Due to the recent "Identity Crisis" storyline, Spider-Man has been able to acquit himself of accusations that he assaulted "innocent" industrialist Norman Osborn and killed a street thug named Joey Z.
Meanwhile, a mysterious, and very powerful South American crimelord named the Black Tarantula has recently come to New York to take a bite out of the NYC crime market, and attend to some more personal business involving one of Mary Jane's friends from Empire State University. His arrival has been met with discontent from both Spider-Man and rival crimelord The Rose.
But, we've known that for months already.
This issue dives head-first into the final battle between Spidey and the Black Tarantula, a villain that is strong enough, fast enough, smart enough, and focussed enough to prove himself undefeatable to our man in tights.
Turns out that the Black Tarantula's true motive for visiting the Big Apple is to retrieve from his ex-wife (MJ's university prof) his only son, who is to be trained as the next in a long line of Black Tarantulae. She, of course, objects to this, and so flees into the depths of Don Fortunato's mansion. (Good thing she's been seeing Fortunato's godson!) Big T, AKA Carlos LaMuerto, storms through Fortunato's security boys and Hydra killdroids (all while beating the living hoohah out of Pete), but is finally dissuaded by his ex-wife. Carlos exits, vowing to return. Spidey is left to tidy up, and deal with Jake Connover. Oh, didn't I tell you? He's the Rose.
... WHAT?! Jake Connover is the Rose?
Believe it, Spider-Fans. It's been coming ever since Connover saved Fortunato's life waaay back in Peter's childhood, as revealed in ASM -1. Then, when he lost his job at the Bugle due to the cutbacks that sent Pete back to Freelancers Anonymous, I guess the lovable public interest writer decided to take up a life of crime. How he hooked up with Delilah and the brains to keep a criminal ring going has yet to be revealed. Personally, my ballot had cast Connover as Mad Jack, (after all, he did vow revenge on J. J. Jameson,) so I had grown accustomed to the idea that the louse re-hired by Norman Osborn to gloat over the Daily Bugle staff was a villain, but not only is he a snivelling crook, but a malignant and murderous schemer, who was ready to knock off a roomful of people to maintain his criminal control. I find this to be a dreadful bit of mischaracterization.
However, now that the big secret (as Mr. DeFalco believed it to be -- personally, I stopped caring months ago) is revealed, perhaps we can move on to a new storyline. I'm still wondering why the Black Tarantula had targeted Joe Robertson a few months back, but I guess that will be Tom's little secret, at least for now.
Although the plotting of this book is a little sparse (a flashback leading up to a big fight, and that big fight), the scripting is typically smooth and the characterization is strong. Mr. DeFalco might not be as innovative as J. M. DeMatteis, who recently ended his latest run on his Spider-title, but he has a good sense of the characters he's dealing with. Spidey bravely fights a losing battle to total exertion, and still refuses to give up. Mary Jane follows her friend into danger, subconsciously wanting to be involved in Peter's life of adventure. Jake Connonver plots to shoot Spider-Man and numerous others. ... Well, even ol' Titanic has his faults.
Again, Joe Bennett's art is a treat. His work seems more rushed in the pages of his monthly book than in Unlimited, but I'm still relieved that I don't have to whine about Steve Skroce anymore.
But where's Kaine?