The Smythers Drug Rehabilitation Clinic, in Manhattan, New York. This is a place where light meets dark each and every day. When the light triumphs, renewed human souls leave to face a new day - a new life. But, when darkness triumphs…. ‘KEEP AWAY FROM ME!’ a man shouts inside his room. ‘I SAID KEEP AWAYYY!’ he cries again in the dead of night. ‘What was that scream?’ one of the clinic staff members calls out. ‘Gallante’s room - hurry!’ another remarks. ‘Henrique - Henry - you okay, man?’ one of the staff asks as they enter Henrique Gallante’s room. ‘The shadows - they’re touching me, man! Crawling on me!’ Henrique exclaims as he squirms about on his bed. Another member of staff rushes in, and tells the others to hold the patient down, as he has a tranq. ‘No - the dark - you don’t understand!’ Henrique pleads as the doctor injects the tranquilizer into his arm. ‘The dark’ Henrique utters quietly.
‘Stupid pain in the butt kid’ one of the staff mutters as they exit the room, leaving Henrique in the dark. ‘Been here for three months and he hasn’t gotten any better yet’ another mutters, while the third declares that some punks don’t want t get better. ‘You don’t understand…’ Henry calls out. As the drug begins to take effect, he slumps back against a wall, and mumbles that the dark is touching him. Shadows sink over the young man, and he adds that the dark whispers to me, talking to him more and more. Surrounded by darkness, his eyes go wide, and he shouts that the dark wants him to talk back.
In the meantime, in Midtown, the Roxie Theater is letting out its late show audience. Among those stepping out into the cold night are Rich “Nova” Rider of the New Warriors, and his girlfriend, Laura Dunham. ‘So, what’dja think?’ Rich asks Laura, placing his arm around her shoulders as they walk down the street. ‘It was okay, I guess’ Laura replies, adding that they seemed to go out of their way to glamorize Gary Oldman. ‘Yeah, but Dracula’s supposed to be sexy, right?’ Rich replies. ‘I mean, in an evil kinda way, right?’ Rich adds. Laura tells Rich that is her point, that she doesn’t think it is healthy to combine sex and romance with evil and terror. ‘I suppose. But people get into that kinda thing’ Richard smiles. ‘C’mon - tell me you don’t get into it a little - the gorgeous Yale girl dating the scruffy bum from Queens!’ Rich asks Laura as they lean up against Laura’s car. Laura just smiles, before she and Rich kiss. Laura gets into her car and drives away, ‘Good night, Richie…’ she calls back. ‘Good night, Dunham’ Rich calls after Laura.
‘Man-o-man-o-man-o-man!’ Rich exclaims as he walks into a nearby alley. He tells himself that every time he is with that girl, his heart goes nuts. ‘Not to mention other body parts’ Rich reminds himself, deciding that it is enough to make him want to fly, and changed into his Nova costume which was concealed in a duffel bag, Richard Rider takes to the night time sky, boasting that there aren’t enough nasty things in this beat up city to put a damper on his mood tonight.
Elsewhere, at the Holy Ghost Church on 42nd Street, near the Port Authority bus terminal. The church’s doors are closed now. It is a place of hope and light which was overwhelmed by the darkness and despair surrounding it. A blackness, like a dark ooze, drips from the church in the dead of night. But, just because the church has been abandoned, does not mean it is empty. And, because it is not empty, hope and light have not been wholly abandoned. There is a bright glow inside the church, followed by the shattering of a large window. ‘CLOAK!’ the heroine called Tandy Bowen a.k.a. Dagger calls out to her partner. ‘DAGGER!’ Tyrone “Cloak” Johnson calls back, as Dagger unleashes her light power against Cloak, who falls backwards. ‘Stop - stay back!’ Cloak shouts.
But Dagger continues to release bursts of intense light, telling Cloak that she is not going to let the Darkforce take him away from her again. ‘For as long as we’ve been together, we’ve struggled between the dark and the light. Well, tell the demon inside your cape - that this time - the light is doing to win!’ Tandy exclaims. Tyrone is pulled inwards, into his sprawling cloak, and tells Tandy that it is different than before, that it feels worse. ‘I’m being torn apart - I can’t stop it -’ Tyrone calls out, while Tandy’s light is just sucked into him, and she falls backwards, hitting her head against some planks of wood that are lying on the church floor.
Tandy gets up, and calls out to Tyrone, telling him not to leave, to fight it. ‘I need you, Tyrone Johnson! Both of us - we’re two parts of a whole!’ Tandy shouts as Cloak is sucked away. However, Tandy leaps forward towards Tyrone’s cloak, ‘If you won’t fight for your freedom - I will!’ Tandy shouts, as she enters Tyrone’s cloak. She is surrounded by darkness, save for the light that she radiates from her hands. ‘I’m inside Ty’s cloak - inside the Darkforce’ Tandy tells herself, knowing that she is pumping her light flares at full intensity, yet it is barely enough to show what is in front of her face. However, it is enough, and as Tandy turns around, she sees Cloak and several others, all hanging from the darkness, imprisoned.
‘Get us out! Give us some light!’ one of them pleads. ‘Oh God -’ Tandy utters, while Cloak tells her that they are all trapped by the Darkforce. ‘But your light - extinguish it before -’ Cloak calls out, but suddenly, Tandy falls forward as something begins to drag her away. ‘Cloak - I’ll come back -’ Tandy calls out, as she manages to leap back through the slither in the portal, back into the church. She lands on the floor, and the portal behind her closes. ‘But Tyrone - and those others - who were they? How can I help them? What can I do?’ Tandy wonders, tears in her eyes.
Meanwhile, at the Brooklyn Television Sound Stage, where the popular soap opera “Secret Hospital” is filmed, make-believe people enact make-believe words about make-believe lives, always over-dramatizing the extremes of human natures, overemphasizing the light…and the dark…. ‘Cut - and that’s a wrap, folks!’ the director on set shouts. Crew and cast begin to clap, while the director welcomes Madelyne Naylor to the show. Mary Jane Watson-Parker walks over to her new co-star and tells her that it is great to get someone with her background on the show. Madelyne thanks everyone and remarks that it is great to be working again, while telling Mary Jane ‘Sure, I make all my co-stars look even younger and prettier!’ Suddenly, ‘Oh, Miss Naylor - don’t say such things! You’re the most beautiful woman on this show!’ Madelyne’s son, Robbie “Speedball” Baldwin of the New Warriors exclaims as he races over, quietly adding ‘Maybe outside of the gorgeous redhead there’. A slightly older Peter Parker tells the younger man to zipper the hormones, for that is his wife.
‘Peter, let Robbie drool if he wants to’ Mary Jane tells Peter as they walk down a corridor with Robbie and Madelyne. ‘How about he dribbles at the bistro down the street over coffee?’ Peter suggests. ‘Cool, Mr Peter - they got a waitress there worth drooling over!’ Robbie exclaims. Madelyne tells her son that if he doesn’t stop acting like an idiot, she will never let him show his face in public again. ‘And Rob, please call me Pete, okay?’ Peter tells Robbie. ‘No prob, if you call me “Mr Baldwin” Robbie jokes, before asking Peter if he works for the Daily Bugle. Peter confirms that he does, and that he is a beat photographer, before asking Robbie if he is interested in becoming a journalist. ‘Nah, King of the World’ Robbie replies, but that a friend of his, Patty, worships lots of journalists. ‘When I told her my mom was working with MJ, she said “Mary-Jane Watson is Peter Parker’s wife”!’ Robbie adds.
‘Your friend Patty sounds like an intelligent, darling young lady’ Peter remarks, to which Mary-Jane elbows her husband in his side and tells him that he is so easy. Peter smiles, before suddenly, his spider-sense tingles. ‘I - um -’ Peter begins. ‘Uh-oh - I know that look’ Mary Jane thinks to herself, realizing that her husband’s spider-sense is warning him about something. Peter is not able to let on that he is, of course, Spider-Man, when suddenly, Madelyne points across the river, alerting everyone to the buildings in Manhattan, where the strange blackness that was at the church is spreading.
In Lower Manhattan, site of the world’s financial center, and the city’s underbelly. People in thousand dollar suits playing with the fates of people who wear rags and cardboard boxes. And when looked at in that perspective, who resides in the light, and who in the dark? Inside a brightly lit apartment, Detective Charlotte Jones stares out the window and tells Warren Worthington III that she still feels weird spending time with him in this apartment. ‘I mean, I have my own place in Brooklyn’ Charlotte reminds Warren, who points out that is where her mother and son are. ‘Let’s enjoy the fruits of my money as much as we can’ Warren tells Charlotte as he walks towards her, carrying a bottle of champagne and two glasses. ‘Hmmph’ Charlotte mutters.
‘Does that bother you?’ Warren asks, adding that it bothers him sometimes. ‘So let’s be guilty and have some more champagne’ he suggests. ‘No, I meant “humph” there’s something happening on the streets outside’ Charlotte explains as she continues to look out the window. Warren glances out the window and tells Charlotte that whatever it is, to tell him that the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Warriors, Power Pack and Wolfpack are all on. ‘Nope’ Charlotte replies bluntly. Warren sighs, before releasing his razor-sharp metal wings, which tear off his shirt. ‘I’ll be back as quickly as I can’ he assures Charlotte, adding that she should put Warren Worthington’s bubbly and tux away, and let Archangel fly the concrete canyons.
With that, Warren swoops out into the darkened night, the moon shimmering down on him. Down on the street below, a woman cries out for help. ‘Hey mister sooperhero man!’ she exclaims, as the blackness rises from the grates into the sewers. Warren gets close to the street and fires several “wing knives” at the blackness, cutting it off from surrounding the woman. ‘Don’t struggle, ma’am - let my wing flechettes slice through that stuff!’ Archangel tells her. The blackness retreats down into the sewer, and Warren realizes that it appears to be alive. ‘What was that gunk?’ he wonders, standing on top of a cab.
Uptown, at the Smythers Clinic, screams cascade throughout the hallways, echoes of madness reverberating off the cold tile walls. Orderlies and doctors try to bring some measure of calm to the insanity running loose. Not realizing that it is one of the quietest - the calmest - among them who is responsible for them all. Henrique lies on the floor of his cell. A voice calls out to him: ‘You okay, Manny? Huh?’ The voice comes from a figure made up entirely of the dark substance that is plaguing the city. ‘You be cool, man - you’ll be all right’ the figure calls out. ‘All you gotta do is reach out’ it tells Henrique, urging him to touch the black, to wrap his self in the shadows, to let the darkness protect him. Henrique looks up, and reaches out to the dark mass before him. ‘I…I want to…’ Henrique utters, and the black figure smiles.
Back on the other side of the East River, ‘Uhm…’ Robbie utters. ‘Uh…’ Madelyne exclaims. ‘Uhm…’ Mary Jane remarks, looking at Peter, who mumbles ‘Uh…’ in response. ‘Robbie better call the police’ Madelyne tells Mary Jane, who declares that Peter better call in to the Bugle, as both men run in opposite directions. ‘Why isn’t there ever a phone booth around when you need one?’ Peter mutters to himself as he runs into an alley, deciding that changing in a dark New York City alleyway could, at the very least, give someone indecent exposure - in more ways than one. In his Spider-Man costume, Peter leaps onto the side of one of the buildings and climbs upwards, before firing some webbing into the air, and swinging out between buildings. ‘And how would that look - for your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man!’ Peter jokes.
‘Mom pitched in real nice there’ Robbie tells himself as he runs around the corner into a different alleyway. Robbie decides that having his mother know his secret identity might not be such a bad thing after all, and wonders if he should start telling everybody. ‘Or, at least just the babes’ Robbie tells himself, before he suddenly kicks in the kinetic field, and as brightly colored balls of kinetic energy appear around him, he is transformed into his costume, as Speedball, and bounces into action, high into the air. ‘Of course, I have no clue what I’m bouncing into’ Robbie realizes.
Up in the air, Speedball joins up with Spider-Man, both unaware of the others true identity, and that only moments ago, they were enjoying a night out together. ‘Hey, Speedy, welcome to the fun!’ Spider-Man calls out. Speedball asks Spider-Man if he has any idea as to what is going on, but Spider-Man replies that he has none whatsoever. ‘Looking to buy a clue, dude’ Speedball jokes as he bounces higher to maintain level with Spider-Man who swings along. ‘I guess you know what that means, don’t you?’ Spider-Man asks. ‘That the two of us are going to dive right into a pool of trouble and get in way over our heads?’ Speedball asks. ‘Got that right’ Spider-Man tells him. ‘Well, let’s go then!’ Speedball shouts.
In Lower Manhattan, Greenwich Village is a place reserved for the eccentrics of the city. People on the fringes of what “normal” society considers acceptable attitudes, beliefs and lifestyles. The village is also home to a minority of one - a practitioner of sorcery at the highest level, known to mankind - the elusive master of the mystic arts, Dr Strange. Meditating in one of his chambers, Stephen Strange tells himself that the energy incursions are growing, and realizes his options are twofold - fight against it - or allow it to carry him away to find it’s source. The blackness seeps into Strange’s sanctum sanctorum, and into his meditation chamber, it envelops the powerful mystic and smothers the flames of the candles in his room, while Strange hopes that he can be a beacon of light to this all encompassing miasma of darkness, before vanishing completely.
At the abandoned factory belonging to the Taylor Foundation, which now serves as the Warriors’ Crash-Pad, Rage a.k.a. Elvin Haliday and Namorita Prentiss are searching for their missing teammate. ‘I was right, Nita!’ Rage exclaims as he sits at a large computer console. ‘Looks like you were, Elvin’ Namorita agrees. ‘Cross-referencing the Avengers data you got with the information our pals at Genetech gave us - and bang! There’s the shot in the arm we needed to help us find Silhouette’ Namorita remarks. Rage explains that the spikes on the graph they are looking at show the increase in activity in the energy signatures put out by the Darkforce. Namorita motions to a spike right after they got back from Trans-Sabal, when Silhouette disappeared. She scrolls the image to a map of Manhattan, displaying the reference points of energy output.
Seeing the energy output levels on screen, Rage is surprised. ‘That’s a whole lot of shaking going down’ he remarks, while Namorita declares that she doesn’t like the look of this. Suddenly, without warning, the blackness spreads into the Crash-Pad. ‘HEY!’ Rage exclaims as he is swept off his feet. He coughs as the blackness engulfs him, and mutters that it tastes like school lunch food dunked in bosco. As he looks around, he sees that Namorita is missing. Rage calls out to her with urgency, only to be punched hard in the face. Rage grabs his mouth and goes wide-eyed, as he looks up. ‘Nita?’ he whispers. He is punched again and again, before eventually passing out. Namorita looms over him, her body as black as the Darkforce that has engulfed the Crash-Pad and the city. ‘That’s enough, fish-lips!’ Nova shouts as he flies into the communications room, knocking Namorita down. She leers up at him, as Nova stands over her and declares that he doesn’t know what is going on here, but that is stops right now, even if it means has to take her out to do it!