Last issue saw a whole lot of action involving Spider-Man, Venom, and the Ultimates. It all ended with Peter no longer being attached to the symbiote and Eddie Brock making a timely disappearance.
Our issue begins sometime ago at Ryker's Island. Curt Conners, creator of the Carnage monster, is being transferred.
Still in the past (but a week after Conners is transferred), Gwen is interrogated by Tony Stark and Conners. They want to know to what extent Gwen can control the symbiote submerged in her body.
Moments later the entire installation is rocked by an explosion. Gwen was not the source of the blast but uses the chaos to disappear from Stark and Conners. The true source is none other than Norman Osborn already transformed into his hideous Green Goblin form. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents try to apprehend him to little effect. Osborn catches sight of Gwen before she willingly submerges herself in the river. The Carnage symbiote saves her and she attracts the attention of a nearby boating crew.
Flash forward to the present and Peter and Mary Jane share a passionate kiss. Eddie Brock interrupts their conversation and threatens Peter. Unless Peter gets Eddie the symbiote back he will tell the press Spider-Man's secret identity.
Later that night, Peter swings through the city as Spider-Man. He tries to get the help of the Ultimates but no one is home. So Peter heads to the Daily Bugle to do his own research on the symbiote. Unfortunately, he finds that all records of his father's work has been erased from the database. Ben Urich becomes suspicious of Peter's research efforts.
Back home in Queens, Peter finds a desperate Gwen sitting in the Parker living room, her face in the form of Carnage.
Gwen Stacy has not been terribly interesting since she came back as a result of the Clone Saga. Bendis has chosen to put her story on the back burner. Here, we find that the Carnage symbiote has remained hidden in her body until now. No doubt, this portends a battle of fisticuffs just in time for the conclusion of the story arc.
The inclusion of Gwen makes everything set up before this rather circumstantial storytelling in my opinion. A cameo appearance from the Green Goblin is nothing more than a cursory nod to the USM video game. We know that her sudden importance makes her integral to whatever happens with Eddie Brock. So why was she not present at the very beginning? Speaking of Brock, he concocts a rather boring scheme threatening to expose Peter's identity as Spider-Man that has been done ad nauseam in the super hero genre.
There's also major problems following the timeline of the events that take place. There's just too much shifting through time without any sort of lasting impression made upon the reader. Immonen's art is good but there is no real stand out moments like some of the previous issues in this arc.
I am rather unimpressed with how this whole story is going to resolve itself. There just seems to be way too much on Bendis's writing plate to make a coherent, smooth storyline function with all the standard superheroics we come to expect from a Spider-Man comic book.