Following their defeat at the hands of Spider-Man, the Vulturions return to their hideout. They are both furious and confused, as Spider-Man kept on talking about his costume being alive. After their first foray, Honcho has decided that they will need weapons in order to equal the playing field against Spider-Man. He orders Sugar Face to open one of the crates. Inside, Sugar Face finds blowguns and some darts. Gripes thinks the idea of using blow darts against Spider-Man to be ridiculous. However, Honcho asks Sugar Face to use a dart on Gripes. One single dart causes Gripes to black out and collapse onto the floor. Honcho explains that the tarts include a toxin that relaxes the muscles until ultimately the victim dies. Honcho briefly considers letting Gripes suffer this fate but applies the antidote instead.
A week later, Spider-Man is web-slinging across the city, thinking about how he narrowly avoided defeating the alien costume that wanted to bond with him and is glad that it is gone.[Continuity 1] Along the way, the wall-crawler stops a mugger from picking a pocket. As he continues on his way, Spider-Man thinks about his clash with the Vulturions and wonder why they are and why they are after him. Needing to buy a birthday gift for his Aunt May, Spider-Man sneaks into a store washroom and changes back into Peter Parker.[Continuity 2] Searching the store, he finds a hat that he thinks will be perfect for his Aunt May. Meanwhile, the Vulturions rob an armored car, using their new blow darts to incapacitate security guards.
Later, Peter Parker pays a visit to the Daily Bugle to show off his Aunt’s birthday gift to Joe Robertson in the hopes that it helps fix their strained relationship.[Continuity 3] Suddenly, J. Jonah Jameson enters the room, excited about reports of the damage caused by Spider-Man’s battle with the Juggernaut.[Continuity 4] Joe tries to quash this editorial, pointing out that as the new editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle, he would be presenting balanced stories.[Continuity 5] Seeing an opportunity to make money off the photos he took of the fight, Peter pretends to agree with Jonah, much to Robertson’s disappointment. Jameson tells Joe that he missed a perfect opportunity and explains that he is starting a news magazine so he can publish his own stories and intends to take Parker with him. As Peter Parker tries to explain himself to Joe, they are interrupted when a copy boy informs them of the Vulturions’ attack at the bank. Joe assigns Peter to get photos of this story. Peter then goes up to the roof of the Bugle Building where he changes into Spider-Man. Spider-Man is looking forward to a rematch against the Vulturions, but has to go to the hospital to see Harry and Liz Osborn’s with Mary Jane first.
Back at their hideout, the Vulturions gloat over their recent haul, Honcho suggests that they need to convince the Kingpin that he should hire them to be his chief assassins by killing Spider-Man. The group then head out to search for the wall-crawler. Elsewhere, Spider-Man swings across the city, a job made more difficult by the hat box that he is carrying. As he heads for home, he thinks about Mary Jane and how her recent revelation that she has known he was Spider-Man affected their relationship.[Continuity 6] On the way, Spider-Man is stopped by the Vulturions who begin to follow him. When the wall-crawler gets close to his apartment, he notices that his neighbors, Randi, Candi, and Bambi are on the roof varnishing a dresser. He tries to hang back, but when one of the women spots him, he is forced to head uptown. Spotting this, the Vulturions continue their pursuit of the masked hero.
While at the Kingpin’s tower, the head mobster is watching Singin’ In The Rain with his catatonic wife, Vanessa, hoping that she will wake up.[Continuity 7] A henchman tells him that the Vulturions are planning to kill Spider-Man outside of his building. The Kingpin recalls how Spider-Man had recently interfered in his business and struggles with seeing his wife recover, or witness the destruction of Spider-Man.[Continuity 8] Witnessing the wall-crawler swing by, the Kingpin notices that the hero is carrying a hat box and wonders why. Suddenly, the hero is ambushed by the Vulturions. His spider-sense warning him of a barrage of poisoned darts, he uses the hat box to shield himself. Swinging into his action, Spider-Man exposes his belt camera so he can snap photos for the Daily Bugle. Although the hero manages to down one the Vulturions, another manages to tag him with one of the blow darts. As Spider-Man struggles to stay conscious, his thoughts are on making peace with his Aunt May. Meanwhile, in Queens, Aunt May is worried about the bills that are mounting on her home. Her fiancee Nathan Lubensky suggests that she go to her nephew Peter for help. However, Aunt May is still angry at Peter for dropping out of school and refuses to tell him of their troubles unless he decides to go back to school.
Back in the city, Spider-Man begins to feel the effects of the dart but knocks out another one of the Vulturions. The ribbon keeping the hat box close is cut open causing the hat to blow away, which puzzles the Kingpin. strange. When his wife begins to become agitated, the Kingpin assures her that there is nothing going on. Because the Vulturions have disturbed his wife, the Kingpin decides to support Spider-Man in the battle. The hero manages to recover the hat but is struck with another dart and begins falling to the ground. As he falls, he thinks about how his ex-girlfriend the Black Cat hated him being Peter Parker and how Mary Jane hates him being Spider-Man.[Continuity 9] While at the hospital where Liz Osborn just recently gave birth to her son.[Continuity 10] Noticing that Mary Jane is pacing the room waiting for Peter, Liz tells her to relax but also wonders why she keeps watching the skyline.
By this time, Spider-Man is still trying to avoid the Vulturions and keep the hat he bought for his Aunt May safe. However, although he managed to knock out the rest of the Vulturions, he was struck by additional darts and falls into a trash-strewn alley and the hat drifts away in the wind. In the aftermath of the battle, the Kingpin was impressed with Spider-Man’s performance, but is still confused as to why the hero was so focused on protecting the hat, as he could have won sooner otherwise. Seeing that the hat is still blowing in the wind, the Kingpin orders a helicopters to take off and recover it. When Spider-Man wakes up, the Vulturions are gone and he realizes the hat is missing. Trying to find it, the hero swings up to the rooftops where he spots the helicopter lowering the hat box nearby. He recovers the hat and finds a note from the Kingpin, thanking him for defeating the Vulturions
Vulture is as Vulture does:
From his prison cell, Adrian Toomes reads the latest newspaper reports about the Vulturions and is furious that they would steal his technology. Having secretly rebuilt his wings in his prison cell, the Vulture flies again, vowing to prove his superiority by killing everyone. Although a prison helicopter tries to follow him, the Vulture manages to get to Manhattan and escape through the subway. Elsewhere in the city, Spider-Man nabs a pair of purse snatchers. After recovering his camera and the hat that he bought for Aunt May’s birthday, but decides to go to the Daily Bugle to try and sell his photos first, deciding he has enough time to have the present express mailed to his Aunt May. As Spider-Man changes into Peter Parker, the Vulturions attack Rockefeller Center and rob a jewelry store in a flee the scene. The group gloats over how easy their robberies have been since getting their wings. As they plot getting revenge against Spider-Man, they are unaware that the Vulture has been watching for them and is preparing to strike.
Back at the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson turns down the pictures that Peter has taken are useless as he only wants photos of Spider-Man looking bad. As Jameson walks away, Peter is greeting by Mary Jane who has come from their lunch date. Before they can go, she hears a radio report about the Vulture escaping prison over her headphones.[Continuity 1] At that moment, the Vulturions return to their hideout only to be ambushed by the Vulture. He knocks out all of the Vulturions except Honcho, whom he takes off with Honcho, demanding to know how he managed to steal his technology. At that same moment, Peter and Mary Jane are sitting down for lunch. Peter complains about the how much time he has left to mail off his present to Aunt May. Mary Jane assures him that there is plenty of time.[Continuity 2] Mary Jane suggests that Peter reveal his secret identity to his Aunt May.[Continuity 3] Suddenly, Peter’s spider-sense begins going off. Looking skyward, the pair spot the Vulture battling with the Vulturions. When one of the Vulturions comes crashing through the skylight, Peter insists that he has to do something before someone gets hurt. Mary Jane is upset with him because the last time he battled the Vulturions he was almost killed.
Meanwhile, in Queens, Aunt May and Nathan Lubenski are preparing for May’s birthday. They are also concerned about their money troubles, and Nathan once again suggests that May talks to Peter about it. However, May is still mad at Peter and refuses to tell him. When they hear a radio report about the Vulture’s attack in the city. The couple recall how they previously met Adrian Toomes when they were living in the nursing home together.[Continuity 4] Nathan jokingly suggests that he take Toomes up on his past offer to join him as a partner in crime to solve their money woes. Back in Manhattan, the Vulture has lured the Vulturions into Times Square, where his superior flying skills are an asset among the massive billboards and neon signs. As the Vulture begins to trounce the Vulturions, Spider-Man arrives on the scene. He is chastising himself for going off and leaving Mary Jane to worry. When he stops the Vulture from killing one of the Vulturions. Seeing his longtime foe prompts the Vulture to flee the scene. When Spider-Man snags Toomes with a web-line, the villain begins trying to knock him loose by flying through the massive billboards. During the fight, Spider-Man is struck by one of the Vulturion’s darts. Although Spider-Man manages to get to safety before blacking out from the dart, the Vulture manages to escape. Before the darkness takes him, Peter notices it is after 5 pm and he is too late to mail Aunt May’s birthday present.
The next morning, Peter is woken up by Mary Jane knocking at his door. Mary Jane was worried about Peter and is glad he is okay. She gives him his Aunt May’s present, which he left behind when he went off to be Spider-Man. When Peter tries to talk to her about their relationship, Mary Jane insists that she can’t be involved with him romantically as long as he continues to be Spider-Man. She tells her that her own cowardice keeps her from being with him, but asks Peter what is keeping him apart from his Aunt. Later, Aunt May checks the mail and finds only bills. Nathan Lubenski is surprised to learn that there isn’t even a present from Peter. Nathan scoffs at this, telling May that she has more than enough gifts to from others. However, Spider-Man leaves the gift outside and rings the doorbell and hides. When May opens the gift she whispers a thank you to her nephew, who watches her joy from up in a tree.
Arms and the Man
Spider-Man is staking out a warehouse where he observes a gang stealing crates full of fur coats. Using the cover of darkness, Spider-Man manages to ambush the thugs, taking down many. However, he loses the advantage when he gets tangled up in a rack of coats. He is dogpiled by some of the thugs but fights them off. The last of the gang tries to run over Spider-Man with the delivery truck. The wall-crawler is briefly blinded by the headlights but dodges it at the last moment. The truck smashes through a wall and tries to getaway. Unfortunately for him, Spider-Man manages to leap onto the roof of the truck and forces it to crash. However, the drivers now stuck in a traffic jam get upset with the wall-crawler. Spider-Man pulls the wrecked truck off the road and when the police arrive he web-slings away. Having taken pictures, Spider-Man goes to the Daily Bugle building where he changes into Peter Parker. He stops briefly to say hello to Betty Leeds before heading in to try and sell his photos to Joe Robertson.[Continuity 1] Unfortunately for Peter, Joe Robertson isn’t interested in more pictures of Spider-Man. On his way out, Peter bumps into J. Jonah Jameson, spilling the pictures on the floor. Jameson likes the photos and asks to use them in his revived Now Magazine. Once more, Jameson asks Peter to join his team, exclaiming that Now Magazine is going to be big. As he leaves, Peter thinks that becoming a photographer for Jameson’s magazine he could pull in a lot more money than usual and considers taking some photography courses.
Meanwhile, at the Brooklyn Psychiatric Facility, Doctor George Jefferson is in a session with Otto Octavius, the criminal known as Doctor Octopus. He tries to get Otto to open up about his childhood, but Otto can’t bring himself to talk about it at that moment. Jefferson understands and as he walks Octavius back to his room. He assures Otto that they will work to finish the work started by Mister Fantastic.[Continuity 2] He promises that they will get over his fear of Spider-Man and make him a productive member of society again. Otto decides to take a nap before lunch, and as Jefferson leaves he thinks about how people claim that Doctor Octopus can’t be cured, and vows to prove them wrong. After a troubled sleep, Otto wakes up and sees a spider has made a web in the corner of his room and begins to panic. He remembers the last time he was defeated at the hands of Spider-Man, one of his most humiliating defeats.[Continuity 3] This is followed by memories of his return home from the Secret Wars, how the sheer power of the Molecule Man drove him to the brink of insanity.[Continuity 4] Suddenly, Doctor Octopus begins to hallucinate that he is being swarmed by a swarm of spiders.
This mental distress affects the mental link that Doctor Octopus has with his mechanical arms, which are stored in a facility deep below Manhattan. The arms begin to flail around in the holding cell, but this is dismissed by the guards. Suddenly, Otto’s fear turns into rage and he crushes the spider in his room. This also commands the mechanical arms to break free and begin burrowing their way up to the surface. As Doctor Jefferson and the orderlies enter his room to sedate Otto, he has had another mental break. Without the conscious mind of Doctor Octopus controlling them, the mechanical arms go on a rampage through the city. Even with special equipment provided by SHIELD, the NYPD are unable to stop the arms. Peter Parker hears the reports of the rampage from a radio in an electronics store where he is purchasing a new lens for his photography.[Continuity 5] Grabbing a portable police band radio, Spider-Man follows the reports to the source of the rampage.
Spider-Man arrives just as the mechanical arms have broken Doctor Octopus out of his cell. Cradling the sleeping body of its master, the mechanical arms damage the foundation of the mental health facility. Spider-Man is forced to hold rescue those trapped inside, allowing the mechanical arms to flee with Octavius. Otto wakes up in one of his hideouts and realizes that his mechanical arms had freed him. Thinking of all the battles over the years with Spider-Man, and all the humiliating defeats, Doctor Octopus puts on his mechanical arms once again and vows that this time, he will destroy Spider-Man.
The Enemy Within
As the newspapers scream with headlines about the escape of Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man scours the city searching for his foe.[Continuity 1] Spider-Man thinks about their last encounter during the Secret Wars and recalls how they never fought directly and wonders if his old foe is really afraid of him now.[Continuity 2] His is briefly distracted when a scaffold holding a pair of men putting up a billboard advertisement breaks. He quickly catches them and places them safely on a nearby rooftop and swings away without a word.
Meanwhile, in the secret hideout of Doctor Octopus, some of his minions put the finishing touches on a Spider-Man robot. Worrying that Octopus isn’t in his mental facilities after his jaunt into space. They then unleash the robot on their leader, Doctor Octopus savagely battles the robot and destroys it. Even though Doctor Octopus triumphantly boasts over this victory, his minions are still not certain if he could manage to battle the real Spider-Man. The next afternoon, Spider-Man returns home from another fruitless search for Doctor Octopus, although he did manage to help the Rocket Racer.[Continuity 3] Returning to his apartment, Peter changes out of his costume and decides to call his Aunt May, relieved that they have finally settled their differences.[Continuity 4] The phone is answered by her fiancee Nathan Lubenski, who tells Peter that Aunt May is out shopping. He takes the opportunity to tell Peter about their financial problems. Peter assures Nathan that he will do everything he can to help. After the call, Peter takes a quick shower and heads out hoping that he can find Doctor Octopus so he can sell photos to the Daily Bugle.
Peter pays a visit to the Daily Bugle offices and checks with J. Jonah Jameson about work for Now Magazine. Jameson tells him that he is busy setting things up and he will call him. Heading into the newsroom he goes looking for Joe Robertson for work. Joe stops Peter and tells him that there is someone he should meet. He soon finds himself in the office of the Bugle’s new city editor, Kate Cushing. Kate tells Peter that she is impressed with his work and asks him to try and get exclusive photos of a meeting at the Schavian Embassy. Peter stops at the bank to pull money out of the machine. Although he only has twenty dollars in his account, he is surprised when the machine gives him more money by mistake. However, his luck changes when Doctor Octopus and his minions launch an attack on the bank. Peter changes into Spider-Man and ambushes the armed thieves. Spider-Man deals with the minions and is about to go down and stop Doctor Octopus from raiding the safe. However, he notices that one of the tellers has been struck with a bullet. Unable to let the woman bleed out, Spider-Man is forced to take her to a hospital. By this point, Doctor Octopus learns that Spider-Man was there and is furious that his minions didn’t tell him. Suddenly, they hear some police sirens prompting them to flee. As they flee, nobody is aware that one of the minions has been tagged with a spider-tracer.
Later, Spider-Man arrives at the Schavian Embassy, where security is tight. However, this is no concern for the hero, as he climbs into the ventilation system. From there, he crawls down through the vents until he finds a grate overlooking the meeting. As Spider-Man begins snapping the photos, he overhears a guard discovering the open vent. He realizes that this will prevent him from leaving until after everyone has left. While Spider-Man is stuck at the embassy, Doctor Octopus and his minions come crashing into the Daily Bugle newsroom demanding Spider-Man. With Joe Robertson and J. Jonah Jameson out of the office, Kate Cushing is in charge of the office. He demands that Cushing call the authorities and tell them that he is taking the Daily Bugle hostage until Spider-Man faces him.[Continuity 5] An hour later, Spider-Man is finally able to leave the vents. Changing back to Peter Parker, he quickly finds a payphone to phone in and tell Kate Cushing that he finished his photo assignment. That’s when he learns about the hostage situation.
As Peter changes back into Spider-Man and rushes to the Bugle, Doctor Octopus begins to grow impatient. With his escape helicopter arriving, Octopus takes Kate hostage and flees. Spider-Man learns moments later to learn that Octavius will be contacting them soon to reveal where he has taken Cushing. When J. Jonah Jameson returns, he blames Spider-Man for the damage done to the office. Spider-Man takes this as his cue to leave, using his spider-sense to locate the spider-tracer he previously planted on one of Doctor Octopus’ minions. Spider-Man then ambushes Doctor Octopus. At first, Doctor Octopus thinks he is fighting yet another Spider-Man robot. However, when Spider-Man begins quipping, Otto realizes that he is fighting the real hero and begins to crack up again. Doctor Octopus enters a catatonic state. His minions consider attacking Spider-Man, but the hero points out that they owe Otto no loyalty and they stand down. That’s when the police arrive with Otto Octavius’ lawyer Michael Gerdes. When Spider-Man is about to destroy Doctor Octopus’ arm, Gerdes orders him to cease and desist as he has a legal order as his client has rights. Since he cannot convince the authorities otherwise, Spider-Man decides to depart. On his way out, he notices the Spider-Man robot that Doctor Octopus used and briefly considers using it himself but decides against it.[Continuity 6] As he swings away, Spider-Man can’t help but feel sorry for Doctor Octopus.
The next morning, Peter has a meeting with Kate Cushing, who is impressed that Peter was able to get those exclusive photos. However, she can’t use the photos because of the grating from the vent. As such she had to go with a photo taken by Lance Bannon. With this bit of bad news, Peter walks home, just as it starts to rain, wishing that he could have a happy ending for once.
With reading multiple issues, and ones that cross storyline arcs, it gets a bit muddy. But with the above synopses (and its like 6 pages long for 4 comics for goodness sake!(some comic geek had way too much time on his hands)), I don’t feel the need to talk about that particular aspect of things.
With this being a “new” series, the creators expect new people to read it and thus they have to introduce who people are within the already existing story arc from the other, longer running, Spiderman comics. In issue 3 I think they do an excellent job of it for both Spiderman and the Vulture. In about 4 panels, we get a 2 paragraph synopsis of who Spiderman is, how he came to be and what his powers are. We also get the same treatment for the Vulture. I really liked this abbreviated treatment. That way long time fans don’t feel like they’re being talked down to or spending a long time on things they already know. But new fans aren’t made to feel like they’re an outsider at a popular kids party.
The other thing I like is that each battle with a super villain isn’t stretched out to eleventy-billion issues. The Vulturions and the Vulture are dealt with in 3 issues while Doc Ock gets his in just 2. And Doc Ock having a mental breakdown and freezing so Spiderman doesn’t even have to fight him, while a bit too convenient for my taste, makes the villains more human, thus side stepping the issue of power creep (ie, Spiderman having to become more and more powerful to keep up with the villains, ala Cosmic Spiderman)
Overall, this has the feeling I am looking for in a comic. The universe isn’t at stake. Peter is worried about his Aunt May not having enough money while he himself can barely pay his own bills. His relationships are on the rocks or not happening. He is human first and Spiderman second. I feel like new comics (and the movies precipitated this in my opinion) make the Superhero a superhero first and a human a far second.
So keep up the good work, Web of Spiderman, you’ve hooked this reader for now.
Savage Dave has joined me to buddy-read this series and I’ve included a link down below to all of his posts, as well as mine. Here’s the direct link to his thoughts on these particular issues:
Wordaholicanonymous: Web of Spiderman #2-5