Doc Ock switched minds with Spidey, leaving Otto in control of Peter Parker’s body for a year. But Peter’s back now, and has to rebuild the relationships that Ock abused while Peter was away. He’s also got to manage Parker Industries, a firm that Otto founded in Peter’s name, despite the fact that tech-startup-CEO isn't a job description that meshes well with moonlighting superhero.
Yes, Pete’s got 99 problems, but a body-switch ain't one.
At Parker Industries, Peter is supervising a team that’s trying to develop anti-Electro weaponry; as per the last arc, he wants Parker Industries to be the leader in equipment to subdue and incarcerate supervillains. He’s called away by an Avengers alert, to the chagrin of Anna Maria, who knows his secret identity, and Sajani, who doesn't. An infuriated Sajani leaves a message on Peter’s voice-mail (doesn't she know how to text?), promising that she’s not going to be around to handle Peter’s work when he’s not there. At that moment, Sajani is kidnapped by the Black Cat, who chuckles that “Oh I couldn't have timed that better if I tried”. The Cat, who hates Spider-Man after the events of Superior Spider-Man #20, has a plan that we readers haven’t been initiated into yet, but it involves figuring out what Parker Industries’ tech does, and preparing counter-measures in advance. Having a captive Sajani as a tech expert will certainly help in that regard.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man joins the battle against the Mindless Ones and the Orb, as seen in Original Sin #2. The Orb’s ‘mind bomb’ reveals all sorts of secrets to the massed heroes. What’s Spidey’s? That someone else was bitten by the radioactive spider back in Amazing Fantasy #15. This person, whom we've seen in flashbacks over the past few issues, was imprisoned by Ezekiel Sims, in the same building where Sims wanted to imprison Peter in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #32. Peter knows this because his spider-sense leads him to that building, which is now deserted. As he enters, he’s greeted by a pre-recorded message from Ezekiel that begins to explain that there is indeed another person like Peter, but that this person has been kept away for a reason.
An emotionally-charged Spider-Man doesn't want to hear it, and shatters the playback device before it finishes. Approaching the prison door, Peter opens it by entering the lock code - 616001 - into the keypad, explaining as he does so that he knows the code without knowing how or why he knows it. Out of the cell emerges a young Asian woman. Her name is Cindy Moon, and she’s enraged, because breaking the seal means that Morlun will come for them both.
Nope, says Spider-Man, Morlun’s dead.
Or so he thinks! Even as Spidey speaks, we readers see, via cut-scene introduced with the caption ‘Far, Far Away’, a figure resting in an ornate bedchamber. We can’t quite make out who this is, but it’s a humanoid with white skin and long black hair; certainly reminiscent of a well-fed Morlun. This being sniffs the air and says “the Spider-Bride. There you are… It’s time. The Great Hunt begins.”
Cindy understands immediately that she no longer needs to remain in her cell. Overcome with delight, she webs herself up a costume and announces that, while in mufti, she’ll go by the codename Silk. Webs herself up? Yes, she’s got a full suite of Spider-Man’s powers, including spider-strength, -speed, -sense, all of which are at a level exceeding Peter’s own. She’s also got organic webbing, just like Peter did circa The Other: Evolve or Die storyline. Hmm - that arc was the last time we saw Morlun. Coincidence? I think not.
Filled with vim, Cindy web-swings across New York, delighting in her freedom. Peter follows, unable to match her speed but still able to follow her, thanks to his spider-sense, which now tracks her infallibly. Peter is troubled by this, as that power has never worked that way before. Cindy arrives at her former home and discovers that her family has, at some point, vacated the apartment in favour of new tenants, leaving Cindy alone and with no idea how to find her loved ones.
“I have to know,” she says. “When could I have left that stupid bunker? When exactly did Morlun die?”
“Well,” Peter explains, “the first time I lured him into a…”
“Wait! What do you mean, ‘the first time’?”
“I’ve gone up against him twice. He died both times.”
Cindy sees immediately what Peter should have seen earlier, namely that if Morlun resuscitated himself from death once before, he could do it again. Enraged, she begins to batter Peter with blows too strong and fast for him to evade. He tries to escape, but she tags him with barbed (!) webbing and reels him back in. Caught in her grasp, both are suddenly overcome by their spider-senses, which are exhibiting yet more new behaviour. With barely a pause, they embrace each other in a passionate kiss, Cindy’s legs wrapped tight around Peter’s pelvis.
On that note, the caption box tells us that this story is ‘To Be Continued’!
Oh dear. Are we really going down the Morlun-Ezekiel rabbit hole again? It seems so. Count me as one of those who thinks that the whole premise upon which those characters rested, namely magical avatars and destiny and spider-gods and all that jazz, is an uneasy fit with Spider-Man, who has super-science and street-level crime built into his mythos’ DNA. What’s more, both Morlun and Ezekiel were annoying blowhards whose powerset consisted of ‘anything you can do I can do better’. And now, in Silk, we’ve got another card to add to that suit. Sigh.
Well, let’s look on the bright side. To me, that means we might get to tie up some annoying plot holes, such as ‘how did Morlun revive after being killed the first time in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #35?’, or ‘whatever happened to Spidey’s powers, like organic webbing, from ‘the Other’ storyline?’. And perhaps we’ll get to see Julia ‘Madame Web’ Carpenter again. If Peter needs a new girlfriend now that MJ and Carlie are out of the title, I like Julia as a love interest better than Cindy.
It’s a set-up issue: the Black Cat has Sajani, there’s a new Spider-Woman (er, Silk) in town and she and Peter are in lust, and Morlun or his designated hitter are coming for the pair of them. The payoffs may score higher, but this is strictly three webs.
In Ezekiel’s recorded message, he indicates that the tape was made sometime between Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #32, where Ezekiel tells Pete about Morlun for the first time and takes Peter to the bunker, and #35, where Morlun dies. Yet Ezekiel was a free agent for approximately another 32 issues, until he died in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #508. Did he not update the message in all that time? If he thought Morlun was dead, why didn’t he free Cindy? If he thought Morlun was coming back, why didn’t he tell Peter so? It’s a small mystery, but I hope it gets cleared up at some point.