As we should all know by now, Peter's wife, Mary-Jane, is apparently dead, after being stalked by a lolli-pop munching baddie. At first Peter didn't accept it, but eventually he realised that his wife was dead and is now still in the process of grieving, six months after.
This is the first part of the four part story that will see long-time Spidey writer Howard Mackie off. It's a storyline that's meant to wrap up at least one sub plot that's been hanging around for awhile. So, what is he going to wrap up? Well, from this issue it looks like the issue of whether Mary-Jane is dead or not and the story of her stalker.
The issue starts with an unidentified man, standing against a door in a darkened room. From behind the door a voice pleads for a response until the figure leaves. We then skip to Peter dropping of a TV to a female friend of Randy's. The female tries to seduce Pete, whihc makes him extremely uncomfortable and he heads back to his apartment to vent his anger on Randy. It's revealed that the whole scenario was to set-up Pete, Pete reaffirms that he's not ready.
Still a little cheesed, Pete takes off a Spidey and ends up embroiled in a battle between the Enforcers and Jimmy 6. Jimmy 6 escapes while Spidey has trouble handling the Enforcers. Spidey gets shot as he escapes and the Enforcers leave to pursue Jimmy. During the battle we continually flash to the stranger from the s opening sequence. The stranger seems to somehow share Spidey's experiences and also likes lolli-pops.
Skipping back to Spidey, he catche up with Jimmy 6, moments before the Enforcers do. Spidey trounces the Enforcers this time. And gets Jimmy to promise not to kill them, before he leaves. As Spidey heads home he notices and is entranced by a poster of his wife. Meanwhile, back in the darkened room, the person behind the door is revealed as Mary-Jane!
It's hard to really comment on this storyline, because it's only the first part. But as a single issue and the start of a storyline, this is issue is pretty good. I don't know what it is for Mackie, whether it's because this is his closing story arc, or just because he's writing with a purpose (and not aimlessly, which often seems to be the case), but he puts in one of his best efforts in recent memory (besides #25). He hits the target a couple of times this issue, firstly the opening scene with Pete's friend setting him up. This scene was great, the best that Mackie has written utilising Pete and his supporting cast. The other great thing he does, is BRING BACK MARY-JANE! This is great! And I was semi-surprised even. Sure I knew she'd be back, but Paul Jenkins (writer of Peter Parker: Spider-man) indicated it would be around issue 50.
So, a great issue for Mackie, what about the art? Well, it's a guest stint by Joe Bennet and it's pretty good. I've liked most of Joe's work on Spidey, he can do some great 'normal-people' stuff, does a great Spidey and his action is generally excellent. I had two problems with the art this issue though, both minor, but worth mentioning. Firstly, Joe Bennet's women. I know it was called for in the start of this issue, but generally Joe draws all women as though their focul point was their breasts! This is really annoying at times. Secondly, the cover. I don't often comment on covers, but this issues cover is particularly drab, unexciting and senseless. By senseless, it seems that half the cover is missing. Spidey's hanging from the side of a building, spider-sense tingling and looking off-page. What's with that? Basically, it's a crap cover.
On the subject of bad, not much else is necessarily wrong with this issue. The plot is pretty tight (so far, for the beggining of an arc), the dialogue (usually a Mackie weak spot) is good to great, there's some good character moments, some very good fight scenes with the the Enforcers, Mary-Jane is back and some suspense/mystery is built up in regards to MJ's kidnapper. But, there is one minor annoying thing to mention, that really grated on me. There's a pointless and stupid attempt to relate Jimmy 6 and Spidey along the lines of sharing the same experiences, ala power and responsibilty. This is just ludicrous!
A solid issue with purpose. !!!!PLUS!!!! MARY-JANE IS BACK!