This is a world where Spider-Man is still a teen, only he doesn't live in some long ago era, but in the hi-tech world of right-now. For this series, Spidey has been re-imagined for a modern sensibility only without all the grim and grittiness of the current day, but with all of the exciting nuances and fun from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics. While these stories are targeted for an audience much younger than your typical Marvel Comic reader; it should be noted that there are plenty of "old timers" (like this reviewer) who find this title a refreshing breeze.
This episode starts off with Emma Frost and Sophia Sanduval (a.k.a. "Chat"), a pair of young mutants, who are wandering around the halls of Midtown High. Emma is monitoring the thoughts of random teens they encounter in the hallway (one of them — a pretty blonde girl — is probably Gwen Stacy although not specifically identified as such, Emma indicates that the girl is a recent transfer to the school, and that her father is a Captain in the NYC Police Department). A group of street thugs carrying baseball bats enter the school and demand the gold, frightening the students (including Peter, who is carrying a pizza and the new girl). Emma knows that Peter is Spidey.
From this point we jump back to the previous day where Emma and Chat are strolling through Midtown Manhattan and Emma is using her mutant powers of mind control to "influence" people into giving the girls stuff (clothing, food, a ride, etc.). We also learn that Chat has the ability to talk to animals (but apparently all they want to do is talk about food, as they are always hungry).
While they are strolling down a sidewalk a work crew is hanging the sign to a pizza parlor, only the sign falls, just as the girls are passing under it (to be sure the crew did block off the sidewalk around their work area but the girls apparently didn't notice or care that they were in potential danger). Peter, sensing the falling sign, rescued not only the girls, but one of the workers (who was in a cherry picker).
After making certain the gals were safe, Pete did his usual vanishing act only to re-appear as Spidey so that he could retrieve the worker from the spot on the wall of the building to which he webbed the falling guy. It is during this scene that Emma determines that Spidey and Peter are the same person, and that Pete attends Midtown High. Emma (being who she is and will eventually become), decides to muck about in Pete's life, and shows up at Midtown High, posing a Harvard psychologist interested in talking to Peter.
The following morning, Peter is walking through the halls with one of his teachers talking about some science bio-tech-geek thing. A bunch of jocks toss a basketball at Pete, who ducks causing it to bean a bigger Jock (Flash?) who, understandably gets angry. An announcement over the loudspeaker calls Pete to the Principal's office, where he finds Emma and Chat waiting for him.
Emma sends the Principal out to get pizza (I'm sensing a theme here), while she and Chat play their mind games with a poor, unsuspecting Pete. As Emma questions Pete, she learns of his transformation from a "regular" teen, into the superhero sensation, Spider-Man. During this exchange, Emma keeps open a mind-link with Chat, keeping her friend informed about how Pete became Spidey. The session done, she sends Pete to find the Principal and collect the pizza.
It is now that the story catches up to where we joined the story, and the thugs rush into the school (believing themselves to be stagecoach robbers, and this to be the depot where the gold is being stored). Peter is conflicted; he wants to stop the thugs, but he can't do it as Peter. Emma is entertained by his conflicting emotions, and simply wants to watch how he resolves this thorny issue.
Just as he is about to make his move, the blonde (Gwen ?) tosses a book at one of the thugs. Using the distraction as cover Pete ducks out only to return moments later as Spidey, and makes short order of the thugs, before disappearing once again. Once the incident is over, Chat again reveals that she wants to return to school, and that now is the time to do it. Reluctantly, Emma — knowing that there is a mutual attraction between the two teens, helps Chat achieve that goal.
The story winds up with Peter befriending Chat, apparently unaware that he has met her twice before, but with Chat knowing his secret identity.
With this issue, the series is slated to take on a new direction. It seems from this story that Chat will become an on-going character, and Gwen is apparently being (happily) introduced (this writer has always been more a fan of Gwen than MJ — no offense to one of my favorite (fictional) redheads), I'm just stuck in my (ill-spent) youth. I enjoyed when Gwen showed up here before, and look forward to her return engagement.
Another aspect of this "new direction" appears to be the beginning on on-going stories. Up until now, all MA-Spidey stories have been self-contained, with little (if any) overlap, with the introduction of Chat, it seems that just might change. Writer, Paul Tobin has a good handle on this version of the character, and it will be interesting to see what he does. Plus, penciler Matteo Lolli's more realistic (less cartoony-Manga) style is also an interesting change.
Personally, this reviewer is interested in looking forward to see what they have in their bag of tricks.
Hey, I like Spidey (that much is obvious), plus I like this format (again, totally obvious), further the fact that Gwen (with whom I've been in love since I was like 10) is joining the series, only makes this me enjoy this title even more.
This issue has a five-page preview of Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #14 staring Hawkeye and (a modern age) Blonde Phantom.