It's an annual, okay? The good thing about annuals is that they're usually not steeped in continuity (for the record, the bad things are that they're more expensive, and it's not uncommon for them to be not overly good). So going into this book, all you need to know is there's this guy named Peter Parker who's had more than his share of bad luck in his life. Oh, and he's Spider-Man, too. You'll pick up the rest as you go...
It seems that Randy Robertson is a tinch under the weather, so his kind-hearted roommate Peter Parker is filling in at the bar where Randy works. Pete's chief customer is a beautiful seven-foot tall woman who's downing drink after drink, but when Pete decides she's had enough to drink and waters down her next one, she takes exception and goes after the bartenders. Pete pulls some spider-moves (counting on the darkness of the bar and the drunkeness of its patrons to protect his secret identity) and kicks her out into the alley. They fight, and Pete grabs the web-shooters he stashed before his shift, as the woman pulls a gun and shoots at him. They fight some more, and Pete manages to web her to a wall, but she breaks free, pounces on him, and kisses him. She laughs and hugs Petem, thanking him for the good time. A confused Peter demands an explanation, and she tells him that she is Bounty and she's trying to get over having her heart broken by Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin'! blue-eyed Thing. Bounty pays for the damage to the bar and leaves, but not before Pete flicks a spider tracer on her back.
An hour later, Pete is trying to track Bounty down, but when he stops to root around in his backpack for a moment, Bounty gets the drop on him. But instead of attacking, Bounty confesses that she was touched by Pete's concern for her, so she asks to take him for a cup of coffee. At the coffee shop, we're introduced to a cook and a waitress named Jack and Diane, who seem to be very much in love. As Pete and Bounty discuss their respective heart breaks, members of a pair of warring gangs enter the bar: the Golden Horde, and the Bacchae. It seems that Jack is unwillingly tied to the Golden Horde, and Diane to the Bacchae, and as the Bacchae leave, they take Diane with them, and Jack leaves the coffee shop very upset. So Pete and Bounty decide to try to reunite these two starcross'd lovers.
They go all over town looking for information, but come up empty, although they do enjoy the time they spend together. They finally catch a break, as they stumble across Jack, who is being robbed. They help out Jack, and then travel to the Bacchae HQ, where Pete makes a lame excuse and skulks away to change to his Spidey togs.
As Spider-Man infiltrates the Bacchae headquarters, Bounty heads inside to try to cut a deal. Spidey finds Diane and manages to get her out of the building and back into Jack's arms, just as Bounty reveals that the Bacchae have bought her out. Spidey and Bounty fight, as Jack and Diane attempt a getaway from the Bacchae and the Horde (who have arrived on the scene as well), but Spidey is beaten down badly enough that Bounty has the chance to blast their car into oblivion. Spidey is shocked that Bounty could so easily throw away the lives of the two kids. But as the Horde and Bacchae leave the scene, Bounty reveals that although she destroyed their car, she protected Jack and Diane inside a force field. She knew that the gangs would never leave the two kids alone, so she had to fake their deaths. And now that everything worked out in the end, Spidey and Bounty were going to go for a cup of coffee, while Jack and Diane moved to Saskatchewan, opened a diner named after Bo! unty, and had a boy who they named Pete.
This first story is a Romeo & Juliet type deal, with Spidey and Bounty thrown in for good measure. It's plotted by Chris Claremont, which is a good thing, and scripted by Bill Rosemann, who also does a nice job, not letting the pages get too cluttered with words (as Claremont is sometimes wont to do). It's a very solid story, with some very touching moments. And I think I was just as shocked as Spidey when Bounty blew up the car at the end. A terrific story, once you get past the fact that Pete is very cavalier about his secret identity, and that he has no trouble becoming a bartender at the drop of a hat.
This story features great art by Joe Bennet (who also draws the backup story). I've been a fan of Bennett since I first saw his work in some pre-reboot issues of Amazing and Sensational, and through the short-lived but greatly missed Nova series. And he doesn't disappoint here. He does everything well in this book. The characters look great, and the action scenes are spectacular. A great job by Mr. Bennett.
Great story, great art. Four and a half webs.