes. As Johnny acquiesces, Gwen's symbiote forms bladed tendrils and lashes out at Sue, the bubble vanishing as she recoils in alarm. As Ghost-Spider catches her breath, the symbiote's tendrils coil around Sue and constrict her, threatening to impale her. Flaming on, Johnny burns the tendrils away with a blast of fire and then notes that Gwen is nowhere to be seen, assuming he burnt her to ashes. Retorting that if there's no body she's not dead, Sue checks under the billboard to find Ghost-Spider hiding.
Sue encases Ghost-Spider's head again, but the symbiote fills Gwen's lungs and begins breathing for her. To Sue's surprise, Ghost-Spider attempts to kick through her energy barrier, knocking her back. Johnny angrily attempts to immolate Gwen for attacking his sister; Ghost-Spider's symbiote resonating with her anger at the Storms turning on her and further transforming into its Venomized form. Snapping that she's only defending herself, Ghost-Spider realizes she can't just web Johnny up and then comes up with a plan to put him out of commission; dodging his flame blasts as he says that New York isn't big enough for three superheroes, accidentally blasting Sue while distracted. As Ghost-Spider attempts to web-yank the Storms into each other, Sue encases her in a bubble and mockingly asks if Gwen really thought she could beat them. Ghost-Spider angrily demands to know why the Storms are attacking her when they were allies, Sue sneering that they used Gwen to establish themselves as heroes in the eyes of the public and intended to replace her all along. Johnny tells his sister to stop the villainous monologuing and just get killing Ghost-Spider over with, Sue reprimanding him to let her handle things. Johnny protests that they returned to New York to be superheroes and that they're already off to a bad start, Sue begrudgingly agreeing before saying that if Gwen refuses again they're doing things her way.
Ignoring Gwen asking if she gets a say, Sue says she has a proposal. Fully transforming into her Venom form, Ghost-Spider listens incredulously as Sue states that New York doesn't have the social media infrastructure to sustain three superheroes, and that since Gwen already has a criminal record it will be all-too-easy for the beloved Storms to turn public opinion against her. Again threatening Gwen's father, Susan pulls out a doctored video framing Ghost-Spider as an accomplice of Man-Wolf. As Ghost-Spider protests that she'd never say or do the things in the video, Sue coldly retorts that it's Gwen's word against the Storms', asking Gwen who she thinks the public will believe when people still think Ghost-Spider is a supervillain. Sue issues the ultimatum to leave New York forever or be branded a villain and returned to prison, Johnny begging Gwen not to make this harder than it has to be. Releasing Ghost-Spider, Sue threatens to kill everyone she loves if Gwen doesn't turn over the city to her and her brother.
Returning home, Gwen desparingly tells her father about the Storms and that she's going into exile in the Prime Marvel Universe for the time being. Sending messages out to the Mary Janes and Reed Richards telling them that she's going away on interdimensional business and to be careful, Ghost-Spider uses the Ticket to the Multiverse to travel to the Prime Marvel Universe.
Gwen Stacy has served hard time in prison on Earth-65 for her dalliances as the super hero known as GHOST-SPIDER… Will EARTH-616 be next?! And just what exactly is the Maker up to on Earth-65? And what part does GWENOM play in his schemes?
- Physical publication of this issue was temporarily canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it was instead released digitally. It was later released in physical format on August 26, 2020.
- Seanan McGuire had intended for the arc to revolve around the Maker, as mentioned in the solicit, but was forced to revise her plans due to Donny Cates calling dibs on the character for Venom.