On Battleworld, in a zone run by a power-stealing tyrant known as the Regent (picture a Donald Trump-style jerkwad with powers, and you're on the right track), Peter and Mary Jane live with their young daughter, who's starting to develop Spider-powers of her own.
After being out of the action for years for the sake of his family's safety, Peter was forced back into action when one of the Regent's superhuman scans turned up results of a super-powered being at Annie's school.
|Editor In Chief:||Axel Alonso|
|Assistant Editor:||Devin Lewis|
|Cover Art:||Adam Kubert and Justin Posnor|
|Lettering:||VC's Joe Caramagna|
Regent is in his lair, telling his scientist crony that he has to have Spider-Man's powers. In vertical red chambers, he has several heroes held captive.
Elsewhere, Peter, in the black costume, drops in on Tinkerer in his shop. Peter tells him he wants to buy inhibitor chips, but Tinkerer hits a silent alarm. Doc Ock crashes in. Peter tells him he doesn't have time for this crap, and separates him from some of his octo-arms. Meanwhile, Flint Marko aka Sandman is on a rooftop watching the rest of the Sinister Six move to Tinkerer's shop. He reports in via radio to a SHIELD resistance.
By the time the rest of the Six show up, Spidey is gone, having left Ock webbed up and incapacitated. Kraven says by Spider-Man's scent, he is desperate and scared, "a father looking after his cub" (okay), and that Spider-Man was seen at a school. If they find the child Spider-Man is protecting, they find him.
At the Parker apartment, MJ and Annie are discussing Peter's former superhero career. Peter comes home and takes a hair from the brush MJ was using on Annie, saying with a sample of her DNA, he has everything he needs to fix the inhibitor gadget. The Regent comes on TV, Big Brother-style, saying all parents with students at PS 122 (Annie's school), must show up the following morning with their kids for a "compulsory screening".
The next day, Peter, MJ and Annie pass through what looks like an airport metal-detector / body scanner, where Kraven also stands guard on the other side, sniffing. They pass through and no one is the wiser due to the inhibitor gadgets Peter fixed up. But a kid behind them has powers that go haywire. Peter has an impromptu "family meeting", where they suddenly all agree to take on the Regent right then and there and save the kid and his family.
Hobgoblin is hovering overhead, and is about to drop a pumpkin bomb on the crowd below, but Spider-Man webs it to his hand, where it explodes and causes the Goblin to crash into one of the statues of Regent below. Spider-Man appears in the black suit on top of a building, saying he's done being funny. Mysterio jumps onto a security computer, saying "find the family missing a dad, and we'll know who both Spider-Man AND his kid are!".
Annie wants to use her developing powers to help her Dad, but MJ says to let her do that would be irresponsible. As Spider-Man tangles with Kraven, Shocker and the Vulture, MJ and Annie are grabbed by some security-garbed types.
As this story goes on, it becomes more and more repetitive. We have the family back at the school, fighting villains and trying to help other civilians. I wonder, would Peter really go to the trouble to pass the Regent's screenings, only to blow their cover in such a way (and what exactly was Peter's plan here anyway)? Of course, the soldier types (in sunglasses) who grab MJ and Annie at the end are obviously part of the shadowy SHIELD resistance. So Peter will end up getting caught by the remnants of Regent's Sinister Six and stripped of his powers, so Annie will have to make an attempt to save him with hers.
Otherwise, the action here is pretty good. Peter is done messing around, and since he's in the black costume, he's being more brutal with his enemies (because that's what they have him do when he wears the black costume, natch). Only problem is, how in the world do they mess up the design of this classic costume (see the design of the bug on his back in the attached pic)? Kubert's art is still very good, though many of the expository scenes here (like the school screening) come off kind of perfunctory, stiff and sketchy.
I do sort of enjoy how Slott writes the Sinister Six here, except for Ock, who's just a bit on the weak, grovelling side. And suddenly, Kraven is a master planner with Wolverine-level hyper senses of smell. As the big bad, The Regent himself is still very boring.
Also, why does Peter not pack up his family and leave the Regency? I haven't read every Secret War tie-in, and I'm not sure how the whole Battleworld thing works together, by why would Peter subject his family to a totalitarian way of life under the Regent? The general vagueness of the Regency zone is becoming a bit of a nagging plot hole for me.
At the midpoint, this is still an enjoyable and interesting limited series. But the narrative is starting to feel like its treading water, and really needs to move along a bit more.