Issue # 0: Web of the Black Widow!

In a dark alley, a shadowy figure walked. Well, prowled really. The air was heavy, both with the moisture of the rain earlier in the day, and the smell of refuse. The sky was dark with cloud cover, and the buildings blocked out all the light from the street. The figure, a small, skulking figure in a large dark trench coat, ducked out of a couple of trash cans. She looked up and down the alley, but other than a rat, sitting on a nearby trash can, regarding her with bright eyes, she saw nothing of note. Paying no attention to the rat, she walked down the alleyway, thin, almost non existant shoes not protecting her feet from the cold water puddles. As she walked, she pulled the coat tighter around her, already nearly disappearing into it's folds. Then, she stopped suddenly. She heard, at the start of the alley, a set of footsteps, headed her way. She turned, and looked up the alleyway. At the street, back light by a small pool of light, stood a figure, in a dark black suit with a long coat, and a top hat, pulled low to obscure his face.

"Good evening, Angela." The figure said. His voice was deep, but there was nothing else to it. No accent, no changes in pitch, nothing that would mark it as unremarkable…there by making it all the more remarkable.

"How…how do you know my name? And who are you?" Angela asked, keeping crouched low, on her toes.

"Relax, my dear. I mean you know harm. Unlike your prey, I have no need to harm you." The man said, advancing into the alleyway.

"What…"

"Your looking for the Stalker, correct? The man responsible for the vicious murder of several young homeless people?" The man asked, continuing to advance. Angela just noticed he was also holding a cane, with a silver globe at the top.

"How…"

"Did I know? I found another prey of yours in another alley nearby. With your standard toxin, coursing through his veins. I woke him up, and pumped for information. He said he sent you over here, Black Widow. Interesting choice in monikers, by the way." The man said, still walking towards Angela.

"Stay back. If you know so much about me, then you know what I can do. And what do you want from me anyway?" Angela asked, tossing back her trench coat. Her arms, which were bare despite the cold, and pale, suddenly turned dark, as small bits of hair grew up and down her arms. And two large, dripping claw like protusions grew out of her palms.

"So that's how your power works, I wasn't sure. And yes, I know full what you can do, more or less. Those pincers contain a rather potent toxin. I'm guessing the web I found him wrapped up in is yours as well?"

"Who else would it be? How many other spider based heroes have you come across?" She asked, moving towards the alley wall.

"Few actually. I have seen more than my fair share of energy heroes, wolf heroes, and at least four bird heroes, but arachnid heroes, that is quite rare." The man said, finally stopping, a few feet away from Black Widow.

"Just who are you?" Angela asked, looking over the man's shoulder. No one else around, but the alley was to narrow for her to get around him.

"Oh, yes, I never really introduced myself, di d I, how rude. You see, I'm much like you. An anomaly as it were. With the name of Shift." He said, and removed his top hat. Angela could see, by what little light there was, that his face…was not a face at all. Instead, a blank slate of skin laid under a bald, featureless head, perfectly round, like an egg. She gasped at the sight, surprised.

"Sorry about that, I usually shift into something less noticeable and less shocking when talking to someone, hold on a second." Shifter said. Small points of hair started to sprout from his head, and small depressions appeared where eyes should be. A small slit appeared under them, forming a set of lips. When the transformation was finished, Shifter had a full, jet black set of hair. Angela couldn't get a good look at his eyes in the dark, but could see they were lightly colored. He was actually fairly handsome, with a square chin, and fairly strong features. This fact was only greatly marred by the fact that two minutes earlier, he didn't have a face.

"If you haven't figured it out yet…"

"I have. And to be perfectly honest, I'd still prefer you taking a couple of steps back." Angela said, placing her hand on the brick wall, feeling the wet cold brick even through the coarse hairs.

"I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you, I was just worried that you might have gotten hurt by your target." Shift said, taking another step forward, and lifting his cane, and pointing it at Angela. "It's a very nasty world, my dear, and while I'm sure your secret will keep you alive, life has a way of surprising you." He said, and poked her stomach with the end. Angela went to push the annoying point away…then screamed out, as a massive bolt of pain cut through her stomach. "Well, that was simple." Shifter said, smiling, his teeth glowing bright in the dark. He pulled back on his cane, revealing a twelve inch dagger extending from the end, covered in blood.

"Damn… Shifter…The Valiance sent you, didn't they?" Angela said, panting, and gripping her stomach. She felt warm blood under her hand.

"Well, yes, actually, they did. They said you were useful at one time, now not so much."

"Figures… are you one of their 'improvements' to, like me?" She said. She could still move, but she needed an opening.

"Not really. I just work for them to pay the bills. And I do apologize for this. It is nothing personal." Shifter said, raising his cane for another cut.

"Well, see, this is personal." Angela said, pushing down hard on the hand on the wall. She jumped up, above Shifter's cane, and aiming a kick right at Shifter's face. Shifter dodged at the last second, but Angela's momentum carried her over him, and Angela landed badly behind him, wobbling without the use of her other hand. She got to her feet, and leapt to the top of one of the buildings in a single jump.

"Cute. Don't think this is the end, my dear." Shift said, turning around, looking completely unfazed by this turn of events. "I will find you, and you will die."

"Can't wait, I'm always looking for another fight." Angela said, and aimed her hand that wasn't holding her injury at a trash can in the alley. A long string of webbing shot from the top of her wrist, and latched onto it. She grabbed it, and swung it hard at Shift, who was to surprised by this to dodge. He was hit hard, and knocked into the wall, spilling the trash from the can, and falling limp over the dented can.

Angela moved to the edge of the roof, and jumped off onto the opposite rooftop.

"Well, that was fun. The Valiance again. Go figure. I'll deal with them shortly. Right now, I have someone else to deal with. Where is that bastard anyway?" Angela said, finally stopping over an open street, nearby a street light. She pushed back the coat she was wearing. The wound was deep, and bleeding. She used her webbing to wrap around her stomach, to stop the bleeding. She stopped to think, and debate her next move.

"Can't go to the hospital, they'll ask to many questions. And that pain Shift will probably be looking for me there, when he wakes up. Couldn't pay for it anyway. Alright, so back to what I was doing. Find this Back Alley Strangler, before he actually kills someone. That last guy I pumped was worthless, so…" Angela stopped talking to herself, and got to her feet. "Just patrol around, and see what I can find, I suppose. Got nothing better to do." She started leaping from rooftop to rooftop, moving as smoothly as possible given her injury. As she moved, she looked out from the run down buildings, dark streets, and dark lives, to the bright, shining, glass and steel buildings across the river, reaching up to the massive full moon. She sighed, as she landed awkwardly on the next rooftop, scattering gravel everywhere. She hissed, but didn't grab the wound. As she straightened, she heard a scream. Angela, the Black Widow, Terror of the Back Alley, ran over the rooftop, leapt over another alley, then looked down onto a badly lit street, at a sprawled figure of a woman, laying on the sidewalk. She wasn't wearing much, mostly just a very small dress and long boots. Angela leapt down to the woman's side. The woman didn't stir, just stared up at the sky with lifeless, cloudy eyes. Angela felt for a pulse, and found none.

She stood up, and looked around, wind whipping her coat behind her. Nothing. The body wasn't cold, and the woman had just screamed, so the killer couldn't have gotten far.

But the Black Widow, after calling the police, searched all night for a trace, and found nothing.

"Damn him. I will find you, you sadistic monster. After what you did to her, I will find you. I don't care what you are, how much power you have on your side. I don't even care if it kills me. Your mine, you little fly." Angela whispered, making a promise to the night. One she would keep.