Using technology borrowed from Reed Richards, Peter Parker has managed to infiltrate Avengers Tower pretending to be Venom. However, it's not going well, as first Daken ferreted him out, but he managed to beat him, only to be found by Harry. Harry took a job with Norman and the Avengers in order to provide for Lily, his now-pregnant ex, and is trying to cure her. He ended up on the same level as Spider-Man as he was directed there by Lily. Norman shows up, and Harry gives up Spider-Man as an imposter (not Gargan), and Hawkeye (Bullseye) shoots Spider-Man in both thighs with arrows, before Norman beats him and finally shoots him in the head.
Harry sits in an office in Avengers Tower reflecting upon what happened with Spider-Man and Norman. Norman is standing above him with a bloody shirt, telling Harry that he's proud of him. Norman asks Harry why he was in the secure floor where Spider-Man was found, armed with Norman's prototypes, and Harry reveals he had been looking for Lily, thinking that Norman had lied about her being in the tower. Norman, proud of Harry, shows him the designs for the American Son armour that he plans for Harry to wear into battle alongside Norman and his Avengers. As he leaves, Harry asks if Spider-Man is alve, and Norman tells him that he won't after what he's about to put him through.
Elsewhere, Spider-Man is being fired on with lasers, etc, as nothing can get through the mask he's wearing. It has thus far resisted sonics, lasers, acid and ballistic trauma caused by the gun that Norman shot at him in the previous issue.
Spider-Man reflects on when Sue Richards gave him the mask prior to his infiltration, telling him that it's made of Genius Cloth, with fibres made of unstable molecules, which is allows him to have it mimic Venom's face, mouth and tongue. When Reed designed it, he also ensured to add instantaneous reconfiguration of the molecular structure upon impact to the mask. Norman questions Spider-Man about why he's interested in Harry, and when he responds with a retort, Norman punches him in the stomach before leaving the room with Bullseye in charge, allowed to do anything he wants to make him talk or destroy the mask.
Meanwhile, Nora manages to flirt with one of the building security officers at Avengers Tower and take his digital security key.
Back with Spider-Man, Spider-Man's being held upside down, and Bullseye has taken some time to switch into his familiar togs. Spider-Man tells him that the mask is voice activated, and starts to tell Bullseye the magic word, when Bullseye realizes that Spider-Man's just telling a joke and making fun of him, and Bullseye actually laughs, before threatening to do some terrible stuff to Spider-Man.
Back in the lab, Norman shows Harry the American Son armour, and Harry reveals that he knows about the drugs involved, the serum and enhancements, and he's not interested in those. Norman tells him that they're important, to give him an advantage in the field, etc, and Harry realizes that Norman's trying to turn him into something that he'll love, and into a super-hero. Norman claims he just wants to share his life with Harry, so that they can enjoy it together. He tells Harry Lily will be arriving in two hours, so he should freshen up, but meanwhile Harry plans to stop at Norman's private lab first...
Spider-Man wakes up to Norman blasting him with a repulsor, set to the right frequency to start stabilizing the unstable molecules in the mask. Norman is about to fire right at Spider-Man's head, as he asks him to come clean, about Harry and his obsession with him. Spider-Man strains against the restraints, as Norman reveals that Harry sold out Spider-Man for Lily.
As he reveals this, Lily meets Harry, and Harry quickly punches out the security detail that was standing next to him, as Norah watches from inside. Harry asks Lily if she brought the glider, she tells him no, and he takes out the cure to the goblin serum in her veins, to save her and their son. Lily smacks away the cure.
Spider-Man keeps straining at his bonds, as Norman continues talking, revealing his plan of using Lily as bait to keep Harry close. Norman reveals that he plans to use Harry as a martyr, sacrificing him at a point of his choosing, so that Norman will be free to do what ever he wants, with righteous fury. Spider-Man can't believe what he's hearing, asking Norman why he'd do that to his son, his only son. Norman asks whether Harry is truly his only son.
Back with Lily and Harry, she has transformed back into Menace, with the horns but no real facial disfigurement. She reveals that she was part of Norman's plan willingly, and chose Norman over Harry. Menace reveals that she doesn't love Harry, and doesn't want him, and that he's not the father of the baby, but rather the baby is Harry's BABY BROTHER... and Norman's son.
As Norman is about to slice off Spider-Man's mask, he breaks free from his bonds, rips off some of the skin on Norman's face (a la the Mark of Kaine, just less so), throws him at Bullseye, waraps cable around Bullseye's neck, and throws him against the wall before taking off.
Menace gets her glider as Harry races inside, and as Menace goes by she scares the crap out of Nora, who was watching from inside and narrowly avoids getting tagged by Menace's glider.
Spider-Man tries to rip up a vent, when Norman jumps on him from behind and starts wailing on him. Harry enters the room, just ahead of Menace who's on the other side of the lab door. He sees Norman beating up Spider-Man to a bloody pulp, and Norman threatening Spider-Man for meddling with Norman's son. The beating gets ever more intense as Harry watches, unable to move. Finally, Harry hits Norman off of Spider-Man (who has a ripped mask showing his jawline, nose and one eye and some hair) and charges forward, with the American Son armour assembling around him.
I have to say that I'm truly enjoying this arc by Joe Kelly, although I do wish that we'd get some artistic consistency back on this arc, as with the fourth installment we've had, overall, three artists on the storyline, with the first issue by Jimenez, the second by Siqueira, the third by Checchetto and now here with the fourth issue, the artists from part two and three split artistic chores. I just like my Amazing Spider-Man arcs to have the same artist on each issue, that's all.
The writing here is great, as we get not only some quality Norman Osborn writing, but also a well-written Spider-Man, Harry Osborn and Bullseye. There's a fair bit going on here, although it's not ALL good (Lily having Norman's son is just wrong to me, no matter who writes it- it feels like a horrible betrayal from father to son, and although Norman often thinks his son is weak, and an embarassment, deep down he's always wanted more from his son, but would never steep this low and impregnate the fiancee of his son- it's just wrong and doesn't do anything to make Norman Osborn an interesting character, or even a mult-layered character- it just makes him mean and heartless, or at least even moreso).
The revelation regarding Lily also calls into question a certain pair of twins from a certain reviled storyline of JMS, as what Norman says, not to mention Peter as well with regards to it, seems to indicate that they don't exist, or perhaps because it's told in past tense they don't count.
There's still a ton of quality writing here, but that one plot development, to me, could have been avoided entirely and wouldn't have sacrificed that much to me, and just makes me want the Menace character completely removed from the books, because of the reminder of how that storyline ultimately ended up going. However, with that being said, Sue Richards' appearance here was a nice cameo, and for the most part Harry, Norman and Peter were brilliantly written, as there was a real sense of urgency here, and the battle between Peter and Norman in particular was brutal and violent, and yet satisfying, considering the hatred both men have for each other, and the artwork did NOT fail in rendering this particular fight. The artwork didn't shy away from the brutal nature of it all.
But although the artwork was fantastic there, it wasn't fantastic throughout, and oft-times I found the eyelashes on Harry Osborn and Norman Osborn bizarre looking, and distracting. They were just given somewhat feminine facial features in this particular issue, and it was quite distracting.
One issue left until the big finale, and then we're on to the mammoth issue #600. Don't miss it! Recommended