The newest villain to reach the pages of Amazing Spider-Man appears to have slaughtered one of the web-slinger’s most recurring foes.
Peter Parker is enjoying his rekindled relationship with Mary Jane Watson, but he’s haunted by a disturbing vision that plagued him during what would prove to be his final encounter with Kraven the Hunter. In the frighteningly lifelike vision, Spider-Man arrived too late to discover the bloodied corpse of his love, cut down by an unknown assailant.
At the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, Quentin Beck — a.k.a. Mysterio, the master of illusions — is struggling with his own intrusive thoughts. His therapist reports Beck is prone to fits of violent outbursts and that he’s pathologically obsessed with a tormentor he refuses to name. On the couch, Beck admits he feels as though he’s reached the pinnacle of his career after making Spider-Man believe the costumed villain had grown stories tall before later subjecting J. Jonah Jameson to imagery of the Devil clad in a Spider-Man costume.
When the session turns to talk of Beck’s death, Beck is visibly disturbed.
Beck admits he found himself rudderless and locked in a cycle of failure after frequent defeats at Spider-Man’s hands, leaving him unfilled both as a former special effects guru in the movie business and as a costumed super villain and member of the Sinister Six. A terminal cancer diagnosis later spurred him to manipulate Daredevil, manipulating and torturing the horn-headed vigilante before committing suicide in Guardian Devil.
But Beck was later returned to life from Hell, a sequence of events the therapist writes off as delusions suffered by a Beck crippled by so much as a mention of his unnamed tormentor.
Meanwhile, Peter is disturbed by the image of an unidentified figure, one wrapped in bandages and featuring insect-like limbs.
Beck’s therapist attempts to get him to confront his delusions, but Beck is petrified by his tormentor. The therapist reports Beck’s claims that he was endlessly tortured by a prisoner of Hell who climbed the ranks to become a demon, a demon who now haunts Mysterio on Earth.
The therapist presents a theory: Mysterio’s years as a master of illusion and hypnosis has warped his perception of reality, leaving his mind incapable of distinguishing between fact and fiction. Not only did Beck never truly die, the therapist hypothesizes, but Beck faked his suicide and grew an obsession with Hell that played out in his attacks on Spider-Man, Daredevil and Jameson. This fixation on Hell and its imagery, the therapist says, could be a coping mechanism for Beck’s cancer diagnosis, or his depression over unrealized dreams tied to an inner belief that he deserves to suffer.
In order to begin to reject his delusions and hysteria, Beck must say the name of the demon haunting his every waking moment. The shadowy therapist presses a petrified Beck, who refuses to utter the name of his tormentor, but the room is quickly invaded by rats and centipedes. The therapist flees, leaving Beck alone and confronted by his demonic stalker.
The demon tells Beck he was in Hell, and he’s staring into the face of the benefactor who saved him. The demon convinces Beck to whisper his name before centipede-like tentacles protrude from his back, plunging themselves into Beck’s face and body, tearing him apart, leaving a bloody scene with what was once Mysterio torn to shreds.
As the demon looks down at Beck’s bloodied corpse, it asks if Peter witnessed the murder. “Maybe it’s all just a dream,” the demon allows. “I hate when they do that.” The demon confesses it’s not a monster and that Peter still needs to guess its name: “Because once you do, Pete, it’ll just be me and you. Like it should’ve been all along. Then we can face the truth together. The truth of what you did.”
Peter stirs awake, having suffered a nightmare he now knows was more than just a foreboding warning. Somehow, Peter linked to the demon, and it told him its name: Kindred.0comments
Could Kindred, and its obsession with Peter and Mary Jane, have ties to the demon Mephisto? Peter once struck a deal with the devil when exchanging his marriage with MJ to Mephisto so that his beloved Aunt May could be spared after being felled by an assassin’s bullet — could the sins of the past be manifesting as this bandaged creature, who comes just as Peter and MJ reignite their relationship?
Amazing Spider-Man #25 releases July 10.