After being presumed dead for some time, Peter Parker's wife Mary Jane returned, revealing that she'd been held captive by some weird stalker with glowing eyes all that time. But then, instead of having a joyous reunion with her husband, MJ decided that she couldn't deal with her husband's dual identity, and decided to take off to California. So Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, is on his own again.
This issue opens in the new Parker digs, as Pete, Randy Robertson, Jill Stacy, and Glory Grant sit around and play Trivial Pursuit, and Pete demonstrates his complete lack of baseball knowledge. After Mary Jane returned, Peter moved out of the apartment that he shared with Randy, and then after she left, Pete decided to move into a place of his own, for somewhat unclear reasons. Randy, however, thinks he's solved that mystery when he spots Pete's voluptuous new neighbour, Caryn. Pete admits to being fond of Caryn, but expresses some doubts about her creepy-looking dog, Barker.
Cut to a secluded super-villain hideout, littered with various examples of Marvel Super Heroes paraphernalia, where some bad guy in black and gold pants works out and swears revenge on Spider-Man. Meanwhile, back at Pete's house, his answering machine fields the call of a greedy lawyer, looking to cash in on his separation from Mary Jane. Pete, however, is up on the roof changing into his Spidey togs, where he's spotted by Barker the dog. Pete looks at Barker, and admits that he can't help feeling that Barker is up to something unusual.
Cut to some office building, where the afore-mentioned bad guy is now in his entire black and gold costume, and he enters the building carrying a bag of dry-ice and a mannequin. This man is Fusion, and he demonstrates his abilities by tearing apart the lobby of the building using the powers of various Marvel heroes and villains, such as Thor, Doctor Octopus, the Hulk, Mr. Fantastic, and Captain America. And then he shape changes into Spider-Man, instructing a bystander to tell the authorities that he is Spider-Man, and that he has a hostage.
Meantime, Spidey is sitting atop a building looking pensive. He ponders his feeling that something big is going to happen soon, involving himself. Then Spidey flips on his radio, and hears about the hostage situation that allegedly involves himself. Spidey swings into action, and soon meets Fusion atop the building. Fusion promises that Spidey will never be able to beat him, and he follows up on that promise, as he beats up on the wall-crawler quite badly. Then when some nearby police officers start firing on him and Spidey, Fusion demonstrates almost god-like powers in killing them. The wall-crawler demands to know why he couldn't have let them live, and Fusion says that it's because of Spidey. He tells a story of a boy who idolized the web-slinger, and then one day, the boy went to the top of an old warehouse with some rope, and he jumped off expecting to swing, but dying instead. Then Fusion tells him to understand that it's because of him, Spider-Man that so many people are about to die. And with that, he throws the mannequin off the side of the building. Spidey instinctively goes after it and webs it, flashing back to when he failed save Gwen as he does it, and then he realizes what's happening. He realizes that the mannequin is a bomb. He realizes this just as it explodes against the side of the building, killing three hundred people.
Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Buckingham continue to amaze me. This issue came out one week after the highly anticipated arrival of JMS on Amazing Spider-Man, and in my opinion, they easily eclipse his work.
This issue's script was flawless, featuring the introduction of two new supporting characters, the seductive Caryn and the downright hilarious Barker. I look forward to seeing lots more of these two, and finding out what it is that Barker is up to. We're also introduced to Fusion, who seems very, very dangerous by the end of this issue. However, I can't quite shake the feeling that I've seen his gimmick somewhere before.
The art is also top-notch, as usual. While I feel Dan Green's departure from the inking duties on this title hurts the non-costume parts of it, Wayne Faucher's inks sure seem to spice up the action scenes. And Mr. Buckingham also did a very nice job on the design of Fusion's costume.
Five well-earned webs. And if I were allowed, I'd award them a special sixth bonus web, just for the hilarious Todd McFarlane joke on the first page.