A special election to find a mayor for New York has resulted in the unthinkable. J Jonah Jameson has been elected to City Hall. Realising that the two would inevitably clash, Spidey visited JJJ and offered to let bygones be bygones. Jonah refused and so Spidey declared war on the old walrus by keeping himself in the media spotlight 24/7. Popping home to catch a shower, Peter makes an even more horrible discover: Aunt May in bed with Jonah's dad! Oh, and there's a new red-costumed Vulture on the loose who is literally devouring criminals.
Peter is in the shower trying to wash away his memory of seeing Aunt May and JJ Snr in such a compromising position. May wants to talk to him about it, and as soon as Peter is all washed and dressed he heads downstairs to confront the pair. At first Peter is surly. He doesn't want to hear how his Aunt got together with her new beau. The picture of Uncle Ben is staring at him intently from the sideboard. However, Peter's not that much of a jerk. He recovers himself and gives the pair his blessing before heading out into the city for more crime fighting.
Very soon Spidey is in the subway. The passengers in one of the carriages are being robbed at gunpoint. Spidey subdues the robber and is about to make his getaway when Jonah's Anti-Spider Squad show up. They hit the wallcrawler with a ultrasonic weapon and he is disorientated. Then something happens that you don't see very often in Spider-Man comics. The New Yorkers Spidey just saved turn on the cops. They buy the wallcrawler enough time to make his escape. Hey, maybe nice things do happen to Spider-Man sometimes?
Jonah's declaration of war has galvanised Spidey and, for once, he's being appreciated for his efforts. He webs shut the mouth of an aggravating bus passenger on his mobile phone; he hands out umbrellas made of webbing when it's raining; he directs the traffic; he even poses for photos with tourists. Jonah is fuming. But he has a plan.
He bundles his assistant onto the roof of an abandoned building and gets him to shout "Help! Spider-Man!" all day until the webslinger hears him. It's not a great plan, but it eventually pays off. Spidey has decided that his activities are finally taking their toll on his body and he is swinging home for a nap when he hears the call. He descends to the roof and, in his groggy state, doesn't react to his spider-sense before Jonah's trap is sprung.
Of course trapping Spider-Man and catching Spider-Man are two different things. Within a minute he has subdued the entire squad, broken their weapons and trashed their APC. One of the cops asks Spidey why he doesn't lie low for a while: why has he got to keep poking the bear? Spidey looses it and says that he is sick and tired of always being ground down. In his tirade he confuses Jonah and Norman Osborn, which is quite telling. Then he hears an ear- splitting scream, and swings off to check it out.
What Spidey discovers is the new Vulture, feasting on another victim. Spidey races over, but the Vulture turns on him, grabbing him and dragging Spidey into the sky. The webswinger squirms up onto the Vulture's back, looking to destroy the battery pack that powers the wings (there always used to be one on Toomes's Vulture suits). But this isn't Toomes. And the wings seem to be real. What is more he is now staring at the new Vulture face to face.
This new Vulture doesn't even seem to be entirely human. It has glowing yellow eyes and a strangely distended jaw with insect-like mandibles. Before Spidey can react, the Vulture vomits up a noxious acidic mix into the wallcrawler's face. Spidey tumbles down onto the roof of a nearby building, the acid eating its way through Spidey's mask. As the new Vulture swoops in for the kill, Spidey realises that he is blind.
There's something very refreshing about a New York that is properly grateful for Spider-Man's constant efforts on their behalf. Seeing Spidey get some of the love he deserves is welcome; juxtaposing that with Jonah's plans to crush the webslinger is brilliant. Yes, this is very entertaining stuff. It may not be deep or have a hidden message to impart, but it's a good palate cleanser before the inevitable drama and angst of the next arc and the big issue #600 that follows. Maybe it was the right call to have this arc here, after all.
I was pleased to see that Peter decided not to be a jerk about Aunt May's relationship with Jonah's father. Using Uncle Ben as a reason for this would have been pretty silly: after all, Aunt May's had her fair share of paramours since Ben's death. It's in character for Peter to accept what's happening and put May's feeling first, even if the whole thing makes him feel queasy. I suspect Peter's tacit approval for the relationship will just make him feel all the worse when it all goes wrong (as it inevitably will).
Despite my concerns over the new Vulture, I find myself intrigued rather than annoyed by his appearance. Who is he? What is he? What's his link with Adrian Toomes? Sadly, as we're already two thirds of the way through the arc, it's unlikely that we're going to get any of those answers next issue. The mystery of the Vulture will be saved for another day. Perhaps this Vulture will be the new Menace - a new villain for Spidey to unmask in the second season of Brand New Day? I hope not. It's all very well for the creators to be recycling favourite stories from the 1970s, but if they start recycling their ideas from only fifty issues ago, then I would start to have major concerns.
I'm looking forward to the next issue to see where Waid takes the story. There are two elements to this arc: Spidey's crusade against Jonah, and the new Vulture. It doesn't seem likely that he'll be able to wrap up either of these threads in one issue, so I'm genuinely curious to see what Waid does to give use some sense of closure to the arc. Despite having very strong serial elements, each story since #546 has had a strong defining narrative of its own. Let's hope Waid can continue that trend.
A good, solid story. Funny, and better than the previous issue. Mike McKone is also on good form. Three and a half webs.