After the drubbing he sustained at the hands of the Green Goblin last issue, Pete takes this month off, and instead we're treated to a story from the point of the view of the NYPD. Relations between Spidey and the police have always been somewhat tense, and Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Buckingham seek to explore that this issue...
We open outside a New York police station, where an aged cop chats to the reader about Spider-Man, and how everyone on the force has a different opinion. Inside the precinct, we meet a pair of detectives who relate a story from a few nights ago, of Spidey breaking up a robbery at a deli. The crooks are neatly webbed up when the cops arrive, but when they question they talk to the deli's owner, he looks at the crooks and is intimidated, and instead blames the robbery on Spidey. The two detectives feel "he's more trouble than he's worth".
Next we visit an Assistant District Attorney, who talks about when the mayor decided that Spider-Man had to be brought in. Their plan was to pour tax dollars into the construction of a giant Spider-Signal that was expected to lure him in when shone against a building. But when the plan went into effect, Spider-Man, of course, never showed. But a few nights later, Spidey paid this woman a visit in the precinct parking lot, where he tried to explain his innocence in a misunderstanding over a bank robbery involving the Rhino. It didn't work, but the woman admitted to being somewhat fond of the wall-crawler afterwards.
Now we meet a police commissioner, who feels that "The Spider-Man is a liability." He talks about his best friend, George Stacy, and how he was killed by Spider-Man. After George was crushed by falling bricks while saving a young boy during Spidey's infamous tussle with Doctor Octopus, the web-slinger came and picked up George from the wreckage, and from the point of view of the commissioner, carried him away from the scene before he could receive the medical attention that may have saved his life.
Cut to a police laboratory, where a woman discusses the brilliance of Spider-Man's webbing. She said that they managed to preserve a sample of webbing in formaldehyde before it could dissolve, and are trying to trace the manufacturer that way, but have received little help from the commissioner's office.
In the police locker room, we encounter a young rookie who is teased for his recent encounter with Spider-Man. The kid tells the story of him and his partner being called to investigate a disturbance that turned out to be a fight between Spidey and the Sandman. The kid attempts to arrest Spidey, until the Sandman throws a car at Spidey and the cops. Spidey manages to save the cops from the car, but the rookie panics and shoots the car five times.
And finally, we come back to the cop from the very start of the story. He tells a story from years ago when he was called to the Brooklyn Bridge, and he witnessed a fight between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. The cop noticed as a girl was knocked off the top of the bridge by the Goblin and knew she didn't have a chance, but Spidey tried to save her anyway. When Spidey lowered the girl to the ground, the cop went to check out the scene, but found the web-slinger there, holding her dead body, and he could tell that Spidey was taking it very hard, in a personal way. The cop found out later that the girl was George Stacy's daughter, Gwen, and they had to bring her boyfriend, Peter Parker, in to ask some procedural questions. The questions didn't take long, and as Pete was leaving, the cop stopped him, and told him he saw what happened, and that Spider-Man did everything in his power to try to save her. Peter thanked him, with tears in his eyes.
And the old sergeant talks about what a shame it was to lose a young girl like that, and about all the other super heroes in town, but as for Spider-Man? He's glad he's on their side.
After such an intense issue as last month's, this issue was very welcome, as a chance to just wind down. Instead of an action extravaganza, we're treated to a nice, thoughtful little story.
Mr. Jenkins, as usual, does a nice job with the script this issue, going from humour (the "Spider-Signal") to seriousness (the Stacys) with ease. Unfortunately, some of this material has already been overdone, such as Captain Stacy's story (the recent "Death & Destiny" limited series), and Gwen's death. But Jenkins puts new spins on each. For example, it had never occurred to me how Spidey taking Captain Stacy's body would appear to the cops; and the scene with Peter a few days after Gwen's death was very touching.
As for the art, I was initially disappointed when I heard that Mr. Buckingham was taking the month off. But I was pleasantly surprised at the comic shop when I saw the Joe Bennett cover. Unfortunately, Sandu Florea's inks don't complement Mr. Bennett's work as much as they could, although there are still some nice moments (particularly the Spidey/Goblin battle and Spidey with Gwen).
All in all, another terrific issue. I wanted to give it five webs, I really did, but with the artistic quibbles and the fact that I wasn't quite blown away like last issue, I just couldn't do it. But still, a very good, touching issue, which easily earns its four and a half webs.