The major villains in the Marvel Universe have agreed to work together and exchange enemies in order to defeat them once and for all.
"The Core" has thus far assigned Graviton, Trapster, Titania, and Goliath to battle Spider-Man. With the exception of Graviton, all have failed due to Spider-Man's new powers gained in a lab accident.
Magneto has recently taken a personal interest in Spider-Man's new powers. Thinking him to be a mutant, Magneto intended to recruit Spider-Man to his side for the inevitable war between humans and mutants. He soon realized that his new powers do not stem from mutation. He has another way to use Spider-Man's new powers to his advantage.
|Spider-Man: Cosmic Adventures (TPB)
The Core has contacted Sebastian Shaw, deposed Black King of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. They enter into the standard AOV agreement for exchanging adversaries. They will return him to his place as the Black King if he eliminates Spider-Man for them. Shaw is well aware that Magneto - who is responsible for Shaw losing control of the Inner Circle - is part of this group. He decides to play along anyway.
At some point after this meeting, Shaw encountered the Gray Gargoyle, returning from Yucca Flats, Nevada. His assignment was to eliminate the Hulk - at which he failed miserably. This gives Shaw an idea and he heads for Nevada in his private aircraft.
The Hulk, as always, is trying to find solitude in the desert. Shaw locates him and offers him "a great deal of money" to eliminate Spider-Man. Hulk (currently gray and considerably smarter than the green incarnation) likes the idea and agrees to go along with Shaw's plan.
Across the country (New York, specifically) and before these events (a few hours to be accurate), we find Spider-Man perched on the torch of the Statue of Liberty. While this is not uncommon, the reason he's here is a bit unusual. In the middle of heavy rain that has grounded police helicopters, he has flown to Ellis Island to prevent a group of terrorists from destroying the monument.
He quickly disarms them without breaking up a sweat, showcasing his new powers that fill them with both "awe" and "ow". One of them weakly asks him, "What are you?!?". He replies "I'm Bat (ahem) Spider-Man!" He then leaves the terrorists for the S.W.A.T. team and flies back to meet Mary Jane and Flash Thompson for an early dinner.
The next day, Mary Jane has a 5 A.M. location shoot for Secret Hospital in Battery Park. Peter tags along for moral support. While MJ is getting into make-up, Peter's new powers alert him to the presence of the the Hulk in Manhattan.
The Hulk realizes that causing a commotion will attract Spider-Man's attention. So he begins by throwing a tractor trailer at a building. It is caught at the last moment by Spider-Man. Hulk openly admits that he's being paid to fight Spider-Man, prompting him to think there's a bounty on his head. Regardless of the reason, he refuses to be a target and dives into the Hulk, knocking him back several hundred feet into a brick wall. As Hulk emerges from the rubble, he realizes that he's changing back to Banner and leaves. As he leaps away, he tells Spider-Man to meet him at the Ruins on Roosevelt Island tomorrow night.
The next night they arrive at the Ruins and waste no time. During their fight two small children (Stan and Steve), who had been smoking cigarettes stolen from Steve's mother, see the battle and try to help Spider-Man against the Hulk.
The Hulk intends to simply scare away the kids, but his hostile movements toward them are interpreted quite differently. Spider-Man delivers an uppercut that sends the Hulk soaring into the sky. The kids are amazed as the Hulk shows no signs of coming down or stopping.
The Hulk soon realizes that he's in low orbit around the Earth. Unaffected by the freezing cold or lack of oxygen, he has only two concerns. The first is that at this altitude, the sun will trigger his transformation sooner than expected. The second is what happens to an unprotected Bruce Banner in outer space?
As the planet rotates into position, the Hulk feels two hands wrap around his throat as Spider-Man pulls him back down to the ground. As an alternative way of showing his appreciation, Hulk promises not to kill Spider-Man and leaps away.
That morning, Sebastian Shaw loads a confused Bruce Banner into his aircraft and returns him to Nevada. He realizes that Spider-Man's new powers may pose a threat to him that extends beyond his temporary alliance with Magneto. He decides to search for a way to make Spider-Man new powers "go away".
This is Todd McFarlane's last issue of Amazing Spider-Man. You may take a moment of silence if you wish. *Sniff* Ok, back to the review.
For those that don't know - you're not a true Marvel Zombie if you didn't - McFarlane had a run on Incredible Hulk that essentially got him the gig on Amazing. Someone had a great idea to combine the two characters into one issue while he was still the regular artist.
This is one of the few times in which I would have been willing to sacrifice story just to see them wail on each other. As it was printed, the fight was four pages long (both rounds and being a bit generous). Just enough to make us want more.
The one-panel interaction with the terrorist is obviously a parody of the 1989 Batman movie. It's always funny - to me at least - when the creators acknowledge DC in some fashion.
Having "Stan and Steve" make an appearance in the book was very unexpected. They played an important role in the story instead of being put in just for laughs.
Considering this was published in a time when Marvel believed in footnotes, I question why they didn't give some additional background for the enmity between Magneto and Sebastian Shaw. Michelinine does an excellent job of summarizing it without bogging down the story, but I'm left wondering "when did this happen?"
3.5 webs. This is on par with last issue and a highlight in this storyline.
The only real problem I have is the fight sequences with the Hulk. I say they were too short. In the last two issues, they have had a resonable fight sequences with the crossover villains. This precedent plus the fact that it's the Hulk would lead one to believe that this will be one for the records. In a way it is: shortest heavyweight fight ever.
My craving for a slugfest aside, the issue once again illustrates the quality stories that Michelinie and McFarlane created during their tenure on ASM.
Todd McFarlane's run on the Hulk lasted between issues 330 and 346. The Incredible Hulk #346 is available on this website.
The Hulk fought against the Gray Gargoyle as part of the AOV crossover in Incredible Hulk #363.
McFarlane did an homage cover to Action Comics #1 in Amazing Spider-Man #306. Can't mention Batman without mentioning Superman.