The 1999 Amazing Spider-Man annual continues the story from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol.2) #4.
Senator Ward is clearly up to no good. We know so far that:
Betty calls Peter in the middle of the night, terrified. MJ is away. Spidey goes to investigate. Spidey stumbles quickly on mystic column of fire shooting up from warehouse and enters to meet aforementioned terrified Betty.
Trapster glues Spidey to floor (did you think about taking off your boots to escape, Spidey?) Wizard arrives. Tosses Spidey and Betty into dimension vortex.
Spidey knocked unconscious (again - good thing he has a Brain Healing Factor, or he'd be a drooling wreck by now) and woken by evil Dark Knight and henchmen, rescued by Green forest folk, leads attack on evil Dark Castle and finds Betty. Meets Knight. Betty says it's all an illusion, Knight removes helmet to reveal... Ranger (attempted to assasinate Ward, from previous issue, remember?).
Wizard appears, and all is revealed to be holographic projection/virtual reality projector. Wizard reveals plan to tap power of Negative Zone, destroying New York in process. Zero Tolerance? More like Negative Tolerance. Heroes struggle free of restraints, Wizard's control device destroyed, Wizard thrown into negative zone. Plan halted in traditional hero fashion.
Closing Scene: Senator Ward leaves limo and enters quiet back-street house. Door opens to reveal Negative Zone type display. Ward says "Excellent! Exactly as we planned my friend!". Disembodied voice replies "Yes... now we can begine in earnest!". Appears that plan is not so halted as hero's had hoped.
This is a typical annual story. Extra pages make for relaxed scripting style and side-tours into alternate worlds. The Senator Ward story is obviously a big part of Mackie's plans for the next few months.
The art is good (even though Buscema does make Betty look Vietnamese). The characters are adequately handled (although the Trapster's villainous motivations are perhaps over-thought). The cover is traditionally over-blown "Transported to a place beyond Time... and Two Worlds will DIE!". Well, we're talking one Virtual Reality, and New York. Let's not get things out of proportion here.
An adequate tale. If all the Spidey comics were written to this level, it would provide a solid base to start building some decent books. Three Webs.