Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #330

Background

Loki's Acts of Vengeance campaign has failed. His final instrument of revenge, a magically merged Tri-Sentinel, was defeated thanks to the powers of Captain Universe and the determination of Spider-Man.

Spider-Man eventually returned home to Mary Jane and collapsed as the experience left him completely exhausted. After a brief rest, his friend Flash Thompson appears to introduce them to his new girlfriend: Felcia Hardy aka The Black Cat.

Story 'The Powder Chase'

New Jersey: The Punisher is following up on a lead from his partner Microchip. The purpose is to learn why the drug trade in the Northeast has sharply risen. He attacks a seemingly innocent ambulance, which is carrying a large shipment of cocaine. Before he can obtain any information from the driver, his partner kills him and opens fire on the Punisher. Never being one to remain a target for long, Punisher shoots his enemy in the head. He then gathers up whatever evidence he can find and destroys the ambulance with the coke inside.

Manhattan: Spider-Man is also trying to uncover the reason for the increase drug activity. From his research, more Columbian "product" is being shipped, but none of it is reaching the dealers. This has caused dealers to steal from other dealers. After saving one of the Kingpin's employees from his competition, he decides to call it a night and wait for tomorrow. He has an inside tip that a major shipment will be brought into Brooklyn.

Spider-Man returns home to an empty apartment. He remembers that Mary Jane is out filming an episode of "Secret Hospital" and decides to wash the dishes that have remained on their table since Flash and Felicia's visit earlier. His reaction (overreaction to be precise) at this latest development could have compromised his dual identity in front of Flash. Mary Jane makes some excuse about meeting her before and they have a very uncomfortable dinner with them.

Colorado: An alarm sounds at The Vault, the Federal government's prison for superhumans. Two guardsmen and one technician find Eddie Brock (Venom) dead in his cell. They instantly determine that he hung himself but can't find the alien symbiote to which he was bonded.

New Jersey: The Punisher and Microchip learn that the cocaine is Columbian in origin and being brought up from Philadelphia but can't determine why this is being done or who's behind it. Microchip does learn of another shipment being delivered to the Brooklyn docks tonight.

Back in Manhattan, Peter's visit with Aunt May is cut short just as he arrives. May tell him that Nathan Lubensky had another cardiac incident and has to go to the hospital. Peter understands and promises to be at the hospital tomorrow.

Later that night, Spider-Man appears on the Brooklyn docks. He notices that many gangs are present with heavy firepower as the "drug recession" has greatly affected them; they don't plan on leaving empty-handed.

Spider-Man makes his appearance and puts on a tough guy act to scare the dealers. Just as they decide to attack him, the Punisher appears and they change their mind, leaving the docks quickly. Spidey and Punisher agree to work together to get to the bottom of this.

Punisher goes in with both guns blazing, prompting Spider-Man to question why he agreed to do this. When the dealer respond in kind with their weapons, Spidey puts the moral debate on hold, thankful that Punisher can take care of himself. Even if he seems to enjoy killing people way too much.

They fight their way to the bottom of the ship and find more gang members and more guns. Punisher eliminates the threat, much to Spidey's dismay. Following the Punisher's suggestion, Spider-Man searches the leader of the gang and finds a plastic card with a magnetic strip on the back. Punisher instructs Spider-Man to take it with them as the bombs he planted will detonate in 53 seconds. True to his word, the Punisher's explosive sink the ship and it's cargo.

They return to the Punisher's battle van and contact Microchip. After he runs his analysis on the card, he finds a digital trail that leads him back to a covert cell of the U.S. Army. Spider-Man doesn't quite know what to make of this, but Castle does: The United States government is the drug lord purchasing the cocaine shipments.

General Comments

Ok, who saw that coming? Seriously if you guessed the U.S. Government, you need to be playing craps in Las Vegas. This definitely qualifies as a surprise twist. Oh sure there may have been a few clues here and there, but nothing that would give the reader anything to go on.

So the Black Cat came back. Ever since she learned that Peter was married (Amazing Spider-Man #316) , you had to wonder what she was going to do with that information. Its obvious from her behavior that she isn't over Peter and plans to torture him for a while.

Just having an ex-girlfriend dating one of your friends is an awkward situation. Factor in that your ex is a crazed costumed ex-thief that knows your secret identity and you have a potential crisis on your hands. At this point Felecia is in the "woman scored" mindset, so anything goes.

Overall Rating

3.5 webs. The issue was pretty solid. No cosmic powers, no crossovers, just a good team-up story with the Punisher.