Operation: Zero Tolerance gets underway. J. Jonah Jameson orders the Daily Bugle reporters under him to find out the real story, then is confronted by Bastion. Meanwhile, Spider-Man gets in the middle of a dispute between Henry Peter Gyrich and Marrow & Callisto. The book is written by Scott Lobdell, with art by Joe Madureira, assisted by Humberto Ramos. Twenty-three pages, $1.99 US, $2.80 CAN.
Let me begin by saying that I think OZT is not a very good storyline.
Then again, several years ago, I thought that the Age of Apocalypse storyline that ran through the mutant titles wasn't a very good storyline. In the midst of that, we got a magnificent double-sized issue of Daredevil by Ann Nocenti, John Romita Jr., & Al Williamson that showed Daredevil and the Black Widow dealing with the on-the-street ramifications of what was going on among Apocalypse, X-Factor, and the X-Men. It was a gem amongst cowflop, a brilliant piece of work; set against a doofy backdrop, true, but it's a backdrop one could easily ignore for the duration of a wonderful story.
Uncanny X-Men #346 is a lot like that old issue of Daredevil. Aside from a one-page interlude with Gambit, none of the current X-Men appear in this issue (though Marrow is apparently going to join the team). Instead we get a two-pronged plot.
The portion with Spider-Man is good, with Spidey stuck between the anti-mutant fanatacism of Henry Peter Gyrich and the anti-Henry Peter Gyrich fanaticism of Marrow and Callisto, who intend to assassinate everyone's least favorite man who wears green-tinted glasses. This is complicated by the fact that Gyrich's bodyguards are, in fact, souped-up Sentinels, a fact that surprises everyone, including Gyrich. (We then get one of the great lines of the book: When they find themselves fighting side by side against the Sentinels, Marrow asks Spider-Man why he's getting involved in all this. He gives his with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility speech, which Marrow calls, "A foolish motto to live by.")
As much fun as that section is--and Lobdell nails Spider-Man perfectly, from his actions to lines like "You want the real answer or the witty rejoinder?"--the plot's other half is even better, as it focuses on J. Jonah Jameson. After ordering the Bugle staff to learn the truth about OZT--"Something about Bastion and his holy crusade stinks like yesterday's garbage"--Bastion shows up at Jonah's office and offers him a disc full of information about the X-Men that Bastion has gotten his hands on. He offers it to Jonah who, bless his heart, refuses. He's been investigating Bastion and found precisely nothing--"not a single page of reference on you." He burns the disc and tells Bastion to go to hell.
One of the best portrayals of JJJ ever, certainly the best since the "Spidey Goes Berserk!" story way back in Web of Spider-Man #13, and a good look at how the world outside the X-books is reacting to the inanity of OZT. And I think it's telling that one of the three or four best issues of any of the X-titles in years is, for all intents and purposes, a Spider-Man comic. The art is nothing to write home about--it's in the faux-manga style that is so popular right now (cf. Sensational Spider-Man), but it's tolerable. Recommended.
Four webs. Very good stuff.