The Spider Shoppe has been an institution in the MC2 universe for quite some time, much to May Parker's consternation. Who's idea was this store? Who runs it? Why don't they stock her size? Now, her questions will finally be answered.
(Okay, so this isn't a mystery on the level of "who is the Hobgoblin?" But then that didn't exactly end well either, did it?)
Mary Jane Parker and her daughter May are attending a fashion show put on by Kingsley Comfortware, and the "in" thing this fall appears to be Spider-Girl chic. May is not amused to find that spider-wear is being mass marketed, and MJ is not happy that Daniel "My Brother Was Retconned into the Hobgoblin 10 Years Too Late" Kingsley is running the show. It gets worse when a mysterious figured calling itself "La Fantome" crashes the show and confronts Kingsley. Knowing her cue when she sees it, May slips into costume while her mother tries to calm the crowd. Spider-Girl swings into action, while Kingsley slips away from La Fantome and knocks MJ to the ground. Fearing for her mother's safety, Spider-Girl leaves the fight and webbs up a cocoon for the two of them to whether the stampede.
After the fracas, MJ asks Daniel for some information on La Fantome and he pleads ignorance, saying that he started his new line of clothing to expand the franchise from the Spider Shoppe's apparel, which only focuses on Spider-Girl. May and MJ leave, and May takes a little detour to check out the aforementioned store where she learns that a rally has been scheduled for next week.
News of the rally is all over Midtown High, where students are eager to stand up for the Spider Shoppe "it's practically an institution in this town" in the face of competition from big business like Kingsley Comfortwear. While checking out the fliers, May is more than a little aggravated to learn that people believe she is profitting from the Spider Shoppe. Searching for answers, May swings off to meet Kingsley and heads off another attack from La Fantome. Kingsley offers her a piece of the business, and May refuses.
May swings by the police station so that her father can analyze the mist that La Fantome sprayed on her during their second battle, then heads off to the rally at the Spider Shoppe where she runs into her mother. The police arrive, and Staci the rally organizer (and Shoppe employee) herds the rallying students into a storeroom because she "never actually applied" for a permit. The door locks behind them and La Fantome appears out in front of the store.
Deciding to "err, create a diversion," MJ suggests that the students dress up in Spider-Girl attire to confuse La Fantome. "But how do we get past the locked door," one asks. MJ produces the key and May's suspicions begin to mount. The army of Spider-Girls (including the real one) swarms out of the store and surrounds La Fantome. The real Spider-Girl webs up every weapon Fantome has and makes short work of the hapless villain. Who turns out to be Sandi--"STACI!"--the salesgirl herself. Who also turns out to be the niece of Alistair Smythe, one of the creators of the famous Spider slayers.
Back home in Forest Hills, May's parents confess: they have owned the Spider Shoppe all along and a putting the profits into a college fund for her and Ben. Alls well that ends well.
Well, except for Norman (Don't Call Me Normie) Osborn, who has invited Phil Urich over for a late night chat. The two take an elevator deep underneath Osborn Plaza, where Norman announces that he feels responsible for Phil's many near-death experiences and that "the time has come for a NEW Green Goblin." Namely himself.
Can we agree right now that no villain with the name "La Fantome" should ever grace the pages of a Marvel comic again? Yes, I know that she was supposed to be cheesy and ineffectual. I don't care; don't do it again.
Other than the return of Daniel Kingsley (who is just as brave as he ever was) and the latest chapter in Norman Osborn's descent into evil, this issue really doesn't have a lot going for it. Yes, we finally figure out who owns the Spider Shoppe but I doubt that little mystery was keeping anybody up nights. The "villain" of the piece was lame and her secret identity was glaringly obvious. There were a few nice moments between May and MJ, but overall nothing to write home about. At least Chris Jarkoer didn't show up for another two-panel cameo.
Mostly harmless but completely forgettable.
I'll give this one and one half webs. There's nothing really WRONG with it, per se. There's just nothing RIGHT about it.