The ongoing rivalry between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin reached a climax recently, as Norman Osborn and four others conducted an ancient ritual of the five, hoping to gain otherworldly power. Instead, he was given the "gift" of madness. After finally defeating Osborn, Peter committed himself to giving up the life of a super-hero. (I think that's the thirteenth time this decade?)
For the first two issues since, anyways, he's appeared to keep his promise, as a mysterious new Spider-Man protects the city, leaving Peter to enjoy the good life: working at a dream scientific research facility as Mary Jane pulls in the big money as the supermodel every fanboy knew she could be. Oh, and Aunt May's back. Don't ask why or how, because there's no justification or purpose behind it. Yes, life is good for our friend Peter. How long can that possibly last...?
Things are starting to come together for the Parkers, as the new Spider-Man stops a bank robbery. Good, good. Peter has a bit of a run-in with one of his brilliant co-workers, but minor conflicts are easily overlooked ... until Peter's experiment goes up in smoke. Attention is (shockingly easily) shifted from the near-dangerous accident when Pete and co. are informed that Spider-Man is on CNN, fighting some supervillain right outside of Osborn Industries' offices.
It seems that this shadowy newcomer to the supervillain scene is too much for the unexperienced arachnoid. Somehow (we'll chalk it up to Spider-speed for now), Peter manages to get from his research building to Osborn Industries in a matter of seconds, and is able to save Spidey from death at the flaming hands of Shadrac! Pete takes Spidey to the rooftops to make sure he's okay, but -- surprise! -- Spidey's a she! Turns out that the Spider-Man of the last two issues was a teenage girl that participated in the ritual of the five, that got the gift of power. But, still, her powers are not enough to beat Shadrac, without the experience that Peter has had. Having already put on the mask, so that young Miss Spidey would not see the face of her saviour, Peter wrestles with his eternal dilemma, and finally decides that he must again become the one, true, (everybody with me, now) Spider-Man!
These formulaic, generic stories are symptoms of a sick line of comics. Starting the numbering scheme didn't work. Consolidating the number of books didn't work. Trying to jumpstart the character by turning his personal world upside down didn't work. I have to ask you then, what will?
Two webs. Maybe that's too generous? Skip this and you won't miss anything.