Spider-Man - Requiem

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A previously unknown translation of an ancient grimoire, the Darkhold, has been unearthed by archaeologists in South America. But this chilling discovery will have far-reaching effects. Halfway across the globe, the Darkhold is relentlessly pursued by the Cabal of Scrier, an organization devoted to achieving ultimate power through whatever means necessary. And it is through their actions that a darkness from beyond the grave will return to haunt the Spectacular Spider-Man in the form of one of the most ...

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Overview

A previously unknown translation of an ancient grimoire, the Darkhold, has been unearthed by archaeologists in South America. But this chilling discovery will have far-reaching effects. Halfway across the globe, the Darkhold is relentlessly pursued by the Cabal of Scrier, an organization devoted to achieving ultimate power through whatever means necessary. And it is through their actions that a darkness from beyond the grave will return to haunt the Spectacular Spider-Man in the form of one of the most frightening and dangerous foes he's ever encountered....

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416510789
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.14 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Mariotte is the author of more than forty-five novels, including the supernatural thrillers Season of the Wolf, River Runs Red, Missing White Girl, and Cold Black Hearts; the thriller The Devil’s Bait, the horror epic The Slab, the Dark Vengeance teen horror quartet, and others, as well as dozens of comic books, notably Desperadoes and Zombie Cop. He has written books, stories, and comics set in beloved fictional universes, including those of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, CSI and CSI: Miami, The Shield, Criminal Minds, Conan, Superman, Spider-Man, Hellraiser, and many more, and is a two-time winner of the Scribe Award presented by the International Association of Media Tie-inWriters. He’s a co-owner of the specialty bookstore Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, and lives in southeastern Arizona on the Flying M Ranch. Please visit him at JeffMariotte.com or Facebook.com/JeffreyJMariotte.

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Read an Excerpt

1

There were four of them and one of me. Not what I'd call even odds, but I didn't want to give them time to round up a dozen of their friends — not with the owner of the Washington Heights bodega they had just held up stumbling around the street with a shotgun in his hands and blood raining into his eyes from a cut on his brow. He held on to the weapon like a drowning man with an unexpected lifeline, but he was blinking away blood and trying to see which way his assailants had gone.

I knew where they'd gone. I also knew they had already put about a dozen innocents between themselves and the man with the cannon. Time to earn the big bucks...

...or it would have been, if anybody paid me for webslinging. Definite flaw in the business plan, there.

I executed a textbook swan dive off the roof of a four-story building. Halfway to the ground I shot a line of webbing to the building across the street and on the other side of the fleeing robbers, nailing it just beneath the roofline. I tucked my head, rolled in midair, and shot a bracing line back at the building I'd just bailed from. That one went taut instantly, slowing my fall and interrupting my trajectory, and then I used the longer one to aim myself at the fleeing felons. I had to shoot one more, back to the side of the street I'd come from, as a course correction, but then I rocketed toward them.

They were a racially mixed group, the perfect twenty-first century mob, with skin colors ranging from fish belly to coffee bean. What concerned me more was the fact that two of them carried .38-caliber automatics. As I swung in, one of them stopped in his tracks and aimed his at me, bracing his gun hand with his left. No matter how many times you do it, hurtling at high speed straight into the muzzle of a gun is a disturbing sensation. The barrel opening begins to feel like a tunnel, and you're a train, and because the track leads inside there's no way you're not going in. Only you also know that there's another train, small and steely and deadly, coming out at the same time.

One more course correction. As his finger tightened on the trigger I threw my legs up and followed them, letting my momentum carry me in an aerial backflip. The guy with the gun fired once but his bullet sailed past me. I hoped it would be spent by the time it landed, blocks away. But I had to make sure he didn't get off another shot.

Sailing over his head, I shot a quick burst of thick, gooey webbing onto his hands, enveloping them. Now he couldn't release the weapon, but he also couldn't budge his fingers to use it. The other gunman swung his pistol toward me — another quick blast of webbing, but this time I held on and plucked the piece from his grip. Baby, meet candy. Now say bye-bye. I launched it toward the rooftops, making a mental note to retrieve it before someone found it there.

"Scatter!" one of the thugs shouted. Best idea they'd had yet. Of course, he was the one carrying the paper bag that I presumed held the take from the bodega's till, so it was in his best interests to divide my attention. He no doubt figured I'd go after the shooters while he slipped away.

"Guess you don't know my rep," I said, throwing disappointed-voice at him. He was already taking his own advice, and had made it almost four whole steps before I punched him in the middle of the back with a web-club. He flew forward, his legs splaying out, the bag of money still clutched in his greedy fist.

The fourth guy — no gun, no bag — had stopped and faced me with clenched fists. He looked like he knew what he was doing. Maybe he boxed at a local gym. "Think you're all that?" he asked.

"I know I am," I said. "And no matter how many wins you've had in the ring, you haven't faced anyone like me."

The thug whose gun I had flung onto the roof chose not to be part of our audience. He started up the street. I fired webbing around his ankles and he went down hard. I heard his teeth clack together when his chin hit pavement, and he lurched to hands and knees, spitting blood. The one whose hands I'd glued together swung them at me like a bat. I ducked easily and jabbed him once in the gut. The breath blew out of him, and he rocked back against the nearest wall.

Which left me facing Mike Tyson. He was a few inches taller than me, with long arms and fists about the size of holiday hams. For big families. He circled around me, stepping lightly on the balls of his feet, going up on his toes, keeping his heels off the ground. His right prodded the air in my direction, testing me. I ducked and dodged those big fists for a few seconds before I decided to quit playing and put these punks away. It had been a quiet night so far, but that could change.

"You're hot stuff at the gym, huh?" I said.

"I do okay."

"I'll just bet." I stopped weaving and put my hands on my hips. "Go ahead, then. Give it to me. Your best shot."

"For reals?"

I nodded instead of speaking. It felt less like a lie that way. I thought he might plant his feet, but he didn't. Instead he came forward, still light on his feet, and when he threw a punch at me it was like an uncoiling spring, driven from the shoulder. Had it connected, it would have hurt.

Not a lot. I am, after all, Spider-Man. Proportionate strength of a spider, yadda yadda yadda. Still, it would have rattled my teeth, maybe given me that shock up and down the spine that a powerful blow does.

What can I say? I cheated. I waited until he was off-balance, pistoning that massive fist toward my jaw, and then I twitched my head, ever so slightly. His fist flew over my shoulder. I caught the front of his baggy T-shirt with both hands and threw myself backward, curling my spine, bending my knees. I launched him off my legs. He slammed into a steel newspaper box about nine feet behind me.

The whole thing took maybe two minutes, tops. Not my fastest apprehension ever, but not bad. By the time the bodega owner caught up to us I had all four thieves upright, disarmed, and webbed around a lamppost, back to back to back to back.

The owner was in his fifties, I guessed, with salt-and-pepper hair and bloody smears across his forehead and the back of his left arm. Blood stained his sweat-soaked white shirt. He still held on to that shotgun, its twin barrels pointing toward the sidewalk. I held out the money sack, watching his hands. "Careful with that thing," I said.

"Oh, I never keep it loaded," he said quietly. "That would be stupid, no? So many people on the streets."

"Stupid, yes," I said. "Here, I think those guys took this from you."

He released the shotgun with his left hand to reach for the money. "Thank you, Spider-Man," he said. His accent was Latin American, but I couldn't tell from where. "Thank you so much, my friend."

"It's what I do."

"I must return to my shop," he said. "I am alone there."

"Of course," I said. "Go on back. These guys won't bother you anymore. If you could call the police when you get there, let 'em know where to pick up the package, that'd be just peachy. And get that forehead looked at as soon as you can."

"May I offer you a reward, Spider-Man? Anything you like, only name it."

A million bucks in small, untraceable bills? "Thanks, I'm cool," I said. He didn't look good for it. Besides, I needed to get back to that roof and snag the stray gun before someone happened upon it. Hardest part of the hero gig sometimes — disposing of random firearms safely without waiting around for law enforcement. I left him standing in the street singing my praises and webslung my way topside. The revolver was still there, much to my relief. I had already made a webbing backpack to carry the first gun, so I added this one to it. I'd have to haul them around until I ran across a cop, or else take the time to deliver them to a police station. Neither was ideal but both beat having someone point them at me again — or at anyone else.

Before heading home, I paused on the rooftop for a minute, wishing I had accepted at least a bottle of cool water as a reward. There are autumn nights in New York when you couldn't imagine why anyone would live anywhere else, when the evening takes on that perfect fall bite, crisp as a fresh apple, after a day that has featured clear blue skies overhead and the sun shining through gold and orange leaves like a promise that tomorrow, all will be right with the world.

This wasn't one of those nights. This was what Aunt May always called Indian summer, although that was probably no longer politically correct, and Native American summer had never really caught on. Anyway, nobody would want to claim such a sweltering, sticky day. Tempers flared and traffic jams seemed worse than ever, heat shimmering off the streets and the hoods of cars. Even the city's noise seemed louder on days like this one — and on the nights, when the miles and miles of blacktop and concrete, steel and glass released the heat they had spent all day soaking up, and a poor wallcrawler in a skintight head-to-toe costume could work up a sweat just thinking about a fight. Or even a friendlier tussle, like the kind I hoped to share a little later with Mary Jane Watson, my one-and-only ever-lovin' green-eyed wife.

MJ.

MJ had warned me not to dare come home without picking up coffee beans. The way she had phrased it, in fact, was "Doc Ock at his worst isn't half as scary as I'll be in the morning if I don't get some caffeine in me before I leave the apartment." She was working late into the night, rehearsing a play so far off Broadway that it was in Brooklyn, but in the morning she had a doctor's appointment so sleep would be fleeting and caffeine, apparently, required.

Back to the bodega, then. He had whole beans, three different varieties, near the back wall behind a donut rack with Plexiglas doors and greasy paper sheets lining empty shelves. His head wasn't bleeding anymore, but it would be several attractive shades of purple, blue, and yellow by morning. He smiled when I brought the bag of French roast beans to the counter. "For you, my friend," he said as he punched buttons on his cash register, "twenty-five percent off!"

"A bargain at half the price," I said. "I'll take it."

"Five eighty-seven. Call it six dollars."

So much for that million. "Six it is." I reached for my money.

And then remembered that I had no money. Not a thin dime on me. Nada. Zilch. A young couple stood behind me at the counter with a carton of milk and a box of cereal, waiting their turn. "I...ahh...I forgot to hit the ATM. I'm afraid I'm a little financially embarrassed at the moment."

"Oh, it is no problem, Spider-Man. No problem at all. For you? Take the coffee. Take."

"Well, thank you," I said. "That wasn't what I — "

"You can bring the six bucks tomorrow. Tomorrow night latest, right? I trust the famous Spider-Man. Anyway, you don't show up, I call the Daily Bugle, right? Spider-Man is thief?"

"No thief," I assured him. "You'll get the six bucks, don't worry."

On my way out I bumped into the woman behind me and almost made her drop the milk.

My costume is red and blue, with webbing threading all around it and white panels over the eyes. Bright, primary colors. Easily identifiable — basic blue, basic red.

At the moment, had anyone been able to look beneath the mask, they would have found my face even redder. © 2008 Marvel Entertainment Inc. and its subsidiaries.

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