The Chameleon has returned, and now that he knows Spider-Man's secret identity he is free to meddle in Peter Parker's life to his twisted heart's content. Now Mary Jane is in his sights. Or is she...?
Chameleon has Mary Jane captive, and opens the issue by telling Spidey where to meet him. Where else: the Brooklyn Bridge. Spider-Man arrives in short order, unable to keep the memories from flooding into him, and finds Mr. Smerdyakov with a gun to his wife's head. He taunts Spidey with Gwen's memory (where did he learn about that?) "It doesn't seem fair that you could love someone so much, and then lose her. . . . I feel there'd be a sort of majestic irony if it were to happen again." Peter begins to rage, but meekly removes his mask at Chameleon's order. And then lets himself calm down while Chameleon reveals how he escaped death. With that calm he realizes the truth: Mary Jane was never there. The Chameleon lets the illusion fade into mist, revealing only a masked man with a gun to his own head.
Peter demands to know what is going on and Chameleon tells him about his recent life. It seems he joined a circus, trying to lose himself in the persona of a clown named Eugene. Unfortunately he couldn't escape his former life, and eventually "killed" him. Eugene just wasn't real, whereas Peter, according to Chameleon, has nothing but reality. ("God, even your tragedies have substance.") Peter offers to let him walk away and start a new life from scratch, but Chameleon says it's not that easy. "I just needed . . . to tell you something . . . I love you, Peter."
The shock of the moment quickly fades as Peter starts laughing in the man's face. The Chameleon realizes how his statement could have been misinterpreted, beginning to laugh along with him. "What do you do for an encore?" Peter asks. In response the Chameleon leans backward and lets himself fall from the bridge. Peter is too shocked by the sudden turn of events to react in time, and his strand of webbing is too late to snag Dmitri Smerdyakov. The issue ends with a gorgeous silhouette of the bridge and Peter thinking "that's you, Pete: lost on a sea of regret. Better start paddling."
Wow. Did not see that coming.
The Chameleon had become a bit of a lightweight in recent years (getting his butt kicked by Mary Jane was probably the topper) but here we see him at the end of his rope. His own life is a mess, he can't quite seem to start over, and he's desperately looking for someone to reach out to. I guess maybe Peter's just a bit too jaded by recent events to keep from reacting the way he did, but still that whole scene wrenched my gut, all the more so when Chameleon committed suicide. That really hurt to read, thumbs up to Jenkins and Phillips for crafting a powerful scene there.
My only question is the same one Peter had: what do you do for an encore? If Chameleon is killed off in part two of a three part storyline, what is part three going to be about? I'll be interested to see what happens next, as it looks like we have one surplus issue coming up.
Oh, and please let Chameleon stay dead this time! I can't picture any way that he could be brought back after this that wouldn't totally destroy what's been done with the character. (Kinda like Doc Ock, who's been reduced to standard supervillain type A after some very good development in the "Web of Death" storyline.)
A shocking and completely unexpected ending ramps up the web rating for this one. Four and one-half webs.