Tests conducted by Seward Trainer have proven Ben Reilly to be the original Spider-Man (Spectacular Spider-Man #226). Peter has abandoned his role as Spider-Man and left with Mary Jane to start a new life as of Spectacular Spider-Man #229. This leaves Ben to do whatever a (scarlet) spider can in New York.
The Scarlet Spider stops a mugging by some thieves calling him the "Red Spider". Once alone on a nearby rooftop, he spots a helicopter flying around. The helicopter descends upon a nondescript minivan, lowering a platform on the top, and begins to open fire.
The Scarlet Spider jumps into the battle and defends the occupants of the van (named Vic and Orlando). Vic and Orlando mention that their boss doesn't need the merchandise that bad and abandon their vehicle for the subway. The unidentified assailants also use this opportunity to disappear. The police arrive and announce that the cargo is identified as experimental "computer chips" stolen earlier in the morning from Vytek. Scarlet Spider berates himself for trying to protect stolen property and returns to the penthouse apartment of Seward Trainer. Seward has offered him a place to stay until he can get back on his feet.
The assailants report to their employer of their failure. Their employer is revealed to be the Dr. Octopus II (Carolyn Trainer) who is trying to acquire the Vytek cyberneural inductors for an undisclosed plan. She reassures her unidentified partner that she will get the inductors one way or another.
Vic and Orlando Kannor report to their employer, Mr. Tso, who is equally disappointed in their failure. Vic is executed by the rest of Tso's men for his failure.
Ben begins to look for a job and eventually makes his way to Club Noir where he is able to land a job as a waiter.
Shortly afterward, Ben discovers Octopus' men stealing the inductors from the police impound. Despite his efforts, they escape with them.
A weak start to the Virtual Mortality storyline. They establish that Ben has to keep the prize du jour, the cyberneural inductors, away from the new Dr. Octopus and Ben's employer Mr. Tso. Both of them have hidden agendas. It's obvious they're trying to build some suspense by not telling the reader why they want them. They are trying to do this, but failing.
It's very difficult to care what happens to any of these characters because there's simply no depth to them. Their lines melodramatically describe their motivations and enforce the single dimension the creators are trying to achieve.
You'd think that once they got past the obligatory "I'm not Spider-Man, here's why" exposition, they could do some interesting.
1/2 web. This issue uses the basic formula for a 4-part Spidey crossover, but mixes in the wrong amounts. So far the major players and the prize have been introduced amid a lot of fluff. This really needs to pick up otherwise I'm going to be bored.
The cover art by Steven Butler is great. Too bad the interiors don't maintain that level of quality.