Paul Jenkins has guts, I'll say that. He's brave enough to bring in a character who played a big part in that unbelievable mess that was the Clone Saga. I'm surprised the higher-ups at Marvel are letting him get away with this. I bet that as soon as they hear the phrase "Clone Saga", they get horrific visions of dozens of Spider-Man/Jackal half-breeds running around creating nonsensical plot threads.
But anyway, I digress. I'll get on with it now...
The issue opens with Spider-Man sitting on a rooftop, thinking about his wife, Mary Jane, and why she always wanted him to give up life as a super hero. Looking back on his recent battle with the Green Goblin, Spidey considers that maybe MJ wasn't so concerned about him dying, as she was about him crossing a line that has become increasingly blurred of late. Spidey considers hanging up the webs, but when he spots mysterious electrical surges endangering civilians in Times Square, he swings into action. Before long, Spidey manages to unplug a large wire, eliminating the menace, but just as everything is powering down, spots an image of Mendel Stromm, the Robot Master on one of the huge TV screens, and a message asking for Spidey's help.
Peter decides to seek out some scientific help regarding the nature of the electrical disturbance, so he decides to pay a visit to his tenth grade science teacher, Daphne "Boomer" Smith. She earned her nickname with the deafening explosions that she used to demonstrate the material to her pupils. Miss Smith informs Peter that the machinery that made the surges should not have been able to carry that much current, and therefore the surges must have come from somewhere else on the electric grid. Then the conversation turns to MJ, and Miss Smith tells Peter that it's okay if he doesn't want to let her go just yet.
Meanwhile, the electrical surges worsen across the city. Peter enlists the aid of Randy's hacker friend Shea to infiltrate the New York Electric Company's website, and the three of them manage to discover that the power surges are coming from one of their own relay stations. Peter suits up, and Spider-Man goes to investigate the relay station. He manages to avoid more electrical surges and strangling cable, and he makes short work of several of Stromm's classic killer robots. Spidey finally makes it to Stromm's inner sanctum where he is treated to the shock of a lifetime, for suspended in the middle of the room by strange wires and hoses, is Stromm's disembodied head.
First Typeface, then the Squid over in ASM, and now the Robot Master? The Spider-books of the 21st century seem to be the place for goofy villains. I'll be expecting Will o' the Wisp, Nitro the Living Bomb, and Rocket Racer anytime now. At least I hope Rocket Racer will be around...
Mr. Jenkins has penned a nice little story here. First, I find it completely implausible that Pete, Randy, and Shea could solve a problem that had stumped all the minds at the electric company. Second, Shea's "Would you like fries with that?" made me cringe. But aside from that, the book is solid - particularly the Miss Smith part, and downright creepy cliffhanger. The Mark Buckingham art is solid as usual, particularly the out of costume stuff, and the cover by Kaare Andrews is just beautiful.
22 pages, and no one brought up the Clone Saga. We can breathe a sigh of relief. But seriously, this was another nice, solid issue of PP:SM from Paul & Mark, even if I did have issues with a couple parts of the plot. In fact, I'm very much looking forward to the next issue.