As election day nears in New York City, Harry Osborn has proposed to Lily Hollister, only to not be given an answer, as she's not sure if now's the time, if he's ready, and if it's too soon or not. Spider-Man faces off against Menace, but due to recently being wounded by a gunshot, is off his game, exhausted, and easily falls, and is left to be captured and arrested by the police. Vin Gonzalez is discovered by Carlie to be part of the spider- tracer plot, which also involves other cops. And most shocking of all, Harry Osborn returns to Hollister Headquarters to talk to Lily, and finds that she's wearing the garb of MENACE! Could she really be behind this newest Spider-Man foe? But how? And why?
In a flashback to years ago, we see Bill Hollister being quite tough on Lily when she fails to get into a single honours class, as the family has dinner, with Carlie as a guest. Carlie offers to do Lily's nails, but Lily sadly declines, obviously embarassed and sad about her father being so hard on her. [p]
Flashing back to the present, we see the fight between Menace and Spider-Man in the last issue but from Menace's perspective, as Lily relishes the fact that she'll succeed where so many Spider-foes failed, and will defeat Spider- Man, and thanks to her her father will become Mayor New York, vindicating her in her own mind, even though if he ever found out he wouldn't understand, like he never does when it comes to her. She goes back home, and initiates the transformation back into Lily Hollister from Menace. She calls someone from the campaign and has them put a new poll into the field, anticipating the Spider-Man arrest as buoying her father's support, when Harry Osborn walks into the room, discovering her in Menace costume (although not Menace face).[p]
Harry isn't taking it well, and is almost sick, so Lily offers him a bucket. She's very nonchalant, teasing, and not very considerate. She teases him, guessing that he's thinking that maybe Lily never loved him, and she knows she's getting under his skin as she pushes and presses deeper psychologically, until he reacts and slaps her away from him. Lily then proceeds to hit him back across the room. An aide comes to check on her, but she shoos them away, saying that she just dropped something. Harry tells Lily she's sick, but she counters asking if he's sick, if his father is sick. [p]
Lily reveals that she found a journal in Harry's closet and read all about his feelings about Norman and himself, and about the Goblin legacy. She claims that she had been worried about him, worried he'd fallen off the wagon, and so had found the journal and read it, and discovered much more than she had originally bargained for. She reveals her origin, as she also demonstrates her ability to willingly change into the Menace creature. She reveals how she first found a hidden room and cache of Goblin equipment, at Oscorp, and also how during the New Ways to Die storyline she kissed Peter so that he wouldn't discover the secret passage way, confusing and distracting him.[p]
As she talks about everything she found in the secret room, she mentions how she knocked over some of the equipment and experiments, and how it led to the creation of her as Menace, although she could control the transformation into her other form, by will. She explains her entire career as Menace, why she's targeted who she has, and how it was all part of her plan to spur her father into politics, to become the Mayor, and how she's still following through on her plans to support him and further those aspirations. Before she leaves, she tells Harry that she says yes to his proposal, and to close the door when he leaves so that no one finds her equipment and realizes that she's Menace.[p]
In tne epilogue, on election day, Harry goes into the hidden room, grabs a goblin glove, a blaster, a vial, and a glider...[p]
It's a little weird to slow down a great storyline like this one and have a full issue for an examination on the identity of a villain who's made a variety of appearances over the past year, but I have to give credit to Guggenheim for making it work after all. It ends up not doing much to actually disturb the flow of the storyline, and really there was no better place to put this much exposition and revelations. To shoehorn it into an issue that had all of the other plots from this storyline going on through it, it would have gotten distilled, or at least minimized in terms of importance if there was so much else to get to.[p]
The revelation behind the identity of Menace ended up not feeling like a massive shock, although it definitely was a surprise as the identity wasn't one of the most obvious options that had been presented on the metaphorical table. I appreciate the slow-down, the retrospective, etc, because it attempts to explain how the character got a certain way, why they acted a certain way, etc, and I appreciated how Guggenheim used existing continuity to fashion some interesting concepts within the more pedestrian ones.[p]
The actual flow of the story was relatively non-existent, as it slowed down for the focus on the character of Menace, but it still felt worth it, and enjoyable.[p]
The artwork by Kitson/Kesel is some great stuff, aas Kitson continues to get used to illustrating this book, its characters, its worlds. There's improvement, and there's some great sequences in particular which stand out.
I'm interested to see just where the storyline with Menace goes, although I have some sneaking suspicions about how they might possibly end certain aspects of the storyline. Good material here, Recommended!