BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO

Two parents, David and Brittney Sierra, ran down an alleyway trying to flee with their kids. David carried his five-year-old son David Jr. on his back while Brittney held her newborn son Jerome in her arms. The fear in their eyes told all you needed to know. They were running from something terrifying. Together they kept running until they hit a dead end. David Sr. grunted when he reached the wall and looked back to see their pursuer. At the other end of the alleyway stood a woman with gray skin, pointed ears, and glowing yellow eyes. This woman was an elf, an intimidating one at that.

In one hand she held a bow and the other she used to draw an arrow from her quiver. This villainous character was ready to kill her prey and David wasn’t about to have that. He let his son down from his back and passed him off to his wife in preparation to cause a distraction. David wasn’t physically fit to go toe-to-toe with this woman who had an athletic build that was very noticeable based on her outlandish outfit.

“Britt, get them out of here.” He told his wife as he got ready to fight. “I’ll hold her off the best I can.”

Before he could move she already fired the arrow letting the swooshing sound echo through the alley, followed by the sound of metal clashing. David turned away to protect his family but when he realized nothing had happened he turned back to see why the arrow never came. Between them stood another woman wearing a black leather outfit with a giant red spider over her torso and a long black leather coat. In her right hand she held the arrow.

“Who are you?” asked David.

“You can call me Araña,” the woman responded. “I will deal with this Wasp lackey. Get your children out of here.”

“You will deal with me?” growled the elf-woman. “You will regret those words Spider Witch.”

Eighteen years before Anya Corazon there was another Araña, her mother Sofia Corazon. She at the time was the leader of the Spider Society and was partners with Miguel Legar. The dark elf was known as Apocrita, a member of the Sisterhood of the Wasp. Her reason for hunting down the Sierra family was uncertain but with the original Araña on scene they were in good hands.

A beam of orange light shot into the sky attracting the attention of everyone involved. Araña gritted her teeth fully aware of what this meant while Apocrita laughed. The dark elf seized the opportunity to attack her enemy but came up short when Araña kneed her in the gut hard enough to fly back out to the street.

“It matters not witch!” spat Apocrita. “Lord Hechicero is accomplishing his goals as we speak! The Wasp Hunter shall be ours once more!”

Four blue appendages came from the back of Araña’s coat lifting her off the ground. The new limbs allowed her to hurl herself at her old enemy. Apocrita however had other things in mind and swiftly vanished. The Sierras watched on in shock over what had transpired.

“David, what is this?” asked Brittney. “Who are these people?”

“People my parents abandoned Panama to get away from,” he replied. “And now they’re here. Honey, let’s leave while we can.”

Araña watched them run off and then turned her attention back to the pillar of orange light that represented the summoning of the Sisterhood of the Wasp’s Hunter.


EMPIRE STATE
Part IV: Never Trust A Goblin
Written by:
JUSTIN SANTOS


BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – MONTHS AGO

Over the eighteen years that passed from those events David and Brittney Sierra were never again bothered by a member of any Insect Kingdom group. David was born in Panama, another Spanish country that had experienced its fair share of the conflict between the insect groups that dated back to Spain in the eleventh century. His parents sneaked into the United States and eventually wound up in New York. David would meet Brittney in college. She came from an African-American family that had a long history in the United States.

Sometime after they married they had their first son David Jr. and five years later Jerome, who would nickname himself Rome. That wasn’t it for their little family in Brooklyn. Two years later after the birth of Rome they had a daughter they named Caitlyn.

It was another day in the Sierra household. Brittney cooked her children breakfast. The oldest, David Jr., had already moved out to his own apartment and was attending medical school. Despite his busy schedule he still found time to come get some of his mother’s home cooking. Rome was in his senior year at Milton Summers High School like a certain web-slinging superhero, Anya Corazon. Caitlyn also went to the same school and was in her sophomore year.

“All right kids, looks like we’re eating without dad again,” said Brittney. “You’ll have to forgive him. You know how busy he gets with his work.”

While she placed plates in front of her children, Rome watched a video on his phone that caught her attention. The video was of an unusually massive figure that was essentially a black blob with eight limbs terrorizing students in front of Milton Summers High. In front of the black mass was a police car where present day Araña landed and looked up.

“¡Ay, qüey!” yelled Araña on the video. “Now that is a face only a mother could love.*”

*Araña: Heart of the Spider #1 throwback—Justin.

“Rome, let’s not watch that at the table,” requested his mother. “What happened at your school was terrible. Luckily nobody was hurt too badly from that attack.”

“It’s the talk of the school, ma.” Rome shut the screen off his phone. “And that Araña girl, they think she’s a student.”

“Araña?” The name sparked Brittney’s interest. “Was that the name of the one on the police car with the unusual taste in a superhero costume?”

Brittney remembered that it was a woman who called herself Araña that saved her family. The thought that the Araña in the video could potentially be a student made her wonder what the connection was between the two. Even with their identities masked it was clear that there was some resemblance. She decided to let it go and focus back on her children.

“Rome, how are your friends?” she asked him. “I haven’t seen any of them lately.”

Rome took a bite of his breakfast before answering, “Yeah, they’ve all been busy. Emi. Lynn. Rocky. They’ve all been doing their own thing, working on their plans for after they graduate. Anya, though. I hear her time has been spent lately with a new boyfriend.”

“Define new,” remarked Caitlyn. “I’ve never seen her with a boyfriend. I was actually starting to wonder about her.”

“Caitlyn!” Brittney was astounded by what her daughter had said. “Don’t talk about people like that. And if she was, you have no right to judge her or anyone else for the way they choose to live their lives. David, how are your classes going?”

“They’re going good,” he answered. “Speaking of, I need to hurry up before I’m late.”

David Jr. quickly finished up his breakfast and kissed his mother on the cheek goodbye. Rome and Caitlyn finished their breakfast and talked with their mother a little bit more before heading out themselves. In another part of the house David Sr. sat behind his desk with his hands over his head. The contents of the paperwork before him appeared to be a complex project. Without explanation one wouldn’t know what this paperwork was for but the title would help give a possible idea. The first word was covered by David Sr.’s elbow but the second being ‘serum’ could be seen clearly.

Rome walked down the street which was his usual path to school. He walked a couple of blocks before he stopped at a crosswalk. He waited for the light to change and looked around. He noticed across the street a young woman in some ragged clothing was pocketing some food from outside a shop. He wasn’t sure what he should do. Should he speak up to get someone’s attention? Should he just leave it alone considering the sorry state the girl was in?

THWIP!

The sound of webbing being shot above in the Brooklyn skyline echoed startling the young woman causing her to drop the food she was trying to steal. Rome looked up and saw Araña web-swinging after another woman wearing a black and purple costume with four clear wings that allowed her to out fly the web-slinger.

“Where you going Beetle?” asked Araña. “Was it something I said?”

They continued going down the street as Rome snickered at how he thought Araña’s personality seemed quite like Spider-Man’s. He then remembered the girl who was stealing. She was gone. He looked around. She was nowhere to be seen. The crosswalk light turned green. He just shrugged his shoulders and continued on to school.

UNKNOWN LABORATORY

David Sr. was working in his lab. He appeared to be nervous and rushed through his work. He turned around to grab a test tube from a counter behind him. The door to his lab was kicked open startling him. The one bursting into the lab was the Crime-Master. David backed into a corner. The Crime-Master moved in on him.

“You remember what he said?” he questioned David. “He said if you didn’t have what he wanted by this time today he would kill your family. It looks like to me that you’re still working.”

“No, no, look I got what you wanted,” claimed David Sr. “It’s completed, just not tested.”

“Not tested. Well let’s setup a test shall we? We’ll need a specimen for this and I have one in mind.”

MILTON SUMMERS HIGH SCHOOL

Rome walked down the school hallway. As he passed a number of girls cheerfully greeted him with smiles. He smiled in turn. After them he walked up to another student. Rome put a hand on his shoulder.

“Bro, you’re looking happier than usual,” said Rome.

“Wouldn’t you be happy you if the guy who picked on you didn’t show up for school?” said the student. “Trent always gives me a hard time just before school starts. It’s a nice change to be able to walk to class not having to worry about him.”

“I feel ya,” smiled Rome.

Rome was a popular kid at school. However he wasn’t the type to shun others because of their differences. He continued down the hallway when he saw someone who caught his eye. It was Jessica Garcia. He had seen her once or twice before and was captivated by her appearance. He tried to approach her before but distractions got in his way. He was gonna attempt to talk to her again. He walked up to her as she went through her locker. Before he could reach her, other students surrounded him. It would seem his popularity was working against him.

Later on the football field, Rome was out on the field for practice. He worked out some drills with his teammates before they called it a day. Everyone talked a bit before they all said their goodbyes. Rome grabbed a towel and wiped his forehead. When he was done he noticed someone sitting in the bleachers. It was Jessica. He looked around to see if anyone was around to get in his way. The rest of the team was heading to the locker room. He saw this as his opportunity.

He walked up the bleachers and greeted her, “Hey, how’s it going? My name is . . .”

“Jerome Sierra,” she cut him off. “Everyone knows who you are.”

“Okay, yeah,” he smiled. “I do try my best to talk to everyone. So, what are you doing up here by yourself?”

“I had nothing better do since my older brother took off with his girlfriend,” she answered. “And I wasn’t ready to go home just yet. It’s hard to read with my little sister always causing some kind of commotion. I thought I’d just read here for a while.”

“Well, I know some better places for just hanging out. I could show you. Coincidentally, I have an older brother and little sister too. I know what it’s like.”

“Look I appreciate the offer.” Jessica stood up and put her book in her bag. “But I’d rather be by myself.”

“Oh, well maybe another time?” Rome seemed let down.

“I gotta go.” She left without looking back.

SIERRA HOUSEHOLD

Rome went up to his bedroom without looking to see if anyone else was home. He couldn’t help but think about how he got shot down. This was the first time a girl turned him down. Usually girls jumped at the offer to go out. The fact that she didn’t give him a second thought made him think. She clearly had a strong head on her shoulders. He never did find a girl he was really interested in from the ones that followed him at school.

“I bet she’s the independent type,” he said to himself. “That’s the type of girl I want to be with.”

After thinking some more he headed downstairs to see who was home. To his surprise he found the downstairs to be trashed.

“Mom?” he called out. “Dad? Caitlyn?”

He looked around. He found no one in the living room or in the den. He even found the kitchen a complete mess. He walked back out and found someone sitting on the living room couch. It was the Crime-Master.

“Who are you and where is my family?” asked Rome.

“They’re somewhere safe for now,” replied the Crime-Master. “How safe they stay is depending on you. My boss has a task for you. Oh and before you try something funny, we have your older brother too. Picked him up at that fancy medical school of his.”

“Release them now!” demanded Rome posing in a fighting stance.

The Crime-Master was unfazed. “Or what?”

Rome threw a punch that the Crime-Master caught easily. With a tight grip he threw Rome across the room making him crash into a shelf that collapsed on him. Crime-Master grabbed the motionless Rome.

“Don’t . . . do this,” muttered Rome.

“It’s time for you to serve the Jackal.” The Crime-Master handed Rome off to some of his men and they carried him out.

THE GOBLIN’S HIDEOUT – ONE HOUR AGO

The Goblin was in a vacated building he had been operating out of. He was working on some weapons that he stored in his glider. On the table next to him were an array of bombs, razor bats, and other gadgets. As he worked he thought back to his argument with Lucas. He couldn’t blame him for being as mad as he was. His own family was in trouble and now he was mixing Lucas’s sister into it. He closed his eyes and thought hard what he should do to fix things. It was then he heard the sound of someone opening a door. He jumped up and grabbed his ionic sword to defend himself.

First stepped in the Crime-Master who was followed by the Jackal. “I told you he’d be here.”

“Boy, it seems you’ve been causing more than the Kingpin problems,” said the Jackal. “Might I remind you who you work for? It is I who controls the fate of your family. I said as long as you do as I say they live. But no you went and attacked my people.”

“I can’t do this no more!” yelled the Goblin ready to strike.

“Be smart kid,” suggested Crime-Master.

The Jackal walked in front of the Crime-Master with his arms crossed behind his back. He walked around to examine the Goblin’s setup intrigued by how he was able to keep himself supplied with weaponry despite having no one backing him.

“This is your last chance,” said the Jackal. “And I’m feeling generous on this one. Do what I want and I’ll let your family go. I’ll never bother you or them again. All you have to do is kill Avispa and bring me Araña. Do you think you can do that?”

BROOKLYN BRIDGE – NOW

The Goblin stood above the bridge looking upon traffic as he reflected over past events. After the Crime-Master took him from his home, Rome was taken to one of the Jackal’s laboratories where his own father’s Goblin Serum was used on him. Rome was told if he didn’t do what the Jackal expected of him his family would die. He was sent on mission that resulted in him kidnapping teenagers. One of which was the homeless girl he had seen steal food before his transformation into the Goblin. Her name was Danielle Blunt.

The Jackal experimented on her. He tampered with her memories making her believe her name was Allison Dillon and that her father was the criminal known as Electro. He even gave her powers very similar to Electro. Another he kidnapped was Madison Wickham, who the Jackal made believe she was the daughter of Hydro-Man.

“Any day now,” called the Crime-Master over the Goblin’s communicator. “There’s only one way you’re gonna lure them here. It’s been reported that they’re in the area this will get their attention.”

“Damn,” muttered Goblin.

He began doing as the Jackal planned. His glider popped out four pumpkin bombs which he caught. After quietly apologizing to a higher power, he dropped them on the bridge. The bombs caught the unsuspecting commuters by surprise and immediately led all driving lanes into chaos. One car spun out of control. The passengers screamed for their lives as they neared the edge of the bridge. They closed their eyes thinking this was it.

THWIP!

They opened their eyes. The hood of their car was covered in webbing and in front was Avispa trying to keep the car from going off the bridge. Araña was pulling on her webbing to help Avispa. Somewhere out of the line of danger the Crime-Master looked on.

“So predictable,” he said.

More pumpkin bombs came falling. Araña leapt down to the bridge and webbed a net that caught all the bombs. They exploded tearing the web net but it was sufficient enough to prevent anyone harm.

“All right Gobby!” exclaimed Araña. “It ends here!”

Araña and Avispa stood side-by-side as they looked on at the Goblin who hovered above. Neither made a move. Traffic finally came to a halt and police sirens can be heard from both Brooklyn and Manhattan. The two heroes looked at each other.

“Anya, you’re worn out,” said Avispa. “I’ll take care of him.”

“Excuse me, you were shot!” she scolded him. “You’re in no better condition than I am.”

“Let me stop you there,” said the Crime-Master finally showing himself to the heroes. “As much as I’d like to see you two argue I have a tight schedule that I must keep to. I’ll settle the situation for you. Spider-Girl gets the Goblin, while Wasp-Boy will deal with us.”

The Crime-Master’s gang joined him. Araña looked up to the Goblin and then back at the gang. She didn’t like where this was going. Especially since they were gonna use numbers against Avispa.

“Are you crazy?” asked Araña. “The police will be here at any moment.”

“No, worries,” laughed the Crime-Master. “They won’t be able to breach the barriers we put up at each end.”

“Barrier?” Araña looked back and saw nothing.

“He using that magic user again,” said Avispa. “That guy named Misterioso they used to trap us with the homicidal spider. It looks like we didn’t put him down for long. We’re gonna have to play his little game for now.”

“But Lucas . . .” Araña showed she was concerned.

“Go fight the Goblin,” Avispa motioned for her to go up. “I’ll be able to take these clowns.”

She was reluctant to leave him outnumbered, but she could tell how determined he was to take on the Crime-Master and his gang. Looking up she saw the Goblin waiting for someone to make a move. It was said that he was responsible for putting her father in the hospital. She had been in this situation before. Her mother was killed in Mexico in a house fire that was widely believed to have been set up by a drug lord named Felix Jade. She remembered what she had done when confronting him. This time she knew she had to control her emotions when going into fight.

“Araña, go!” yelled Avispa as he pulled a rod the size of his hand out of one of the pouches on his belt.

With a light squeeze the rod popped out into the form of a staff. He twirled it in front of him with it stopping behind his back. Then he put his free arm in front of him taunting them to come get some. Araña saw that there was no stopping him. She shot a strand of webbing up. Tugging it launched her upward. She came in with a flying punch that the Goblin evasively dodged.

“I’m sorry it has to go this way,” said the Goblin. “But I have no choice.”

“No choice!?” yelled Araña. “Did my father have a choice when you put him on his death bed!?”

“What?” he questioned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Araña’s eyes began to shine brightly through her goggles as she gritted her teeth. The blue light matched colors with the exoskeleton that began to wrap around her body. It was rare that she started in her hunter mode but her anger overtook her.

“I know it was you!” she yelled with an ominous tone in her voice.

Down below Avispa looked up surprised to see Araña already armored up. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but he knew she only used her blue exoskeleton when she really needed it. The Crime-Master enjoyed the sight a little too much. He then looked over to Avispa whose attention was divided. In his hand he held a container which he lifted to regain the young hero’s attention.

“You know the Jackal has had dealings with many different people,” said the Crime-Master. “Gangsters, scientists, magicians, the list goes on. There’s one group of people you may remember, not too fondly I might add. They left one of the Jackal’s hideouts a little abruptly and left behind some of their stuff. May be you’ll remember this.”

The container popped open and in it were tarantulas. Avispa did remember exactly where they were from. It was from the first time he and Araña fought together. The Cult of the Tarantula used these to control people and make them their personal foot soldiers known as Tarantula Drones. The Crime-Master threw the contents of the container at his gang. The tarantulas instantly merged with them, powering them up.

“Of course . . .” sighed Avispa.

The Goblin threw a pumpkin bomb at Araña which she swatted away with her armored arm. The bomb exploded a short distance away in the sky. Araña shot webbing hitting him in the chest. She pulled him. He popped his retractable forearm blades and held his left arm in front of him to pin her. It didn’t work out as she kicked him in side sending falling back on the tower.

“You got it all wrong if you think I’m responsible for your father’s condition,” claimed the Goblin. “Whatever the situation is the Jackal wants you. I have to bring you in.”

The Goblin pressed a button on his wrist and a cable shot out of his glider at Araña. Jumping high into the air she flipped forward and dropkicked him. He crashed down on the tower and quickly got up to retaliate. He threw another orange sphere designed like a pumpkin, only this one wasn’t a bomb. Razor bats flew out slashing at Araña’s exoskeleton.

Avispa counted the number of tarantula fueled gangsters as the Cult’s markings appeared on their bodies. He had been training for this moment. The numbers game never worked in his favor. It was thought best for him to take to the offensive first. He charged forward twirling his staff around while spinning his body with it. The tarantulas gave the gangster drones some added knowledge in the ways of martial arts, making it easy for them to maneuver out of harm’s way. Avispa nailed one with a downward strike.

Next Avispa tried for a leg sweep with the staff. The drone jumped up and came down with a strike of his own, knocking Avispa back a step. Another kicked him in the chest causing him to go flying back. While in the air Avispa pulled out three kunai and lit them on fire. He threw them all at once successfully only hitting one drone.

Araña took to firing impact webbing at the Goblin. He quickly pulled out his ionic sword and swung it around to deflect each ball. Then he moved in with it. Araña blocked the first strike attempt and leaned far back when he spun around for another slash. When he came back around she blocked his arm with her elbow and struck his arm with a hammer fist. His arm went down and came back up only to be blocked again. He then spun himself around again with the blade pointed from his side. Araña flipped sideways landing behind him kneeling on one leg. She looked down noticing a pumpkin bomb had been dropped in front of her. She jumped back in time to get out of the way.

Kicking his staff back up, Avispa went into a sort of helicopter-like spin eventually nailing a drone in the face. Two more drones used their new powers and shot webbing off their own form at each end of his staff. Together they pulled the staff out of his hands. It swung back and forth a couple times before Avispa flipped forward and stepped on the staff making both drones crash headfirst into one another. He then twisted backwards and threw shuriken to his sides taking down two drones. Another drone surprised him hitting him in his bad arm.

“Ahh, damn it!” he yelled.

The drone smiled only to get blasted with a flame burst. The rest of the drones all pounced at him at once. He flew up. While in the air he inhaled deeply, unleashing the breath he fired a flamethrower-like attack that engulfed all of them.

Both Araña and the Goblin took a step back. She popped her stinger while he called for another gadget. He remembered how he stopped Avispa while in this form. The next pumpkin sphere was thrown popping open to reveal the ghost device that wrapped itself around Avispa. Araña sliced through the object that was supposed to be as strong as steel like it was a sheet of aluminum foil. She struck with her stinger but it was intercepted by his sword. Electricity sparked off both.

“You’re mad at the wrong person,” stated the Goblin.

“You’re lying!” she exclaimed. “The police identified you!”

Below the Crime-Master looked up at the floating Avispa, “It’s amazing what a little planning behind the scenes does. Your little girlfriend thinks he’s responsible for the state her father’s in. But she couldn’t be more wrong. The Goblin tried to ambush me. It was as predictable as you two showing up here. I made it look like he shot him. In reality I’m the one who shot Gilberto Corazon.”

“So it was you!?” Avispa cocked both his arms back as flames shot out his entire body. “I’m tired of your evil schemes!”

Avispa flew in with a fire punch that was easily caught by the Crime-Master. The masked villain was unexpectedly strong. He hurled Avispa over the heads of his gang. Avispa was unable to stop himself from slamming into the bridge deck. He landed on the wrong arm, reopening his wound. He winced in pain as blood seeped into the sleeve of his costume. The gangsters were free of the tarantulas and unharmed thanks to their powers. Knowing they wouldn’t be safe the next time they fought with Avispa they all pulled their guns on him.

Araña and Goblin fought to a stalemate. Sparks flew everywhere as stinger and sword clashed. The Goblin’s glider reappeared and fired a missile at Araña. Her spider sense warned her. She did a backwards cartwheel dropping off the tower. She clung to the side of it and looked back to watch the missile fly by and explode into the East River. She crawled back up to see the Goblin sheathing his sword.

“Is this how you want this to go?” asked the Goblin. “I know what happened the last time. His name was Felix Jade wasn’t it?”

“Who told you about that?” she demanded to know.

“Someone told you he killed your mother,” the Goblin continued. “So in an act of revenge you drove a car the two of you were in off a cliff. It is believed he survived but in the end what really matters is that you tried to kill someone. And now you’re going after me because someone told you I hurt your father. What makes what I’m doing any worse?”

Araña’s exoskeleton retracted. “I made a terrible mistake. This time is gonna be different. I’m taking you down and you’ll pay for what you did in jail.”

“Yeah, but to do that you’d have to stop me. You have no chance in doing that. And if you think Lucas can help you maybe you should take a look down there. The situation isn’t looking too good for him.”

Looking down she saw Avispa staring down several guns pointed his way. The Crime-Master let off a little chuckle before making the order to kill. Avispa heard the clicks of their guns but he also heard something else.

THWIP!

The Crimson Spider landed in front of him with Estrella in hand. She quickly put up a barrier, something she recently just learned to do thanks to training with Miguel. The barrier was strong enough for her to protect her brother. While he kneeled down flames began twisting in his right hand down his arm. While Araña watched the Goblin charged his gloves hoping to catch her off guard. To his surprise she was aware of this. She shot a strand of webbing at his chest and swung him off the tower.

The Crime-Master watched the Goblin coming down with electricity surging off his gloves and then Avispa flying up with a blazing right arm. The two separate attacks collided causing a massive explosion. The force of the blast sent everyone soaring. Estrella hit her head, knocking herself unconscious. The Crimson Spider recollected himself and went to check on her. She wasn’t responding to him. He looked over to see the gang picking themselves up and moving closer to the Crime-Master. Misterioso appeared and teleported them out. Finally he looked up to see a black cloud in the sky with flames and electricity coming out of it. Araña looked down concerned about Avispa’s fate.

The result of this last strike showed itself as the Goblin fell from the cloud hitting the bridge. The cloud cleared revealing Avispa to be fine. He floated up to Araña. She jumped to him wrapping her arms around him relieved. Together they flew down to the bridge. Araña walked over to the Goblin to check on him. Avispa turned slightly noticing Estrella was knocked out. He rushed to her accidentally bumping into the Crimson Spider.

“Jeez, dude chill out she’s fine,” said a disgruntled Crimson Spider. “She just took a bump to the head.”

“Lucas, the police are coming,” called Araña. “Let’s leave Gobby for them and get out of here.”

“Anya, he didn’t do it,” replied Avispa. “It was the Crime-Master. That nut job was the one who shot your dad.”

The Crimson Spider looked at the Goblin. “We found his family. Estrella got me to help look for them. We needed more help to break them out so we came looking for you.”

“We need to hurry up,” said Avispa. “Grab him and let’s get the hell out of here.”

Avispa picked up his sister and flew off. Moments later, Estrella woke up to find herself being carried on her brother’s back. She smiled and pressed her head into his back. They were now on a building in Manhattan. The Crimson Spider placed the Goblin against a wall.

“Your boyfriend’s here,” joked Avispa to Estrella. “Do you want to check on him?”

“What?” she blushed and squirmed in her brother’s arms. “He’s . . . he’s not my boyfriend.”

“You could have fooled me,” Avispa shook his head.

Estrella got down from her brother’s back and walked over to the Goblin. Avispa went to Araña and hugged her.

“And I got nobody . . .” sighed the Crimson Spider.

“Are you all right?” asked Estrella.

The Goblin leaned his head back against the wall. “Your brother did a number on me, but I’ll be fine.”

He saw Estrella smile at him. Then he looked over to see Araña and Avispa hugging. His attention went back to Estrella who was checking him to make sure he was unharmed.

“I found your family.” Estrella continued to examine him. “They’re being held in an unmarked building. We’re gonna all go and free them together. So pull yourself together.”

“After everything I’ve done you’re still gonna help me?” he asked.

The Goblin didn’t know how else to respond. He couldn’t believe after what he had just done these people would still be willing to help him. Then there was that feeling he was starting to experience when looking at Estrella. Was this the same thing he saw between Araña and Avispa? He looked over to them again as they shared a kiss before jumping off the building holding hands.

“Alex, supposedly that’s the Crimson Spider’s name, is leading Anya and Lucas to their location right now,” explained Estrella. “If you’re in bad shape you can wait here while I help bust your family out.”

“No, no.” He got up and grabbed her hand. “I’ll be fine. Baby girl, I’m coming with you.”