A few months ago, after defeating Morlun in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker returned to his apartment and promptly fell asleep. Shortly after, Aunt May walked into his apartment to find her nephew battered and bruised, with a tattered Spider-Man costume on the floor. She confronted him about this revelation some time later, and they promised to discuss the matter at greater length in the future. Well, Peter Parker, the future is now...
After breaking up a fight between the Jamaican mob and Hammerhead's gang, Spider-Man returns to his apartment, where his spider-sense gives him a slight warning that someone is inside. His spider-sense doesn't indicate any actual danger, though, so Peter changes to his civvies and goes inside to find his Aunt May waiting there for him. May says that she wants to discuss his life as Spider-Man, and more specifically, Gwen Stacy's death. Peter tells May how he feels that he accidentally killed Gwen by snapping her neck with his webbing when he tried to save her. But May tells him that Gwen's death was in no way Peter's fault. And she says that she wants to know everything about Spider-Man. Peter manages to stall for the time being, but sooner or later, he's going to have to tell Aunt May the whole story.
The next day, Peter receives flowers at school from Aunt May (which his students all get a big kick out of), and that night he's caught in the middle of another fight between Hammerhead's goons and the Jamaicans, with the Colombians and Yakuza thrown in for good measure. The day after that, Peter meets Aunt May in Central Park where he tells her what it's like to web-swing and climb walls. While there, they find a cat stranded in a tree. May implores Peter to rescue it, but Peter says that he can't show off his powers while there are people around. So Aunt May pretends to fall to create a diversion, and Peter saves the cat.
That night, Spider-Man shows up to attempt to quell a fight between the Polish Mafia and Hammerhead's gang, and this time Hammerhead himself has shown up. Before long, it's a full-blown war with all kinds of other gangs showing up, including the French on bicycles armed with baguettes. Spidey manages to subdue most of the goons and gets away with Hammerhead swearing vengeance.
Back at Aunt May's house in Forest Hills, May and Peter are looking through old photo albums when they come across a picture of May with Doctor Octopus. Recalling her long-ago engagement to Doc Ock, Aunt May realizes that a predicament that would have been for Peter. And she also remembers the time she tried to kill Spider-Man. She and Peter manage to laugh that off, but May realizes there's still a lot that Peter isn't telling her. Peter knows that she'll keep asking, so he finally agrees to tell her the next day in Central Park, but he warns her that what's going to tell her is awful, and that she should only come if she's one hundred percent certain that she wants to know.
For the entire next day, while beating up goons and gathering information about mob activity, Peter tries to figure out how to tell Aunt May the truth. And when he arrives in Central Park, he finds May waiting for him, and he tells her quite simply, "The Green Goblin is Norman Osborn." Peter goes on to tell her about Osborn's powers and insanity, and what happened to Harry, and that because Osborn knows that Peter is Spider-Man, Peter's family is constantly in danger. Aunt May is stunned, and she says that she doesn't want to know anything else right now, but as she's getting up to leave, she tells Peter that she realizes that what he does as Spider-Man, he does to try to make up for being responsible for Uncle Ben's death. But she tells him that no matter what Peter does, Ben won't be coming back to life.
That night, Peter, as Spider-Man, goes to shut down yet another fight between Hammerhead and the Polish Mafia. This time, the Polish have hired the Rhino and some guy in a robot suit called the Uber-Machine as added muscle. Spidey makes short work of them and the rest of the goons, when he finds Hammerhead, who is actually applauding. Hammerhead tells him that while it may look to Spider-Man that he's taken a sizable chunk out of Hammerhead's gang, in reality, all Spidey has done is get rid of some guys who were causing Hammerhead problems, and at the same time take care of some rival gangs. So in actuality, Hammerhead wins.
A dejected Spidey goes back home where he lays down on his couch to crash, but he spots a news bulletin about a giant blob that's attacking New York. So Spidey reluctantly hops out the window to play hero yet again.
I always like it when Paul Jenkins takes an issue to look at how a character works, and this issue is no exception. The interaction between Peter and May in this issue was handled very well, particularly the scene when May realizes how Peter was involved in Gwen's death. And May telling Peter that no matter how hard he tries, there's nothing he can do to change the fact that Uncle Ben is dead was a memorable scene that could only have been gut-wrenching for Peter. And the art, by Buckingham and Faucher, is once again very solid, although there are a few weak points, such as the goofy looking rendition of Hammerhead.
My only real complaint with this issue is Aunt May's utter shock when Peter reveals that Norman Osborn is the Green Goblin. Didn't Ben Urich write a book about Norman and Harry's careers as the Green Goblin (see the terrific Legacy of Evil one-shot for details)? And at the very least, would May not know that Harry was the Goblin? He did die in the costume in the middle of the street in front of plenty of witnesses, after all. Oh, but I just remembered... the Aunt May that was around when Urich wrote his book and when Harry died was actually just an actress. Man, Spidey's history really is a big convoluted mess.
It's no Webspinners #12, but this is still a pretty good, touching story from Paul Jenkins. Four webs.