Last time around, Spidey got mixed up with the death of a union man named Sanchez. Janet Van Dyne, aka Wasp, sits on the board of shareholders who own the dead union man's company. Janet also knows her company, Nevell, is working with a local mobster named Granetti, who sent Paladin after Wasp to threaten her not to meddle or he'll have everyone on the board killed. Still with me? Good, cause here comes part two..
Spidey's pacing around Avengers mansion waiting for Wasp to show up, and annoying Jarvis the butler. Janet arrives, after shopping and getting her hair done, exasperating Spidey who's taking the threats against the board members seriously. Janet says they can't realistically guard the board members the rest of their lives, or maybe Spidey could, but she has better things to do. She says they need to get hard evidence on Granetti and take him down.
Granetti's in his house with a moll, his thugs, and Paladin, who's getting chastised for not being able to deal with Janet properly last issue. Granetti orders Paladin to guard a drug shipment coming in that night, Paladin says Granetti better find a way to protect himself from him. One of Granetti's thugs gets in Paladin's face, and Pal' begins counting 1, 2, 3..up to 11. The thug asks what he's counting, Paladin says the number of ways he could've killed the guard and leaves. The guard asks Granetti if Paladin was joking..Granetti says sure, that Paladin could've only killed him six different ways, tops.
Down at the docks that night a young couple is necking. They're about to get themselves caught up headlong in Granetti's drug smuggling, which Spidey arrives to stop. Spidey webs their guns and starts mixing it up with the guards, Paladin shows up as well. Paladin says he's sick of Spidey's interference and that he's trying to earn his pay. Spidey says he's going to have to dock him and tears the planks up from underneath Paladin. The young couple is in the shadows watching the action--someone tries to sneak up on Spidey with a gun, but his spider-sense warns him. Spidey leaps up and drop-kicks the thug, but his gun goes off. Paladin pops out of the water, after falling in, and drags Spidey down with him. They're interrupted by a cry--the young man of the couple got hit with the stray bullet when Spidey kicked the guard. Spidey rushes the young guy off to the hospital.
At JFK airport, the air shipment is coming in, the actual drugs. The shipment by sea Spidey broke up was just a ruse. Wasp is there with her camera as the drugs are being unloaded. She begins to battle the men unloading the shipment. She grabs one of the teddy bears in the boxes, thinking they're full of cocaine, but upon blasting it open, finds it's just sugar. Over at the hospital it turns out the shot kid is going to be just fine, so Spidey heads to the train rendezvous.
The final shipment by train. Wasp is intercepting in the Avenger's Quinjet--about to ram the oncoming train head on. She stops the train with some laser blasts. The men pop out with machine guns and shoot the crap out of the quinjet. Janet's actually under the train, severing the trucks from the traincar. Before the thugs can check the jet to see if Wasp is dead, Spidey webs them up and starts thrashing them. Spidey flips the train car over, finding it's been detached from the rest of the freight in surprise. Wasp expands back to size, kissing Spidey on the cheek. Granetti gets the drop on them with a gun. He threatens them for a moment (why not just shoot?), but is knocked out from behind by Paladin.
The next day at the Nevell boardroom, the men are bringing Janet coffee this time as she explains that Granetti plea bargained in his drug arrest, admitting his role in Sanchez's murder. Spidey's listening outside the window admiring the fact that while Janet comes off like a ditz, she certainly handled the situation.
Glad that's over. I don't mind Wasp, and she takes the most initiative in this story by bringing down Granetti successfully. Paladin sucks, though--it must be the cape (he got a decent redesign by Todd McFarlane years later). His inevitable redemption, as well as the cheesy banter between himself and Wasp and Spidey, is another part of what drags this two-parter down.
Same complaint with the art as last time--it's okay but it seems incongruous with the rougher kind of story the writing team is trying to tell here. Spidey comes off as almost a guest-star in his own book again which is also no good.
Here's a two-parter that had some interesting stuff going for it, but all in all, was executed pretty lamely. This early story by Peter David, his third or fourth overall for Spidey at this time, has traces of his trademark wit and cleverness but the rough edges haven't been polished yet. All the elements are in place for the next dozen or so issues that David writes though, which were often staggeringly excellent examples of comic scripting. Every one has to start somewhere I spose. The Paladin / Wasp dynamic here prefigures the Black Cat / Foreigner relationship that comes later. Props to Jim Owsley as well--his influence in pushing this title in a darker direction is obvious, and pays serious dividends the next arc, which begins the gritty "All New, All Different" era of PPTSSM.