Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #322

Background

Spider-Man assists Paladin and Silver Sable in capturing Chakane, a diplomat linked to a conspiracy against Silver's home country Symkaria. She learns from Chakane that an assassin has been contracted to kill their king and then hide in the United States.

Silver has requested Spider-Man accompany her to Symkaria to stop the king's assassination. She has agreed to pay him $1,000 per day for his services. Due to financial problems in his private life, Spider-Man has little choice but to comply with her request.

Story 'Ceremony'

Working in conjunction with Symkarian Prime Minister Limka, Silver Sable and Spider-Man have been following his leads in an effort to track down anyone who could be involved in the conspiracy to kill King Stefan.

With their third mission a failure (they capture some petty thieves but fail to net any additional information) Silver and Spider-Man depart for the king's castle. While listening to King Stefan deliver a speech to his subjects, Limka appears already aware of the status of their mission. When he suggests another possible target, Silver declines further assistance since his information has proven unreliable. She informs him that she and her staff will stay with the king until the celebration concludes.

Silver informs Spider-Man that they have a few hours to go until they're required at the gala event that evening, and offers to spar with him in the gym. Spider-Man declines, tells her he wants to go sightseeing, and swings away. The sightseeing is just a cover that will allow him to go to a nearby city to place an international call from a pay phone to Aunt May and Mary Jane.

As Limka watches Spider-Man and Sable depart, he is met by a representative of the terrorist organization Ultimatum, Major Weil. Limka has willingly joined forces with Ultimatum to eliminate Stefan. In the ensuing chaos he plans to shift the country to a democracy with him as the leader.

Mary Jane misses Peter's call because she attends an open audition for the part of Sybil on Secret Hospital. Since there are dozens of other actresses around, when her turn comes, she immediately behaves like a "whiny, arrogant witch" to separate herself from the crowd. She quickly informs the shocked casting director that's exactly how her character would act and to call her if they're interested.

Back in Symkaria, Spider-Man attends the jubilee gala at Silver's request. He is even more uncomfortable than usual. In addition to being there essentially by himself, he has to eat and sleep in his costume because while Spider-Man is on the guest list, Peter Parker is not. During the gala, Silver reveals a strong patriotic side of her personality. Spider-Man comment about her hidden layers prompts her to ask him how patriotic he is: would he be willing to die for his country? He has no response because "[he's] never thought about it".

The next day during the scheduled aerial stunt show, the paratroopers open fire on everyone in attendance, including the king and his fiancée. Spider-Man and Silver get the royal family to safety while her Wild Pack attempts to neutralize the threat. Silver immediately recognizes the soldiers as members of Ultimatum, who have taken the place of the regular army.

While Sable and her mercenaries are otherwise occupied, Limka makes his way toward King Stefan. He has been chosen to kill the king while Ultimatum provides the distraction. All is going according to plan until someone emerges from the shadows and attacks Limka. Seconds before he meets his end, Limka recognizes his assassin, but never identifies him or her.

One soldier for Ultimatum kills the king's fiancée, Vivian. Both Spider-Man and Silver become enraged and take out their aggression on the remaining terrorists: Spider-Man with his fists, Silver with her weapons. Spider-Man regains his composure first and prevents Silver from emptying the chamber into a downed member of Ultimatum.

When the battle is over, they discover Limka's remains. They note that he was "torn to shreds" by his assassin. They also find evidence that the C.I.A. was involved in the attack on Symkaria.

General Comments

The story is great as it has been for all preceeding chapters. New developments occur in this issue that will logically bring Captain America into the story (as promised on the last page). Who else should be involved in a conspiracy that implicates the US? Up to this point it would have been a bit premature to bring him in. This was something that Spider-Man and Silver Sable could handle. Now that it involves the US government, we bring in Cap.

MJ's audition is hilarious. I remember reading this years ago and that stands out as a high point during this era. The over the top dialogue is perfect.

Overall Rating

4 webs. Another great issue. The plot twist at the end that potentially involves the CIA forces you to read the next issue. Now it's not just "who the mastermind" but "how widespread is this conspiracy"?