In this issue, we look back in time to before there was a Spider-Man, and follow a tale of two brothers; George and Arthur Stacy. Something strange is going on at Osborn Industries (go figure!), and it's up to them to find out what it is. The only problem is that they're on opposite sides of the problem!
In the beginning of this 'Flashback' issue, the Stacy's are having a barbeque. George and Arthur are having an arguement over the existence of super-human individuals. George believes it's all hype and conspiracy rumors, but Art truly believes that the 'Mutant Situation' is going to get critical. The discussion continues until both of them are paged (they had pagers back then? WOW!), and have to leave immediately.
They join up later outside of Obsorn chemicals. George Stacy is a detective, investigating a break-in and strange presence at the plant. Arthur is the new head of security at Osborn Chemicals, and Norman wouldn't allow the police to inspect the premises without his man Arthur there. The two Stacy's go into the darkened plant, and confront a stange monster. George shoots, but the thing gets away. Still following his detective instincts, George leaves to look for the criminal. Arthur finds an ID tag of an Osborn employee named Nels Van Adder at the scene.
Later, at Osborn's science labs, Norman talks to Arthur, and tells him that his company is involved in a large number of important projects. Norman takes time out to talk to a ceratin youngster, Peter Parker, and his aunt and uncle. He tells the boy 'I have a feeling you and I are either going to be very good friends, or fierce competitors." (!) He then tells Arthur that these high-secret projects are the nautre of his business, and if he doesn't like it, he should move on.
Later, Nels Van Adder, disfigured and grotesque, seeks out Norman for help. Osborn is looking for Stromm's serum (this is before he Green Goblin was born), and Nels wants some kind of help. Osborn, however, isn't going to give it to him. Meanwhile, Arthur is consumed with the whole thing. George and he get into a scuffle at a local bar, Norman catches him rummaging through his papers, and a drive-by attempt is made on his life. Arthur knows that Norman is crooked, and that he's got to get involved. He calls his brother and tells him "I'm taking Norman Osborn down tonight. Do NOT get in my way." But borhters are brothers, and the two Stacy boys return to Osborn Chemicals, to find Norman being attacked by Van Adder. Arthur wants to let the monster kill Osborn, but George talks sense into him, and they manage to throw the thing out a high story window. Norman covers it all up by saying that Van Adder was involved with Stromm, and he was just trying to fix things when the monster attacked him. Arthur, however, doesn't believe him.
Later, Norman finds Stromm's notes hidden within the frame of a desk in Stromm's office. And the rest, they say, is history!
The thing I didn't like about this issue was... no Spidey! But oh well, we'll forgive them for the great 'foreshadowing' work done in this issue. It did a great job exploring the conflict between the two Stacy brothers, as well as give us more background on Arthur. I absolutely loved the scene with Norman and Peter, and I thought that the staff did a great job giving us a peek into Peter's past, and the past of his supporting characters.
JR Jr. got a rest this month, and I missed him. Dan Fraga did a good job, but the book lost a lot of it's mood, taking on a more traditional 'comic-book' feel. But Howard's story was very well told, and he planted many seeds this issue that I'm sure we'll see popping-up later on. Bring on the Proto-Goblin!
Nothing to complain about this iss, but it was not an extraordinary, no-holds-barred adventure, so I have to give it a three. Good character development and foundation-laying for the presence of Arthur Stacy in Peter's life, as well as the introduction of another potential Spidey villain, but the more traditional art style and detective-style story didn't meet my highly unrealistic expectations.