This series features a series of unconnected classically-themed stories of a Spider-Man which are actually set in the modern-day, rather when we first actually met him back in '62. Every story is developed to evoke the look and feel of a Stan Lee-style action tale, wrapped up and delivered in a contemporary art package.
Each of the various stories has no connection to other issues - other than that the recognizable elements of the Marvel Universe remain the same (Pete is Spidey, JJJ runs The Daily Bugle, etc.), and everything remains recognizable to even the most casual of readers). All of this makes for a serious amount of good comicbooks, making this virtually the perfect comic series for not just younger readers, but for new (older) readers as well.
To be sure, even older fans returning to the fold who are looking to read Spider-Man stories without having to deal with the weight of 45 years of continuity or the messy fallout of Marvel's recent Civil War event should enjoy this series.
The Gray Gargoyle is in town, and he has been hired to steal the Venus de Milo for a wealthy, private collector, and Spider-Man aims to stop him.
As usual, this story opens up in the middle of a fight. Spidey is mixing it up with the Gray Gargoyle. Peter's class is at yet another field trip, this time to an art museum. (Hey, you think if they came here first and he got bit by a radioactive painting he would have become your friendly, neighborhood Art- Man?) Again, as usual, Peter the geek is fascinated by everything that is going on around him, and the other students simply see it as a day out of the classroom (especially Flash Thompson who flat-out doesn't get it.
When they are brought to view the exquisiteness of the Venus de Milo statue, all Flash can see is that she has no arms. Liz (who looks more and more like the Liz Allen from Spider-Man loves Mary Jane every issue) tries to silence her jock boyfriend, while Peter wanders off to see what just tripped his Spider-sense. He doesn't have to go far, as he walks past a "statue" of a gray man in a blue cape. Pete lights a match and holds it in front of the statues' nose, only to see the flame waver, indicating that the "statue" is actually alive.
Enraged, the statue comes to life - showing that it is actually the Gray Gargoyle - and swats Peter and the usher aside. As everyone runs for cover, Pete ducks out to switch into his fighting togs, and the museum's guards try to subdue the Gargoyle. As can be expected, he beats them down with a painting that he rips off the wall, turns to stone, and tosses at them. The way now cleared, the Gargoyle rushes the Greek statue, announcing his plans to steal it.
However, before he reaches it, he finds himself covered in our hero's webbing, with good ol' Flash cheering him on. Well, the Gargoyle's powers make short work of Spidey's ball o' webbing, and then he goes after Spidey. Foolishly thinking that the webbed one needs his help, Flash hauls off and beans the super-powered villain with a metal stanchion, needless to say, this only gets Gargoyle irked. As Flash and Liz attempt to beat a hasty retreat, the Gargoyle grabs Liz and turns her into stone.
He then tosses her down a hallway, and makes good his own escape, leaving Spidey to decide to catch Liz, or chase him. Yep, Spidey does the heroic thing, and webs up a pillow to catch his classmate. As Spidey sees to the safety of Liz, the Gargoyle makes off with Venus. Unwilling to let his heroics get in the way of catching the villain, Spidey tosses a spider-tracer at the Gargoyle, which lands on his billowing cape. The French villain bursts through the ceiling and makes it to the roof of the building with his booty, as Spidey attempts to keep any debris from hitting Liz's body. Then when the dust clears, he scatters the debris left behind by the Gargoyle's escape, charges Flash with keeping their friend safe, and heads out after the bad guy.
As Spidey starts to hone in on the tracer, the Gargoyle meets up with his backer, the man who hired him to steal the statue in the first place. As it turns out, that guy winds up being Mr. Caan, the very person who donated all the money to the museum and got the Louvre to loan the statue to the museum in the first place. It is there that the Gargoyle becomes surprised as top what Caan's real intentions are for the statue.
Seems that the very wealth Mr. Caan is something of a nutball; apparently he feels that the statue is the height of beauty, but wants to repair it's arms, so he kidnapped Heather Silver , a supermodel, and wants the Gargoyle to turn her into stone, so that he can hack off the girl's arms and attach them to Venus. Just as it appears that the Gargoyle is about to do his benefactor's bidding, Spidey bursts into Mr. Caan's private museum. Yet when Spidey enters the side room where Mr. Caan, Silver (are), and the Gargoyle (was) he finds a hole in the wall, and the French supervillain gone.
Outside, the gargoyle is climbing down the side of the building, only his weight is too much for the outcropping on which he is standing (a gargoyle, ironically enough) which he crushes. Spidey webs him a line, only the villain catches it with his "powered" hand, turns it to stone, and falls to the sidewalk below - breaking into a million pieces. Only, as Spidey examines the rubble below - he wonders if the gargoyle is really gone, or merely used the fall and stone to hide his own escape.
This is yet another good example of how great this title can work when written correctly, something that long-time Spider-scribe Peter David can so obviously do and do quite well. One can almost imagine that he left the regular Spider- titles for the MA universe because there is much less editorial interference in these titles, and he gets to write the stuff that he wants, without having to be dictated to by the event of the month.
There is a one page Mini Marvel staring the FF at the end of this story. Spidey does not appear in the Mini Marvel story. While this writer admittedly loves these Chris Giarrusso treats, we would prefer to see an active letters page in its steed.