This issue prints episodes from Amazing Spider-Man Digital, originally available on Marvel.com. This story occurs soon after Amazing Spider-Man #621.
Peter Parker’s Aunt Jameson (recently returned from her honeymoon with J. Jonah Jameson Sr.) volunteers at FEAST, a shelter for the needy. Peter often joins her but hasn’t been in touch for a few days.
The Thing, of The Fantastic Four, knows Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
A gang of homeless people are led by a powerful Captain. He wears a mask and gathers food for them. A woman called Mary tries to comfort him but he turns his face away from her. Underneath his mask… is Peter Parker! Suddenly the police arrive and Peter throws a van to block the gates and their path! His followers scurry into the building to escape and he faces a man who has come to help the police: The Thing! Peter lands a couple of punches but The Thing easily lays him out. He pulls of the mask to find that he’s been after Peter Parker!
A short time later, Peter has come round and now remembers who he is. He and Thing locate his Spider-Man costume and Thing explains that he was helping out at FEAST, heard about the gang of homeless people and came along to check them out. Spidey reveals that, to earn some money, he took part in psychology research and he ended up on the streets, not knowing who he was. He remembers the address of the company and they investigate.
Meanwhile, the police have arrested the homeless group and Mary is distraught when she learns that their leader was Spider-Man!
Arriving at the lab, Spidey suddenly feels like he can’t take care of himself. He wonders what experiments were done on him! Without reason, Spidey leaves Thing to battle the lab’s defence systems!
Spidey tracks down Mary, realising that he recognises the other homeless people from the lab when he was there… but not her. He thinks she worked there so drags her back to the lab where they find Thing triumphant, standing over AIM (Advanced Ideas Mechanics) scientists but overwhelmed by his self-image. Thing will not come out of the shdaows. Spidey realises that this is what the experiments did, increase self-doubt, and demands to know where the machine is. Mary remembers that she handled the test subject’s details and that Spider-Man’s real name and address is somewhere on the computer system!
As they get further into the lab, Spidey deals with the remaining AIM scientists as Mary looks for the data files. She destroys it, along with any hope of Spidey being able to convert the homeless group back to their original lives. She did it to protect Spidey’s identity… a sacrifice Spidey could not have made himself.
Outside, with the police cleaning up, Spidey is upset that he can't save the homeless group. Recovered from his own personal issues, Thing tells Spidey to live up to the sacrifice she made…
This issue suffers horribly from the problems Peter Parker #4 began to have. As a printed comic book, the story reads as jerky, troubled and completely staccato, so much so that I had to read it a couple of times to work out the finer details of the story. Again, setting and time flits from panel to panel with no overarching narration to hold it all together and it's uncomfortable for the reader to invest any more than frustration in the storytelling.
The Thing’s appearance is understandable but underused, as is the feelings of insecurity this machine has inflicted upon the character we know and love. The concept of targeted Peter’s flawed character, manipulating and highlighting this as a weakness to be exploited, is alright but Tom Peyer’s execution is unfortunately inconsistent.
Todd Nauck’s art is unremarkable but solid. He’s given a lot to do and a lot of scenes to tell, but his standard expressions don’t deliver the emotional subtlety necessary to fully involve the reader.
This translation from digital to print falls into messy territory. Scenes and panels are all over the place.
Todd Nauck delivers his standard but the story is limited by it's medium and never really reaches any potential.