Peter Parker. Dmitri Smerdyakov. Also know as Spider-Man and The Chameleon. Two people whose worlds are slowly spiraling out of control. And after their fateful meeting in these pages, both might be lost.
This issue opens with the Chameleon sittin alone with an opera blaring on the ol' Victrola. Amid pictures of Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Aunt May, and others. He puts lipstick around his eyes and mouth, then begins to write on the mirror. His message: don't make promises you can't keep. Cryptic.
Peter Parker is no less disturbed that evening (just in a different sense of the word). He is walking through the park, thinking about the way things used to be. There is a bad feeling in the air and he is bemoaning the state of his life: lying to Mary Jane about putting on the webs again when webspinning is losing its appeal. His reverie is interrupted by a mime who acts like he's snapping a picture.
Cut to another darkened room, where the Chameleon is talking with a clown named Eugene. Or so it seems. First we see one man's face, than the other in the mirror. Eugene pleads for another chance; "I thought you liked me." The Chameleon's response: "I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you go." And with the flick of a switch a small trailer outside the window explodes.
Meanwhile, Peter is swinging around the city but is unable to escape his sense of foreboding. "It's something bad, you just know it, it's out there right in front of your eyes." Calling home on a cell phone, he leaves a message that he won't be home for dinner. But that message is deleted by Peter Parker (or so he appears, remember the bad guy's m.o. here) who is busy having dinner served by a delighted Aunt May, who chastises him for being such a mope lately. But she's puzzled a few frames later after the Chameleon disappears into the bathroom, where he has morphed into Spider-Man and tried out the famous "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man" line.
Peter later gets another call on his cell phone, only this time it's the Chameleon. Demanding proof of the caller's identity, he receives it when the Chameleon activates the same Spider-sense transmitter the Chameleon used to contact him WAY back in ASM #1 (the first series). "I was your very first." Swinging off to the Lark Building, site of their first encounter and the place Chameleon claims to be, Spider-Man arrives to find only his mask. As well as a mannequin plastered with newspaper clippings. It holds Aunt May's beads in its hand and has the picture the "mime" "took" at the beginning of the story. Enraged that Chameleon had invaded his home, he calls Aunt May to find out where "Peter" said he was going and feels his blood run cold. "He" said he was going to pick up Mary Jane...
If your first reaction upon reading this review is "huh?", then you're not alone. That's how I felt reading this issue at first. Paul Jenkins is certainly not the typical comic book writer, and that is not always a good thing. But he does a great job of setting the creepy level on "high." Something bad is in the air.
Bonus points to the creative team for using old comic book pages for the flashback scenes, and for using the REAL old pages instead of the crap John Bryne foisted off on us not too long ago. Hopefully the old Lee-Ditko years will live on long after "Chapter One" is relegated to the dustbin of comic book history.
Not a bad first issue.
Okay, we're sufficiently creeped out. Now what the hell is going on? Three and one-half webs.