Appearing in "The End of the Beginning!"
- Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly)
- Mary Jane Watson-Parker
- Gwen Stacy clone
- J. Jonah Jameson[Chronology 1]
- Joe Robertson[Chronology 2]
- Jackal (Miles Warren) (Apparent death)[Chronology 3]
- Spidercide (Death)[Chronology 4]
- Scrier (Charles Bates) (First appearance)
Races and Species:
Synopsis for "The End of the Beginning!"
This story continues in The Spectacular Spider-Man #227...
In the Jackal's lab, the Scarlet Spider is being attacked by the remains of the mad scientist's army of Spider-Clones.[Continuity 1] As the Scarlet Spider struggles with this genetic goop, Spidercide hears a voice calling out to him. Going in the direction of the voice the evil Spider-Clone is teleported away. Although his life is in danger, the Scarlet Spider can't bring himself to kill these clones because they are living beings. However, with everyone at the Daily Bugle, and the entire city, in danger of being exposed to the Carrion Virus, the wall-crawler manages to pull himself free. Despite his efforts to keep these clones alive, they deteriorate completely when the Spider pulls free. Ben then takes a moment to bind his wounds with webbing before he rushes to the Bugle.
Meanwhile, at the Parker residence, Mary Jane has succeeded in drawing her husband back home.[Continuity 2] She explains to him that she doesn't care that he is actually a clone, and that he is human enough for her and that he belongs with her.[Continuity 3] However, the clone of Gwen Stacy tries to convince him otherwise, saying that as clones the Jackal is all they have left. Finally, Peter speaks, telling Mary Jane that he doesn't deserve her or their baby.[Continuity 4] Putting on his mask, Spider-Man then grabs Gwen and swings away. As she watches her husband leave, Mary Jane wonders how she can get through to her husband. When Mary Jane's thoughts are interrupted by a TV news report she turns off the television.
Little does anyone know, the reporter on the news is actually the Jackal in disguise. After the news broadcast, he has his Jacks -- miniature clones in Jackal costumes -- begin setting up cloning pods so they can begin cloning all the people in the tri-city area that will be eliminated by the release of the Carrion Virus. With this work underway, the Jackal doffs his disguise and goes to the roof of the Daily Bugle where another group of Jacks are setting up the viral bomb that will begin his mad scheme. Unfortunately, the Jackal's schemes are interrupted by the arrival of Scrier who orders the mad scientist to stop what he is doing.[Continuity 5] Unwilling to comply, the Jackal puls a gun and tries to shoot Scrier. However, the weapon doesn't work and suddenly disappears. Suddenly, Spidercide appears, revealing that he has been working for Scrier the entire time. At that same moment, Spider-Man and Gwen arrive at the Jackal's lab and find it deserted. As they search for clues to the Jackal's whereabouts, they accidentally trigger the security systems. Pushing Gwen to safety, the wall-crawler dodges the various traps that are activated. After getting past them, he then goes through the Jackal's computer files to learn what his plan is. Getting access, Spider-Man is horrified by what he reads.
Meanwhile, the Scarlet Spider finally makes it to the Daily Bugle, despite being slowed down by his injured ankle. Entering J. Jonah Jameson's office, the Spider tries to warn the publisher of the danger posed by the Jackal and demands that he evacuate the building. Jonah refuses, but that's when Spidercide and the Jackal come crashing in through the window. Seeing that there is a real danger, Jonah rushes out to get his staff to safety. Back at the Parker home, Mary Jane continues to ponder what she can do. That's when she catches a news report about the battle at the Daily Bugle. Figuring that Ben can convince Peter to come back to her, she suddenly gets an epiphany. Going into Peter's secret lab, she finds an extra set of web-shooters and web cartridges and decides that she has played the innocent bystander long enough. Back at the Bugle, as the Scarlet Spider battles Spidercide, the Jackal mocks the wall-crawler. He's surprised that Ben doesn't want to know what his master plan is. When the Spider explains that he doesn't want to hear any more of the Jackal's lies, that he is only interested in protecting the Daily Bugle staff. The Jackal scoffs at this, pointing out how he failed to protect Gwen Stacy. Ben is surprised that the Jackal still blames him for the death of Gwen, unwilling to accept that she was actually killed by the Green Goblin.[Continuity 6]
That's when Spidercide tries to return the heroes attention to the battle by trying to collapse the roof on some of the Bugle employees. The Scarlet Spider webs up the collapsing ceiling, saving lives, but this leaves him open to being ambushed by Spidercide. With the Spider down, Spidercide then returns his attention to the Jackal, intending to kill him for his new master. Hearing how his creation is determined to kill him, the Jackal can't help but think of himself when he first killed his partner Anthony Serba.[Continuity 7] By this point, the Scarlet Spider struggles to get back to his feet, but his injured ankle continues to slow him down. The Jackal turns things around by using one of his weapons to dissolve the wall behind him, sending both himself and Spidercide falling down the side of the building. Seeing this, the Scarlet Spider leaps to the edge and snares them in some web lines. However, Spidercide won't rest until the Jackal is dead, even at the risk of ending his own existence as well. Struggling to get free, Spidercide accidentally cuts his web line, sending himself plummeting to the street below.
The Scarlet Spider then pulls the Jackal back up into the building. There the villain attempts to get the drop on the wall-crawler by pulling a gun. Forewarned by his spider-sense, Ben decide use this situation to get the Jackal to talk and explain how he managed to convince him that he was the clone for five years.[Continuity 8] Before the situation can escalate further, Spider-Man arrives with the Gwen Stacy clone. He quickly disarms the Jackal with a web ball. Seeing the Jackal, Gwen blames him for the death of her husband by making him an imperfect clone.[Continuity 9] Having had enough with being manipulated, Spider-Man lunges at the Jackal. The Scarlet Spider tells Spider-Man to take the battle outside so nobody gets hurt while he goes up to the roof and tries to deactivate the viral bomb that has been placed on the roof. There, the Scarlet Spider discovers that there is still 10 minutes left before the bomb goes off, but he doesn't even know where to begin to try and disarm it.
That's when Spider-Man and the Jackal come crashing through the roof access door. Seeing that Peter is in trouble, Ben leaps in and helps his "brother" web up the Jackal. That Jackal tries to delay them by offering to tell them why the High Evolutionary once tried to convince Peter that the Jackal created genetic constructs of people instead of clones.[Continuity 10] The pair are uninterested as their primary concern is the bomb. As they try to figure out how to disarm it, a group of Jacks tries to free the Jackal. The Scarlet Spider leaves Spider-Man to work on the bomb while he subdues the Jacks as well. With time running out, the two Spider-Men use their spider-senses in tandem in order to disarm the bomb and remove the Carrion Virus before the bomb can go off. With the immediate crisis over, the pair are surprised when the Gwen Stacy clone comes up onto the roof with one of the Jackal's discarded guns.
She intends to kill the Jackal, but both Spider-Men plead to her to not do it. Peter finally realizes that even though he is a clone that he needs to hold onto what humanity he actually does have. One of those is a sanctity toward life, all life, and thinks that Gwen has some as well, begging her not to shoot the Jackal. That's when Mary Jane arrives on the roof, distracting everyone long enough for the Jackal to take a swipe at Gwen. This sends her careening off the edge of the roof, but she manages to grab hold of a flagpole and holds on for dear life. When the Scarlet Spider tries to fire a web line to her, he discovers that his web-shooters are empty. That's when Mary Jane tosses him a spare. However, while this is happening, the Jackal rushes out to the flagpole to save her himself. His added weight causes the flagpole to snap sending them both falling. The Scarlet Spider manages to fire a web line that catches Gwen but misses the Jackal who plummets to his apparent death.[Continuity 11] With Gwen safe, the Scarlet Spider was glad he could save her "this time" even though she is only a clone of Gwen Stacy.[Continuity 12] Gwen tells them that when push came to shove, she couldn't bring herself to kill the Jackal, discovering her own humanity in the process.
Suddenly, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider's spider-senses begin going off as the bomb reactivates. Although the virus has been removed, the resulting explosion can harm lots of people if it goes off. Quickly, the Scarlet Spider swings down to the river and tosses the bomb as far as he can where it explodes harmlessly. In the aftermath of the battle, the authorities arrive on the scene and take Spidercide and the Jackal's bodies away. After Spider-Man turns the vial of the Carrion Virus to the police, J. Jonah Jameson laments that there are now two Spider-Men to terrorize the city. In all the confusion, the Gwen Stacy clone decides to leave, and disappears into the crowd. When Peter notices that she is gone, Ben reminds him that he has someone more important to look after. Later, back at their home, Peter apologizes to Mary Jane over everything that happened after he discovered that he was a clone. After the couple makes up, Peter decides that there is something important that he needs to do and goes out as Spider-Man again. He meets up with Ben Reilly at his apartment. He has come to tell Ben that since he is the original Peter Parker, he has a right to the Spider-Man name and costume. Although Ben could provide an easy answer, he thinks they both need time to figure things out. He says that the world needs a Spider-Man, he's just not sure which one of them should wear the webs.
... The Clone Saga continues in Web of Spider-Man #128.