A strange creature is stalking the streets, and it's up to T.T. Thomas and his crew of reporters from the Clarion to uncover the mystery. But, will the diabolical plans of Professor Squid interfere?
What? Squid? You're kidding me, yeah? - Ed
Rob Peterson, the Baby-Ruth munching photographer for the Clarion snaps some pictures of a crook on the run getting snacked on by the nefarious 'Spider-Man'. The publisher, T.T. Thomas, makes it a priority for his staff get more information and evidence of the monster. On T.T's desk is a picture of him standing next to his astronaut son, Jay. T.T. flashes back to just before his son left on that fateful Mars Probe mission. T.T. gave Jay a special necklace of his late mother's, a capital 'J' on a gold chain. The mission failed, and when the NASA guys found the downed capsule, the monster now known as Spider-Man was the only thing that emerged.
T.T. goes to stop the presses to include the new Spider-Man pics, when he's rudely interrupted by the evil goggled-villain known as Professor Squid! Seems like the Prof's got issues with T.T.'s coverage of his latest escapades, and escaped from the cops just to deal with the bothersome publisher! The SWAT team provides T.T. with very little in the way of real assistance, so T.T. decides to take matters into his own hands. He walks in right in the middle of Squid's soliloquy (doesn't that always happen to super-villains?), and offers up himself in trade for the employees being held hostage. But, just as Squid gets ready to make a messy end to Mr. Thomas, the glass from the sunlights shatter as they make way for Spider-Man!
He and the Squid fight, and T. T. does what he can to throw the villain off. Meanwhile, a mysterious shadow is seen infiltrating T.T's office and taking the newly-snapped pics of Spider-Man. Downstairs, the Spider and the Squid are still locked in combat, and when the cops outside hear that Spider-Man has joined the fray, they're excited at the prospect of 'two for one'. Just as the Squid is going to crush Spider-Man, spidey turns on the presses, where Squid gets his 'tentacles' caught, and the bio-mechanical device gets squashed in the rollers, causing a neuro-overload in Squid's equipment, rendering him helpless.
Spider-Man and T.T. look at each other in silence, and just as Spider-Man extends a claw to the publisher, a shot rings out. A green splotch of blood flies from Spider-Man's shoulder as the policemen try to corner the monster. But, T.T. puts himself in front of the cops just long enough for the creature to escape.
For the last scene, a fogcoated figure is seen relinquishing the negatives and prints from the Spider-Man pictures over to none other than the enigmatic Spider-Man himself. A close shot of the monster reveals something strange under his 'skin'. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like a capital 'J' hanging from a necklace.
The great thing about these kinds of comics is that they give us brief glimpses into some 'coulda been' worlds, and we get the chance to sample the local culinary delights. The story was complete with background characters, and the little continuing elements that perpetuate this time-line as actually happening somewhere, and also provides the promise of further issues. I like the way the 'Spider as Monster' theme was used in this book, and actually liked having a Spider-Man that wasn't constantly whining about his own position in life.
I thought the characterization was the strong point in this book, and it's the reason it was so enjoyable to read. You know that if you feel cheated by a one-shot simply because it means you don't get to read the next issue, the writer's have done their job!
I think I'd rather read stories like this, lying outside the crippled regular continuity Marvel has cemented the webslinger in. It reassures me that Spidey's legacy will transcend the current creative run.
Darned good, and worth the pretty pennies for the collection. Nice characterization and the fresh take on Spidey make this an enjoyable distraction from the current 'goings-on' in the Spidey books. Four solid webs.