Abraham Erskine and MVP
The story of Van begins with Doctor Abraham Erskine
, the scientist who developed the super-soldier formula
. It is known for certain that Erskine gave some to Steve Rogers
, who gained extraordinary powers (super strength, mild-resistance, and enhanced agility). Erskine was then assassinated (or at least is seemed that way) by Heinz Kruger
, and the information of the formula was lost forever. Or so it seemed.
Generations later, when the Initiative
was formed, SHIELD
officials acting under orders from Senator Henry Peter Gyrich
approached 18-year-old Michael van Patrick
, a descendant of Erskine, to begin super-human training. Rumors that he had super-human powers inherited from his father (who people claimed had taken the formula) had caused Michael Van Patrick to lose his track-and-field awards. He agreed to join the Initiative, but insisted he had no super-powers. Initiative scientist Baron von Blitzschlag
ran several tests and stated that the boy was correct; even so, Gyrich insisted he join. The young man took the code-name MVP, which was also his initials.
On the first day of training, tragedy struck. When Instructor Gauntlet
foolishly released a robot on the students to test their powers, a young recruit named Trauma
inadvertently activated his power to turn into people's worst fears. He became a spider, the inner terror of another recruit, Armory
. Armory then panicked and turned her alien gauntlet into a high-power plasma-blaster and began to fire chaotically. MVP died saving recruit Cloud 9
from the blasts.
Creation of the Scarlet Spiders
Under orders from Gyrich, Blitzschlag "cloned" (or created genetic duplicates with most of the memories of) MVP. One clone was sent to MVP's home and pretended to be him, saying that he had been expelled after being confirmed to be powerless. Three other duplicates, who were likely slightly genetically modified, continued to work for the Initiative in secret as a test program in how cloned armies could exist. The three clones took the names Michael
, and Patrick
. They were given the Iron Spider suits
and became the Scarlet Spiders
. The suits gave each clone invisibility, resistance, sonar, force fields (that were stronger when combined), gliding abilities, and four cybernetic arms. Armory had had her gauntlet removed and been fired from the Initiative and brought to an inpatient-unit of a psychiatric hospital.
While there, she was under strict orders not to reveal anything about what had happened--something she obeyed despite being threatened with life-institution. Blitzschlag cared strongly for the Spiders, and began to treat them as if they were his children.
On their first mission, the Spiders were sent to intervene in a battle between Spider-man
, and Hydro-man
of the Sinister Syndicate
(who had been in the middle of a theft). War Machine
entered the battle first, and took on Spider-man. The Syndicate decided to flee, but the Spiders tracked them down stealthily and within ten-minutes surrounded them. Using all their gadgets (especially force fields), they trapped the supers until War Machine and SHIELD
agents arrived and arrested the villains.
World War Hulk
The Spiders next secret was to rescue several Initiative recruits (including Cloud 9
) from an invading Hulk
and his Warbound
. In this mission, the Spiders were serving as a part of the Shadow Initiative
. The Spiders did not accompany their teammates into the makeshift prison built in a ruined section of New York City, but waited with a small airship and brought out their teammates as well as all of the prisoners.
In a subsequent mission, the Spiders were sent to apprehend the Vulturions.
When they found them, the Vulturions were also attacked by Spider-man, who was on the run. This took place at a time when Spider-man's identity as Peter Parker
was known to everyone. The Spiders found Parker, but his spider-sense warned him of their attack. In the ensuing fight, the Vulturions were defeated and Parker told the Spiders he was a hero and was just objecting to the Initiative's questionable activities. Realizing their own existences were both illegal and unethical (due to cover up a government mistake), they stopped fighting and went to a near-by news-camera. On live TV, the Spiders revealed their identities--much to the outrage of Gyrich.
Gyrich and Blitzschlag had been trying to have Armory's gauntlet bond to someone else; but, having its own intelligence, it would not. Finally the duo decided to activate a fifth MVP clone and try and bond the gauntlet to it. The idea worked; however the clone was driven insane and decided to take down the Initiative for letting MVP die and trying to cover it up. The clone took the name K.I.A., an acronym for Killed In Action like Gyrich claimed had happened to MVP. In the ensuing battle at Camp Stamford the Scarlet Spiders decided they might calm K.I.A. down by revealing their identities to him. He did not respond well, turning his gauntlet into a plasma-blaster and blowing Van's head off, just like had happened to Michael van Patrick
. Except Van had truly been Killed In Action.