Sashia and Ana Kravinoff, Kraven's surviving wife and daughter, have been planning a full-scale attack on the web-head, covertly capturing several of Spidey's allies and recruiting old villains like Electro and Chameleon for their cause. In the last issue, Spidey's battle with a powered-up Electro left the Daily Bugle building in smoking ruins.
Keemia is a girl who lives on an island off of the city, in a world that's virtually all her own, where she's a princess. And she says she has a king that provides food, entertainment and makes sure whatever Keemia wants, she gets.
At the Mayor's office, Pete meets up with Glory Grant, who tasks him with the duty of taking shots at the police forensics lab. Seems evidence involved in murder cases has been disappearing from the lab, and Glory blames it on "the careless tech" on duty, "some noob" named Carlie Cooper.
Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson are standing outside the rubble of the Daily Bugle, nicely reminiscing about their time there. As Mayor, the duty falls on Jonah to seize the wreck of the Bugle and declare it ruined, something Jonah says he can't bring himself to do.
Pete meets up with Carlie at the forensics lab, and finds her being escorted out by security. She makes a desperate appeal to Pete, showing him how she sealed evidence in digitally-secured lockers. The murder weapons inside disappeared, with no sign of anyone on the security tapes, and no sign of anyone tampering with the locker itself. She goes on to describe to Pete the three murder cases involving the missing evidence.
Carlie is lead away by security in tears, asking Pete to not let city hall pin this incident on her. Pete says "we won't".
Later that night in the South Bronx, Spidey is swinging through snow flurries in a scarf, tobagon and leg warmers over his costume, reflecting that those who usually benefit most from a murder weapon disappearing are the murderers themselves (ya think?). For lack of any better ideas, Spidey goes to investigate the apartment of one of the murder victims, Alva Alvarado. He's surprised to find a large collection of pictures of many of Spider-man's villains taped to her dresser mirror, learning that Ava liked to write to incarcerated rogues.
Spidey dodges a shotgun blast from behind just in time, from Alva's mother, mistaking Spidey for a looter. After calming her down, Spidey gets out of her that Ava's young daughter, Keemia, has gone missing (after being seen waundering off with a snowman that came to life), and learns of a connection between Alva and another of the murder vicitims: having the same lawyer, one Herman Cohen (Who? Did I miss something?).
Next Spidey drops in on Betty Brant at her apartment, asking after the 3rd murder victim, Deshawn Price, who was a concert promoter. Betty reveals that Price was negotiating with the mayor's office to hold an off-season concert series on Governor's Island.
As Spidey web-parachutes onto Governor's Island, he exposits that the island used to be a military base before the coast guard took it over, and it has since become abandoned and become a landmark site. He begins to think he's on the right track as he sees a multitude of snowmen grouped at the entrance. Spidey creeps around what seems like an abandoned city on the island for a bit, before requesting Marko to show himself. Marko, aka Sandman, does, and they battle. Spidey says all he cares about are the whereabouts of the girl, and asks what she is to Marko. He screams "everything!" as he punches Spidey through a window.
Spidey retrieves a green webbing pack from his belt, snaps it into place, and fires it at Sandman, informing him that it's webbing mixed with hydroflouric acid that will dissolve Sandman's individual granules. It turns Sandman into a green goo. Spidey says it's not fatal, but will give him the time he needs to search the island for Keemia. He turns his back on the dissolving Sandman, only to be spider-sensed a moment later that Sandman has reformed--and there are dozens of him, in various incarnations of his costume and appearance over the years. Sandman says he's learned a few new tricks as well.
I'm a bit conflicted about this issue. The creative team is largely the same as Amazing Spider-man (Vol. 1) #605's, which I also really liked. Van Lente delivers an interesting tale, one with mystery and one that gets Spidey out of his comfort zone of fighting in the city. It seems he's also trying something new-ish with Sandman, a twist on his powers (even if it's just the jolt and bait of bygone-era nostalgia, like much of the new continuity often seems to be). I like that Spider-man tried to dispatch Sandy with something scientific, even if it didn't work. Moreover, Pulido's artwork here is pretty great, the likes of which I think have scarcely been seen in a Spider-man comic before. There are many creative panel layouts, and the snow billowing around and piled up in many of the scenes makes for some dreamy imagery.
On the other hand, the issue's mystery itself is convoluted so far (as it's only one half of the story, it's admittedly a bit soon to prejudge). It's unfortunate that the cover and teasers revealed Sandman as the villain here; can't help but think the big reveal as well as the subsequent fight would've been a lot funner had they not. Dragging poor Carlie into it seems like a manipulation on the reader's emotions too.
The two-page spread of Jonah and Robbie talking amid the wreck of the Bugle was a nice touch and probably my favorite scene in the book.
How did Spidey connect up the murders? How does this tie in with "The Gauntlet"? It's got Sandman popping up in, among other looks, his cheesy 70's costume redesign, so who cares? Count me intrigued enough to want to see what comes next, as usual.