Appearing in "The Thin Line"
- Ken Ellis (See chronology)
- Ben Urich
- Hanniker (security guard) (Only appearance; dies)
- Lerner (security guard) (First appearance)
- Dryrot (Photo) (First appearance)
- Paula Khourri (Only appearance) (victim of Tendril)
- Biff Nostrell (Only appearance) (victim of Tendril)
- Gene Byrne (Only appearance) (victim of Tendril)
- Derek Kelleher (Only appearance) (tv reporter)
- Buddha (cameraman) (Only appearance)
- Veronica (tv reporter) (Only appearance)
- Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly) (Photo)
- Venom (Photo)
- Portland (Oregon)
- New York City
Synopsis for "The Thin Line"
In the city of Portland, a man exits a bar after a few drinks and heads home thinking about his night. Along the way, he is nabbed by River Verys who has been transformed into the spider-like Tendril thanks to an impure cure for a flesh-eating virus that was a combination of a synthetic skin formula and a sample of Peter Parker's blood. This is the third victim since Verys escaped captivity at GARID labs. When this latest disappearance ends up on the front page of the Portland Gazette, it prompts an emergency meeting at GIARD. Attending are Bill Galannan and his partner Eric Schwinner, Calvin Falconer the head of security, and their recent hiree, Peter Parker.[Continuity 1] Thanks to their insider knowledge and Falconer's past experience as a SHIELD agent, they have been able to confirm that the serial killer loose in the city is indeed River Verys, their former patient. Calvin also has determined a pattern based on the victims that heh as killed so far. He suggests that they capture and contain River on their own since the authorities will just ask for GAIRD's assistance in curing him. This will stop the killer, as well as protect GAIRD from any fallout. Peter has been assigned to find out what the late Monic Staphos did to turn River into Tendril. Hearing all of this, Bill Galannan tells them that they have until 5:00 pm that evening to find Tendril before he goes to the authorities.
When Eric asks Peter what he has been able to learn about Monica's work, he tells his employer that he hasn't found anything yet. This is a lie, because it Monica had discovered his examination into her synthetic skin project which he had seemingly solved with a sample of his own blood. He had done so because he wanted to learn about his own mutation and how this might affect his unborn child, because the SSD and his own DNA had been altered by the same radiation.[Continuity 2] He thinks about how this situation has him thinking about becoming Spider-Man again, even though he decided to retire.[Continuity 3] When he returns home that evening, Peter changes into Spider-Man. This angers his wife, Mary Jane who is upset that Peter has gone back on his promise to retire so he can focus on their family.[Continuity 4] She demands to know why Peter can't just let the authorities handle it, leaving the wall-crawler speechless. Finally, he does come up with something for her. He tells her that examining Tendril will allow him to learn more about his physiology. Which will be a great benefit should, on their thirteenth birthday, their unborn child transform into a mutated spider creature. He asks her if she would be willing to turn her back on a situation like that. This time, Mary Jane is the one who is speechless, prompting Spider-Man to leap out the window to go looking for Tendril.
That's when the phone rings. It's a call from Ken Ellis, a reporter for the Daily Bugle. Ellis wants to talk to Peter about his recent trial, and the possible connection between himself, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider.[Continuity 5] Mary Jane hangs up on Ellis, leaving him to wonder if she has nothing to say or something to hide. Recording notes, Ken still wonders what sort of connection there is to the Parkers and the Spiders. He notes that for years, Spider-Man has been swinging around Manhattan protecting the city.[Continuity 6] He then notes the recent appearances of the Scarlet Spider and his similarities in size and body tone as Spider-Man.[Continuity 7] He also notes how Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider, and the mysterious killer known as Kaine were involved in Parker's trial, and that Kaine was revealed to be the real killer. Ellis decides that the only way he can get answers is to go digging into Peter Parker's past in order to find the connection.
Back in Portland, Spider-Man searches the city, realizing that he truly feels alive for the first time since he reitred as Spdier-Man. As he swings through the city, he thinks about how his life had been turned upside down recently when it was revealed that he is actually a clone of the real Peter Parker.[Continuity 8] Leaping across the city, as he gave his web-shooters to Ben Reilly, Spider-Man's spider-sense tips him off to an armored vehicle carrying security forces employed by GIARD. The wall-crawler decides to hitch a ride. Inside, Calvin Falconer reminds his men that when they find Tendril, they are to take the killer in alive, no matter what. When the van pulls up beneath the Steel Bridge, Spider-Man leaps off the vehicle. Seeking something to swing with, he finds a tool belt and fashions a curde grappling hook with a bent crowbar and steel cable. As everyone searches, Spider-Man follows from the shadows of the Steel Bridge, his spider-sense buzzing away. Eventually, the security force finds those kidnapped by Tendrill wrapped up in webbing, and still alive. However, what they thing is nothing more than cast off webbing turns out to be the very substence of Tendril. When the man-monster triest to ambush the guards, Spider-Man swings in to stop him.
As Spider-Man and Tendril fight, they swing out into the open where the fight is captured by a news crew flying over the scene in a helicopter. As the two plunge into the waters below, the arriving news crews try to get word from Falconer and his men, but they give no comment. When Peter returns home, he tells his wife that Tendril managed to escape once they hit the water by literally slipping through his fingers. Mary Jane is upset that Peter continues to go out as Spider-Man, and that she is tired about him putting his life at risk with a baby on the way. Peter explains that their baby will always have parents, and that he'll be fine. Mary Jane agrees the baby will have at least one parent, before leaving the room. This raises grave concerns with Peter, who wonders if he has pushed his wife too far this time. Back at GAIRD, Calvin Falconer is furious that the press had arrived during his hunt for Tendril. He knew that they were tipped off by Bill Galannan and demands to know how the scientist figured out that Tendril could be found at the Steel Bridge. Bill explains that River Verys' criminal record shows that he Verys was once arrested for armed robbery on that bridge. Bill tells Calvin that, had he done his job right, they could have spun the media presence to the benefit of GARID Labs. With the cat now out of the bag, Eric is arranging to talk to the Portland Police about this situation in the morning. Deciding to work backards to try and find a cure for Verys, Bill suggests that they find and locate the man known as Dryrot.
The following morning, Peter is working away on trying to find a cure for Tendril. When he checks in with Eric about how Monica's serum was synthesized. After swearing Parker to secretcy, Schwinner takes him down to the top secret Isotope Genome Accelerator. Much to Peter's surprise, it is a more complex version of the device that he first saw being demonstrated years earlier on the day he first got his spider-powers. While back in New York City, Ken Ellis looks over the front page of the Daily Bugle. It features a story about the new Spider-Man that has been seen in New York recently. Looking at the photo, Ken wonders if this is the original Spider-Man in a new costume, the Scarlet Spider, or some other individual.[Continuity 9] That's when Ben Urich enters the room and shows Ellis the national section of USA Today, which has a story about Spider-Man being sighted in Portland. Finding this very interetsing, Ken decides it is time to take a trip down to Oregon and get some answers from Peter Parker. Meanwhile, back in Portland, Peter tries to call Mary Jane and tell her about the Genome Accelerator, which he believes will solve all of their worries about their unborn child. However, there is no answer becuase Mary Jane has reached her limit. After writing Peter a note, Mary Jane then leaves their apartment before Peter gets home.