Last issue saw Spidey investigating three murders; Peter's friend / love interest police forensics tech Carlie Cooper was blamed for the disappearence of the murder weapons involved in the case. With the help of Betty Brant, Spidey follows the leads to Governor's Island in NY, where he finds an unhinged Sandman has taken up hiding, having kidnapped the child of one of the murder victims..
Sandman has copied himself into many different personalities, and all are attacking Spidey. They overwhelm him and Spidey's knocked unconcious. He wakes up later pinned to the wall by sand-shackles. Keemia, the kidnapped child, stands in front of him, saying Spider-man is trespassing in her kingdom. Spidey asks where Sandman is, Keemia says he's all around them--Spidey realizes the castle they're in is a giant one created by Sandman himself.
Spidey cons the kid into commanding the sleeping Sandman / sand castle into letting Spidey go. He grabs Keemia, which springs Sandman into action, attacking Spidey with various deathtraps. Spidey manages to escape out of the castle with Keemia in tow, but Sandman reforms into a crowd again and chases after the two of them.
Spidey accuses Sandman of murdering Keemia's mother, which he denies, but his other lifeforms take credit for. When Sandman claims he doesn't remember doing it, Spidey suggests Sandman's subconcious takes over his duplicates, acting out on repressed urges such as the urge to murder. His multiple personas start fighting with themselves, so Spidey takes the chance to run with the kid again.
They come upon a giant structure, as Spidey wonders how he will get off the island, and how Sandman was able to do the same. Sandman follows, Spidey is able to kick him into a fan that blows him out the building. Spidey learns the structure they waundered into is a ventilation tower that leads to the Brooklyn / Battery Tunnel.
Spidey meets up with Glory Grant on the stairs of City Hall, later, to deliver Keemia. Also waiting are agents from Child's Services, who are there to take Keemia into the system, deeming her grandmother from last issue unfit to raise her. Keemia cries, asking what kind of hero Spidey is, taking her away from her 'daddy'? Glory asks Spidey what did he think would happen?
A glum Pete wraps up the story meeting Carlie, who is appreciative of Spidey's help in clearing her. Carlie reveals that the missing murder weapons were actually pieces of Sandman himself, which disappeared after he mentally summoned them back to his body. Pete asks whether she's ever been in a situation where things would've been better had she just left well enough alone. Carlie responds that her deceased cop dad had a saying, that being the hero is making the hard choice.
The epilogue has Keemia being shown into her new foster home, where one of her new foster brothers pushes her down for not having any money to give him. She thinks that while they've stuck her in with the common people, she knows she's a princess, and in time, her father will be back to rescue her.
A fairly by-numbers conclusion to the two-parter. Sandman has been given a new angle on his powers--he's able to control every molecule and create copies of himself. I don't know that this has ever been done before. Regardless, Spidey dispatches him relatively easily (except for the whole being taken prisoner thing--but wouldn't a murderous Sandman have no problem killing his archenemy when he has him beat?).
What is it with kids and Sandman anyway? Am I wrong or is this a new development in light of the recent Hollywood take on Flint Marko? I've no problem with the Sandman character developing, since they took the reformed, sort of good / bad guy element as far as they could in recent years, but enough with the kid motivation already. Keemia is fine as a character, although her attachment to Marko never really connects or feels believable here but seems more like one of plot convenience.
There's also no outward connection between Sandman and the Kravinov family at the end of this story, but who knows what Sandman's involvement may be in "The Gauntlet", Marvel's latest (and still building up at the time of this writing) hype monster storyline. Perhaps Kraven's crazy family augmented his powers or mind-controlled Marko here?
Perfectly average in story and execution. The art is good at least (nice nod to MC Escher inside the castle Sandman created), and I love the cover to this one. Just don't go into it expecting an obvious tie-in to "The Gauntlet", even though it was hyped as such on the cover.