Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale continue their tale of Spider-Man's past. Expectations are high (again). This time because Mary Jane might make her first appearance.
The story starts at a newspaper booth somewhere in Ney York. Spidey is reading the article about the death of the Green Goblin. The guy at the booth is giving him a hard time. Spidey pays him and swings off. A mysterious figure comes up and takes a newspaper too. He reads the front page and mentions that the death of the Goblin is bad for him, but worse for Spider-Man.
Then, the voice over tells us that the Goblin isn't dead. In fact, the Goblin is none other than Norman Osborn and he's currently in a hospital bed with apparently no memory of his dual life. The voice over continues to talk about how he (Peter) more and more became friends with Harry, the son of Norman. The scene shows Peter and Gwen in a lab, testing some chemical reaction.
It's at school and Flash is giving Peter a hard time. Just because Harry gves him a hall pass, doesn't mean Flash is gonna give him a free ride. Professor Warren then seperates the group for it's not a social club. As Peter walks away, he truns his head and sees Gwen looking at him. At that moment he thinks, "Let's fall in love.". But that's silly, why would Gwen be interested in him?
Cut to a holding cell when Rhino is kept sedated using gas. The mysterious figure from before knocks out the guards and stops the flow of tranquilizer gas. The Rhino wakes up. Back at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson is telling Peter that he is not getting an advance. He's very rude to Peter and slams the door in his face. Robbie tells Peter that the Rhino just busted out of Midtown and is tearing up Broadway.
The Rhino is calling for Spider-Man. Spider-Man battles the Rhino, meanwhile thinking about his money problems. The mysterious figure is watching from above. Then, a whole building collapses on the Rhino, all's quiet. Spidey takes a little rock of what looks like a piece of the Rhino's hide.
He takes this piece to Doctor Curt Connors. Curt examines it and says it's made of rhinoceros dna and something similar to kevlar or adamantium. Spidey suggest separating the dna bond. The Doctor mentions how he keeps forgetting how smart Spidey is and they get to work. The result is a fluid that gets mixed with Spider-Man's webbing.
Meanwhile, the Rhino has emerged from under the rubble. Calling out for Spider-Man once more. Spidey simply shoots his newly mixed webbing at him. The hide of the Rhino starts to dissolve. Without his hide, he's quite vulnerable and after one upper cut, the Rhino goes down. The mysterios figure has seen it all from above.
The story ends with Peter getting ready to go out. His mind is with Gwen and how she made the day with a little comment earlier on. Aunt May stops him, telling him how nice it is that he got dressed up, all just to meet Mary Jane Watson. Peter wonders, how to get away fast but still be polite. He can explain being a little late to Gwen, he figures. Then the door opens, two gorgeous green eyes, a beautiful red mouth, stunning good looks and the magic words "Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot!". Gwen won't understand this at all.
The story is told as a flashback, like it was in issue 1. Rhino awakening from the gas is from Amazing Spider-Man (volume 1), issue 42, the fight is from issue 43. The first appearance of Mary Jane (full face shown) is from issue 42.
If you haven't read the previous issue (shame on you), you're brought up to speed on the first page. Peter is talking into a taperecorder and acts as a voice over during the story. It's done great, we get to see the action and at the same time, we learn how Peter felt about the situation.
The action is a bit different to what history has made us believe. In the original Amazing Spider-Man run, Rhino was defeated after Peter met Mary Jane. Here, it's the other way around. And originally, Peter met MJ at Anna Watson's place, not at his aunt's. But Peter is recalling this from memory so he might have mixed up the course of events a bit, by mistake (that should be worth a no-prize, right?).
I was going to give this story 4.5 webs, like the first issue. But because they changed history, I will not. I just hope it's just this one time. Certain parts in history shouldn't be changed. In my opinion, the storyline in the early Amazing Spider-Man issues is one of them. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book, great story telling and superb art.