The Hornet is in town! Well, it's Peter, lying low under a different nom-du-guerre. But that doesn't make life easy, especially since the Vulture believes that the Hornet has killed Spider-Man - a pleasure that Vultchy was saving for himself...
|Cover Art:||Mike Wieringo|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man: Identity Crisis (TPB)|
The issue begins with a news report on the Hornet, which is being watched by the Avengers, Luke Cage & co., Norman Osborn (looking for a way to use him against Spider-Man), Hobie and Mindy Brown, the Fantastic Four, a slightly-incensed, octogenarian Vulture, and Peter and Mary Jane. Peter's in a good mood, having fooled the entire city into believing he's somebody else, but Mary Jane is less enthused, warning him to be careful about Norman Osborn. It seems Osborn is preparing to present Hornet with a check as a reward for his actions at the Daily Bugle last issue, and MJ is concerned that Norman will see through the charade. Their conversation is interrupted by the entrance of Aunt Anna and Hope Hibbert. The four of them sign a pleasant conversation, but after signing "I love you" to everyone, she turns to Peter and flips her hand over so she looks like Peter activating his webshooters.
Taking to the skies as Hornet, Peter is wondering how on earth Hope could have figured out his identity when he's met by the Human Torch, who's a bit steamed (sorry, bad pun) about his saying that New York doesn't have to worry about Spider-Man anymore. Hornet swears that he hasn't hurt Spider-Man, and the Torch flies off vowing to punish him for anything happening to Spidey. Feeling good about that encounter ("Thanks, Johnny, I didn't know you cared!") Peter's mood turns sour when he runs into Billy Walters at the Daily Bugle. Tired of Peter ditching him all the time, Billy decides to call off their aborted friendship.
The two of them find themselves together on the roof of the Bugle, waiting for the Hornet. After putting in a brief appearance, Pete slips away, dons, his Hornet costume, and arrives again. Just as Osborn presents him with a check for $20,000 (which Peter wants donated to the Lothridge School for the Deaf), the Vulture crashes the party. Taking to the skies, Hornet quickly discovers that the Vulture is far better at flying than he is, blocking the Hornet's initial volly of stingers and literally flying circles around him.
After nearly getting his head taken off, Hornet flies toward the ground, taunting the Vulture all the while. Dropping off his gauntlets, he reverses course and grabs "Vulchy" on the way up, as the Vulture recognized the taunt and let his guard down. Right about the time they clear the roof of the Bugle, Vulture screams "I know your secret! There is no Hornet--THE HORNET IS SPIDER-MAN!" (Naturally, Norman Osborn heard that revelation and did not appear happy) Too busy threatening Hornet to fight, the Vulture gets slammed into a billboard and promptly passes out.
Later that evening, Mary Jane comes upon Peter storing his Hornet outfit. He tells her what happened and how only Osborn seemed to pay attention to the Vulture's ravings. His attention is distracted by the sight of Hope staring at him from her upstairs window. "You know, Hope said something kinda funny to me this morning..."
I have to admit I couldn't help but find this just a little too light-hearted for my tastes. The Vulture, after dominating Pete in the beginning, barely put up a fight after learning the truth about Hornet, and the Looter was too blasted goofy to be a serious threat. (That's twice Dezago's pulled that "this isn't rock, it feels like--" bit. What is that thing made of and should I care? While we're on the subject, how'd S.H.I.E.L.D. get there so fast?) Overall, these issues were a pretty good lightweight story, which I believe fits Wieringo's more cartoony drawing style. Growing the Vulture old again is a good idea, and I'm glad to see he's gone back to his old uniform. Keep him that way, don't let him drain anymore life energy like he was doing in Spider-Man Unlimited #10.
I knew Billy was finally going to get sick of Peter blowing him off. All talk about responsibility aside, Peter never took him seriously enough. Bravo to Billy for telling him off, although I hope the two of them can patch things up and be friends. Pete needs a buddy.
Overall, these issues were fun, but I was hoping for something a bit more serious. There's nothing wrong with having the Looter show up and mosh on a meteor, but y'think we could save that sort of thing for when Peter's not trying to operate under a $5 million bounty?
I'll give it three webs. Fun, but I want more substance.