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Appearing in "Designer Genes"
- Mr. Lynch, security guard of E.S.U.
- F. Hopkins, realtor (Mentioned)
- Barry (Corpse)
- Gert (Corpse)
- Maria Castle (Mentioned)
- Lisa Castle (Mentioned)
- Frank Castle, Jr. (Mentioned)
- Mr. Greycrest (Voice only)
- Silver Fox (Recap)
- Wolverine (Logan) (Recap)
- Microchip (Linus Lieberman)
- Department K (Mentioned)
- New York City
- Patrol cars
- Roosevelt Island Tram
- Punisher's bike
Synopsis for "Designer Genes"
It's a quiet winter evening in New York City, as a light snow falls from the sky.[Continuity 1] That quiet is quickly ended when an explosion goes off on the campus of Empire State University. This blast was caused by Peter Parker who was working on an experiment and made a mistake because he was exhausted. Instead of evacuating the building and waiting for the fire department, Peter begins looking to see if there is anyone who needs help. In one of the rooms is a lab where animal testing is conducted. There, Peter is horrified to see that someone has slaughtered all the animals inside. Seeing a trail of blood left by the killer, Peter follows the trail while changing into Spider-Man. Rushing outside as campus security arrives, Spider-Man overhears them talking about a sighting of some kind of monster.
Spider-Man waits until the police sweet the scene with evidence before he conducts his own search. Inside he realizes that whatever killed those animals must have been human because at some point it covered up its tracks. He hacks into the computer to find the address on file on the security guard who was apparently asleep on the job. Meanwhile, in Alphabet City, a shantytown is attacked by a team of Canadian arsonists calling themselves the Scorchers. They have been hired to deal with the area's homeless problem in an attempt to profit from gentrifying the area. However, among the homeless is the Punisher who had been hiding in plain sight to deal with these cold-blooded killers. The vigilante guns down most of the Scorchers but keeps two alive for the authorities so he can learn who hired them. They confirm that they were hired by Hopkins a local slumlord. However, before Frank Castle can go to eliminate him, one of the homeless, named Pixie, shows the Punisher a more immediate issue that requires his brand of justice. It's a funeral for a number of homeless people who were recently killed. Looking at the corpses, the Punisher is horrified to see that someone ripped them to shreds. The homeless don't know who is responsible, but Castle is certain that the Scorchers were not responsible, that this was the work of some other predator. Unaware that they are being watched, the Punisher follows the trail of the killer to a manhole cover and goes into the sewer to continue his search. No sooner is Castle gone, does the mutant mercenary known as Sabretooth ambushes Pixie from behind. With his mission in the area done, Sabretooth flees the scene, injuring Pixie on his exit.
Meanwhile, in a derelict building not far from the Bronx Zoo, a scientist conducts grisly tests on a number of animals. At the same time, Spider-Man has tracked down the security guard, named Lynch, as he rides the tram across the 59th Street Bridge. Spider-Man forces his way in and pulls Lynch out of the tram. Outside on the tram cable, he forces Lynch to admit to covering up for the individual who killed the lab animals. He tells the wall-crawler about the secret lab in the Bronx. After dumping Lynch's blood money into the East River, Spider-Man webs him to the tram car and leaves. Back in the Bronx, Dr. Phillip Chambers is contacted by his brother Brandon. Brandon works for Roxxon and warns Phillip that he may have some trouble as Spider-Man was sighted roughing up Lynch and may be heading for their lab. Phillip is ordered to transfer all the relevant files to the Roxxon labs and abandon the facility. However, the doctor refuses to leave the Bronx lab until after their field agent arrives with the "replacement parts" he requested. At that moment, the Punisher is tracking the killer's trail in the sewers until it peters out, leaving him no further clues on where to look next. The vigilante is then visited by two of Pixie's allies who have information on the Punisher's target. After being pointed in the right direction, he continues his hunt without a further word. Back at Roxxon, Brandon Chambers calls his major investor, Mr. Graycrest, to give him an update on their project. He assures Greycrest that he will have samples ready to show his contacts in the criminal underworld before the deadline.
By this point, Sabretooth has arrived at the Bronx facility where, upon seeing all the cages, he is struck with a painful flashback of his days in the Weapon X program when he, Wolverine, and Silver Fox were being experimented upon.[Continuity 2] That's when Spider-Man and the Punisher simultaneously come crashing in. Telling the wall-crawler to take a hike, the Punisher wants the feral mutant for himself. Despite the vigilante's attempts to kill Sabertooth, Spider-Man gets in the way of his shots, not wanting anyone to get killed. This leaves him open to be grabbed by Sabretooth, who tosses the wall-crawler into the Punisher so he can continue his search for his target. He then destroys a support pillar as he makes his escape, forcing Spider-Man to stop to shield himself and the Punisher from the collapsing ceiling. With no other choice, Spider-Man is forced to work with the Punisher in order to continue tracking down Sabretooth. The mutant tries to ambush them, but the web-slinger's spider-sense warns him of the impending attack. The Punisher shoots Sabretooth, but he survives thanks to his healing factor and he makes a run to the Bronx Zoo.
Needing to catch up with Sabretooth, they go back for the Punisher's motorcycle and ride it to the zoo. There they are lured into the lion pen where the Punisher tries to take another shot at the mutant, angering the lions. The Punisher sends the lions running with a few warning shots and Spider-Man webs up the entrance to their den. However, when the Punisher insists on killing Sabretooth, he and Spider-Man come to blows once again. As the two fight it out, the Punisher explains that his justification for killing Sabretooth is to avenge his many victims. However, Spider-Man refuses to let him due to his code against killing, even a mass murderer like Sabretooth. Ultimately, the Punisher manages to get close enough to Sabretooth to put a gun to his head and demand answers. Sabretooth explains he had nothing to do with the death of the homeless people in Alphabet City, however, he was on a mission of personal vengeance and killed the animals out of mercy. He tells them that he is after one of the scientists who worked for the Canadian government and was responsible for some of the experiments that were conducted on Sabretooth years earlier. He now explains that the man now works for the private sector, showing them a Roxxon property tag. This explanation has allowed the mutant to heal enough to fight past them and escape, slashing the Punisher's neck in the process. However, Spider-Man manages to tag their foe with a spider-tracer.
Spider-Man webs up the wound, but the pair realize that they can't work together and go their own way. The Punisher heads to Roxxon headquarters getting the blue prints from his assistant Microchip. Meanwhile, Spider-Man rides the subway to catch up with the signal from his spider-tracer. The two end up crossing paths again, at the Roxxon building where Brandon and Phillip Chambers are arguing over the work they are undertaking. Once more, Spider-Man and the Punisher find their morals clashing, but they once more agree to work together when security enters the room to stop them. In the confusion, Phillip escapes, but they take Brandon prisoner. As they force their way into the bio-lab, Brandon tells them about the "Designer Genes" project used to create hybrid mutations to sell. From the control room, Phillip unleashes his latest creation, Mitchell Chambers, yet another brother. Phillip has experimented on him to turn him into a hybrid creature, splicing his genes with those of a rat, bear, coyote, and a wolf. Leaving Spider-Man to deal with Mitchell, the Punisher fights through the guards and security drones to try and get at Phillip in the control room. By the time he gets there, Spider-Man has webbed up Mitchell and caught up with the vigilante. Unfortunately, when they open the lab door, they discover that Sabretooth has already murdered Phillip Chambers.
After Sabretooth makes his escape, Spider-Man then tries to take in the Punisher. However, this is interrupted by Roxxon security who try to apprehend both men. Having contacted Microchip, the Punisher leaps out of a window and escapes in a waiting helicopter. With no other choice, Spider-Man also flees empty handed. As he leaves, the wall-crawler considers how committed both men are to their personal philsophies and suspects that a final confrontation could be coming soon. Later, Brandon, feels bad for what happened to his brother Mitchell. However, this doesn't stop him from continuing experiments on his brother for cancer research.
- ↑ The original twin towers of the World Trade Center are depicted as part of the New York City skyline here. This should be considered a topical reference per the Sliding Timescale of Earth-616. The original towers were destroyed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and have since been replaced by the Freedom Tower.
- ↑ The experiments upon Wolverine, Sabretooth, and Silver Fox were detailed in Wolverine Vol 2 #50.
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