Back in 1982 Amazing Spider-Man was host to a two-part story called Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut. In it we were treated to the wallcrawler's first encounter with the eponymous villain, and it's gone down as one of Spidey's classic tales. Now writer Roger Stern is back with a sequel, of sorts.
Peter Parker is on his way to dinner with Carlie when he gets an overwhelming spider-sense attack. The cause seems obvious. A red light in the sky that is shooting across the Manhattan sky-line. Realising how shaky his relationship with Carlie is at this point, Peter is loathe to make his customary excuses and disappear. However, Carlie makes those excuses for him. Mistaking his spidey senses for a cluster headache she sends Pete on his way, and promises to reschedule their dinner date.
Reflecting on how generally awesome Carlie is, Peter quickly changes into his Spider-Man costume and swings across the city. The red light seems to be a meteor of some kind, that Spidey watches impact in Central Park. Our hero follows the trail to devastation to discover that this was no meteor, but instead a broken and unconscious Juggernaut, who is lying prone before him. Who or what has the power to stop the Juggernaut?
Spider-Man reflects on his previous encounters with the Juggernaut, and how none of them have gone particularly well for him. Hearing the police approach, Spidey swings up into a tree and changes back into Peter Parker. He returns with his press pass and camera. The NYPD's superhero clean-up crew, Code Blue, are moving the unconscious Juggernaut to a secure facility. It seems the mystery must remain a mystery for now.
The following day, Spidey tries to get some help from his long-underwear buddies over his Juggernaut problem. But with Doctor Strange out of town, Professor X not checking his voice mail and everyone else busy, it seems that Spidey is on his own once again. After stopping a mugging, Spidey spots an unusual sight: a car perched precariously on the top of the Washington Square Arch.
The drunk in the car says he was dumped there by a blue and white flying guy. Spidey ignores clue number one. He then returns to his apartment with the intention of having a shower and washing his costume. The radio says that unusual seismic activity has been detected in Lower Manhattan. Spidey ignores clue number two. He then hurries to the laundrette where, halfway through the spin cycle, he remembers that he should be having dinner with Carlie.
Over dinner, Peter confesses to Carlie that the headache cleared up and he worked all night getting shots of the Juggernaut. She's genuinely interested in what Peter saw. She's heard that the Juggernaut is slipping in and out of consciousness and has still not completely recovered. He's being held over at the Inwood Armoury until various law-enforcement bodies can decide whose jurisdiction the big lug falls under. Obviously, this information is enough for Peter to take the initiative.
Spider-Man has no trouble in breaking into the armoury and getting to the Juggernaut. He is heavily restrained, but Spidey manages to wake him. He reminds Marko of when they've previously fought on the same side. The Juggernaut mumbles that he was attacked by someone he didn't recognise: a guy in a blue and white costume. Spidey realises the connection with the drunk from earlier.
Suddenly a flash of red light fills the room. A blue and white costumed character floats into view, surrounded by an aura of powerful energy. Spider-Man definitely recognises him. It's Captain Universe. Oboy.
The Juggernaut was first introduced in X-Men #5 back in 1965. That's forty-five years ago for those keeping track. During that time, the Juggernaut has been stopped many, many times. The whole shtick of "nothing can stop the Juggernaut" has become a little tired as, in the Marvel Universe, it quite obviously isn't the case.
However, this context serves to make Roger Stern's story all the more impressive. Despite the fact we've seen the Juggernaut have his helmet handed to him many times over the years, Stern still manages to make this defeat of the Juggernaut feel like a big a deal. The scenes of Spidey finding Marko in Central Park, and of him subsequently being winched away by the NYPD, are extremely well done. They add a certain gravitas to the proceedings.
Roger Stern also adds a decidedly 'old school' quality to the issue, that we haven't really seen in Spidey's comic books of late. From Spidey's abortive attempts to get help from other super-heroes, to the numerous flashbacks and continuity references, to Spidey stopping a random mugging… this very much feels like a comic that could have been published in 1982. And as this is a direct sequel to Stern's original story, this strikes me as both appropriate and intentional.
So, all-in-all this is a strong issue. It's not particularly grounded in the wider continuity of Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, Peter goes on a date with Carlie and a passing reference is made to his unemployed status, but on the whole you could drop this arc in-between most issues in the last two years without it causing many problems. Of course, Roger Stern, isn't part of the band of 'web heads' currently directing the Spider titles, so it's hardly surprising that this story is a little out of the loop. It's also quite refreshing to step outside The Gauntlet and have a break from the unending procession of Spidey's old villains and the scheming Ma Kravinov.
A good start to Stern's three part story. The issue is all set-up, we'll have to see whether it delivers on its promise. Three and a half webs.