The return of Ben Reilly meant either he or Peter was the spider-clone, and one of them was the original. After tests by Ben's friend, Seward Trainer, it was determined that Peter was the clone, and he chose to hang up his webs and commit to having a family with Mary Jane. Ben is now the man behind the mask, but the discovery in the smokestack where the original clone was dumped of a skeleton wearing a torn costume casts doubt on everything all over again. Ben's new love interest Jessica, who's father was the burglar who killed Uncle Ben, managed to get a photo of Ben in costume with his mask off.
Jonah had Peter fly back in to New York, to get a picture of Ben as Spider-man stealing the above-mentioned skeleton. A gang of cybernetic thugs jumped Peter and a pregnant MJ out in the street, beating the recently-depowered Pete to an inch of his life. Ben meanwhile had his apartment ransacked, and his place of work, The Daily Grind coffee shop, burned to the ground. Ben tracked Seward Trainer by placing a tracer on some crates of equipment at his old lab which were shipped out. He ran afoul of the new cyberneticly-enhanced Hobgoblin, who's own motives in this are as unclear as ever.
|Editor:||Bob Budiansky, Ralph Macchio|
|Cover Art:||Dan Jurgens|
Ben's swinging through the city, angry and mentally recapping the events of the past issues. He says he's ready to tear someone's head off and sets upon some thugs mugging a woman in an alley. The woman stops him short of almost killing one of thugs. Ben says it's no coincidence he happened to be swinging by--she's Trish Kowalski, the financial controller of the Multiviex Corp., and Ben had been tailing her. He says Multivex is conducting illegal transactions and demands to know who's funding them. Trish reveals they're being funded by Osborne industries.
Shocked, Ben meets up with Peter on a rooftop and fills him in. Ben says he's been gone five years, and can Peter fill him in on Osborne? Peter runs it down, including the fact that Liz Osborne (Harry's widow) now runs Oscorp, and left the day to day care to her half-brother Mark Raxton, the Molten Man, who's now sworn off crime. Or has he? Cut to Raxton breaking in Multivex, to check their computers for the connection between Mulitvex and Oscorp.
Peter goes to follow up with Liz, under the pretense that he's working on a Spider-man story for the Bugle. Liz says Oscorp would have no reason to try to hurt Spider-man. Pete asks after Raxton. Liz says he's not a criminal anymore and that she hasn't seen him in months. When Peter goes back to catch Ben up afterwards, he says he noticed an asbestos-lined jacket slung over a chair in the room at Liz's--Molten Man's. They go to break into Multivex, and find Molten Man there. Ben and Raxton battle, and their fighting makes the floor give away, down to a lower level. Seward Trainer and the mystery guy he's been regenerating (Gaunt), as well as armed guards, are all waiting.
While this story started out with some promise, it's all starting to come apart. There's no more mention of the skeleton that turned out to be the clone--that just seemed to be a sort of red herring to cast doubt on Seward Trainer, as well as on Ben being the true Peter Parker. The Daily Grind crew and what they're doing this ish don't seem worth even mentioning, so I won't.
Any bright spots in this issue? The Molten Man / Spidey fight is pretty nice. Jurgens and Janson's art looks a little more rushed here than usual though. Even Jurgen's scripting is hamstrung by this silly and increasingly pointless arc.
The security in Multivex must really suck, too, if Ben and Peter can both break in time after time, night after night. They had to have the big faceoff somewhere, but this is just ridiculous.
Two and a half webs--barely--because Jurgens and Janson's storytelling is so enjoyable (it's too bad they couldn't keep those two on this title after Sensational's next issue). I can't say I even care anymore who's behind the plot against Ben and Pete, where Trainer's loyalties lie, and who the mystery man is.