With May Parker still guilt-ridden over the accident that has claimed her brother's hearing, Hobgoblin and the Mindworm are preparing to strike in hopes that she will lead them to the mysterious "Heart of the Spider" that is someone key to the Black Tarantula's powers. All this and May's "anniversary" (huh?)
Tomorrow has long been a special day for May Parker. Her parents call it her "anniversary," and while they have often skimped on the details, May has figured out that it's the anniversary of the day she was recovered from the Green Goblin several years ago. But that's tomorrow. Today May finds herself facing down some two-bit hoods in an appliance store. She handles them easily, but can't stop herself from feeling guilty about her brother. She swings off, changes out of costume to meet her friends at Cafe Indigo, but gets a strange feeling from her spider sense. Someone is watching her.
At Cafe Indigo May spends some time unwinding with Courtney, Moose, and Moose's cousin while avoiding Brad Miller and Jack Jameson. Her phone rings with a welcome message from her parents: Normie Osborn has found them a specialist who believes he can restore her brother's hearing. May is ecstatic and heads for home to learn the details, unaware that the Mindworm has been keeping tabs on her through the psychic link he established last issue. And the spike in her emotions has given him just the opening he needs.
May barely makes it a block away before she is attacked by Dragon King and Mr. Nobody. She leaps into an alley, ready to strike her enemy... only to find herself about to pummel a very contrite Chris Jarkoer who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Puzzled, May heads home, gets the skinny on her brother and Dr. Kaplan (who has agreed to treat him), and falls asleep. She sees herself as the Black Tarantula and finds Chesbro waiting for her, telling her that she married BT and gained his powers after his death, she's 31, her parents are dead and her brother's alive. Screaming, she wakes up to find MJ waiting for her, and manages to pull herself back together long enough to head to school. Meanwhile, Hobgoblin has been doing some research and has located Dr. Milton Kaplan. "Perhaps I should give him a visit...."
At school, May finds herself dozing off in class and dreams that she is the Black Tarantula again. She sees her brother Ben, who is working for Handsome Richie Valentine and demands to know what she knows about the "Heart of the Spider." Confused, May denies any knowledge of it. Just then Lady Octopus breaks into the building and attacks Ben. May wakes up screaming in the middle of class, much to her chagrin.
After class, May gets a phone call from her mother who tells her that Dr. Kaplan has been kidnapped. May suits up and heads off, calling every super hero she knows in order to enlist their aid in recovering the good doctor. She then tracks down every two-bit hood she can find and eventually gets the location of the warehouse where Hobgoblin and Mindworm have holed up. On the way there she runs into the astral form of Doc Magus, who warns her of "enormous discharges of psychic energy from this general vicinity." Spider-Girl blows him off and continues to the warehouse, where she runs into practically every villain she has ever faces. She barely manages to hold her own until Apox and Seth knock her unconscious.
She comes to (or does she?) as the Black Tarantula again, suspended in a water-filled containment sphere and running out of the energy needed to keep herself afloat. Chesbro is there, accusing her of killing the Black Tarantula and of knowing the secret of the "Heart of the Spider." He orders her to give it to him or watch Aftershock fry her brother to death. Spider-Girl's mind is confused but her heart is dead certain: what she is seeing isn't real. Her predicament is, however: she is suspended in the giant sphere while Hobgoblin and Mindworm work on her. Trusting her instincts, Spider-Girl stops fighting to stay afloat, anchors herself to the bottom of the sphere, and starts to pull. After an enormous effort, she pulls herself free and smashes the sphere. Just as Hobgoblin prepares to attack, Mindworm catches word that several superheroes are on the way. "How many are coming?" "Uhhhh... I'd say ALL of them!" The two make a quick exit as May attends to Dr. Kaplan, who is trussed up nearby.
After being attended to by the heroes she contacted--and taking grief from Nova in the process--May heads home to tell her folks the good news (while keeping mum about Mindworm's role in the matter.) She gets another tingle from her spider sense and realizes someone is outside, but not seeming to pose a real problem. She decides not to worry about it and the Parkers celebrate May's anniversary in style.
Elsewhere in Manhattan, the real Chesbro reports in to the Black Tarantula that Hobgoblin has learned of the "Heart of the Spider" and has enlisted Spider-Girl's aid to get it. "Now THIS is distressing," BT replies. "No one may threaten the Black Tarantula with impunity... and that includes Spider-Girl!"
All right, finally some action! After a long and somewhat tedious build-up over the past few issues, Hobgoblin and Mindworm finally make their play. The bad news is that we've seen it all before: a mysterious enemy tampering with Spidey's mind, an inhuman ordeal that our hero must face, and a show of strength that is a direct homage to the famous scene in ASM #33 where Spider-Man lifts the heavy machinery off his back. Nothing really new here, but it makes for an enjoyable read and since this issue does mark the 10th anniversary of Spider-Girl, it only makes sense to celebrate by going back to what Spider-Man and Spider-Girl do best. Had all of this been thrown together for no reason it would have been cheesy. As is? Well, it was fun. With all of the weird stuff happening to Spider-Man in the core books it's nice to read something that hearkens back to the "good old days," even if there's a different Parker slinging the webs.
Not sure where DeFalco is going with the "mysterious stranger," but the partial silhouette we see at the end of the book looks female to me. The only other ongoing plot thread is this "Heart of the Spider" thing we've heard so much about of late. Hopefully this is something we can come back to as I think the whole Hobby vs. Black Tarantula storyline deserves a break, but the next time this becomes a story element we should get to learn what it is. DeFalco has already tied in the Tarantula's powers with the same ritual that gave Ezekiel his in the core books; could this be related as well? I hope not--JMS really rode the whole magical totem nonsense into the ground during his tenure--but I'll wait to see what DeFalco has up his sleeve.
Overall, not groundbreaking by any stretch but a nice reminder of what Spider-Girl (and Spider-Man) is all about. After "Civil War," "Back in Black," and "One More Day," the timing could not have been better.
Four webs for a good issue and a satisfying conclusion to this story arc.