Aunt May has been kidnapped and Spidey is desperate to find her. As result of his actions in finding trying to find her he ended up in a hospital and now there's a reward out to see if someone can identify him from photos taken of him bloody and beaten in a hospital bed. Meanwhile Venom has arrived in town for an auction...
We open on the previous issues cliffhanger, Spidey being attacked by a SWAT team who want to get his mask off and claim the reward. In the middle of the firefight, Captain LaMont arrives and calls off the SWAT team. Spidey swings off, but wonders what "tests" are being planned for Doc Ock...
Later, Pete meets up with MJ at a cafe. They discuss whether Pete got some photos good enough to sell and Pete replies that he hasn't heard back from the Bugle and will check it out later. MJ tells Peter how, from what she's found out, that Venom is the most likely kidnapper. Felicia told her that there is some big super-villian meeting planned that night and that Venom is at the centre of it. Peter tells her that she should get out of town again. MJ says she's staying and reveals she is now carrying a gun. Pete's a little worried, but says nothing.
Over at the Daily Bugle Jonah enters his office to find some guys in a Spidey suit willing to reveal his identity in exchange for the reward. Jonah has him escorted out by security. Pete is outside the office and asks the secretary if this happens often. She says it has been happeining ten times day or so, since the reward was posted. Pete enters the office and hitsup JJ for some cash, during the discussion John Jameson enters and catches up with Pete. John and JJ leave, but Jonah says he'll give Pete $500 for the photo because he knows about his money problems.
Pete heads over to jail to visit Osborn again. He's starting to think that Aunt May must be dead, but hopes Osborn might be able to give him some clues. Osborn asks Spidey why does he think that he'll help him. Osborn then relays a story of how he seemingly helped one of his jailors cure their wife of a mysterious illness. Only that the cure only worked for a little while and then she became so ill that she is now in coma. So Osborn poses the question of if that's how he "helps" people he's got nothing against, then what his help going to be like for someone who has endangered him. Pete asks how he's endangered. And Norman tells him to think about what's happening with Doc Ock and why Norman's offices are being searched.
Peter then heads to the X-Men's mansion for a meeting with Rachel Summers, a telepath. Rachel tries hard to divine what has happened to AUnt May and comes to the conclusion that she thinks May is dead.
Elswhere, that super-villain meeting is happening. Apparently its on auction for the Venom symbiote and a whole lot of Spidey's villains have turned up to bid...
A fair bit happens this issue, but it all seems like build up, just putting all the plot points in place so that things can really start happening next issue. Its still enjoyable, but it feels like the pace has slowed quite a bit.
There are some nice moments. This side plot about Doc Ock and suggested testing is interesting, but seems like it could be leading onto something similar to what happened in the Ultimate Six storyline. Osborn's appearance is great again, Millar has really hit upon a good vibe for Osborn, as he seems truly menacing, even when he's incarated. Seeing the Bugle and John Jameson was great. Spidey's trip to the X-Men provided a humorous moment.
On the other hand, the supposed main plots of Aunt May's dissapearance and the new diversion of Venom and the auction are not forwarded much at all. I was hoping that at least the Venom auction would've gone ahead and we would've seen some action. I guess that's really what's missing and makes this issue different to previous issues, there isn't any great action sequences. Some good character and talking head stuff, but no fight sequence.
A solid issue, just missing that little bit extra that was present in previous issues.