The Hobgoblin is making a move to take down Spider-Girl and the Black Tarantula, enlisting the help of Mindworm in the process. Meanwhile, May Parker is at wits end after accidentally causing her brother's hearing loss and her breakup with Gene Thompson. As May tries to pull herself back together, the Hobgoblin's nefarious plan continues to unfold....
The story begins with Hobgoblin crashing a hidden temple, scaring its acolytes half to death while seeking its "oracle," Madame Web. His assault is halted by one acolyte who has assumed Madame Web's "Chair of Clairvoyance" and knows that he seeks to destroy the Black Tarantula. This mysterious hooded figure tells Hobgoblin the true history of the Tarantula, describing how this "immortal" figure was merely a man of Spanish descent who learned martial arts and passed his skills down through the bloodline. Somewhere along the way, one of the Tarantulas participated in the same ritual that gave Ezekiel his powers, which were also passed from father to son. The high priestess tells Hobgoblin that some Tarantulas through the years have suffered defeats, and that the father of the current Black Tarantula was defeated both by Spider-Man and by Araña. Hobgoblin is unimpressed until the high priestess mentions the "Heart of the Spider," which remains a mystery but is mentioned in prophecy as being something that can defeat the Tarantula. Hobgoblin leaves, more than a little perturbed, and the high priestess removes her robe and turns out to be Araña herself
While all this is taking place, May Parker comes downstairs to check on her baby brother only to find little Ben crawling on the ceiling. May's mother comes downstairs but Ben drops into May's arms before she can see anything. MJ tells her daughter to take a day off from all of the "spider stuff" that has ruled their lives as late, and leaves. May meets up with Davida Kirby for a shopping expedition. They see Gene Thompson with Simone DeSantos, which of course sets Davida off. She calms down eventually, asking May about Wes. When May describes her reluctance to start another new relationship, Davida says she may ask him out herself.
Pulling on the costume, Spider-Girl heads over to the Fantastic Five building hoping to enlist their help to solve her brother's hearing woes. She runs into a helmeted Franklin Richards, who tells her that his father is "unreachable" and berates her for paying no attention to "anyone else's problems." Stunned by Franklin's brusque dismissal, Spider-Girl heads back across the city where she stumbles across a mugging in progress. Losing control, she beats the muggers senseless while their intended victim watches. She pulls herself together and leaves, spider sense still tingling.
Heading over to Courtney's house, May learns that Moose Mansfield is moving back to the city. May is happy that Moose will be returning, but pained knowing that he still blames Spider-Girl for his father's imminent demise. Stung by yet another turn of events, May runs into Wes on the way home who can't wait to tell her that Davida Kirby asked him out.
Back at the Hobgoblin's hidden lair, Hobby meets up with the "mugging victim," who turns out to be the Mindworm in disguise. He tells Hobby that he made contact with Spider-Girl, and that "the Mindworm can easily use her own inner demons to destroy her."
Not really an eventful issue. Other than Ben's spider powers manifesting itself and May's messy personal life, the entire book details the history of the Black Tarantula and sets up next issue's showdown. Full length lead-ins rarely make for compelling stories, especially considering that we've now had one two months in a row. Setting up the next story is all well and good, but can something actually HAPPEN in the meantime?
Nothing much new in the Black Tarantula's history either, with the exception of his ancestor gaining his powers through the ritual that gave Ezekiel his. While the mysticism thing has been done to death in ASM during J.M.S.'s run on the title, kudos to Tom DeFalco for finding a way to use it here. Spider-Girl and Amazing Spider-Girl have long been known for creating storylines out of elements that the core titles have forgotten (Scarlet Spider, the female Doctor Octopus, etc.) and that is a real strength of this book. Heck, there's more continuity here than in the core titles anymore, but that's a rant for a different review.
Let's hope next issue's payoff is worth the three months we've had to wait for it.
A few nice small touches but this story is running in place at the moment. Two webs.