Spider-man finds out it was Captain Universe who knocked Juggernaut out cold, and tried to lure him away from Juggernaut last issue to an abandoned construction site. Meanwhile, there are strange rumblings going on under the city.
At the Fifth Precinct Police Headquarters, Carlie Cooper gets filled in by a fellow officer named Brenda as to the goings-on with Spidey and Juggernaut. At the demolition site, Captain Universe has both Spidey and Juggy held aloft in another dimension with his energy powers, still prattling on about getting revenge. Universe reveals that he used to be an office worker named William Nguyen, who worked at a financial firm, when Juggernaut crashed through the wall being chased by Spider-man (during the Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut tale). Because of the damage to the office, the company was forced to downsize, leaving Nguyen laid off. Cap goes on to reveal that the incident left him with a girlfriend who broke up with him, a job at a fast food restaurant, and being evicted from his apartment.
Juggernaut butts in and relates the story of how Spider-man stopped him in a foundation pour of cement, during their first battle, and how he sunk to the bottom and smashed his way through the bedrock and out into the Hudson river. Smashing his way out of the ground took him a month. Cap quiets him and continues his tale—of how his human form was out on a bridge ready to jump, slipped on accident, and was in that moment consumed with the Uni-power. With his new powers, Nguyen searched the world for Juggernaut, found him, flew him up into the stratosphere, cracked his helmet into pieces and sent him hurtling back to Earth. After taking initial revenge on Juggy, the Unipower stayed with Nguyen, so he went back to finish the job he started. Juggy says Cap couldn’t beat him in a fair fight. Nguyen returns them to the Earth realm, and prepares to fight Juggy, but Spidey tries to talk them out of it.
Before he can, the ground begins to shake violently. Nguyen admits he didn’t finish the job underground last issue, sealing up the fault lines. He says he intends to, right after he finishes off Juggernaut. Grabbing Juggy’s helmet, the power shifts from Nguyen into Juggernaut. Spidey says Nguyen has offended the Enigma Force. Juggy elects to go underground and repair the tectonic plates, damaged by him during his breaking out of the cement trap years and years before. He fixes them, and returns topside, grabbing up Nguyen, but can’t go through with killing him. He drops Nguyen, and the Enigma Force leaves Juggy, saying its job is done.
In the epilogue, Nguyen is on a talk show, promoting his book “How I Survived the Juggernaut”, the proceeds of which will go to repair all the property damage done by him as Captain Universe.
It’s not often that stories examine the repercussions of Spidey battling villains throughout New York, but that’s just what this tale does. The damage caused by Juggernaut in the original Stern story causes the chain of events that lead to the latest human to be granted the Enigma Force powers. It’s ever so convenient that this is the same person that was put out of work by Juggy’s rampage all those years ago, but maybe the Enigma Force factored this in when selecting Nguyen. I’m not a hundred percent on how the whole Uni-power thing works.
Roger Stern has a good tale going here, one that ably builds on his original 1982 classic. I wonder if reading about fault lines got him thinking about the idea of underground damage caused by Juggernaut. Stern wrote a good moment of understanding between Juggernaut and Spider-man here at the end of this story. Lee Weeks’ pencils and sense of storytelling is also superb.
This story probably could’ve been just two parts like the original Juggy tale, as the last issue consisted of Spider-man just being chased by Cap Universe. This short arc also has the unenviable distinction of coming between the mega-hyped storylines of “The Gauntlet” and “Shed”—as a result, these issues seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle.
When these issues came out, they seemed like so much filler in a way, and broke the momentum built up by The Gauntlet. Regardless, I’m glad to say they are a much better read a second time and more enjoyable all these months later, as this three-parter by a couple of seasoned comic pros stands with the best of Stern’s own work on Spider-man.
Spider-man himself wielded the Enigma Force years ago during the Cosmic Spider-Man/Acts of Vengeance story.