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Appearing in 1st story

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Synopsis for 1st story

In the Nightmare World, Doctor Strange senses the destruction of the Word of God. Noticing his horrified expression, Symbiote Spider-Man asks what happened and why they're surrounded by infinite darkness. Nightmare manifests as a gigantic head so that they're standing inside his mouth, the words "That depends on your point of view." forming the demon-lord's teeth. Symbiote Spider-Man prepares to fight his way out, but Doctor Strange slumps over in despair and laments there's no use - the Word of God has been destroyed. Symbiote Spider-Man incredulously protests that if it's the literal word of God it should be indestructible, but Strange laments that's not the case. Appearing astride his demonic horse, Dreamstalker, Nightmare sneers that they're idiots, saying that just because an object is of divine origin doesn't mean its indestructible. Waxing philosophical, Nightmare points out that countless people have lost faith in spiritual leaders and forsaken religion out of belief that their gods have abandoned them, and that faith is the antithesis of reason and any attempted application of rational logic dispels it. Dismounting, Nightmare remarks that he has always liked Strange, but that now their little amusing games are over and that he has won - Mordo will never let Strange escape the Nightmare World, meaning Nightmare is now free to do whatever he pleases. Symbiote Spider-Man angrily punches Nightmare in the face, sending skull-shaped teeth flying. Picking himself up, Nightmare quips that he likes the symbiote's enthusiasm but that attacking him accomplishes nothing.

Ignoring Nightmare, Symbiote Spider-Man tells Strange to get ahold of himself and asks if there's a way to recreate the Word of God. Strange bemoans that there isn't, as Mordo used its reality-warping power one last time to make it so that the divine tome was never written. Symbiote Spider-Man remarks that Mordo retconned it, and in response to Strange's confusion provides a definition of the word "retcon". Bored, Nightmare begins playing with a paddle-board, annoying Symbiote Spider-Man with the noise. Turning back to Strange, Symbiote Spider-Man remarks that the thing with retcons is that people always remember how things were originally - that even people who have lost faith in gods remember having had it. Setting aside all rational arguments, Symbiote Spider-Man says that if they operate by the assumption that God exists and that humans were made in His image, the Word of God still exists within the collective consciousness of humanity. Strange remarks that - having been trapped in the Dream Dimension - they are uniquely positioned to undo what Mordo had done, but doubts it's possible. Citing the 1969 Moon Landing, Symbiote Spider-Man says they just have to believe it is. Coaching Symbiote Spider-Man to meditate and tap into the collective consciousness of humanity, Strange is surprised as Symbiote Spider-Man promptly vanishes.

Accompanying Symbiote Spider-Man, Nightmare remarks that he vastly prefers Stephen Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme to Baron Mordo - his existence is dependant on that of humanity, which Mordo would happily wipe out if it suited him. As it's in his best interests to help Symbiote Spider-Man, Nightmare remarks that just as the gods created humanity, so too has humanity shaped the gods. When Symbiote Spider-Man asks which religion is right, Nightmare remarking that they're all right and wrong at the same time - using the analogy of blind men touching parts of an elephant - and that religion is imagination in its purest form. Nightmare notes that the entity he's addressing isn't really Spider-Man, but Symbiote Spider-Man refuses to elaborate. Nightmare proposes an alliance, noting that he can sense the symbiote's hunger for power - power it can seize for itself if it so chooses by seizing control of humanity's collective consciousness. As Symbiote Spider-Man bluntly retorts that all he needs is to reconstruct the Word of God, Nightmare proposes the symbiote use it to apotheosize into a deity. Intrigued, Symbiote Spider-Man asks what he means, and Nightmare proposes the symbiote use the reconstructed Word of God to remake reality in its own image, and pay him back by trapping the collective consciousness of humanity in an eternal nightmare. Gleefully, Nightmare tells Symbiote Spider-Man to use the power of dreams to free himself and Strange from the Nightmare World, and the symbiote to show Mordo and the Hobgoblin what it really is and what happens to those who run afoul of it.

In the Waking World, Mordo, Hobgoblin, and Red Cat watch incredulously as the Word of God reconstitutes itself. Red Cat yells at them to stop bickering and destroy it again, but when Mordo attempts to do so something counters it. The book opens and Symbiote Spider-Man emerges - sporting fanged jaws, a serpentine tongue, claws, and writhing tendrils. As the symbiote mauls Hobgoblin with its claws, Red Cat flees in terror. Quoting that "those whom the gods destroy, they first make mad", the symbiote snarls that Hobgoblin's majorly pissed it off. Ripping the Cloak of Levitation off Hobgoblin, the symbiote prepares to kill him but is stopped by Mordo - who unleashes the light of the Eye of Agamotto on it, suppressing its consciousness. As the symbiote fights to stay in control and snarls it will kill him, Mordo sneers that whatever sort of monster it is the symbiote isn't even a threat to Spider-Man - not yet, at any rate. Symbiote Spider-Man collapses, Hobgoblin demanding the honor of killing Spider-Man. Mordo agrees, and Hobgoblin fires an energy blast at Spider-Man... only for the blast to harmlessly pass through his unconscious form. Incredulous, Mordo turns to see that the Hobgoblin has vanished, then watches in horror as the Cloak of Levitation rises off the ground and flies towards Doctor Strange. Strange remarks that he's already used the World of God to undo the retcons Mordo made to reality. Furious, Mordo challenges Strange to a duel of the Ancient One's greatest disciples, conjuring the images of vampires, demons, and Lovecraftian horrors. Before Mordo can attack, he is knocked out by Wong, who disparagingly calls him an ass. Regaining consciousness, Spider-Man asks what's going on and Doctor Strange quickly lies that he was attacked by Nightmare and that everything he thought he witnessed was all just a dream. As Doctor Strange warily asks just how much he knows about his black costume, Spider-Man bemoans that he doesn't need the Sorcerer Supreme questioning his fashion choices on top of his girlfriend - who for some reason is under the impression that his costume is alive. Spider-Man grumbles that he should go see how Black Widow is doing, Strange asking if he doesn't mean the Black Cat. Correcting himself, Spider-Man wonders why he thought of the Black Widow. Waking up in a movie theatre elsewhere in the city, Natashia Romanoff is shushed by the other patrons and notes that she had the strangest dream.

Solicit Synopsis

• Thanks to the combined efforts of Nightmare, Dormammu and the Hobgoblin, the universe is fracturing like you’ve never seen before – REALITY ITSELF IS COLLAPSING!

• The team behind the original Symbiote Spider-Man series closes out the second volume with a BANG! You won’t want to miss this one!

Notes

  • Despite the solicit mentioning that Dormammu is involved, Dormammu does not appear in the issue.

Trivia

  • The Venom symbiote explaining the concept of retcons to Doctor Strange is a bit of metatextual humor, as the Symbiote Spider-Man series are retcons set during the time Spider-Man was bonded to it, and the symbiote itself is the result of numerous retcons regarding the nature and origins of Spider-Man's black suit.

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