#6
June 2001
Giant-sized Conclusion!

Gang War
by Chip Caroon
PG
This issue is not recommended for younger readers.

Wilson Fisk looked at the people assembled in his office, standing in a line in front of his desk. Together, they were the leaders of the biggest gang in America: Intergang.

Fisk leaned back in his chair as a middle aged man with brown hair and a mustache stepped forward to give him a progress report.

"Kingpin," he began. "Things are not going well for Intergang. Only three months ago, we were in complete control of the New York underworld. As it stands now, we have to worry about several factors moving in."

"Well, what are they?" the Kingpin asked.

"As you know, The Shadow is one of those problems. He's been meddling too much in affairs, and all attempts to capture him and recruit him have failed. Shocker, Khan, the robots, all have failed.

"Second, we are no longer the only gang in town. The Street Demonz have resurfaced in Gotham."

"The Street Demonz?" Fisk inquired. "I thought that we had incorporated them into our organization."

"We had. However, the Bludhaven chapter has moved into town, and they've reunited with the former Demonz who are now Intergang."

"We must crush them," Kingpin replied. "It's that simple."

"Not really," the man continued. "You see, there's been some unrest in the ranks. Certain factions of Intergang don't want to be part of Intergang anymore. If we're not careful, we'll have a gang war within our own ranks."

Fisk leaned forward. "Look. When I came to this town, I united all of the gangs into one, and tightened my grip on it. Nothing will threaten that."

The man sneered for a second. He didn't like the tone Kingpin was taking. He had been the guy in charge of Intergang before Kingpin humiliated him in front of his entire organization.

Kingpin looked at Ebon, who was standing closest to the wall, his head fully bandaged from his recent fight with the Shadow.

"I take it that your operation is not going so well . . . " Kingpin said.

"No, sir," Ebon said, humbly. "I just cannot get him."

"Then you are an incompetent fool. I should kill you now. But I won't."

"Thank you, sir."

Kingpin looked around at the group. "You are dismissed. When next we meet, I expect to hear better news."


Victor Cranston walked into the kitchen, and straight to the cabinet with the cereal. He pulled down the box of his cereal, and poured it into a bowl. He was severely worn out from the previous night.

"You look like hell," Lamont said from his chair. Surprisingly, he wasn't reading a newspaper.

"Thanks," Victor said. "The thugs were relentless last night. I think they were from Ebon's faction of Intergang, and wanted to recruit me still."

"They're persistent."

Victor nodded. "I have a feeling something is going to happen soon. I saw an unusual gang sign spray painted on a wall, and then covered up by another."

"I did read in the paper where there is some gang activity in Gotham."

"Intergang?"

"No. It's something called the Street Demonz."

Victor put down his cereal box. "Well, I guess I know where I'll be patrolling tonight."


Being a Saturday, Vic didn't have much planned, so he ventured down to The Crib to meet some friends. As he entered, he saw Jason Todd sitting at the far end of the main room. Sitting on the other side of the table was Liz Allen. Jason saw Victor and waved him over.

Victor walked over and took a seat beside Jason. "Hey, man, what's up?"

"Been a while since you've hung out with any of us," Jason replied.

Vic turned to Liz. "Hey, Liz."

"Hi, Vic."

"So, what's new?" Jason asked.

"Not much," Vic said. "I'm just trying to have an enjoyable Saturday." Vic looked around the room, and saw some familiar jackets sitting at a booth near the window. He lowered his voice, and leaned over to Jason. "Have you heard about that 'Intergang'?"

"They're the ones that control the underworld? Yeah, I read about them in the paper. Amazing how they kept quiet for so long."

Vic gestured in the area of the jackets. "I think those are Intergang members."

"Really?" Jason asked. "How do you know?"

"I kinda saw some of them get taken out by The Shadow a few weeks ago. Anyway, mind your business, and try to ignore them."

"Okay," Jason replied.

At that moment, a red headed waitress walked up to the table with a tray and a writing pad. "May I get you anything?" she asked.

Victor looked up. He recognized the girl. "Mary Jane!" he acknowledged. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, Victor. You?"

"Same, same. Uh, would you mind getting me a Coke?"

"No problem," Mary Jane said. "Can I get the rest of you anything?"

Liz and Jason shook their head. MJ turned and walked behind the counter to get the beverage for Victor.

"So, Vic," Jason said. "Where's Natalie? It's very rare to see one of you without the other."

"She had to go visit her grandmother today."

Mary Jane returned with Vic's drink. "See you 'round, Vic," she said as she walked to the next table.

"You too."

Vic leaned down and took a sip of his Coke through the straw. Before he could sit back up, a brick came crashing through the window. Vic heard screaming, and saw most everyone scamper to get under their tables, himself included. However, the Intergang members stood up. Vic saw a car driving by the front. He guessed that the brick had come from there.

"Hey, Intergang, come and get us!" someone shouted from the car.

Without warning, all four Intergang members pulled out guns - Vic assumed all were illegal - and began firing at the car.

"Street Demonz . . . " Jason whispered.

"What?" Vic asked, turning his head.

"This is the work of the Street Demonz, a gang that I thought was gone."

"How do you know?" Vic asked.

Jason looked down, and then back at Victor. "I was one of them."

Victor looked down at his ring. He would have to call in some help. He couldn't offer a distraction or get away to change into the Shadow. He pressed the stone, knowing that Peter Parker's ring would light up.


Peter Parker had just finished getting dressed when he saw his ring light up. He could hear Victor's voice in his head.

{Peter. The Crib. Now.}

Peter ran out of his room, and down the stairs. "I'll be at The Crib, Aunt May!" he shouted as he ran out.

A block away, he ducked into a dark corner and activated his Spider-Man costume. Spidey jumped up, and began webslinging to The Crib.


Victor stayed under the table, watching the crossfire. Several Street Demonz had come out of the car. He noticed that Mary Jane was kneeling in the middle of the floor, using only her tray as a cover. Looking up, he paid close attention to the gunfire, and slowly crept out from under the table to Mary Jane and grabbed her arm.

"Come here, get under the table," he whispered. They both crawled back under the table Victor had been sitting at.

"Why do they always have to start trouble here?" MJ asked. "You were here last time,* weren't you?"

*(issue #2)

Vic nodded.

At that moment, Spider-Man came down on top of one of the gunmen. Obviously, he had landed on the roof, and then jumped off.

{Spidey, I need a distraction over here.}

Spider-Man kept on fighting the gunmen, as if he hadn't received any communication. Within a couple of seconds, the four Intergang members had been thrown out of the building. Spidey turned back to the patrons of The Crib. "Get out of here!" he shouted.

Victor turned to Jason. "Jason, lead everyone out of here through the back door. Get the boss to help you."

"Got it," Jason said, standing up. He helped Liz and Mary Jane up. "Hey, people, this way!" he exclaimed.

In the mad rush of people, no one noticed Victor running the opposite direction.

The Shadow rushed into the actions moments later. He came along Spider-Man, and knocked out the guy who was trying to beat the wallcrawler with a club.

"Look out!" one of the Intergangsters shouted. "It's The Shadow!"

"Hey, Shadow," Spidey said as he tossed a guy away. "Two gangs here . . . which side are we on?"

"Neither," The Shadow replied. "We're our own team . . . "

The two heroes stood in front of the broken window, gang members from both gangs coming at them, and at each other.

"Great . . . the two of us against two bloodthirsty gangs . . . the odds are fair, I'd say," Spidey remarked.


Jason Todd led the group out of the back, with Mary Jane Watson and Liz Allen right behind him. They ran down the hill in the back, and tried to get out to the street. Suddenly, a car pulled up, and two guys with guns stepped out of the back. They wore sleeveless shirts, showing off their entire arms. Jason immediately recognized the tatoo on the right shoulder of each.

"So, Todd, you thought you could get away from us, huh?" one of them, the taller one, asked.

"Hey, Skeets, I tried telling you this before, my whole getting in was a mistake. Besides, I thought Intergang took all of the other gangs out." Jason tried backing away.

"The Street Demonz persevered. We moved to Bludhaven," the second guy said.

"So I heard."

One of the patrons began running away from the group. Skeets raised his gun and fired, causing the man to fall to the ground.

"You killed him!" Mary Jane shrieked.

"I know."

Jason stepped up to his former gang partners. "Look, I don't know why you are doing whatever it is you are doing, but leave these people out of it. They're not part of your feud."

"It's too bad that they are in the way," Skeets' partner replied.

With lightning speed, Jason lashed out and grabbed that guy's arm. He twisted it around behind, so he could at least use him as a human shield. Skeets pointed his gun. The people who had been inside of The Crib started running in another direction.

"I'm not afraid of shooting my partner. If he has to die so you do, then so be it."

"You heartless scum . . . " Jason muttered, grabbing the gun from his hostage. He let the man drop to the ground, and then aimed the gun at the Skeets, firing two rounds.

But he had already shot Jason several times in the arm. He climbed back into the car and it drove off, leaving Jason bleeding on the ground. The Street Demon who had been left behind sat up.

"Looks like you're screwed," he said.

Jason cursed and fired the gun at the man, who fell down. Jason didn't care if he had killed him or not.


The Shadow and Spider-Man watched as the gang members came near them, dreading the next action. But then, The Shadow put his hand on Spidey's arm.

"Gunshots," he whispered. "Behind . . . the building! We have to get back there! The civilians went out back there. Jason Todd was in the lead."

"That sounds bad."

"It gets worse. Mary Jane was right behind him."

Even through the mask, Victor could see the shock in Spidey's face. He knew that Peter and MJ were becoming close, but he wasn't sure how close . . . definitely nowhere near the relationship he had with Natalie, but still . . .

At that moment, a car drove up. Skeets popped his head out. "Hey, Street Demonz, we're leaving!"

Just like that, half of the gangsters started running away. The others chased them.

"Let them be," The Shadow warned. "If we interfere, we'll definitely get killed. We need to get to the back."


When Spidey and The Shadow reached the back lot, they found a group of people huddled together. They ran up, and broke through the crowd. At the center, they found Jason Todd laying on the ground, with Liz crouched beside him. Mary Jane was right behind her. The Shadow crouched down, and made sure that the people knew he was there.

"Has an ambulance been called?" he asked.

"Yes," Mary Jane replied. "Will he be okay?"

"I'm not sure," The Shadow replied. "It looks like he was only shot in the arm, but . . . wait, he was shot in the shoulder."

"Is it life-threatening?" Liz asked.

"It depends on how fast we get him to a hospital."

Jason moaned.

"Can you two girls do one more thing?"

"What's that?" MJ asked.

"Pray."


Wilson Fisk's fist came down onto his desk hard. In fact, he dented it.

"I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!" he shouted.

"But, sir, there was no way we could have known," Ebon interjected.

"Silence!" Kingpin shouted. "No one gets away with assaulting Intergang. Nobody!"


A couple of hours later, Jason had been taken to the hospital, and Victor returned home. No one was home when he arrived, but Natalie came over only a few minutes after he had dropped into a chair in his room. Natalie came up behind him, and put her hand on his shoulders.

"I heard about what happened at The Crib," she said.

"It's gone too far . . . "

"Vic, you can't blame yourself."

"I don't blame myself," Vic said. "I blame Intergang. Them and the Street Demonz."

"Will you be doing anything about it?"

"Of course, Nat. I have to."

"That's what I was afraid of," Natalie said under her breath. Aloud, she added, "So, exactly what are you planning to do?"

Victor was silent for a moment. "I'm gonna take the battle right back to them . . . "


The Shadow crept down the street. He could sense the different gangs hiding out in different buildings. Most of the apartment buildings were abandoned or condemned - perfect for a gang shootout. Victor had insisted that he work alone on this mission. He didn't want to endanger anyone who didn't need to be endangered. However, as a compromise, he kept in constant telepathic contact with Natalie.

{Victor?}

{I'm here, Natalie. Don't worry.}

{Be careful . . . }

The Shadow kept creeping, staying as close to the wall as possible. People were passing him all the time. The building's on the street may have been mostly abandoned, but the street was still used for traveling, primarily by the lower class.

Victor noticed a boy with a teddy bear, walking down the street with his mother, in the opposite direction as himself. He turned his head to watch them go by. What was it that fascinated him about that boy? Was it the fact that he was so young, and living so poorly?

A car turned onto the street. It was black, and looked a lot like old-fashioned cars. It took The Shadow a second to realize that it was a PT Cruiser. Suddenly, it seemed like it started to move in slow motion, and the window on the rear door came down. A man dressed all in black stuck his head out. He was holding a tommy gun.

Then, he started shooting. Everyone walking on the sidewalks ducked for cover as the car drove by. The Shadow turned to see if anyone had been hit.

He saw the boy.

The boy was lying on the ground.

A pool of red surrounded him.

His eyes were lifeless.

He was dead.

The Shadow spent several seconds focused on that, and then everything seemed to return to the normal pace of life. Just before the car left the block, the gunman dropped the gun, and pulled out a grenade which he threw into one of the buildings. The car sped away as the building exploded.


Meanwhile, across the street, one of the leaders of Intergang's factions was watching what happened.

"What the hell is he doing?!" the leader shouted. "Some of our people were in that building!"

"So," one of the other gangsters asked. "He was probably one of the Street Demonz."

"Nuh-uh. I know that guy. He's one of us."

"That traitor. What do we do?"

But the leader did not hear him, because he was already listening to his earpiece, communicating with a leader of higher rank. A minute later, the conversation was over, and he turned to face his subordinates.

"It is with much regret that I order an attack on one of our - ack!" He fell down in mid word. First, to his knees, and then the rest of his body flopped down. Blood ran from his torso. The sharpshooter laying on the floor beside him turned away from his gun, and looked over.

"He's dead!" he shouted. Immediately after, he heard the sound of ten grenade pins hitting the floor.


The Shadow had been able to do a quick mental scan of the drive-by shooter. He was a member of Intergang. After doing another mental scan of the remaining occupants of the burning building, he realized that Intergang was finally warring between himself.

Something metallic fell at his feet. It was a small round, black object. The Shadow looked up and saw several more flying across the street. He encased the one at his feet in an invisible force shield.

And then things went boom.


"Hello?" Lamont Cranston exclaimed, walking into his home. "Victor, are you here?"

Natalie came down to the living room. "No, he's not, Mr. Cranston."

"Where is he?"

Natalie hesitated. "He went out."

"Shadow business?"

Natalie nodded. "Very dangerous Shadow business. He just contacted me. Not only are the Street Demonz at 'war' with Intergang, Intergang is fighting amongst themselves. He's over in Suicide Slum, and there's a battle going on. It's so bad, no one knows what side they're on. He said grenades and bullets are being showered everywhere."

"Not again . . . " Lamont whispered.

"Again? You mean Victor's been in this situation before?"

"No, not Victor . . . "


With all of this action, the MCU has to be on their way. When they get here, things can be controlled. But I have to do something.

The Shadow ducked into the nearest building, and ascended the stairs. He tried to reach the top level as fast as he could. That's where the gang was. He wasn't sure which gang he was going up against, though, since they were pretty mixed up.

He saw the door to the room where the gang was. He walked over and kicked it in.

"The Shadow!" someone exclaimed.

"Right on the first try," The Shadow replied, knowing that he was facing Intergang now. The Street Demonz didn't know him as well. He immediately sprang into action, punching and kicking everyone who rushed him.

Twenty seconds later, a body flew out of the window, landing in a sea of glass, his neck broken and his skull crushed.


Liz Allen and Mary Jane Watson stood in the hospital waiting room when Peter Parker and Jimmy Olsen came in.

"How is he?" Jimmy asked.

"They're not sure," Liz replied. "He's lost quite a bit of blood, and that one in the shoulder went in pretty far. There was also talk of maybe another bullet in there somewhere. It could go either way for him."

"It's not right," Mary Jane said, beginning to cry.

"It's okay . . . " Peter replied, putting his arm around her. She buried her head in his chest. Liz and Jimmy went to the nurse's station to learn any more.


Kingpin sat in his office. He had been notified of the shootout in Suicide Slum almost immediately, thanks to the wonders of radio.

After hearing the situation, he switched to "listen-only" mode. He leaned back in his armchair.

"Ebon," he said. The black man looked at him with a blank expression. "You are the only one of my subordinates that I can confide in. From now on, you are my number two man."

"Thank you, sir."

"You will be my sounding board."

"You have something on your mind?"

"This . . . situation in Suicide Slum is out of hand. We must cut our losses."

"Surely, you're not planning on setting off the charges we planted . . . "

"Actually . . . I am . . . "

Ebon let out a breath of worry. "But, you'll kill some of your own-"

Kingpin raised a hand. "I hate to use cliched phrases, but there is one that fits rather well here . . . 'You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.' Detonate the charges."

Ebon sighed. "You do know The Shadow is in there . . . "

"I no longer care for The Shadow. If he could not have been converted by now, there is no way we can convert him. Besides, he knows too much. He's better off dead."


The Shadow was fighting the last two conscious men when he heard a loud 'click.' All three stopped fighting.

"That sound . . . would it be a . . . "

"Bomb, yes, they wired the buildings, and they're gonna blow!" one said. The Shadow had already leapt through the window. He had just cleared it when the bomb exploded. The shockwave sent him flying even farther.

He landed on the ground. Debris surrounded him. He could feel the blood rushing from several places on his body. Looking up, he saw the smoldering remains of the block.


Half an hour later, there was a knock on the door to the Cranston residence. Natalie opened the door, and Victor fell into her arms.

"Victor! What happened?"

"Intergang . . . I think I stopped them . . . at least . . . a part of them . . . "

Lamont rushed over and helped Natalie carry the boy to the couch.

"I'll be okay," Victor said.

As Lamont went to the bathroom to get bandages, Natalie kissed Vic on the forehead. "It's okay . . . " she said.


Back at Kingpin's office, Wilson Fisk reclined.

"Maybe it is time for a change," he said. "Intergang needs to be restructured. Right now, it's on the verge of collapse."

"But it will be great once more?" Ebon asked.

"Most assuredly . . . " Fisk said with a smile.


Author's Notes:

And so ends The Shadow 2000's first limited series. What a way to end it! This issue was my favorite of the series to write. Besides #2, it came the easiest to me, and kept on going. While I tried to keep the size down in #2, I let it keep going here. For some reason, I had packed so much plot in, I couldn't find a way to stop it anywhere but here. And leaving a cliffhanger is an added bonus. But, you don't have to wait long. The Shadow 2000 Annual #1 will be coming shortly, and several questions will be answered in the Return of the Gods tie-in. Questions such as: Will Jason Todd live? How did Victor survive the fall? and What the heck happened to Victor's father?

Well, maybe that last one will still be around for a while. But I intend to reveal a little about the second Shadow in the annual.

After that, I'm not sure where Victor will be showing up in his solo adventures. You can see him guest starring soon in Spider-Man. But I definitely intend to come back to my favorite creation for another adventure.

-Chip Caroon