Our Looking Back on Carrion contines from Spectacular Spider-Man #28.
|Cover Art:||Keith Pollard|
|Reprinted In:||Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #1|
With Hector unconscious beside him and Holly watching in horror behind, Peter finally manages to break Carrion's stranglehold on his throat. But that is about all he can muster. His eyes are still injured from the Masked Marauder's opti-blast. He has a sprained ankle from his encounters with the Maggia. He is exhausted. Holly Gillis barely notices Pete or his opponent, though. Her attention is fixed on her boyfriend Hector. She had previously become estranged from him when she found out he was the White Tiger and now she is convinced he is dead.
But Holly's distress is noticed by Carrion. "I had friends, too... once..." he tells Pete, "before you murdered them". He turns on Holly, thinking to murder some of Parker's friends in return. But Peter tackles Carrion from behind before he can use his deadly touch, then he talks Holly into dragging the unconscious Hector out as a prelude to calling campus security.
Watching Holly go, Peter momentarily loses track of Carrion. He finds him levitating ten feet off the ground. "My nature is such that the very air repels me away from it", Carrion explains. He can also repel matter away from him. He uses this power to launch books and bookcases at Parker. Buried on the library shelves, Peter protests that "I don't even know who you are". "But I know you, Parker", Carrion replies, "Your hopes, dreams, your loves. I, too, once loved... until you killed that, and everything else in me." (Think Bill planted enough hints here, folks?) Peter makes one last leap at Carrion but, with a cry of "Embrace the Red Death, Parker", the villain flings a handful of his poisonous dust into our hero's face. Luckily for Peter, it is a handful of the painful, not the lethal, variety of dust. Still, Carrion dissolves away, leaving Pete to plunge through an upper-level window toward the ground below.
On the first floor, Holly and a recovered Hector hear the sound of breaking glass above. Hector transforms into the White Tiger and ascends but he is far too late to help Pete. Still, being Spider-Man plays in Pete's favor. He uses just enough of his wall-clinging abilities to land hard but safely in some bushes. When the White Tiger finds him, when he realizes how completely exhausted Peter is, he decides that his friend needs more than rest. He needs a doctor.
Next morning, at the campus infirmary, Peter is visited by Holly, Hector, Flash Thompson and Sha Shan. After Peter is released, the fivesome walk the campus speculating on Carrion's identity and why he may be after Peter Parker. Hector wonders if the attack has to do with Pete's newspaper work but Parker doesn't think so. "There's something eerily familiar about him", Pete says of Carrion, "something that links him to the university". As soon as the group breaks up, Peter plans to retrieve his Spider-suit which he left in an alley the previous issue ("Good thing I wasn't wearing it or the docs would have spotted it.") and go hunting. But, Hector plans to keep Peter in sight... as the White Tiger.
Lost in his thoughts of Carrion, Peter walks headlong into another student, knocking his books to the ground. The stranger is angry at first until he recognizes Peter. He introduces himself as Randy Vale... Science Undergraduate and tells Pete, "you're my student teacher in biophysics". "If I ever make up my gym credit, that is", Pete replies, "But don't worry... I'll be there for your first class." Ominously, Vale thinks, "I wouldn't count on that, Parker. Not at all!"
After the encounter, Randy enters the E.S.U. science building, walks down a deserted corridor and unlocks a faculty storage area... where he meets with Carrion. "I've met him, sir, as you ordered", Vale says, "Entrapping him will be child's play."
Meanwhile, in Chelsea, Mary Jane shows up at Peter's ransacked apartment with a new floor lamp, only to find Betty, Harry, and Liz all there helping to fix up the place again. Pete has not stopped in, however. He has merely been to a nearby garbage can to pick up his Spider-Man uniform. Since he doesn't know where to look for Carrion, he decides to make himself an open target by brazenly walking the streets. What he doesn't know is that he has a guardian angel... the White Tiger, following up on the rooftops. Unfortunately, while the Tiger is watching Peter's back, he should be watching his own, for a strange gold and green garbed figure in red goggles glides soundlessly up behind him. At the last instant, the Tiger turns but he is too late to stop the figure from pulling a gun from his holster and striking him with some strange blast. The assailant, calling himself "Darter" calls in on his walkie-talkie to inform his boss that Parker's "shadow" has been taken care of. Peter is now on his own.
But as Darter departs, the White Tiger quickly comes to again. Carrion may think that Hector has been dealt with but the Tiger is more formidable than that.
In Campus Park, a flash of light alerts Peter to the return of Carrion! Peter runs around the side of a building but the villain materializes nearby. "Why not change to the costume you wear beneath your street clothes", Carrion taunts, "The one you retrieved from that alleyway?" Parker wonders how his opponent can know so much about him and not even trigger his spider-sense but he can't dwell on these questions. He switches to Spidey and swings into action. Carrion is waiting for him on the top of the gym building. ("The scene of your academic failure", as Carrion puts it. "Cripes!", thinks Pete, "How do you fight a villain who throws your report card at you?") By the time Spider-Man lands on the roof, Carrion is gone again. Looking over the side, the Web-Slinger is blind-sided by Carrion who kicks him off. Pete still can't figure what the deal is with his spider-sense. "Either he's somehow defused it or it doesn't recognize him as a source of danger." He uses his web to stop his fall but ends up crashing through a window into the gym itself.
Carrion, levitating, joins him there. He drops more hints about losing his love, then losing his life, but he is interrupted by two more figures crashing through the gym's windows. It is Darter... with the White Tiger hanging onto his back. Spidey uses the diversion to grab Carrion by the ankle and pull him down to earth. He tells his ghoulish foe that he wants facts... not fantasy. He wants the names of the two people he has supposedly killed. And Carrion replies, "I accuse you of the murder of Gwen Stacy and Professor Miles Warren!"
The next issue blurb promises, "The sinister secret of Carrion revealed!!" (With two exclamation points yet!)
In this issue's letters page, Richard Holloway of Alexandria, Louisiana complains about too many supporting characters... "After all, this mag is not named Hector Ayala, the Wonderful White Tiger or Power Thompson and Sha Shanfist!" (Gee, Richard, rather too many supporting characters than too few, don't you think?) and Matt Kaufman of Urbana, Illinois says, "As for Mary Jane, she should be written off. It's time she leave, not because she's been around so long, but because she and Pete aren't right for each other."
We conclude our "Carrion" Looking Back with Spectacular Spider-Man #30.