With now a price on his head, thanks to the Daily Bugle, Spider-Man finds himself being attacked by a horde of police officers, trying to swipe in the money for themselves. Spidey tries to fight them, but because there are so many of them and the fact that he doesn’t want to hurt them, Spidey has the hardest time doing that. The fight gets out of hand when the officers start shooting.
Luckily, Spidey manages to dodge all the bullets. Captain Lamont shows up, and orders his men to stop the shooting before an innocent man gets hurt. He shouts at his men that they are lucky that he won’t report them for this. Spider-Man takes advantage of the confusion by webslinging away. But as he does, he recalls that someone said that there were tests being done on Dr. Octopus. Peter really wonders what kind of tests they are talking about which can’t be done in a prison.
Some time later, Peter meets up with Mary Jane in a restaurant. There, he tells her what happened. Mary asks her man if he managed to take some good pictures for the Bugle. Peter did, but not great ones. Though he will try selling them to Jameson, as he already e-mailed them to him. Mary asks Peter if he won’t be worried that Jameson will recognize him from that horribly front page, but Peter’s not worried about that at all, since his face is all blurry on the picture.
Peter changes the subject by asking MJ how her investigation is going. MJ has made a list of 28 currently active criminals in town Spider-Man has to worry about, and Venom is on top of it. MJ recalls that Felicia called, mentioning something about something going on uptown. But Felicia did find out that a whole lot of A-list villains were gathering for an auction, and it appeared that Eddie Brock appeared to be the heart of it. Peter doesn’t know if that’s a coincidence or not, but he wants that Mary Jane listens to him for a change, and gets out of town as fast as possible.
MJ won’t leave him, she says, because she loves Peter more than anything. She promises not to end up like Gwen, since she carries a gun with her. Peter doesn’t really know what to say about that, so he keeps his mouth shut.
“Spider-Man” decides to visit the Daily Bugle and face Jameson himself. He claims to be there for the money, as he’s tight at the moment. He takes off his mask, and reveals himself to be Otis Kincaid, a credit controller at Marsh Insurance Brokers. Jameson realizes that he’s being fooled, and calls his security guards to take the men away. Peter enters, and tries to sell the photos, but Jonah’s not interested since the crowd wants spicy details on the hunt on Spider-Man, not him defeating another villain. And besides, Jameson mentions to say, an anonymous billionaire donated five million dollars to boost the circulation, so he couldn’t say no to the witch hunt.
Jameson’s son, John, enters and greets his old friend, Peter. John’s still working at the Department of Social Services in Queens. Jameson cuts in that it’s only temporarily, since he knows that John has been talking to some of his air buddies to get in a plane again. John admits that, but makes it clear that it’s only going to be as an instructor, and he’s taking it with small steps. But he admits that it’s nice to feel a little bit into the air again, since he spends half his life there. Peter smiles and says that he knows what John means.
Jameson knows that Peter and MJ are having debt problems, so he shows his “good heart” to the boy and decides to give him five hundred dollars for the pictures. Peter wants to know how Jonah knows about his money problems. Jonah says he saw it on one of the magazines, since it’s the headline all over them. They leave, and Peter worries who the anonymous billionaire could be Jameson could be talking about, and why he just paid the money to give Spider-Man grieve. Peter thinks about his Aunt May. He knows that she’s 72 years old, and that she swallows a bunch of pills every day to stay alive. His common sense tells her that she’s probably dead, thanks to the stress her kidnapper started.
Later, as Spider-Man, Peter visits Norman Osborn in his prison cell. Osborn’s busy with a jigsaw puzzle and rather ignores the super hero, but Peter keeps talking. He wants to know if Osborn might have any idea what could have happened to her, and who the guy is that took her. Osborn thinks that Spidey is joking if he thinks he’ll help him. Spidey says that Osborn knew from pretty much the beginning who he really was, but always had the dignity to keep that information to himself, so Peter thinks that there still is a little human side from Norman inside that body of his.
Osborn smiles, and decides to tell Peter a little anecdote. Norman reveals that one of the guards of the prison recently tried to befriend him. That guard was always as courteous as the others were rude, and always trying to sneak him little treats with whatever Norman was having for dinner. Norman found it obvious that said guard wanted something and, after a few days, the guard finally showed his hand.
The guard explained that his wife had been ill for the last six years. She could hardly get out of bed in the mornings and just felt what she described as a horrible toothache from head to toe. Her doctors tested her from everything: from cancer to multiple sclerosis, but the scans all came back normal. All the blood tests were clear and yet this woman just seemed to get worse and worse. Thus, Norman tells Spider-Man, you can imagine the guard’s excitement when one of the world’s most pioneering and respected biochemists was lodged on his beat between Grizzly and the Rhino. Norman was bored and allowed to research the disease. He found out that it was better known as chronic fatigue. Norman claimed that he could cure the woman quite easily, and that she wouldn’t even need drugs. Just a combination of things they’d have at home plus the elimination of certain yeast and dairy products.
Spider-Man wants to know what happened to the woman. Norman says that she got better… for a while, at least. He smiles with an evil look on his face. Peter wants to know what Osborn means. Norman explains that the woman started getting pains in her kidneys last week and then her neurological functions began breaking down. And by the weekend, the original pain was back ten times worse than it ever was: she had gotten completely blind. Norman says that one of the cleaners told him this morning that the woman got rushed into the hospital and needs a machine to breathe now.
Spider-Man’s warning sense goes off. Norman continues to say that the bad news is that if the woman is never going to come out of the coma, and Norman even believes that she’s going to die at the end of the week.
So, Osborn seriously says, Peter has to think twice when he asks him a favor, and he should really wonder what tests were being run on Otto Octavius, and why Osborn’s guards are currently being burglarized.
Again later, Peter contacts Mary Jane every twenty minutes, and even has to listen to a half an hour conversation with his old friend, Liz, about her high school reunion. Peter decides that he’s got one option left: the Xavier Institute. He has made an 8 PM appointment, and is welcomed by one of the telepathic students, who accidentally enters his mind and discovers his secret identity. She takes Spider-Man into the school, where he’s welcomed by Marvel Girl, who apologizes for Emma’s absence, as she had to leave for an X-Men mission with her dad, Cyclops.
They shake hands, and Spider-Man tells Rachel that she really looks a lot like Jean Grey. Rachel explains that’s because she’s her daughter from an alternate reality that doesn’t quite exist anymore, so she hangs out there now. Spidey jokes that the next time someone tells him that his clones are weird, he’s just going to refer them to this school. Rachel calls him funny and laughs.
Marvel Girl takes Spider-Man to a separate place in the mansion, where they can talk in private. Rachel asks Peter if he brought the jewelry she asked him to bring, since it appears that jewelries are the best way to track a missing woman, but nobody really knows why. Peter has brought May’s old engagement ring with him. Rachel can make up that May was quite spunky in her young days, though knew a lot of sadness, too. But she wants Peter to know that he brought a lot of happiness in her life.
Rachel sees in her head that the abduction was really violent. Peter knows that. She knows that May just moved in into a new apartment, which he and his wife bought for her and that May really liked living in Manhattan, but feared that they couldn’t afford it. Rachel panics. Peter asks what she’s seeing. Rachel explains that May had the chain on her door, but that it didn’t matter much. She thought that it was a Jehovah’s Witness, but the villain snapped the chain like it was nothing. And then he held her against the wall, and she passed out.
Peter can’t believe it. Rachel mentions that May knew the guy, but that he’s different than he used to be. That he’s not human anymore. She was so scared. Spider-Man wants to know who did it! Was it Eddie Brock, Venom?! Rachel doesn’t know, she didn’t see the face because it was too hard. Rachel shouts that she doesn’t know. Peter calms down, and asks Rachel to find out where the guy took May, and where she is now. Rachel tries to think, but explains that this isn’t the thing she usually does. She says that Professor X was always the one specialized in missing persons, but that she is definitely getting some information.
The information is vague, Rachel says, and that the ring is really old. Peter asks Rachel what she means. She cries and doesn’t think that it’s good news. Peter doesn’t understand. Peter really wants to know. Rachel still cries, and thinks that Spider-Man’s Aunt May is dead!
Hydro-Man and his girlfriend, Sadie, meet up with the Sandman and his girlfriend, Joannie, before they enter the auction. They talk about Sadie’s new tiger coat, which she claims to be the former Avenger called Tigra, who Kraven the Hunter has killed and sold to them for a hundred thousand dollars. The Sandman knows that they are lying, since his cousin’s husband, Boomerang, was just defeated by both Tigra and Wonder Man a few weeks ago. And he also knows that Tigra has been living in Los Angeles for the last six months. Sadie argues with Hydro-Man about it, and tells him to better buy that costume for her they are auctioning, or else!
On another side of the room, the Shocker meets up with Mr. Fortunato, and asks him what he’s doing there, since he thought that Fortunato had given up the whole costume thing. Fortunato says that he did, but he’s here to buy the suit to make something of his new “boy,” Angelo. Fortunato asks Shocker why he needs it, since he already got one. The Shocker knows that, but maybe he can make a new identity out of himself, since his current one didn’t do much good for him, even after all these years he has been in the game.
The Tinkerer opens the auctions, and welcomes all the villains present. The Tinkerer says that they are not dealing with a low level crook, trying to make a name out of himself, like the Beetle or the Looter once did. No, they are talking about a top class villain, who’s wanted more by the FBI than Magneto, the Red Skull and even Dr. Doom himself. They live in a dangerous time, he says, and therefore he presents a solution to anyone’s problems.
He presents them… Venom!
Venom stands triumphantly on the stage. The Sandman knows Venom, and knows that’s not the guy they are seeing now. The Tinkerer admits that, and introduces Venom’s human host, Eddie Brock. He explains that they live in a strange, symbiotic relationship with one another in order to survive. He reveals that Venom is a super-powered, alien parasite. However, Eddie Brock has cancer and wouldn’t live six months should he be disconnected from the symbiote. The villains want to know why they are here then.
The Tinkerer says that Mr. Brock has seen a certain Mel Gibson movie, which, he claims, has changed his life forever. And now he wishes to exorcise the beast from his body. He’s had a crisis of faith, it seems, and Eddie told the Tinkerer that he’s ready to suffer the consequences of his illness now. He’s giving the alien up to whoever makes the most generous offer. Mysterio finds it all too Christian-like, and asks Brock if he’s going to proceed to charity next.
Eddie smiles and says that’s exactly what he’s doing. He says that the symbiote would find a new host anyway, and he’ll donate all of the money whatever gets to him will be donated to a good cause. But the Tinkerer knows that the villains probably want to check Eddie’s powers out first, so he demonstrates. Brock still stands triumphantly, and shows the crowd the alien symbiote, Venom, which rises high above his head.
The crowd’s freaked out, and the Tinkerer suggests that they start the bidding at ten million dollars.