After fighting a duplicate May Parker to a draw and talking down mutant Sara Hingle from going on an anti-human rampage, Spider-Girl is caught in the blast when the Sisterhood of Mutants punish Sara by triggering her to detonate. Now, badly injured, May Parker's life hangs in the balance, while the duplicate May has gone home and assumed the real(?) May's life as her own.
The Avengers have arrived in Queens and are doing their best to repair the damage caused by Sara Hingle's explosion. They worry about Spider-Girl, but learn that a rescue team has already taken away a survivor by ambulance. "Could be our girl." Sara has survived the blast but is in "pretty bad shape," per Thunderstrike. As the Avengers continue to survey the scene, Dr. Manning, head of Humanity First, attempts to give a statement to the press only to find herself cut off when the antenna is "mysteriously" destroyed.
A short distance away in Forest Hills, May Parker is loving her life. After all, she's a junior at Midtown High, her two BFF's are Davida Kirby and Courtney Duran, and "I'm dating Gene Thompson, the school's star running back." Um, wait... didn't May very publicly break up with Gene Thompson last issue? Yes, she did, but THIS May didn't, as this is the duplicate that recently escaped from Norman Osborn's stasis tube. "May" heads downstairs and finds MJ holding Benjy, who seems to be upset by something. MJ is more concerned about Peter, who has yet to check in.
Meanwhile, the real May lies unconscious in a hospital room, attended by Araña and her right hand man, Michael, who is less than sanguine about May's chances of survival. "She will find a way to survive," Araña replies. "Besides, we need her to live." Just then May groans, and she begins to have a vision of climbing a tall cliff. She reaches the top despite being unable to use her spider powers, and finds a young blond woman (also named May) waiting for her. The young woman tells her the story of how Norman Osborn created a duplicate of her, and May can only ask "am I the original, or the copy?" The woman cannot answer, but instead tells May she will have to enter the nearby cave--a cave from which May can hear a horrible growling noise--and face "the beast" in order to find her answer.
At Osborn Chemical, Normie is filling Darkdevil and Kaine in on the events of the previous few issues. Kaine is disgusted by Norman Osborn's plan, while Darkdevil voices the question that's on everyone's mind: which May is the real one? Normie can't answer, saying only that they need to find Peter Parker. Which is fairly difficult considering that Peter has been kidnapped by the Order of the Goblin and strapped to "some kind of programming device," as Fury puts it. "We are nearing the day of [Norman's] return," Rene replies. "This could be the beginning of the resurrection of Norman Osborn."
While Fury is left to ponder that lovely thought, May is still in the vision of the cave. Realizing that she has no choice but to enter and face what is inside, May walks in to find herself facing... a large version of Spider-Girl. "Nothing like the oh-so-subtle symbolism of being pitted against yourself." May begins to fight the beast, but in the real world she slips into cardiac arrest. Araña declares that there is only one thing that can save May now, and grabs both sides of May's head and begins to concentrate. Back inside the vision, the young woman reappears to May and tells her that she senses great danger. May cracks wise, noting that her powers grow stronger the closer she comes to the beast, but finds herself looking up at another woman in the cave, this one a redhead who joins her in the fight. Despite the blond May's warnings.
Back in the real world, the Brand New May has met up with Davida Kirby and the two of them head off to Cafe Indigo. "May" is shocked to learn that she broke up with Gene Thompson, but Davida doesn't notice. When they arrive, Gene is also there and is royally pissed off. He makes a move at "May", who dodges and leaves him with a face full of food. Gene gets up and goes after "May" again, who flips him across the room with one hand. The crowd at Cafe Indigo is stunned silent, but only briefly, and they start to applaud as Gene's unconscious body is dragged out of the room.
In the vision, May is reluctant to trust this new, red-headed figure but eventually agrees. The newcomer tells May that the beast wants her immortal soul and declares that the only way to fight it is for the two to join forces. The blond May warns her not to, but the two vanish in a flash of light that appears to kill the beast.
Araña collapses, falling away from May's body in the real world as Michael can only catch her. She asks Araña why she didn't listen and gets an answer... but from May's body. A stunned Michael turns around to find May getting up from the hospital bed, speaking to her in Araña's voice. "What's the matter, Michael? Don't you recognize me?"
Sigh... this story went from WOW! to WTF? in record time.
May's own words say it best: "Talk about corny!" After last month's battle royale we are "treated" to a goofy vision concerning fighting a giant Spider-Girl and Araña possessing May's body? What a letdown! I'll admit that I've never been a fan of Araña since Tom DeFalco brought her into Amazing Spider-Girl back in issue #14, but I am not liking this turn of events at all. This is a storyline about May Parker being replaced by her identical twin/clone. Now we're adding a quasi-mystical vision and having somebody take over the real May Parker? Disbelief can only be suspended so far.
As for Brand New May's encounter with Gene Thompson, that didn't feel right either. Sure, Gene is no prize, but it looked as though he was ready and willing to assault May in the Cafe Indigo. Being a jerk is one thing, beating up Wes is one thing, beating a woman is something else entirely. Maybe that's not what Tom DeFalco intended when he wrote that scene, but the script and the artwork made Gene look like he'd entirely lost control of himself. He looked like he wanted to teach May Parker a lesson the hard way, and that doesn't fit with the Gene Thompson we all know and tolerate.
Also included in this issue are two backup stories. The first deals with Kaine as he finally catches up with the DeJunae family in the south of France and rescues baby May. The second is another cartoonish installment of "Li'l Benjy," and focuses on the young tyke's use of his spider powers to swipe a few extra cookies. Neither story adds much of note to the issue, but they're fine as far as they go.
A significant step backward after last year's sterling cliffhanger. With only five issues to go until cancellation--and it looks like it could really happen this time--I hope Tom DeFalco can bounce back from this one and end Amazing Spider-Girl on a high note.
Two webs, largely because I'm hopeful this issue is a fluke rather than a sign of things to come.