Peter is swinging across the city to go to his first day as substitute teacher as a favour to the principal at Forest Hills. When he arrives, he breaks up a fight between a jock (Jake) and geek (Steve). It reminds him of himself and Flash back in high school.
Meanwhile, in a South American country, Captain Alvarez is in charge of military ethnic cleansing.
Back in the US and Steve shows Pete a lab he has set up in the school's basement. There are lots of computers that have been provided by his Dad, who works for ICM (heh). Pete tells Steve he should mix more with other students but Steve storms off and gets into another fight with Jake.
After breaking them up again, Pete goes back to the lab when a robot smashes through the door controlled by … THE LIVING BRAIN! This brings back memories (check ASM8).
Steve is controlling it and sends the robot after Jake. It overturns a car and is choking Jake when Spidey swings in. After a lengthy battle, Spider-Man comes out on top.
Back in South America and Captain Alvarez is instructed to become the Tarantula to kill off any refugees who have fleed to the US.
And, finally, back in the US while the security forces clan up the school, Pete is looking for Steve – who has disappeared.
This has that cheesy-type feel of an old, not very dangerous, villain who has returned. The good thing is that the plot is actually quite quirky. Something that probably shouldn't work comes together neatly and is actually quite entertaining.
I like the shortened cross-story with the Tarantula, which nicely sets up the next issue. I also, surprisingly, liked the return of the Living Brain. As a concept, it's perhaps one of the stupidest Spidey-villains ever but it kinda works here.
It's also good to see Pete doing something different, as opposed to the rut he had got himself into with not being able to sell pics to the Bugle. The art is solid and the script compact enough to work. The pacing is just right too. It's not Dickens but it's a nice little jaunt that not only entertains in its own right but gives us something for the next issue, too.