Ben Reilly aka Scarlet Spider has clashed with the Dr. Octopus II aka Carolyn Trainer on several occasions. His interference in her gang war with rival Jason Tso had cost her three operatives, among other things. She vowed revenge.
Recently Trainer discovered undercover FBI agent Joe Wade in her organization and transformed him into a highly advanced virtual reality construct of the Scarlet Spider – under her control - to ruin the reputation of the real Scarlet Spider. The VR Scarlet Spider ran amok and succeeded in his mission.
Then Trainer tried to merge reality with cyberspace but failed thanks to the timely intervention of the Scarlet Spider and her father Seward Trainer. The result destroyed her laboratory where Wade was being kept.
With the reputation of the Scarlet Spider trashed, Ben graduated to the role of Spider-Man. One question remains, however: what happened to Joe Wade?
FBI Agent Stephanie Briggs leads the team to comb the remains of Dr. Octopus's recently destroyed laboratory hoping to find some trace of her partner Joe Wade. Suddenly the Scarlet Spider emerges from the rubble, exclaiming "Happy birthday!" and begins to hop around like Daffy Duck (TM), preventing the other agents from getting a fix on him. He eventually comes to a halt directly in front of Briggs, upside down on a web. She tells him that they're looking for Joe Wade. He makes a joke about how much Joe "weighed" and hints that he knows Briggs went on Jenny Craig. He then leaves prompting Briggs to wonder how he could know that.
The next day the Scarlet Spider begins to play pranks on many unsuspecting New Yorkers, verbally skewering them as well. Finally at 1:26 AM the Scarlet Spider transforms back to Joe Wade. Wade then makes his way back to his apartment and collapses on his bed from sheer exhaustion.
The next morning the New Warriors organize a search party to find the Scarlet Spider. Since the public is aware of their association with him, his recent antics have tarnished their reputation as well.
The news of his "other's" antics reaches Joe Wade. He contacts Briggs and tells her to meet him someplace safe. He explains that when the Octopus' lab was destroyed, he body was fused with the nanotech used to create the Scarlet Spider hologram. The nanotech machines also include the original programming. He can't control the Scarlet Spider, but is responsible for the chaos. He called her so that he could turn himself in before someone gets hurt. At that point, he begins to transform into the Scarlet Spider and runs away so she won't be hurt by his other self.
Thirty minutes later, Firestar finds Wade on the George Washington Bridge throwing girders at the commuters. She tries to get him to calm down but he tricks her into getting close enough for him to kiss her. She does not appreciate this and hit him with a low-level energy burst that shows his metallic skin. Convinced this is not the same Scarlet Spider that originally joined the New Warriors she contacts then through her communicator and tries to contain him until they appear.
She hits him with a microwave pulse that burns off the nano-clothing, leaving only his metallic skin intact. He in turn hits her with a concussive beam that knocks the wind out of her, causing her to land unconsciously on one the platforms. Wade then moves in for the kill.
I hate to admit this, but this was a decent story. After the ridiculous way the "Scarlet Spider" titles were handled, one would think that this is simply squeezing the last few drops of milk from this cow (nice picture, I know). Somehow the simplified story actually works. Instead of stretching this out, they actually do a proper setup and run with it.
The only real problem I have is the concussive blasts from the VR construct. He/it is supposed to duplicate Spider-Man/Scarlet Spider's powers, but I don't remember either of them ever having eye beams. Perhaps this is explained in the next chapter.
2.5 webs. This is sadly the best of the Scarlet Spider issues. I don't like the fact that this is a continuation of a bad idea (the Scarlet Spider titles in general) and essentially a spin-off of the clone, but for some reason it seems less irritating. Perhaps if they had try to do something like this for the "Age of the Scarlet Spider" series, it would have been much more enjoyable.
Ocotpus' lab was destroyed in Scarlet Spider #2
The Scarlet Spider joined the New Warriors in New Warriors #62