Peter Parker has survived a bad day with a B minus and a destroyed animatronic baby. Can a typical day get any worse?
Our issue opens with Spider-Man, sans mask, all tied up at the hands of the villainous Shocker. The oft-defeated villain is none too pleased to learn he has been humiliated repeatedly by a mere teenager. He demands to know Spidey's name and proceeds to torture his heroic victim.
We then shift to two hours before the Shocker incident. Peter has some fun teasing Mary Jane's reporting skills for the high school. Several cars flying in the air interrupt the teasing exchange. The Shocker is back! Spider-Man appears and socks the villain across the street. The crowd gleefully cheers on what appears to be yet another mismatch. Spider-Man gets too overconfident and allows the Shocker to blast free. Spider-Man is knocked out in the process. Mary Jane looks on in utter horror.
Back in the present, Shocker continues to torture Peter in an abandoned warehouse. Mary Jane calls on Kitty to help her find Peter. She shows Kitty the footage of the brief battle. Kitty determines that they must bring their evidence to the police while Mary Jane objects.
Kitty drops in on a precinct station. She asks a particular Captain Quaid, a cop friendly to mutants for help. Kitty pleads that he helps Spider-Man because he is a hero and he deserves the assistance.
Back at the abandoned warehouse, Shocker continues his verbal diatribe and physical assault on the incapacitated Peter. Peter expresses sorrow for Shocker's plight. This only angers the villain more. Shocker recounts his brief origin and angrily condemns the establishment, especially Roxxon Corporation.
Fortunately, Peter manages to break free and bring the fight to the overmatched Shocker. Before delivering a cruel blow, Kitty appears and manages to calm Peter. She wants Peter to know that Mary Jane is fantastic girlfriend. With that, Peter puts his mask back on before the police burst in to arrest the defeated Shocker.
This was a fantastic stand alone issue. Bendis had to tread water for a couple of stories before the big upcoming Symbiote War. While last issue was solid, this one upped the ante considerably.
Bendis manages to take a joke villain and for one brief moment make him into a complex individual. Usually, the Shocker is played for laughs, usually seen being pummeled by Spidey. I guess Bendis decided enough was enough and gave Shocker his moment in the sun so to speak. As a reader, the Shocker's actions are despicable and particularly violent against a helpless teenager. However, his soliloquy offers a briefly sympathetic view of his motivations. This Shocker is a loser, but not entirely by choice.
Bendis tangentially uses the Roxxon Corporation with Omega Red (Ultimate Spider-Man #121) and Shocker as a bridge. It is not hard to imagine that the questionable conglomerate will play a major part in the upcoming arc.
There are a couple of minor issues that crop up from making this a flawless issue. First, Bendis teasingly starts out in the present and rewinds us to the past. I thought last issue did a more interesting job of this framing narrative. Here, it is almost a gimmick.
My bigger complaint is that once again as villain unmasks Spider-Man and knows he is a teenager. You would think by now, Peter's public identity would be known throughout the universe considering how many people know he is Spider- Man. That being said, Shocker unmasking Spider-Man allowed some great interchanges between the two characters.
Immonen's art was a little off. The strength of this issue lies with Bendis's script. There are a couple of solid panels where Immonen uses shadow to great effect. This makes Shocker a more menacing figure. However, there's some spotty transitive elements to the panels overall, especially when Spider-Man gets tortured.
More one and done stories such as this should be used in superhero comic books. While not earth-shattering to the character's status quo, these types of issues offer added layers of characterization to the main protagonist and his supporting cast.