This is the conclusion to the story of the mysterious figure who calls himself the Authority. We are told on the cover that Spider-Man also faces the "Menace of the Mystery Guest-Star!"
After being sent to South Central Los Angeles, Greece, England and on a hunt through New York for the Man-Thing, and after being involved with members of Generation X, Hercules, the Sandman, Flag-Smasher and Silver Sable, Spidey finally discovers the real agenda of the Authority. The Authority wants Spidey to vaporize the Globe of Ultimate Knowledge which was retrived from another dimension by the Hulk for the Leader way back in Marvel history. The Globe is currently in the Leader's abandoned headquarters in Italy. The Authority wants our hero to destroy the Globe before the Humanoids ("An army of unliving constructs created by the Hulk's nemesis, the Leader,...") are exposed to it in the abandoned headquarters long enough to become omniscient. This ultimate knowledge, combined with the Humanoids desire to kill, could threaten all mankind.
We finally learn the truth about the Authority. The Authority's real name is Tito Mendez. He was the son of a drug lord who later went to work as a hired killer for a federal intelligence agency. On one Father's Day, Tito was tricked into blowing up his Father's car and killing him. Then he was forced to kill his wife after she revealed herself to be a intelligence agent who was going to kill him. All his life Tito did not want to know about his Father's business. He did not want to know about the people he was killing. He later realized that his ignorance had destroyed his life. He set up a think tank. As the text says, "The more he learned, the more threatened he felt...the more terrified to look away he became. The world was a stranger place than he knew, its hidden corners populated with gods, monsters and unfathomable forces. To protect himself from them, he would become one of them. He would become the Authority."
Spider-Man allows the Authority to transport him to the Leader's headquarters to destroy the Globe of Ultimate Knowledge. Spidey defeats the Humanoids and then discovers that the Authority really did not want to destroy the Globe, but rather transports it to himself so that he himself may become omniscient. Spidey tears the Globe away from the Authority as the Authority is gaining ultimate knowledge by which he can control all that exists.
After the battle who should appear but our mystery guest-star who has been watching events unfold the entire issue, The Watcher. The Watcher is the rightful owner of the globe who was forbidden from directly intervening in its recovery by his people. Apparently, the Globe allows its owner to be a member of The Watcher's race. The Watcher cannot allow mere mortals to possess such knowledge or even a glimpse of it, so he erases the events from the memory of the Authority, Spider-Man and the Authority's men. Spidey leaves the scene as the Authority is babbling "I don't know!"
This was a very good issue and is by far the best that this young series has offered the readers so far. The artwork was great. I am not familar with Tom Grindberg's other work, but he does an excellent job on this issue. The artwork reminds me of Ron Frenz's work on the Hobgblin Lives series and for my money Frenz is the best penciler in the business. The art has really moved away from the McFarlane style of MTU #4. The art is clear and clean with an emphasis on storytelling over useless flash. Spidey even has small eyes again, alright!!!
The story really kept me riveted wondering what was going to happen next. The character of the Authority turned out not to be an old Spidey villain but a new character with an interesting background and motivations. Also the idea of bringing back the Globe created a profound historical feeling to the entire story. Though the plot does leave one with many questions, like why did it take all this time for the Humanoids to gain the power of the Globe, and why didn't the Authority alert more heroes about such a potential disaster? I mean this is cosmic stuff here!
However, everyone will still enjoy this story. My only regret is that the Authority seems to be done for as a serious villain/adversary. In my opinion it would have been great to see him as a low rent Dr. Doom. A character who relies on knowledge as his sole weapon would be a welcome addition to the regular charcters of the Marvel universe. It is also too bad that we had to wade through four previous issues to get to this story when a story this deep could have taken place over five issues itself. However, it is a high compliment to say that I wanted more from this story!
A small technical complaint about the issue is that many times the words were accidently run together. Like when one of the Authority's men says, "KnowledgetoGain". This was a bit irritating
Five webs! I haven't had this much fun reading a comic in a long while.