Peter has been investigating missing homeless youth and found a bad guy responsible. The bad dude is known as the Shade and he has mystical powers. So, Spidey has turned to Doctor Strange for a bit of help.
|Writer:||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Pencils:||John Romita, Jr.|
|Cover Art:||Jason Pearson|
Spidey recaps for Dr. Strange the events of the last couple of issues. Dr. Strange theorises that the Shade is depositing people from our world in the astral plane, so that he can appear in this world. Strange then sets it up so that when the Shade next appears, Spidey's astral form will be transpoted to that place and he'll be able to follow the Shade into the astral plane and sort things out. Dr. Strange explains that he can't come because he has "an appointment with death."
Spidey waits... meanwhile Jennifer is walking the streets and is cornered by some street toughs we've seen observing things in recent issues. They tell her they think she's become a problem by getting Peter and Spidey involved in things. They explain that the Shade is their enforcer. They scout people for him to get rid of and he enforces their street rule. The Shade then appears to get Jennifer. This triggers the spell that Dr. Strange put on Spidey. SPidey is transported and is just in time to follow the Shade and Jennifer into the astral plane portal.
Once there, Spidey releases the Shade's captives, who are trapped is some weird thing that the Shade uses to draw power from. Spidey fights it out with the Shade and triumphs by throwing the Shade into his contraption causing an explosion and his apparent demise!
On the way out Spidey finds this large mystical Spider creature that acts a bit mysterious and tells him "you who are of us... and not of us... your time is not yet. Leave." A bit weird....
Finally, when Spidey leaves he finds that time has passed more quickly in the real world than on the astral plane. Meaning he has missed his meeting with MJ! He travels in astral form to the airport where MJ is waiting to depart on a plane. MJ is on the phone to Aunt May. She tells Aunt May that there's always a good reason why Peter's late, but maybe some things (like Pete and her) just aren't meant to be. In the meantime Pete is there in astral form trying to communicate with Mj in some way and telling her how much he loves her. The plane leaves as Pete repeats "I love you."
I've said before that I don't really like Spidey mixed up mystical stuff, but JMS doesn't pull it off too badly here. But again it's the main plot of the Shade and the astral plane that don't really interest me. It just doesn't seem really inventive, it's a pretty standard tale, the only thing is that it's pulled off in a much better way than most creative teams could manage.
It's the other moments in this story that shine. Spidey's conversation adn meeting with Dr. Strange is pretty enjoyable, especially Spidey's impatience with Dr. Starnge's mysterious ways. Also there's a humourous moment when Spidey's astral form floats through a girls changeroom. That gave me a few chuckles.
As for the art, Romita Jr. did an okay job. I think the Dr. Strange and astral plane scenes could of been a lot better though. It just seems like those scenes need a different layout or approach to show how different the astral plane is and to give Dr. Strange a better aura. What I'm thinking, in particular with Dr. Strange, is the way Joe Quesada did him in the pages of Daredevil. I guess the problem for me is they don't seem otherwordly enough and I would of liked to see Romita take this opportunity to try something different...
I knew it was going to happen, but I was still a little dissapointed to see that Pete missed MJ. I really want to see them coming back together. I think Peter's deperation to see her and to communicate to her was great and shows just how much he loves her. All this teasing is starting to frustrate! I think with the current writers that Peter and MJ together could work really well.
Done really well, just not that spectacular.