Spider-Man must take down the corrupt industries of Sapirdyne Chemicals before the vigilante Cardiac can destroy it completely. Justin Hammer, a major share-holder in Sapirdyne, has suggested that having Spider-Man on the pay-role is the only way to stop Cardiac's attacks. Elsewhere, the symbiote stirs...
|Complete Spider-Man (UK) #16
|Spider-Man: Carnage (TPB)
|Spider-Man: Venom Returns (TPB)
Cardiac has come to Sapirdyne Chemicals main office looking for information: Computer records. Blowing open the titanium vault he finds nothing but request forms, the secretary informs him that all vital documents were removed that morning when suddenly security bursts into the room. Not wanting any casualties, Cardiac attempts to discourage them by shocking one of the guard's unconscious - however this merely provokes them and Cardiac is forced to escape through the window onto the rooftop below, dropping into an alley-way where an ambulance is parked, and changes into his medical gowns.
Above, Spidey is contemplating on what to do about Cardiac and how to find him. He meets MJ outside Aunt May's house and (after a quick change of clothing) they are welcomed inside. While MJ helps May serve lunch, Peter attempts awkward small talk with Nathan - Mays new love interest. Nathan senses Pete's discomfort and assures him that he loves May and that he will never do anything to break her heart.
Parker isn't the only one who can't get Cardiac out of his mind - Justine Hammer, at his secluded Arctic Ocean retreat believes that matters will have to be taken a step further, lest he loose all his assets in Sapirdyne. He asks his lackey to bring him the Foreign Embassy directory for Ney York, the telephone number for CNN News, and the "B" entry section of their current costumed operatives section.
Two days later and still no sightings of Cardiac, for which Peter is grateful - his studies are slipping as it is without all the distractions. As he passes the Empire State University notice board he notices a large poster from Silver Sable asking Spider-Man to meet with her. Knowing she will persist in her desire to get this meeting over every medium, Peter grudgingly decides to give her what she wants and be quickly done with it. Upon arriving at the Symkarian Embassy, Sable introduces Spider-Man to Herschel Sapir, head of Sapirdyne Industries, who wishes to hire the Web-Swinger to neutralise Cardiac for five-thousand dollars. Spidey accepts.
Spider-Man knows better than to trust Sapir, as there is always someone behind the front man, and this someone had enough cash to hire the Rhino (see Amazing Amazing Spider-Man #344 for the details). But if Sapirdyne is willing to pay for him to find Cardiac then he may as well take it. Later that evening at Wirtham Towers Dr. Wirtham is alerted to news on Sapirdyne's latest deal: their largest ever shipment of chemicals later that night. Dr. Wirtham is abruptly hit by a heart attack and opens a secret elevator which takes him to floor 13 - a "storage facility", highly shielded, which actually contains sophisticated technology form Tony Stark. The pain begins to subside as I series of machines probe with the mechanics beneath his left hand. He admits that the technology keeping him alive via an artificial heart has some glitches, but he'll make it work. Picking up a framed photo, he swears he'll make right what the world did to his son.
That night, Spidey perches atop a crane on the Sapirdyne cargo ship as it leaves the harbour. Below, the men aboard the ship argue as to the purpose of hauling real chemicals if they are just acting as bait for Cardiac. One man answers that it's because Cardiac is smart enough to recognise a trap, but there's no problem as Spider-Man is here to take him down before there is any carnage. From behind, an Australian man murmurs that he's here to take out the spider...
At Ryker's Island, Cletus Kasady is about to stab Eddie Brock, when the symbiote crawls through the window and engulfs Brock, who then smashes down the wall and escapes into the night. Kasady dashes to the wreckage in disbelief, thankful that the event he'd just witnessed was over. A small black drop of liquid drips onto his hand...
Back aboard the boat, the convoy has reached open water and the tugs are pulling away. Word gets around that Cardiac is now onboard and the crew abandons ship, except for the Australian man - revealed to be Boomerang. Below deck Cardiac thinks of the pain and suffering the chemicals stored before him will bring, but is prevented form destroying them as Spider-Man challenges him. He asks if Spider-Man has any sense of justice, to which Spidey replies that he does, but there are laws: they can be bent and changed but never broken, and that separates them from the real villains. Cardiac refuses to let more die before the necessary changes are made and opens fire on Spider-Man, who attempts to disarm him, but Cardiac is too strong and all he achieves is to flip him onto the upper deck. As Spidey leaps up, he is hit with one of Cardiac's electro blasts. From the shadows Boomerang contemplates his orders to wait till they are both to weak to fight, then take-out the remains, instead deciding to add to his reputation and attack them now. A razor edged boomerang embeds itself into a crate as Spider-Man laps out of its path. Boomerang throws a second, this one creating a sonic shriek which disrupts Cardiac's weapons, and sends Spidey to the floor in pain. Cardiac lies clutching his chest and Spidey jams one of Boomerang's boot-jets, sending him crashing into the water. Spider-Man looks round and discovers Cardiac has disappeared. From above Cardiac fires a massive serge right trough the boat, causing it to sink. Spider-Man asks him if he is happy now, to which Cardiac replies that now the wavering support of share-holders in Sapirdyne Industries will now collapse, resulting in losses they can never recover. He apologises that the two could not have met under more agreeable circumstances, but it will not be the last time they will meet, and with that Cardiac flies into the darkness. Spidey attempts to plant a tracker on him but it is too late.
At the harbour, Venom emerges from the river - and he is ready to play.
The story arch closes, and we still get only a glimpse of the truth behind Cardiac (I know he doesn't return for a fair few issues so for now we are left wanting): an artificial heart, ties with Tony Stark, and a sick-if-not-dead son. I must say I find him an interesting character - particularly the way he chooses to sink the boat rather than destroy the chemicals thus financially destroying Sapirdyne Industries.
But for every good character, there is en equally bad one: Boomerang. Not only was he a blatant stereotype, but his weapons are sonic emitting boomerangs. Oh, and he could fly. This type of character ranks among the likes of Stilt- Man. Now I realise that most of the time the hired goon is a lame idea that can sometimes take off, like Styx, Stone and the Rhino- but a man in a purple outfit who throws boomerangs and has jet-boots has no real hope.
Back to the plus side, the artwork is a vast improvement upon last issues (which is a tough thing to say because it was beautifully rendered), using bolder colours and more attention to detail. So on top of a gripping story, we also get fantastically illustrated issue. There are only a few characterisation scenes which seem a tad unnecessary, like the conversation between Nathan and Peter, and the pointless (but appreciated) cameo of Silver Sable. Other than that, first class action, the re-appearance of Venom (before we get an unbelievable back-form-the-dead explanation to ruin things), and a fun story.
Action, drama, suspense, bribery, plot twists. All in all, a solid issue.