Many years ago…
It was Kraven the Hunter, Spider-Man says. He remembers the night Kraven ambushed him, drugged him with a poison-tipped dart, and defeated him in melee combat. It was raining, and the sky was as black as Spider-Man’s costume. He drugged me. Buried me alive. Impersonated me. Made me fight a psychotic killer called Vermin. Then he let me go…and shot himself. The whole thing was some crazy, elaborate suicide plan.
I snuck into his place and searched it. It felt kind of sleazy, going through a dead guy’s stuff, but I had no choice. Kraven had seen my face, he could’ve known my name, where I live…everything. If he’d left records, I had to destroy them.
I didn’t find anything personal about me. But I did find something…
“…about you,” Spider-Man says to the X-Men – Wolverine, Dazzler, Rogue, and Storm – while leaning in their kitchen window. “Well, the original X-Men, actually.” He asks Storm if any of them are still around. Dazzler and Rogue both stare at their visitor, expressionless. Wolverine, meanwhile, leans over a kitchen counter and hangs his head in frustration.
Answering Spider-Man’s question, Storm and tells him the original X-Men are otherwise occupied, and frankly, so are the members of the current team. Wolverine explains why. A group of nut-jobs called the Marauders just declared war on mutants, and have already put a lot of folks in the infirmary…and even more in the ground. Between healing their sick, burying their dead, and nailing the scum who perpetuated this mutant massacre, the X-Men have their hands full, Wolverine says. He advises Spider-Man to say what he needs to say and let them get back to their work.
“Hey, I’ve got things I’d rather be doing too, Wolverine. And people with better hair to do them with.” Cutting to the chase, he tells Storm, Wolverine, Rogue and Dazzler that, several years ago, he teamed up with the original X-Men and fought Kraven and the Blob. At the time, he thought nothing of the encounter; it just seemed like a case of good guys fighting bad guys. As it turns out, however, Kraven kept detailed files on all of his prey, and the one about the X-Men contains some startling information.
The black-suited Spider-Man, now crouched on the X-Men’s kitchen counter, holds up the thick file in his hand. Alison Blaire comments on how big it is and asks for the condensed version. Somewhat annoyed at her impatience, Spider-Man informs them that although he and the X-Men seemed to win that battle years ago, according to this file, it turns out Kraven got exactly what he wanted. He collected DNA samples from each of the original X-Men – Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Marvel Girl – and delivered them to his employer.
Rogue, directing him to the door, thanks Spider-Man for the info and promises to tell Cyclops and the others. For now, she and her teammates need to get back to stuff that happened after the discovery of electricity. “Fine, Rogue, I can take a hint,” Spider-Man says. “Tell Cyclops to look me up if he needs help with this Sinister guy.”
Wolverine suddenly perks up and puts his arm in the way of the exit. What did he just say? he asks. “That’s what Kraven calls the man who hired him – ‘Mr. Sinister’,” Spider-Man says. The X-Men look at him but say nothing. Their silence, however, speaks volumes. “I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess you’ve heard of him.” Wolverine informs him that ‘Mr. Sinister’ is the name the Marauders use when referring to their boss. Because he doubts it’s a common name, Wolverine figures Spider-Man and the X-Men may be fighting the same battle without realizing it.
While examining the file, Dazzler notices that Kraven wrote down the location where he met with Mr. Sinister. The X-Men decide to investigate. After apologizing for trying to give Spider-Man the bum’s rush, Wolverine asks if he feels like tagging along. “Are you kidding? I just spent two weeks getting shot, buried alive, and crawling through sewers,” Spider-Man answers. “You bet your adamantium tuchus I feel like it.”
Soon, in Manhattan…
Spider-Man and the X-Men ransack Mr. Sinister and Kraven’s old meeting place, but find absolutely nothing of interest. The place must have been thoroughly cleaned out long ago. Storm asks Wolverine if he detects any useful scents. Although he has a hard time smelling anything over the overwhelming odor of various chemicals and antiseptics, Wolverine does detect a hint of Sabretooth’s familiar smell. He tracks the source to a small access hatch in the floor. After he slices it open, Spider-Man cautiously asks if they might want to call for the rest of the X-Men before they investigate any further. “This is the full team, honey,” Rogue says. “Everyone who’s home and fit to fight.” As Wolverine, Storm and Dazzler descend into the hatch, Rogue asks Spider-Man if he still wants to come. He sighs; he has seen enough of sewers lately to last a lifetime. Why don’t bad guys ever hide out in Hawaii? he asks.
Upon examining their surroundings, Storm realizes they are in no ordinary sewer. They are in fact in one of the Morlock tunnel. “The whozy-whatsis?” Spider-Man asks. Rogue explains who the Morlocks are, and reiterates the tragedy that befell them recently at the hands of the Marauders. Wolverine now understands why the Marauders had such an easy time with their prey; they were apparently already familiar with the area. Storm, commenting on the unfamiliarity of this section of the tunnels, admits she never once saw this place during her time as leader of the Morlocks.
The X-Men examine the eerie tunnel with suspicion. Wolverine suddenly picks up a familiar scent in the air. Is it Sabretooth, Storm asks? Not quite, Wolverine says. He smells Sabretooth, but he also smells something else – something he can’t quite peg.
The unfamiliar smells turn out to be those of the rest of the Marauders, who burst in on the X-Men greet them menacingly. “Let me guess…them’s the Marauders?” Spider-Man asks. Rogue tells him he got it in one try. Arclight, meanwhile, jokes about the persistence of the X-Men. If she didn’t know any better, she would think they were after something. Logan unsheathes his claws. They’re after something all right: the heads of the Marauders! Spider-Man and the X-Men leap into battle.
Wolverine heads right for Sabretooth. Spider-Man targets Scalphunter and incapacitates his hunting rifle with a shot of adhesive webbing. Storm, meanwhile, marks up with Scrambler takes a flying kick at his chin. Rogue focuses on dodging Harpoon’s projectile energy weapons, while Dazzler tries to neutralize the Marauders’ two heavy-hitting women – Vertigo and Arclight – with bursts of light.
Not amused, Arclight claps her hands together, unleashing a shockwave that repels all the opposing heroes save Wolverine. Vertigo then steps in and hits them with her waves of disorientation. The vortices of swirling energy disrupt the internal equilibriums of Spider-Man, Dazzler, Rogue, and Storm, all of whom quickly grow nauseous. Spider-Man tells the ladies not to worry; between his spider-sense and fighting Mysterio every other Thursday, this is just a day at the office for him. He fires some webbing at Vertigo and succeeds blinding her. With her off-guard, Rogue surges forth and kicks her in the stomach, removing her from the fight. Spider-Man takes Rogue’s cue and fires another shot of webbing at Arclight’s hands in order to prevent her from creating any more shockwaves.
Spider-Man turns to Storm and kindly asks her to whip up a quick hurricane to clear out the tunnel before someone gets hurt. Storm would do so if she hadn’t lost her powers. Spider-Man pauses for a second; does she mean she lost them as in totally lost them? Somewhat defensively, Storm informs him she can still handle herself. Besides, having no powers comes with certain advantages. She charges at Scrambler. Normally he can turn off superhuman abilities with a touch, thereby removing the most powerful players from the battle. Against the powerless Storm, however, Scrambler’s ability is useless. She dodges his punch and counters with a devastating crack to his jaw.
Arclight, her hands still bound together, sneers at the X-Men and calls them arrogant punks. She claims her power is in no way confined to her hands. She stomps on the ground, sending a shockwave that scatters the four heroes. Rogue takes flight and charges toward Arclight with her arms outstretched. Unless Arclight can channel her power through her jaw, she can say goodnight, Rogue declares! However, Harpoon hits her with one of his trademark throwing weapons and electrifies her. Rogue falls to the ground. Arclight laughs.
After finally getting her hands free, Arclight levels the three X-Women with blast after blast of compressed, sonic energy. Behind her, Scalphunter finally finishes assembling a new gun from the various parts hanging from his uniform. He aims his new weapon at Dazzler, Storm and Rogue, all of whom lie helpless on the ground, and tells them their time is up.
Sabretooth suddenly crashes into the wall only a meter away from Scalphunter. The marksman turns his attention to the two people fighting Sabretooth, Wolverine and Spider-Man, the latter of whom declares Scalphunter his next target. Sabretooth emerges from the rubble and tells his opponents that if they want to take a shot at his partners, they will need to go through him first. “Okay,” Wolverine says. He lunges at Sabretooth, claws extended, and punches a hole right through his torso. With his claw through the Marauder’s stomach, Wolverine takes a swipe at Scalphunter and effectively destroys his newly made gun…as well as the upper portion of his arm. Scalphunter screams. Sabretooth merely smiles. This, he says, is what he calls a brawl.
Sabretooth bites down on the immobile Wolverine’s neck while Spider-Man watches in disgust. “Okay, seriously – you people are crazy,” he says. Nearby, Arclight checks on Scalphunter’s wounds, but he insists he will be fine. His body can regenerate, after all. Instead, he asks her to focus her attention on the X-Men. Arclight, Scalphunter, and Harpoon turn and face the three X-Women and Spider-Man, all of whom they have cornered. “Hey, what am I, invisible?” Spider-Man asks, referring to their omission of his name. No, Harpoon tells him; he’s dead. He hurls an energy harpoon at the four heroes. Unexpectedly, Dazzler deflects it with a solid-light shield.
While Wolverine and Sabretooth continue their no-holds-barred brawl, Spider-Man and the X-Men close in on the remaining Marauders. Scalphunter realizes his team is quickly losing. He instructs Arclight to “give them what they’re after”. Is he sure, she asks? What about Sabretooth? Scalphunter insists Sabretooth will be just fine and orders her to do her thing! Without any further hesitation, Arclight slaps the palms of her hands together, this time harder than before, and creates a massive shockwave that not only repels the X-Men, but rips open a gaping hole in the tunnel floor.
Dazzler, Rogue, Storm, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Sabretooth all tumble into the chasm – along with tons of debris – and wind up in a hidden laboratory. Wolverine ceases fighting. His nose detects several familiar scents that he now realizes he smelled much earlier. “By the Bright Lady,” Storm says as she glimpses the horrors around her. In various glass containment chambers scattered around the room, horribly deformed human beings hang in suspension, contorted, abandoned, and clearly mistreated. Devastatingly, Spider-Man recognizes all of the subjects: they are the original X-Men. Not quite, Logan says. These are clones of the original X-Men, but they are in some ways different. That’s why their smell was unfamiliar. Knowing this makes the sight no easier to bear, Storm says, shielding her eyes. Likewise, Dazzler looks away. Sinister just left them here like lab rats, she says. When he didn’t need them anymore, he just abandoned them. She feels sick.
Up above, Arclight, Scalphunter, and Harpoon peer into the hole and summon Sabretooth. Begrudgingly, he scales the walls of the chasm, hating to leave just as the battle gets good. “Be seeing you, runt,” he says to Wolverine. “You know this doesn’t end ‘til one of us is dead.” Perhaps, Harpoon says, that day is today. He rears back and hurls a hyper-charged energy harpoon into the hole. Spider-Man watches as it sails toward the lab’s power supply. After telling the X-Men to get down, he quickly whips up a protective cocoon of webbing, which thankfully spares them from the resulting explosion.
Moments later, amidst the smoke and flame, the X-Men emerge from their protective shell and retreat. Rogue notices the Marauders seem to have left, but Wolverine doubts they have seen the last of them. Spider-Man’s mind keeps returning to the atrocities he saw in the lab. “What kind of nut is this Sinister guy?” he asks.
“The worst kind, it appears,” Storm answers. “One whose genius is the equal of his madness.” At least they know what he did with the DNA he obtained via Kraven, Spider-Man says. He wonders if any of the clones are still alive. “If they were, Spider-Man, I daresay the explosion was a mercy.”
“It just gives me the heebie-jeebies,” Spider-Man now says to the X-Men. “Can you imagine a clone of yourself running around loose? I mean, how freaky is that?” Wolverine tells his teammates they need to take their fight to directly to this Mr. Sinister as soon as they can. It’s been far too long already. Storm tells him not to worry; the way things are going, she wagers they will have their chance quite soon.
On a stormy night, Mr. Sinister steps on the grave of Sergei Kravinoff, the man known as Kraven the Hunter. Sinister tells his old ally he heard of his recent suicide, but admits he does not understand it at all. How could one tire of life when there is so much to do?
More importantly, how could one tire of life when there are so many plans to see to fruition? Perhaps that informed Kraven’s decision, he says. Perhaps Kraven took comfort in the knowledge that, thanks to Sinister, a part of him would live on forever. He tells Kraven to rest well, and know that his legacy is in good hands.