This issue sees Spidey teaming up with the Captain America character, Nomad.
Spidey comes across a nasty car crash in the streets during the day. Swinging down, he's able to tear the stuck door off the side so medics can get to the crash victims inside. Looking on in the crowd is a dude named Jack Monroe, aka Nomad, who thinks that with those powers Spidey must not have a care in the world.
Dropping into an alley, Spidey uses the symbiote costume to change into civilian clothes with a thought. A kid in the alleys named Tony is whining to his brother Deke about how he wants to join his brother Deke's gang, The Butcher Dogs, but Deke pushes Tony down and tells him to get lost.
After changing in the alley, Peter gets accosted by the Butcher Dogs, who demand Peter empty his pockets. He thinks they're a joke but before he can do anything, Jack Monroe comes and starts kicking the thugs around, and Pete tries to subtley help out so as not to reveal his alter ego.
Running the thugs off, Pete and Jack make their introductions. Jack says he was short-cutting through the alley, was delivering some artwork (which he mentions later was drawn by Steve Rogers, aka Cap America himself), and was on his way to the movies--a showing of the John Wayne film Rio Bravo. Jack talks Pete into joining him at the movies. While they're waiting for it to start, Jack waxes nostalgic that movies like Rio Bravo were from an era when movies were entertaining, unlike the "strange and pointless" movies of today. Pete jokes that Jack would get along well with his Aunt May, and says that Jack talks like he just stepped out of the 50's himself. Jack thinks that the truth is, he was cryogenically frozen back in the 50's because the super-soldier serum he was taking was making him crazy, but that he can't mention that to Pete.
After the movie, Jack and Pete are waundering around. The kid from earlier, Tony, spots them and thinks it's his chance to get even for the gang. Tony swipes the package of artwork out of Jack's hands that Jack was to deliver, and makes a run for it. Chasing Tony into the alleys, Pete and Jack decide to split up in hopes of heading the kid off. Really, it's a chance for them to change into their alter-egos. Now in costume, they both get a bead on the kid, but blow it when they both go to capture him at once. Spidey webs Nomad by mistake, and they have to sort out the misunderstanding while Tony escapes again.
In a nearby alley, the Taskmaster has assembled a crowd of thugs. He tells them they're all small-time crooks--but that after being trained by Taskmaster, they could go to work for his client, the Black Abbott. Tony finds the crowd, and his brother Deke, telling him that Spider-man "and another weirdo" is on his trail. Initially, Deke is mad that his brother might've led the heroes to them, but Taskmaster overhears and says it's a great opportunity for him to get even with Spider-man, and to teach the punks some combat techniques at the same time. One of the punks says to another it's a chance to get even with Spider-man over bringing in their buddy "Cool Breeze" (a reference to the gang member from Marvel Team Up #141).
Swinging around, Spidey's webline is cut by an arrow. Landing in the alleys, Spidey has to dodge a barrage of arrows. Then the gang punks all come out to attack him, but Spidey makes short work of all of them. Taskmaster emerges, and fires a sonic arrow that emits a shrill sound. When Spidey catches it and breaks it, the trick arrow emits a knock-out gas. Nomad finally catches up and jumps in the action. Nomad fights off the punks for a bit, but is caught in the concussive blast of a molotov cocktail. Spidey gets up and tangles with Taskmaster some more, until Black Abbott takes the opportunity to incapicitate Spidey with his "psychic bolt", which drops Spidey to the ground again.
One punk tries to defect, saying he didn't come to fight with superheroes like Spider-man who always end up coming out on top. Black Abbott turns the defecting punk into ashes. Looking on is Nomad, who wonders just what they've got themselves into. Taskmaster draws his sword, saying no one else leaves, or they're getting skewered. To show off his powers, Abbott says he's going to demonstrate on Spidey next. Nomad breaks free, gets ahold of Taskmaster's shield, which is like a copy of Captain America's, and throws the shield just in time to block Abbott's touch, which reflects the energy back on Abbott, disintegrating Abbott's own arm.
Black Abbott retreats to tend to his wounds. Taskmaster fights with Spidey some more, showing off moves he's copped from Iron Fist and Daredevil, before TM decides also to cut his losses and escape. Another molotov cocktail is thrown, endangering the structure of a would-be abandoned building. There's a kid inside of course, it's Tony, and his brother Deke refuses to help Nomad free the kid from fallen debris. The whole place starts to come down, and Nomad thinks this is it, but Spider-man is on the outside, holding up the wall with his clinging power, long enough for Nomad to escape with the kid.
Tony says he doesn't want to be a Butcher Dog anymore, that he wants to follow the heroes example and help people. He gives Nomad back the package he stole. Spider-man tells Nomad that even though the villains escaped, they may have accomplished more there than they thought.
Against the powers of the Black Abbott, created by writer Cary Burkett and appearing here for the first time, Spidey and Nomad seem way out of their league but somehow manage to snatch a victory against him. Abbott appears again as the baddie in the two issues following this one.
The Steve Englehart-created Nomad (originally an alternate Captain America persona) I know next to nothing about. The character that appears here is the third character to utitlize the Nomad identity, and I'm not even sure the character is still story canon for Jack Monroe, who himself is the third Bucky or something-- the history of the Bucky and Nomad characters is about as convoluted as they come in comics.
It's always good to see Spider-man take on the Taskmaster, originally an Avengers villain who seems especially suited to Spider-man's power set. Despite making Tasky an anti-hero of sorts in his own recent miniseries, it'd be great to see Spider-man go toe to toe with him again sometime soon.
A couple good fights, which frame the mostly paint-by-numbers plot. Three webs.
The next time Spider-man takes on the Taskmaster again after this, it's in the pages of Amazing Spider-man #308, which is one of my favorite issues.