In Spectacular Spider-Man Vol.2 #17-20, Spidey underwent a metamorphosis into a giant spider, thanks to the kiss of the seductive and sinister Queen. He returned to human form again, bursting forth from the carcass of the giant spider he had become. You can read not-so-pleased Jeff English's review of the transformation as per Spectacular Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #20.
The new Spider-Man is stronger, able to shoot organic webs from his wrists as per the Spider-Man movies, and has an improved spider-sense that connects him telepathically to the insect and bug community. Tom Brevoort has been quoted at Newsarama describing his upgraded spider-sense to be the equivalent of going from TV to HDTV. The reaction from the Spider-Man readers have ranged from outrage to excitement. The opinions against the change have mostly been expressed toward the organic webbing. Spider-Man's webshooters are one of the few reminders in today's Spider-Man comics that Spidey is a brilliant scientist and inventor, something the Spider-Man movies downplayed in order to make him more believable and relateable. Others have expressed that Spider-Man's spider-sense did not need to be augmented as it was already too powerful, and questioned the connection to insects when "everyone" knows spiders are not insects but arachnids. Those in favor have said Spider-Man was long overdue for an upgrade to keep the stories fresh and interesting and make Spidey more competitive in the Marvel Universe.
The folks at Spiderfan were given the opportunity to write the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Spider-Man 2005 under the editorial guidance of Jeff Youngquist. The Spider-Man Update was written by , but I had the privilege of proposing the new statistics to Marvel. Spider-Man's weight increased from 165 lbs. to 170 lbs. due to increased muscle mass. His strength level remained at Superhuman Level 4 (which covers those able to press between 800 lbs. to 25 tons), now able to press 15 tons, a 5 ton improvement. He's still 5' 10", with hazel eyes and brown hair!
What is a shame is that since the story has come out, the changes have been barely mentioned. You would never know he doesn't use webshooters, and the appearance and function appear to be identical. As of June 2005, I have not seen a single use of his enhanced spider-sense. In fact, Spider-Man was able to be sliced in the gut by Wolverine's claws while practice sparring with the New Avengers. Later in Marvel Knights, his new insect friends told him nothing of his wallet being stolen by the woman hanging out with the Absorbing Man. JMS didn't use the enhanced senses either as Peter's senses behaved normally while sniffing out undercover Hydra baddies.
Does his webbing do anything differently? Does it still take an hour to dissolve? Is this stuff more sticky? Can he still spin a parachute out of it? His new strength has been ignored as well.
It seems to be a lose-lose situation right now. Not only have fans on the one side been angered by the changes, those interested in the upgrade have been treated to nothing new. I also have to wonder what will happen by the end of 2005 as two major events are occurring with both the House of M, and the upcoming "The Other" storyline. Both stories promise to rock Spider-Man's world, and I'm suspicious that the upgrades may not even matter by next year. That opinion is purely speculative. I hope Jenkins, Hudlin, JMS, Peter David on the upcoming Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and the various Unlimited writers, all give these new powers a chance - before I fear it's too late!