Last issue saw Eddie Brock recount his story after he acquired the Venom suit. Peter and Eddie's fathers worked on the Venom suit years ago, hoping it would biologically cure a user of cancer. However, Eddie's use of the suit has made him succumb to a monstrous personality he had not known existed inside of him.
Several weeks ago, Silver Sable attacked Venom at the ESU museum where Peter Parker and his class were taking a field trip. The action continues as Silver Sable blasts Eddie / Venom. Peter, now in his Spider-Man costume, looks on as Eddie is subdued by the sheer numbers of the mercenary group.
The narrative cuts back even further to a few months ago. Spider-Man battles R.H.I.N.O. but receives a jolting headache after he defeats the hapless villain. It turns out Eddie was near Peter the whole time.
The next day, Peter and Mary Jane have a conversation about an unfortunate incident involving his costume. Mary Jane urges Peter to seek out a doctor willing to give Spider-Man a super hero physical.
Peter goes out on patrol that night as Spider-Man. He dismisses Mary Jane's concern for his health. His soliloquy is interrupted by the appearance of a man dressed in a metallic flying suit. Spider-Man quickly dubs this man as the Beetle and gives chase. The newly christened Beetle heads towards the Roxxon building with Spider-Man close behind. The Beetle gains access to a storage room and takes a mysterious vial containing black ooze. Spider-Man interrupts the robbery by crashing through a window. The two costumed figures fight as a beleaguered cop can only watch in disbelief. In the process the vial drops to the ground, shattering the contents on the floor.
Spider-Man tries to punch at the Beetle. Unfortunately, a painful outburst of energy emits out of the Beetle's suit and stuns Spider-Man momentarily. The Beetle easily escapes. More cops burst into the room but Spider-Man recovers and swings off into the distance.
The next day, Peter is on the phone with Mary Jane at his job in the Daily Bugle. He discusses the events of last night. A mysterious caller on the other line interrupts the light-hearted conversation. Peter is instructed to go on the roof. His mysterious caller is none other than S.H.I.E.L.D head Nick Fury. He informs Peter to stay away from the Beetle and not get further involved. Peter leaves in a huff, not liking being told what to do. One of Fury's underlings asks him if Peter will obey his orders. Fury grins and replies that he expects Peter not to behave and to do the exact opposite of what he was told to do.
The final scene goes all the way back to the ESU museum incident. Eddie's Venom suit is in submission. Spider-Man recovers and watches as Silver Sable takes Eddie / Venom into custody. The New York City cops converge on the scene while Spider-Man can only watch on the ground in pain.
This issue was perhaps a bit more exciting than the introductory piece to the whole arc. Players of the USM video game are given more easter eggs and plot elements to mull over. At this point, Bendis has almost a literal translation of the video game's events. Obviously, this won't continue to be the case. So, things are a bit anti-climactic at this point.
Still, I liked how the Beetle was introduced as not just another hapless villain but someone who is crafty enough to evade Spider-Man. We are once again reminded that Peter's crime-fighting methods are a bit unrefined and overly aggressive. He gets into trouble quickly.
The narrative curiously shifts away from Eddie's perspective. Our point of view is that of Spider-Man. But really, this shift in the point of view is cosmetic. Nothing that was depicted in the issue was dependent on a particular character's point of view. In essence, this decision makes the issue seem arbitrary. I miss the viewpoint of Eddie which made last issue memorable. This connects somewhat to the point that the issue's events are anti-climactic.
Readers who have obviously not played the USM video game will probably have a more favorable view of this story. However, I am not convinced that the issue's reading would improve any. Spider-Man really faces no "real" danger in a superhero sense. Instead we get more mysterious threads to ponder. Obviously, Bendis is pacing his story deliberately. I feel that a faster pace would make the conflicts between the characters more compelling and worthier of my time.
Once again Immonen does a superb job and is the strength of this issue. His Beetle looks like a sinister insectoid laced with modern tech touches. He and Bendis are really connecting on their run together.
This is a rather standard run of the mill story, albeit with faster pacing. We are not far enough into the arc to really have any sense of where this is going. Obviously, the events of the USM video game will provide a loose framework. Still, the art was nice and I am still interested in what happens to all of our central characters.