|Cover Art:||Steve McNiven|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Knights: Spider-Man (Reprint TPB) #4|
While the FF are searching for Ethan's shuttle, which Thing smashed halfway across America, Spidey is busy with the mysterious woman who works for the Owl, and the Owl himself. The Absorbing Man suddenly bursts in however and wants revenge on the Owl. He stomps the woman into the ground, presumably killing her.
As things look as if they're about to get out of hand Ethan shows up in an all- in-one leather outfit. He zaps AM and says his new name is The Tiller. Spidey suggests that, with the leather outfit, he'll probably end up being called The Gimp. Ethan flies off again, while the AM awakens absorbs himself into water to go after Owl again.
Reed Richards phones Spidey and fills him in on Ethan's 'mind meld' to the ship and the possibility that he may have been brainwashed. Meanwhile Ethan is still at the Bugle in his Tiller/Gimp suit. Ethan is researching the Skrulls to find out what he is.
The Owl wants protection but no one seems to want the gig. Spidey steps in, though and arranges a meet. Really, he is just using Owl as bait to lure AM back out into the open. At some chemical plant, Spidey manages to douse him in two different types of chemical that make him explode. Some special op-type people, who I think are SHIELD agents come in and mop up, before telling Spidey that Ethan is at the Baxter Building.
Spidey calls the New Avengers for backup and they try to take down Ethan at the Baxter Building. Ethan is more than holding his own before Aunt May shows up! Anyway, she talks Ethan round, telling him he's not a monster, etc. The next day, the NA and the FF are at the Baxter Building. Invisible Woman is wondering who the old woman who saved the day was. Wolverine says it was probably just 'an old broad with a TV and a sense of civic duty'.
Ethan has gone off to put his healing power to good use but Reed tells Spidey that there are no powers like that in a Skrull's repertoire, so they wonder where he got that ability…
I like the ending in the sense that it keeps Ethan in the game. He wasn't killed off and can be used again. On the other hand, The Absorbing Man got real dull real quick. There just didn't really seem any menace from either him or the Owl in terms of villains in the story.
The writer did capture the essence of Spidey, though. The little quips and one- liners were fairly consistent in the arc. The line about the Gimp in this one in particular was very good.
As with many other parts of Hudlin's arc, there are a few continuity gripes. In issue 5 of the Spider-Man/Human Torch book, the FF have met Aunt May and Torch knows Spidey's identity. Here, though, Invisible Woman doesn't know Aunt May. I also wonder how Jarvis and Aunt May got into the Baxter Building in the first place.
The agitation between Wolverine and Peter was also something never followed up upon. In fact, much of the NA interaction from issue 13 now seems little more than a very cynical ploy to have an incendiary cover for the first issue of Hudlin's arc. The character of Laurie is another who was referenced in the arc, then not mentioned again. Finally, we never did know who the Owl's 'woman' was. Even if she was always supposed to be a new character then some sort of name would have been nice.
These little messy ties sour what could have been a decent start. Hudlin does knit the universe together nicely while, in general, still keeping the focus on Spidey.
Decent but too many niggles to be anything more.