In the aftermath of the events of Election Day detailed in "Character Assassination", NYC has no Mayor as Bill Hollister refuses the post, based upon the newly discovered evidence that his daughter was the costumed terror known as Menace! Peter Parker finds himself with two friends, Lily and Vin, out of the picture temporarily, Lily because of her time as Menace, and now being incarcerated, and Vin because of his involvement in the Spider-Tracer-Conspiracy, and now turning state's evidence to decrease his sentence, and come clean.
So with all this craziness, Peter decides to spend some time with Aunt May...
At Brighton Beach, a Mr. Ivankov finds himself the recipient of a mysterious message, a piece of paper with nothing but a spot upon it. Ivankov is unsure what it means, but promptly disposes of the message, throwing it out.
Meanwhile, Peter heads to the temporary site of the FEAST Project, out at Coney Island, only to find Aunt May being muscled by Mr. Ivankov's men, with the Ghost Busters standing by idly (seriously, I did not make this up, check the issue again). Mr. Ivankov is trying to do some humanitarian work, but with only so that it covers up his much more criminal activities, and Aunt May just won't stand for it.
Later, at the docks, Mr. Ivankov is led to an arranged meeting with the captain of a smuggling ship, who refuses to deal with flunkies, and only with the man actually doing the decision-making, the purchasing, and buying the goods. The guns being offered are able to see through concrete for sighting purposes, and come equipped with special rounds to punch through and make good on the targeting. As the transaction is taking place, Spider-Man sits and takes pictures of the event, to get proof of Ivankov's dealings so that he can be exposed, proving Aunt May and others like her right.
As Spidey watches the events unfolding, suddenly a spot shows up and an arm juts out and hits the thug, and then another spot hits another. Spider-Man quickly realizes the situation has become something much stranger and more dangerous than initially thought, as the Captain of the ship prepares to use his new gun to take aim at Spidey himself, with its special targeting device. However, before he can, The Spot leaps out of a spot and grabs the ship captain, however his appearance is now changed, and the centre of his face has only one spot covering it, with no visible eyes, nose or mouth.
The Spot suddenly appears in front of Mr. Ivankov, however Spider-Man leaps in and tries to fight the Spot, before he disappears. Ivankov tells Spidey he'll give him whatever he wants, to save him from the Spot, money, anything, but not testimony against his gangland cronies, like Spider-Man asks for, and he feels assured that no matter what, Spider-Man won't leave him to die, as he doesn't have the guts.
Peter knocks out the bad guy, webs up his arms, and carries him out of there, while mimicking Christian Bale's vocal rendition of Batman in The Dark Knight. The Spot suddenly appears and knocks Spidey's cargo from his arms, and as Spidey tries to regain hold of him, The Spot unleashes a merciless series of attacks upon Spider-Man. Spider-Man manages to leap inside the Spot's dimension, and feels almost sick from doing so, so he goes to punch the Spot hard in the face, and ends up having his fist go through a spot and out another spot on the Spot's face, and right into Spidey's own face.
The two continue their battle, the Spot unleashing very brutal attacks on Spider-Man, all to save the life of Mr. Ivankov, and finally, the Spot seems tame, as Ivankov has been apprehended once more, and webbed up. The Spot hands Spider-Man a package, which contains his confession, and explains what happened to the Spot after his last appearance in Modok's 11, and how he had been blasted by Mandarin II during that storyline, stuck in his own anti-dimension.
Unable to focus, or make himself permanently rematerialize in the proper dimension, he focused on the last good thing he had in his life, which was his son, and was able to return, although altered and changed, and discovered that his son had been cut down in a recent hit and run, which was directly connected to Mr. Ivankov, hence his vendetta against him. He gives Spider-Man the package, along with his confession, although as it turns out the Confession is nothing but spots and dots, and nothing that Spider-Man can understand or comprehend. However, he does understand the name on the package, and so delivers to the boy the package, which is a present from The Spot to his son, a copy of their favourite book together, Treasure Island.
Meanwhile, Ivankov is in jail, having been driven insane by The Spot, and obsessed with the fact that he's been a marked man, and is doomed to be killed, because he got the message at the beginning of the issue, with the black spot, like a pirate, in Treasure Island. And he knows that the Spot could come for him whenever he wants, to finish the job...
The minute I heard that The Spot was going to be returning and making an appearance in this book, I was excited, and when I realized that it was Van Lente who was writing the issue, I was even more excited, as he wrote the character previously in Modok's 11, which was a very fun and enjoyable mini-series which, I believe, predictably flew below most readers' radars.
When I read this issue, I felt that it was like a breather after the last arc, which was very intensive, and dealt with a ton of plot threads which had been dangling for quite some time. Whereas that arc was all about pulling things together, this issue reads extremely well just on its own, doing its own thing. The issue seems to go by very quickly as well, and not in a way that you would normally expect. Normally, if a reviewer says that, it seems to indicate that there isn't much here, or that the dialogue and writing is sparse, etc, but in this case, the usual signs don't apply. The characterization is spot-on, the writing establishes a quick beat, and maintains it quite well, and it's just an enjoyable read, as simple as that.
The Spot isn't the only one who brings his A-game here, as Van Lente turns in a terrific script, it's fast-paced, laced with some nice continuity for The Spot, and has a creepy yet fascinating ending. I like that Van Lente has actually changed The Spot, coming off of his last appearance, and it's actually a great fit.
The artwork by Siqueira is somewhat stylized, although there were almost moments where it almost felt like work by Jimenez. Some great detail, and the sequences with the Spot worked wonderfully. I like the subtle tweak in the Spot's visual appearance, particularly his face, it alters the look of his character just enough and it fits the script extremely well, and maintains a totally different tone for the character, which isn't normally found on The Spot.
A great read, and a nice refreshing one-off coming off of the last story-arc. Van Lente really steps up his game here, with a fantastic and enjoyable one-off story, which actually makes you both care about The Spot, and think that he's actually fairly cool. For fans of Modok's 11, it's nice to have a bit of resolution provided for The Spot, after his fate in that series. Highly Recommended!