The Kingpin is trying to reclaim his hold on New York City. Tension is growing in the Parker marriage. And just why is Senator Ward being attacked by both Hydra and Bullseye? Beats me, but you just know Spider-Man's caught smack in the middle.
While Kingpin and Bullseye discuss the big guy's ongoing efforts to take control of the New York underworld (much to the chagrin of the poor slob Wilson just threw out the window) Spider-Man is busy whacking everyone's favorite pajama-wearing Nazis: Hydra! It seems they've just tried to assassinate Senator Ward, the presidential candidate who has attracted more than his fair share of homicidal bad guys. Spidey dispatches Hydra in short order, only to swing away in shock as the Senator accuses him of being involved in the attack. As if that weren't confusing enough, Peter arrives home after filing the story to find Mary Jane and Jill Stacy deep in discussion. MJ blows him off, even when she gets another strange phone call, leaving Peter to deal with the other visitor to the Parker household: Arthur Stacy.
It seems Mr. Stacy needs to track down Spider-Man. After MJ assures him that Peter has no way of contacting Spidey anymore (that'll be a pretty good blowout, I'm thinking) Arthur leaves with Jill, but he barely hits the street before being escorted into a car by several scary-looking men. Jill is left scared on the curb, but it seems yon car has a little hitchhiker on the rear bumper in the form of a spider-tracer. As for Arthur, he's brought to the roof of a building where he meets Senator Ward. The two talk for awhile, Arthur alluding to something in Ward's past and the good Senator "asking" for his help. ("And if I don't?" "Let's not even think about that, Arthur.") But this meeting is also interrupted when one of Ward's bodyguards collapses with a playing card embedded in the back of his head. Ouch. Raw deal, buddy.
The culprit is not Gambit, nor is it a disgruntled blackjack dealer, but Bullseye, who has taken a page from the Ragin' Cajun's playbook (minus that whole kinetic energy thing) and is peppering the rooftop with cards. This is Spidey's cue, and he arrives on the scene in time to dodge two fistfuls of throwing stars. While the wall-crawler is dodging projectiles, Bullseye takes the opportunity and sinks a blade deep into Arthur's back. A second attempted murder is thwarted by the return of Spider-Man, who duels with the super-villain for two pages and forces him off the roof. Bullseye's planned ahead, of course, and three seconds later the top of the building explodes. While Bullseye swings off into the night, Spidey, Ward, and Arthur Stacy are floating gently to the ground in an improvised web chute. They land, and Ward's men are quick to hustle him off into another waiting car, leaving Spider-Man stuck with the injured Stacy, who can't stop from warning him about the Senator. "He's the devil incarnate..."
It's slightly difficult to rate an issue like this because it's mostly just a setup. We've known for awhile that Ward's had a shaky past (three super-powered assassination attempts in six issues? I wouldn't leave my house!) but now we learn that Arthur has something to do with that. Okay, fair enough. To be honest, I'm liking this whole intrigue thing with the Senator, so I'm looking forward to what comes of this mystery man. Then again, I was looking forward to "The Gathering of Five" and "The Final Chapter" too, and we all know how those stories turned out, so while I'm hoping for something good, I ain't holdin' my breath, either. For all I know Mackie might turn Ward into Uncle Ben reincarnated.
Art was okay; standard Romita, Jr. stuff so you get your Spidey a little blockier than normal, but nothing really to complain about (except for some pretty hideous looking webbing on page 17. Yuck!) And I have to admit that Bullseye is becoming one of my favorite villains, especially after his brief appearance in Daredevil recently, so that's a plus. And as to the mysterious person making MJ's life a living hell? Also not bad. There are a few things still being done right over at Spidey Central. I just wish that was the rule, not the exception.
How's about three webs? I'd rate it a bit higher if I could trust that this creative team will turn this into a great story. Until then, average score.