Two issues ago, Spider-Man survived an unprovoked assault from Boomerang, and then last issue, he overcame a team-up by the Scorpion and a robot called XP-2000. The oddest thing about those fights, though, is that the villains were all wearing video cameras. Now, with the help of the newly incapacitated XP-2000, Spidey is going to try to get to the bottom of this mystery...
At Four Freedoms Plaza, Spider-Man has sought out the help of Reed Richards in extracting information from XP-2000. XP's video cameras continue to function, and their feed is being watched by Donald Hart, Buck Masterson, Gary Wisen, and Edwin Hills; the four millionaires who staged these fights against Spider-Man in the first place. While watching this, Wisen introduces his contribution to their plot: the Rocket Racer.
Back at Four Freedoms Plaza, Reed has managed to deduce where XP-2000's cameras were broadcasting, so Spidey swings off to investigate. Spidey hides XP in an alley, and changes back into his Peter Parker duds, and then for good measure, he puts on a lame-o sunglasses & mustache disguise before heading into a bar where people have been watching his fights. Peter manages to discover that people are betting on the fights, and that the next villain scheduled to fight is the Rocket Racer, but his cover is blown moments later, and a pair of bouncers kicks him out.
Back outside, Peter puts on his Spidey togs just before Rocket Racer shows up. Rocket Racer gets in a couple good shots before Donald Hart realizes what's happening: Spider-Man is throwing the fight. Rocket Racer continues to pound on Spidey, and the gamblers in all the bars betting on this fight start to riot, and the whole experiment of betting on super-hero battles is instantly brought into disrepute. Hart offers Rocket Racer a million dollars to kill Spidey, but the Racer shuts off his radio and sits down to make peace with Spidey. And as the Rocket Racer takes off, he provides the web-slinger with Hart's address.
Before long, Spidey has busted into Hart's office, and he informs the four millionaires that the FCC will be along shortly to arrest them. Back at school, Peter is forced to make another ridiculous excuse for his bruised and battered appearance. And back at home, Peter is watching the trial of Hart, Masterson, Wisen, and Hills, as XP-2000 testifies very effectively against them.
Zeb Wells has crafted a nice little three-part story here with the Rules of the Game, and this issue was definitely the highlight. The resolution to the story, with Spidey throwing the fight, was fairly unique, and the interplay between XP and Reed Richards (and XP and anyone else, for that matter) was hilarious. Khary Randolph steps in to do the pencils this issue in place of Michael O'Hare, teaming up with the inks of Wayne Faucher. Although there are some weak points (such as the awkward foreshortening late in the book when Hart is reaching into the desk, and then pointing a gun at Spidey), the pencils for the most part are quite well done.
I'm a huge Rocket Racer fan, so this one gets bonus points. Four rocket-powered webs.