Spider-Girl is locked in a life-and-death struggle with the Venom Symbiote, which has possessed Normie Osborn and has plans for her, as well. Phil Urich, a/k/a the Green Goblin, has been attacked by Fury, the Goblin Queen, who wants him dead for "tainting" the Osborn legacy. Doc Magus and Doctor Strange desperately try to save the life of Darkdevil, nearly killed by the Venom symbiote and under attack from the demon Zarathos, who possesses him. And now, the stunning conclusion....
Under attack by Venom, Spider-Girl can do little more than stay alive. She tries to counterattack, tries to meet his verbal attacks with some of her own, but to no avail. And, worse, she knows full well that her "Uncle Phil," the Green Goblin, is in mortal danger. But, then, so is she. And when she spots a large bakery warehouse out of the corner of her eye, all she can do as she leads Venom in that direction is pray that Phil is good enough to be a true superhero.
At the Avengers Mansion, Darkdevil is also in dire straits. As Doc Magus and Doctor Strange attempt to work on him, the demon Zarathos resists them in an effort to claim the body for his own. With little choice, Doc and Doctor make a "house call," venturing into Darkdevil's soul to fight the battle from within. They find a burned-out cityscape, stumbling across Zarathos and Daredevil, who are fighting for control. They also find a young, red-haired man, who represents the Reilly Tyne aspect of Darkdevil. Tyne fills Magus and Strange in on his backstory, and angrily refuses Magus when he offers him a chance to lose both Zarathos and Daredevil. Taken aback, Magus nevertheless agrees to help put Darkdevil back to normal.
Back at the bakery, Spider-Girl crashes into the building only to find a handful of potential victims waiting for her. Venom jumps into the fray and prepares to skewer one of them, but is stopped by his own left hand--the hand that pierced Darkdevil two issues ago, and has never fully recovered--as Normie asserts control for a brief instant. Venom regains control and continues to taunt Spider-Girl: "[W]hy was he keeping secrets from you? He lied when he told you that his recent dip in Goblin juice didn't affect him, but you already suspected as much.... He was always going to betray you. By first marrying Brenda and then using his new powers to--" A swift kick to the jaw cuts Venom off in mid-sentence, and Spider-Girl tries to convince him (and herself?) that Venom is lying. Just then, her cell phone goes off. Venom takes advantage of the distraction, and ensnares her in a tendril of symbiote. He doesn't want to kill her. He wants to bond with her.
Across town in another warehouse, the battle between the Green Goblin and Fury has taken a turn for the worse. Fury has overpowered him and is hovering on her glider bludgeoning him to death. She rips his mask off, not willing to see him die "as a Goblin." Phil smiles, secretly popping the switch on a bomb in his knapsack. Fury continues to rant until Phil kicks her in the jaw, drops the sack with the live grenade on the gilder with her arsenal of bombs, and drops to safety. The glider explodes, badly stunning Fury. Phil then cold-cocks her with a swift blow to the jaw, and manages to call the police before dropping into a dead faint.
Back inside Darkdevil, Doctor Strange has pressed the issue, attacking Zarathos and keeping him occupied. Working together, Reilly Tyne and Magus manage to slip past the battling magic wielders and free the Daredevil avatar. "Shall we join forces and restore the balance to our private little universe?" Reilly asks him. "I'm with you." The two of them re-merge, then overcome Zarathos, casting Strange and Magus aside in the process.
As Darkdevil pulls himself together, Venom slowly but surely pulls Spider-Girl into itself with a SHLUPPT! Much bigger and grossly distorted, Venom has only seconds to gloat before Spider-Girl and Normie explode from the symbiote's body. After taking a moment to collect themselves and gather the remains of the symbiote, Spider-Girl tells Normie to put it into an oven so that the heat will immobilize it. Normie refuses. "The symbiote and I have talked... and we've come to terms. Now that I've established dominance, it has promised to obey me." Stunned beyond words, Spider-Girl can do nothing but answer her perpetually ringing cell phone. On the other end of the phone, Brenda Drago is calling from the Avengers Mansion (with a concious but still-groggy Darkdevil in the background.) Normie takes the phone. "I'm fine, Brenda, honest! Please thank everyone for me. You can also tell them that Spider-Girl saved me... and the symbiote will never menace anyone else!"
Hello! Now THAT I did not see coming. Normie Osborn keeping the Venom symbiote? Looks like ol' Tall, Dark and Gruesome wasn't lying when he said that Normie was lying about the Goblin juice he'd been bathed in. Look at the next to last panel on page 21--right before Normie tells May he won't give up the symbiote. Those are the eyes of someone who's not quite right in the head anymore. Very cool idea, and one I did not see coming.
Good for "Uncle Phil" for finally proving his worth as a super hero. Sure, he had to play a little rough with Fury, but given the odds, he did what he had to do. For a second there, I wondered if he was really planning to blow himself up and take Fury with him. I'm glad Tom DeFalco didn't go that route, but you've got to think that Phil's living on borrowed time.
As for Darkdevil? If this is the last we hear of this incident, then the whole injury storyline was nothing but filler. Darkdevil hurt, sorcerers fix him, everything's back to normal. But I've got a feeling this will come back to haunt him later, no pun intended. Normie's dip in the Goblin potion a few issues back seemed to be unimportant at the time, but now we're seeing signs that this did, indeed, affect him. Will Darkdevil be similarly affected by his ordeal? I think so; DeFalco is proving adept at avoiding any loose ends. I hope this is leading somewhere.
Speaking of leading somewhere, I don't know what's going to happen with Normie and the symbiote, but I doubt it's going to be pleasant for Spider-Girl & co. But what a great way to end this storyline! Nice job.
Aw, what the heck, this was a good one. I'll give it the full score. Five webs.