Last issue, the team was regrouping after the seeming death of Prodigy, betrayal by the Black Marvel and the collapse of the Grande Royale Hotel. Dusk tried to build team trust with a game of "truth or dare." She had Ricochet fall from a building, telling him she's catch him. She took her time as he fell, leaving Hornet to grab him before hitting the ground. She had been there waiting but Hornet's actions proved the lack of trust. Hornet left to return to his campus, but after forgetting to give Ricochet a ride home, he saw the two in a kiss.
Prodigy stumbled away from the demolished hotel, confused and wondering how he was alive.
Elsewhere, a maggia goon was killed by mutant rats in the subway tunnels.
The issue starts with two sewage workers, Mickey and Mack, who are attacked by giant mutated rats. Mack tried to run for help but was grabbed by an unseen creature.
At Empire State, Eddie was walking through the quad one night and was stopped by Susan Sawyer, the girl whose boyfriend had been abusing. She apologized for the way Brian had treated him in the stairwell, and for his rudeness. She appreciated that Eddie had checked on her. Susan thanked him and walked away. After she left, Eddie heard a familiar sound coming from a storm drain. Before he could react, he was grabbed from behind and yanked to the ground. He was soon surrounded by a pack of the giant rat monsters, who dragged him into the sewer.
At the same time, Dusk was at Trinity Church. She felt Eddie's pain and fear, making her teleport to his aid.
Meanwhile Johnny and Kathy were at his garage and she said he could do better with Ricochet's costume. As Johnny dug through a pile of junk, he came across the beaten up go-kart buggy that he had built with his father. It had been a long time since he had worked on the buggy with his father. His mother had died and they had grown apart, and they hardly spoke to each other. After Kathy left, Johnny heard the familiar sound of Dusk teleporting behind him. She promised that she hadn't heard anything, but he didn't believe her. She warned him that there was something wrong with Hornet and they needed to find him. She took him away, still teasing him about the fact that Kathy called him "funny looking cute."
In the sewers, the rats moved like a single entity, like a whole organism. They took Eddie to their master, who was hidden in the shadows. It said that Eddie sounded scared and said it must be the darkness. It lit some torches and showed itself to be a giant creature, combining a human and rat appearance. It sat on a throne of skulls, the sight of which made Eddie pass out.
Meanwhile, Ritchie returned home to the North Bronx and to his elderly grandmother. He made it to his room before she saw him and she said he hadn't been home in days. He was amazed it had been that long. Could he really have been buried like that for days?
Dusk and Ricochet were looking through Eddie's dorm room hoping to find clues about his whereabouts, but found nothing. While they were there, Susan knocked at the door, having found Eddie's book bag in the courtyard. As Susan was talking, Cassie made faces at her from inside the room, making Susan uncomfortable. Johnny took the bag and thanked her, then asked Cassie what she was doing. As she played innocent, the Hornet jet pack turned on and knocked Johnny into a wall. The vibrations of the pack scared away some of the rat creatures that had been hiding under Eddie's bed. Johnny recognized them from previously and followed them into the sewer. Ricochet and Dusk were then in the sewer tunnels following them to their friend.
Eddie was chained to a wall as the Grizz spoke. After Eddie asked what it wanted, the creature said they had needed time to evolve and get stronger. They needed to remember what he smelled like, so they could find him. Grizz told Eddie to watch as he clawed at himself across his chest. The wounds bled green but they healed almost immediately. He said that Eddie looked nervous and assumed it was the company. He tossed two of the rats away and called him anti-social. He called Eddie the runt, the guy that served punch at prom, the one that didn't play well with others. It was about to tear him apart when it's hand was teleported away by Dusk. Ricochet kicked the monster away from Eddie and it's hand grew back immediately.
Ricochet had the smart idea to use the jet pack to scare away the rats but since it wasn't balanced, it slammed him into a wall. Dusk teleported the dazed team mate away to his bedroom, which his dad was standing outside of. Back in the sewer, Dusk threatened to rip them all apart. Grizz laughed and said he'd pull himself together but knew Eddie couldn't do the same.
The biggest difference is the art of the guest artist, Greg Luzniak. It has a kind of cartoonish look, but is detailed. The details to the characters anatomy is more clear. Cassie is drawn to be more....pleasant to look at? She is always drawn to be attractive but when done by Chrisscross, the art pays more attention to her goth features.
Some parts of the story didn't make sense. Why were the rats hiding under Eddie's bed when he'd already been caught? They were called scouts, but what were they scouting for? In the end fight, Ricochet tried to use the jet pack to scare away the mutant rats, but where did he get it from? When he arrived he wasn't carrying it, but in the next panel he was holding the giant thing over his head.
The reveal regarding Richie's homelife made me think of him as Flash Thompson living with Aunt May. He's an abusive jock with an inferiority complex living with a fragile, wheelchair bound grandmother.
We still aren't sure what Susan's opinion of Eddie is. She likes him enough to apologize for Brian's rudeness and to return the bag he left in the courtyard. If she is attracted to him, it would have been interesting how the issue of his disability would have played into their relationship.
My impression of the Grizz is that he reminds me of a mix of Vermin and Wolverine. Vermin is a man/rat cannibal that lives in the sewers. Grizz sits on a throne of human skulls...so...maybe he ate them? Grizz also has Wolverine's facial hair, blades in his hands, and healing factor. Then again, I think that a lot of new characters at the time were Wolverine knock offs. There probably still are.
Not a bad issue, but it does feel like it falls short. It doesn't have the energy that other issues had. I think it's because Prodigy isn't there to abuse the other Slingers. That's fine and a good thing. Use that factor too much and it become tiresome. He needs a little character development anyway.