After being incapacitated in a near-fatal explosion, May Parker has awakened to learn that the costumed enigma Araña has switched bodies with her for reasons unknown. Peter Parker, who had begun to suffer the ill effects of an exploding beaker that hit him in Normie Osborn's lab, has been captured by the Goblin Cult. All this and the Brand New May clone, too!
May has awakened in Araña's body and is none too pleased to find herself there. Nor is she particularly happy that the blonde spirit (also named May) is still watching over her. Making matters even worse is that the room is filled with Araña's cohorts, who have yet to figure out what is going on but are suspicious enough to order a full medical exam. Despite the spirit May's warnings that a loss of control could cause her to slip back out of Araña's body, Spider-Girl is fed up. She beats her way free and jumps out the window... forgetting that she has no webshooters. After managing to attach herself to a nearby building (wrenching her shoulder in the process,) she makes her escape.
Meanwhile, at the Black Tarantula's current headquarters, BT is confronting the men who captured the woman he believes to be Spider-Girl but is actually Araña in Spider-Girl's body. Incensed that they beat her unconscious, BT orders Chesbro to leave the room and takes a minute to express his displeasure. (In fairness, he later tells Chesbro to double the reward and that he will pay for the hospitalizations.)
May/Araña is patrolling the city trying to figure out what to do next--as well as find a way to keep warm--when she stumbles across a mugging in process. She defeats the muggers, "borrows" a long coat from one of them, and then asks if she could use the would-be victim's cell phone. After failing to get in touch with her father, she calls Normie, who is meeting with Fury, the Goblin Queen in an attempt to get her to release Peter Parker. Fury's terms are simple: Normie for Peter. Normie blows her off and Fury leaves just as his phone rings. May/Araña convinces Normie who she really is by mentioning the time she kissed him in his apartment, and fills him in on everything that has happened to her.
While this is happening, Araña (in Spider-Girl's body) awakens in the Black Tarantula's suite. BT apologizes for what happened. Araña forgives him, takes off her mask, and passionately kisses him. The kiss makes BT realize that she is really Araña, and backhands her across the room. "I suppose I should feel flattered," Araña says. "It's a real pity that one of us must die."
Fury, meanwhile, is flying back to rejoin the Goblin cult when she is met by the Brand New May, who kicks her off the glider and inadvertently spills the beans regarding her father's secret identity. Fury zaps the May clone and hot rods it back to base, now convinced that their plans for Peter Parker are pure madness. She lands inside the window only to take a blast to the chest. Peter Parker, clad in goblin armor, stands over her lifeless(?) body. "You may call me... Norman," he says
As for the Brand New May, she has pulled herself back together and is tracking down Fury when the true May (in Araña's body) catches up to her. As they fight, the real Araña and the Black Tarantula continue to battle. BT shoots his eyeblasts at Araña, who begs him to stop. "I never meant to endanger Spider-Girl's life. She's innocent." "So was I," BT replies, "before I first met you." "How many times must I apologize? I never planned to hurt you or--ARRRGH!" The eyeblasts connect, and Araña doubles over backwards. At the same moment, May doubles over backwards and falls off the rooftop she was standing on.
Groggily, May regains consciousness in her own body... only to find the Black Tarantula standing over her. "You arrived just in time to die!"
Well, at least May is back in her own body. Only now we have Norman Osborn possessing Peter Parker's body. All I can say is, I hope we learn what this mystical "process" was that made all of these particular switcharoos possible, because this is a pretty big plot point to accept "just because."
And speaking of topics that could use a little explanation, Araña's master plan seems a little... strange. She switches bodies with Spider-Girl in order to get close to the Black Tarantula and smooch him, then when he wises up she declares that one of them has to die, but when the tide of the fight turns against her she says she never meant to hurt him? What is the point of any of this?
This series' final story arc continues to be a disappointing mishmash of contrived plot points and confusing storytelling. This issue, at least, had a few redeeming qualities. The comments by May and her clone about how "old" Araña's thirty-year-old body looked were cute (though take it from someone who knows, May, they won't be as funny when you're on the dark side of thirty yourself.) Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema still deliver on the artistic front after all this time. And bonus points for hopefully killing off Fury, who was always a lot more annoying than menacing.
The Brand New May makes only a cameo appearance for the second straight issue. Hopefully Tom DeFalco's big reveal happens next issue. Like the third Peter Parker clone in the original clone saga (the one that turned into Freakface/Spidercide and became much less interesting) she has served her purpose and now needs to exit stage left before this drags out any further.
Another weak issue, but with three left there is still time to end on a high note. Here's hoping.
Two webs for the reasons stated above as well as a particularly memorable cover.