Mary Jane Watson-Parker is lost and presumed dead in an airplane crash. Peter, meanwhile, is taking a jaunt through the Negative Zone with the symbiote-less Cletus Kasady. (Hey, different people cope in different ways!)
The issue opens with a shadowy figure telling the story of two people. One, Cletus Kasady, is in custody minus his Carnage symbiote, which Venom consumed in PP:SM #9. The other is Peter Parker, "kept... awake [by] the loss of his true love." While he swings off into the night, Kasady feels a strange calling and manages to break out of jail with the police hot on his tail. Before Spider-Man can subdue him, the van and both figures get sucked into some sort of black-hole-looking gateway.
Falling through the distortion area - kind of a "no man's land" between the real world and the Negative Zone, Spidey loses his hold on Carnage, falls into a maelstrom of some kind and emerges wearing what I assume is the "Spider-Man Unlimited" costume (anyone who's seen the cartoon or the comic want to back me up here?) Before he (or I, for that matter) can understand what's going on, Spider-Man takes the opportunity to help out a stranger he sees tumbling into the same maelstrom. But before he can get his bearings the two land on the surface of some strange planet and come face to face with... "Blastaar - The Living Bomburst!"
It seems Mr. Bomburst was trying to open a rift in the distortion area to march his armies through and attack the real world, a plot foiled by Spidey and our mystery guest, whom Blastaar recognizes. Realizing that discretion is the better part of valor, the two beat a hasty retreat into the bowels of the city while Blastaar starts, well, blasting things. They meet a crowd of refugees, who also recognize the stranger. Remember Dusk, the guy who gave Spidey his nifty all-black costume back in Identity Crisis? None other.
Oh, and Cletus Kasady drops in to join up with Blastaar, but that's a story for next issue.
You have GOT to be kidding me!
A few questions. First: if one of the purposes of this series was to expose Spiderphiles to artists and authors they might not have seen before, why is Howard Mackie writing this storyline? Love the guy or hate him, he's already got the two main titles under his wing. Why are we seeing him here?
Second: Okay, we never learned the identity of Norman Osborn's Green Goblin flunky. Jack O' Lantern is a big mystery. Two huge plot threads left dangling in the breeze, and we get DUSK? Forget asking why Mackie wrote this storyline, why this storyline at all? Other than the three or four people whose letters on these issues will be published on the letters page, is there anyone out there who gave a rip about Dusk, Blastaar, and this rebellion? It was a good setup to give Peter one of his "Identity Crisis" costumes in Peter Parker: Spider Man #90. That's it. To come back to it now is a waste of time. (But, if you insist on coming back, can we have a little plot exposition here? What is going on? Is this just another cardboard cutout "evil tyrant tormenting helpless people just for the fun of it" types of stories? I'll pass)
Third, I don't understand what the SM:Unlimited costume had to do with anything. Were I a cynical person I might suspect that it's appearance was solely to draw attention to the new comic/cartoon series. But regardless, maybe someone who has read/watched Spider-Man: Unlimited might catch on, but it's my suspicion that the bulk of the readers haven't, and unless I'm being remarkably dense I'm guessing I'm not the only one scratching my head. What is this thing and why did Spidey suddenly end up wearing it? Can't we just have a little plot exposition, please?
And finally, why were Kasady's eyes completely red during the entire issue? Distracting.
The worst part about this issue is that we still have one to go? Can it get any worse? Do I want to know the answer to that question? One web.