Aunt May has been kidnapped by an unknown villain who knows Peter is Spider-Man. Pete believes her to be dead after consulting with one of the X-Men's telepaths The Bugle is offering a reward of $5m for Spidey's identity, while MJ and Peter are having money problems. Meanwhile, Eddie Brock, who is dying of cancer, is holding an auction to sell off the Venom symbiote to the highest bidder.
In a sewer, Spidey is getting tucked into The Lizard. Naughty Curt has escaped from prison and has been giving off noxious fumes after inhaling some chemicals. It has been making anyone who's been anywhere near him violent. Spidey recounts the brushes with villains trying to unmask him in recent weeks before checking in with Felicia.
Dodson is at his best drawing Felicia, as ever and the blow-up balloon tells Pete that Don Fortunato - the father of Jimmy Six - won the auction for Venom two weeks ago. She had to get Shocker drunk to find that out! May has now been missing for almost five weeks and Spidey was told three weeks ago she was dead. No-one has claimed responsibility, though and he can't understand it.
In a diner called 'Millar' (heh!), Spidey ends up talking to the mother of Vulture's grandson, who has leukaemia. As if Pete didn't feel bad enough, he sure as hell does now.
Over at a church, Brock is going through the last-minute details of his deal with Fortunato. Don is going to pay $100m to 50 different charities and his lad gets the symbiote. He encourages the buyer to ask Venom for Spidey's identity.
Pete and MJ have gone to a high school reunion where Liz is also. Pete is pleased that all the jocks who used to make fun of him are now jealous of MJ. Pete has an uncomfortable chat with Liz about how their experiences of school was different. She says that after everything they've gone through, she feels really close to him.
Pete is persuaded to go to the gym to have a picture taken for the paralyzed Flash Thompson, but some old jocks try to get a rise out of him by giving him a wedgie for old-times sake. Pete tells them to back off when, suddenly, a new- looking Venom leaps through into the building. He slams Pete into the wall and knocks out Pete's classmates with the rubble. Only one was not knocked out - Seymour O'Reilly, one of Flash Thompson's old followers who used to encourage Flash to antagonize Peter. Seymour sees Pete stuck to the wall and hears Venom call him Spider-Man. With this revelation, Venom grabs his head and swiftly kills him. As Venom, Angelo intends to make a name for himself starting with killing Spider-Man...
Wow! A new Venom... Angelo Fortunato. I love Millar's vision of taking an old character and giving him a totally new edge. Venom has been through the mill so many times and been spat back out with the endless mid-90's miniseries that, as a character, Eddie Brock as Venom was a joke.
All that brain slurping and spleen eating nonsense is just that. For the first time in ages, a writer has come along and taken an old, worn-out idea and turned it into something interesting. Will the new Venom work out as a character? I'm not sure ... but what it has done is at least mix things up a bit to the point that I am actually interested in what happens with Venom next.
The issue itself is full of Bendis-esque pacing ... which is fine with me in that I'm not too bothered if we end up with a fight or not. What is slightly disappointing, however, is advancement of the story. Not much really happens at all. The scenes in the diner with Vulture's grandson's mother have a Tangled Web-type feeling to them. It also would have been nice to at least get a panel or two from the symbiote auction.
These really are just minor things though in the longer run of things. MKSM is by far the strongest of the three main titles at the moment. The Millar/Dodsons team is working nicely and Mark has shown he has a real grasp of the character. I love the reference about Felicia getting Shocker drunk to find out what the auction was all about ... that really is a tale for Tangled Web/Unlimited.
The rating is bumped up slightly by the sheer idea of it all, not necessarily by the issue itself. Millar's pacing is slightly off and, in the middle of the issue, the story grinds to a halt. The next part promises to be a real belter, though.