Spider-Man helps Sandman reunite with his daughter.
|Characters: Peter Parker/Spider-Man; Marko Flint/Sandman; Hammerhead; Miles Morales; Gwen Stacy; Keemia Flint; Aunt May.
FLINT MARKO, a beefy man dressed like a dock worker, by night enters a kind of factory. He is crossing the floor when he is stopped by a shout. High on a gantry overhead stands HAMMERHEAD, a gangster, flanked by two bodyguards. Hammerhead addresses Marko by name, congratulating him for his persistence but telling him the chase ends now. Marko says he just wants the girl; Hammerhead retorts that that's the one thing he'll never give Marko. "But here's a consolation prize." Overhead, bins marked with hazardous waste symbols empty their contents onto Marko. After Marko is on splayed on the ground, Hammerhead tells the goons to "Bury what's left," and more bins open to cover Marko with sand.
Fade to title: "Two months later." Dissolve to PETER PARKER, MILES MORALES and GWEN STACY, relaxing at the boardwalk. Peter insists on paying for everything, as he got paid recently by J. Jonah Jameson for footage of the battle between Spider-Man and The Rhino. Miles remarks that it's lucky Peter thought to set up his camera-drone at Harry's party; Peter wishes that Harry and Anya could be at the boardwalk with them, but Gwen says that they're having more fun together on this Saturday afternoon. Miles remarks that that must make it official: They're dating. Gwen wanders off, and Peter asks Miles if he really thinks this day trip is taking Gwen's mind off the disappearance of her uncle. Before Miles can reply, he's knocked off his feet by the shattering blow from a powerful figure.
It's a high school student built like a brick wall, and there's a half dozen of them: football players by the looks of them. They don't talk, they only laugh, as they play a kind of rugby with Miles as the ball. Peter grits his teeth, then jumps in to help while trying not to reveal his talents. So he leaps lightly from spot to spot, tripping the bullies or leaping over them to knock them down or together. After they've been battered around they give up and wander off. Miles, looking humiliated, says that he bets Spider-Man doesn't have to put up with that kind of garbage. Peter says he'd rather put up with bullies than with the kind of things that Spider-Man has to fight; Miles says he's sick of dealing with bullies "like those guys" and mimes some martial arts moves while fantasizing about being Spider-Man.
Then Peter gets run over by a figure. Miles picks Peter up with a laugh, pointing out that at least he (Miles) got run over by a linebacker instead of by a little girl, and he points. Indeed, the fleeing figure—KEEMIA MARKO—can't be more than eleven years old. But Peter suggests they should be more worried about the thing that's about to run them over next. He points to a wall of sand rushing at them. A roaring face appears in it.
Peter ducks into the funhouse to change costumes; outside, he sees the freakish sandstorm engulfing the Ferris wheel, threatening to knock it over. He uses webbing to anchor the Wheel to the merry-go-round to keep it from toppling, then swings down to direct everyone into the funhouse. He scoops up Keemia before she can be devoured by the sand monster and runs into the funhouse with her; as he carries her, she sobs to him that "it keeps chasing me." The walls and roof of the funhouse shake; Gwen says that it'll be more dangerous inside than outside if the storm starts tearing it apart. Spidey goes outside into a veritable tornado, and asks himself how you catch and bottle the wind, and concludes he can only try to do it Pecos Bill style by lassoing it with webs. He shoots himself up to the top of the Ferris wheel, and begins dropping sheets of webbing all over the whirlwind. The wind gathers itself and rushes off. Down on the ground, Spidey picks up some of the webbing and observes that there's a lot of sand stuck to it. Miles and Gwen emerge to ask if they can help. Spider-Man asks what happened to the girl; Gwen says that she ran off as the roof started to come off the funhouse. She points in the direction of the retreating sandstorm. Spidey says, "It's like it really is chasing her."
Dissolve to the wall of sand howling over the rooftops; below it, Keemia runs through alleys. The wall coheres into a humanoid figure and calls her name. She keeps running, screaming "Who are you? What do you want?" The sand pours down the alley, engulfing her. It lifts her to the top of a column, then is shattered as a truck bursts through. Keemia falls into the pile, and is seized by gangsters who bundle her into the truck. As it drives off, the sand pile stretches a loosely formed hand after her.
Dissolve to Peter walking the halls of Horizon, congratulating himself on coming in on a weekend when the school is empty and he can get some work done. But Miles is in The Think Tank when he enters; Miles jumps guiltily and scoops up something. "Nothing," he says when Peter asks what he's working on, and runs into his lab. Peter moves into his own lab to study the sand that is stuck in his webbing, for he's got theory it was the sand, not the wind, that was acting so strangely. He notes that the spectrum it gives off doesn't match that of ordinary sand; a quick online check can't isolate what the mystery compound is. He enters Miles lab without knocking, to ask for help, and finds Miles encased in spider-webs. Miles, embarrassed, comes clean: He's been trying to duplicate Spider-Man's web and his other tech, putting his robots on the back burner. Peter asks Miles why he thinks the webs are tech and not something "natural"; Miles retorts that if the webbing was natural, then Spider-Man would be shooting it out of his butt, not his wrists.
At home, AUNT MAY catches Peter bending double and waggling his butt at a mirror while studying himself; an embarrassed Peter says he's still learning how to dance, for the next school dance. She hands him a package, just arrived, and remarks on how happy she is that he can help pay for some of his school supplies, thanks to the money the Daily Bugle is giving him for video of "that awful Spider-thing." Peter winces, then face palms when he realizes he didn't get any footage of himself fighting the sand creature. But at least his new interferometer has arrived, and he uses it to examine the sand more closely.
Dissolve to a large house in the country-side, well-lit. Armed goons patrol the grounds with flame throwers. Inside, Keemia sits glumly at a table beside Hammerhead. He roughly asks her if she's done eating; she says she's not hungry. He tells her he can do something about her mood if she doesn't do it herself. From the doorway, one goons says, "There was a little sandstorm at the beach today." Hammerhead's eye falls back onto the girl. "Is that so?" he says. Outside, the sand creature forms, dissolves, reforms. As it reaches for the house, static electricity plays over it. It turns with a sighing gasp.
Dissolve to Peter examining a vial of sand he's put inside some kind of machine, as static electricity plays over it. He jumps as Aunt May enters with a dinner plate. She says she wishes they would eat at the table more often when he is home; he leaps up and insists on accompanying her downstairs to the table. She asks what he's working on and if it will be safe to leave it. Peter says it's fine: he's just trying to use static electricity to get some sand to cohere for an experiment; she observes that that would certainly be a unique way to build a sandcastle; Peter reflects that it would. They are still eating when the house is rocked by a sudden rush of wind and a rattling; May wonders if it isn't hailing. Peter says there was no storm in the forecast and goes to a window to check. He peels back the curtain, to reveal a face of sand forming against it.
The window explodes inward as the sand creature bursts in, and the room is overswept by a wave of sand. Peter pulls Aunt May into the living room and turns to fight the creature, but it is washing its way up the stairs. He follows it into his room (going up the outside wall and through the window) to find it surging around the sealed vial with the sand sample in it. Peter webs the vial from it, and taunts it into following him out the window and away from the house.
The sand nips at his heels so that he only has time to get into his mask before it catches up to him at the park. From high up in a tree he wonders what to do, then decides to open the vial and dump it onto the sand creature to see what happens. To his astonishment, the sand coalesces into the form of a man, who expresses his wonder and gratitude being able to reform himself. Peter (now completely costumed) leaps to the ground and asks his name, his story, and why he's attacking old ladies. The man explains he only wanted "that sand back. It's like it was calling to me." Conversation follows, establishing that the bonding given the sand sample by the electricity now gives the sandman the ability to bond and reform himself, and his history: He is Flint Marko, and he was transformed when the gangster Hammerhead buried him in toxic waste and sand. Why did Hammerhead do that? Because Hammerhead had kidnapped Marko's daughter, Zeemia, and Marko was trying to get her back. Why did Hammerhead kidnap her? "I don't even like to think of why," Marko says. Yes, it was Zeemia that he was chasing at the boardwalk earlier that day. But now he can get her back, he says, because he can talk to her, tell her who he is. He turns to go.
Spider-Man watches, then runs to catch up, saying he'll go with him. Marko says that's not necessary, but Spider-Man says he'd like to help. He quotes an old saying, that once you save a man's life you're responsible for him.
They reach Hammerhead's house. Sandman, by dissolving and reforming, slithers past security; Spider-Man mostly succeeds, but is surprised by one goon, who he webs and muffles. He asks Sandman why the guard was carrying a flamethrower: Because, says Sandman, that's the kind of sick man Hammerhead is. At the window they see Keemia, in a kind of cocktail dress, playing the piano for a couple of thugs; she finishes and they applaud. Spider-Man observes that there's something very weird about the scene, so that it's not just his spider-sense that's tingling with alarm. He tells Sandman that he'll go in and get the girl, but Sandman dissolves and slides in under the door to reform on the other side. Spidey follows.
In the living room, Marko reforms, and with fists like cement blocks he surprises and smashes the guards. Spider-Man webs them to the ceiling, telling them he's actually saving them from worse. Zeemia screams and runs. Marko follows, calling her; Peter also follows. They find her at the top of the staircase, cowering and hugging Hammerhead, who addresses Marko by name. Zeemia, gasping, says, "Dad?" Marko beckons her to come to him. But Zeemia buries herself in Hammerhead's side, shrieking, "You told me he was gone!" she shouts at the gangster. "You promised me he was never going to hurt me again!"
Sandman explodes and surges up the stairs at the man and girl, catching both in a tidal wave of sand. Spider-Man webs Zeemia out; she yells, "Uncle Joseph!" and stretches her arms back toward the gangster. She struggles against Spider-Man as he carries to another room. "You have to save my Uncle Joseph!" she yells. "You have to save him from—" Spider-Man doesn't know what's going on, but he races back to try saving Hammerhead. He arrives as more bodyguards, armed with flamethrowers, swarm out from the rooms upstairs: the flames drive Sandman off the gasping and choking Hammerhead. Spider-Man calls to Marko, but Marko punches him with a sand tentacle. Spider-Man retreats as the sand battles the flames, saying he can't jump in to something he doesn't understand. He catches Zeemia and dives with her through a window outside. In the hurried, tearful talk that follows, he learns that Hammerhead is her Uncle Joseph (mother's brother) and that Marko was her dad, but that her uncle took her away from him after finding out "what he used to do to me." Hammerhead had Marko arrested, but he "came back to get me" after getting out of jail. Spider-Man asks her who she wants to be with. Horrified, she says she'd rather jump off the top of the Empire State Building than ever see her father again. Another window blows out, and a wave of sand sweeps Keemia from Spider-Man. It gathers itself into a roaring column of sand and rushes away, carrying the screaming girl.
Inside the house, Spider-Man finds Hammerhead ordering his men to get the boys together and to bring the car around, and when he sees Spider-Man he orders them to "take care of that meddler," so Spidey ducks back out again. Outside, he remarks to himself that "supervillains in the middle of a family quarrel" is a new one for him.
In the factory where he was transformed, Sandman carries a sobbing Keemia about in the slurry of sand he's formed himself into. As he works levers that operate machinery and conveyor belts, he tells her that he's got her now and that they'll never be apart again: "You're the only thing I've got left, Keemia, and I'll hold on to you forever." She pleads that Uncle Joseph loved her, gave her everything she needed, he was even going to send her to France to study music like she'd always dreamed of, but Marko snarls it isn't about what she wants, but what he needs. "I need you, Keemia, I need you to be a part of me forever." He places her on the floor under the same bins that he had been trapped under.
Hammerhead and his army burst in, telling Sandman to get away from the girl; as they advance with flames, Hammerhead warns his men that if they singe so much as a hair on Zeemia's head he'll torch the whole lot of them. Spider-Man swings in, saying "I got her," and webs her to safety. Sandman lunges at him; sand and flames engulf the factory floor as Hammerhead's goons fight Sandman. Spider-Man swings out with Zeemia, to press the girl onto Hammerhead, whom she clutches. Peter asks him, "Why flamethrowers?" "Burn him to glass, obviously," Hammerhead retorts. "Get her out of here," Spider-Man says, but before they can flee an avalanche of sand buries them. It gathers itself and carries Zeemia back over to the overhead bins. It drops her as Spider-Man dives in from behind, and he futilely tries battling a creature that can shape and reshape itself to dodge and strike at him. In the battle, one of Sandman's coils hits a lever, and sand and toxic goop fall onto a screaming Zeemia. It buries her, but Spider-Man pulls her out with a web, which allows Sandman to sweep them both up into a fist like cement.
He is stopped by a shout from Hammerhead, who is standing in the maw of an oven. He challenges Sandman: "It was never the girl you wanted, Marko. It was me. You hurt her because hurting my sister's kid was the only way you could hurt me. Come to source, Marko. Leave the kid alone, and come get me."
With a roar, Sandman launches himself at Hammerhead. Spider-Man, glancing around, realizes exactly where Hammerhead is standing—"High Temperature Boiler"—and with an "Oh no!" he shoots a web at the gangster just a fireball engulfs him and Sandman both. He pulls Hammerhead out—badly burned but alive—then watches as Sandman writhes and hardens to glass in the roaring flames. He looks down to find Zeemia cradling her uncle in her arms.
Dissolve to Peter, in street clothes, helping Aunt May sweep up from the sand storm. She fusses over it; he is silent until he suddenly embraces her and says that he doesn't think he tells her enough how much he loves her and is grateful for everything she's done for him. She exclaims, "Whatever brought that on?" "Just thinking about family tragedies," he says.
Dissolve to an airplane winging its way across the ocean. Zeemia is in it, studying sheet music. Her expression is tense and fearful. She clenches a fist, and it mutates into a club made of sand, then mutates into a hand again. She bites her lip and crushes her eyes shut.
The above is loosely based on the episode "Sandman" by J. T. Krul.
Commentary: "So Much Sand"
Next: "S01E08 "How to Rise Above It All""