No, not the wild and weird part of the Internet that has become the stuff of urban legend nightmares.
In this case, The Dark Web is a comic book crossover bringing together Spidey and Marvel’s merry mutants as they face the combined threat of two former allies turned enemies who both also happen to be clones: Ben Reilly/Chasm, a clone of Peter Parker, and Madelyne Pryor/Goblin Queen, a clone of Jean Grey.
If you’re already scratching your head wondering how Ben Reilly, the former Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man, went from being a hero to a villain known as Chasm, we’re one step ahead of you (and we’ll be sure to give you the TL:DR recap as well).
See, The Dark Web has been building in both the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises for some time, with current Amazing Spider-Man writer Zeb Wells having made the leap from the X-Men title Hellions while sowing the seeds for The Dark Web along the way.
So we’ll break down everything we know, and what you need to know before The Dark Web kicks off in November.
What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web is a crossover between Spider-Man and the X-Men that kicks off in November. Written by Zeb Wells, it’ll consist of a core story in the Amazing Spider-Man title, which will crossover into tie-in titles including limited series, one-shots, and the Venom ongoing title, as well as possibly other ongoing titles .
As for the story of the crossover, it all revolves around Ben Reilly and Madelyne Pryor, two clones who are former allies of Spider-Man and the X-Men, respectively, looking to get revenge for the way their progenitors have treated them.
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Along with Spider-Man and the current X-Men team (consisting of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Sync, Forge, Havok, Magik, Iceman, and Firestar), Peter Parker’s ex Mary Jane Watson will play a role in the story, as well as a brand new villain named Hallow’s Eve, who has some kind of connection to Spider-Man’s demonic enemy the Hobgoblin.
Notice that Iceman and Firestar, who ’80s kids will remember as Spider-Man’s so-called ‘Amazing Friends’ from the classic animated series Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends will appear, meaning there’s a reunion for the cast of the classic cartoon coming .
The full length and scope of the crossover have yet to be announced, but it’ll get a prelude in November 2’s Venom #13, in which Eddie Brock has an encounter with Madelyne Pryor, who may become an unlikely ally. November 23’s Amazing Spider-Man #14 will also serve as a prelude issue, reintroducing Chasm and catching readers up with exactly what he and the Goblin Queen have been busy with.
Then, the event proper will kick off in a one-shot titled The Dark Web Alpha in December, written by Zeb Wells with art by Adam Kubert, and a wraparound cover from Ryan Stegman, seen above, which shows off the story’s core cast.
One other tie-in title has already been announced for The Dark Web, starring Peter Parker’s arch-enemy Norman Osborn taking on the apparently heroic mantle of the Gold Goblin in his own November 2-debuting limited series.
What happens in The Dark Web?
We don’t know much about the specific plot of The Dark Web just yet, but we do know how the plot threads being picked up in the crossover have come together so far – and it’s all about the bad guys.
The villainous team-up between Ben Reilly/Chasm and Madelyne Pryor/Goblin Queen was revealed in Marvel’s Spider-Man/X-Men: Free Comic Book Day 2022 one-shot, which showed the pair observing Spider-Man.
But the roots of their team-up start before that. In Ben Reilly’s case, his transformation into Chasm occurred at the end of the recent ‘Spider-Man Beyond (opens in new tab)‘ story, in which he temporarily replaced Peter Parker as Spider-Man.
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At the end of the story, Ben was engulfed in a kind of matter-altering goo that transformed him into Chasm, imbuing him with new powers that have yet to be fully explored. The transformation also drove him to villainy, with his now-fractured mind focusing on getting revenge on Peter Parker for his perceived mistreatment.
Madelyne Pryor’s history as a villain goes back farther, to the ’80s, when she was introduced as a new love interest for Cyclops of the X-Men when his longtime love Jean Gray was presumed dead.
When Jean returned through the power of the Phoenix Force, Madelyne was revealed as a clone. She became embroiled with demonic magic, taking on the infernal identity of the Goblin Queen in the classic story X-Men: Inferno (opens in new tab) (the ’80s one, not the 2021 title which borrowed its name).
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Madelyne was also presumed dead but returned to life in the finale of the recent Hellions title when she was resurrected through the power of the mutant Resurrection Protocols, which allow any mutant to be brought back to life. Her on-again-off-again relationship with Cyclops’ brother Havok will almost certainly come into play in the story, as Havok is part of the current X-Men roster.
At the same time, Spidey recently had another run-in with the X-Men at their party the Hellfire Gala, where he encountered recently minted X-Men villain Moira MacTaggert, who was mind-controlling Mary Jane Watson’s body.
When Moira escaped the party, it was implied that she murdered MJ, albeit off-page. That story hasn’t come up again, but the follow-up will arrive in Amazing Spider-Man #9, ahead of The Dark Web. Given MJ’s inclusion in The Dark Web Alpha cover art, it’s safe to say there will be some twist in her apparent death to bring her back.
As for the crossover itself, the whole thing kicks off in November with Venom #13’s prelude story. We’ll have more information when Marvel’s full November 2022 solicitations are revealed later in August.
Keep up to date with all the new X-Men comics other new Spider-Man comics planned for release in 2022 and beyond.