May Parker has her hands full, what with Gene Thompson pressuring her back into a relationship and Sara Hingle, a mutant who has been seduced by an anti-human group. But the biggest development is one that is, as yet, known only to her father and Normie Osborn: Normie's grandfather had a genetic duplicate of May Parker hidden away in one of his secret headquarters... and his notes indicate that the May Parker Peter has raised since Kaine returned her is nothing more than a clone. (Okay, SOMEBODY had to use the C-word!)
Gene and May are walking down the street toward the Cafe Indigo, and Gene is not happy that May ditched football practice to babysit her little brother. He's even less thrilled when the phone rings. It's her "Uncle" Phil, asking if she knows where her father is.
Little do either of them know that he is in an Oscorp facility with Normie Osborn, the two of them staring at the young woman whom Osborn's journal claims is the REAL May Parker. Peter loses it, taking Normie in a choke hold and practically breaking his neck before Normie can talk him down. The two take a moment to calm back down, and Normie tells Peter that Osborn referred to the young woman as "Project Changeling." The two decide that they can't trust Osborn's journals to tell the truth, and Normie realizes that there might be someone who knows.
Back at the Cafe Indigo, May finds Gene talking to Simone DeSantos. Simone gets May so flustered that she agrees to join the cheerleading squad even though she doesn't really want to. Her frustration at her inability to control her own life does not go away by morning. On her way to school she asks about her father, and MJ tells her that he worked the night shift and was fast asleep.
Once at school, May runs into Sara Hingle and tries to talk to her. Sara, upset that May has blown her off the past few issues, tells her to forget it, and that she has made new friends. Upset at her own failure, May dons the webs and begins to follow Sara after school. She quickly realizes that Moose Mansfield is also following Sara to a nondescript building. Inside, Sara receives a new costume from Pirouette and Impact before being warned by a midget with an enormous head (named Headcase) that she has been followed. Sara pulls on the costume and blows off the front of the building, knocking Moose cold in the process.
Sara, now calling herself "Nucleus," assumes that Spider-Girl is part of the anti-mutant faction "Humanity First" since she saved their members' lives last issue, and unleashes the full force of her power. Spider-Girl has no interest in fighting Sara and desperately tries to check on Moose, but a few shots from Nucleus leave her stunned. Moose, meanwhile, comes to and starts urging Sara on. Spider-Girl decides she's had enough. Getting close enough to Nucleus to grab her, she swings upward and throws her into the air as high as she can. Nucleus tumbles toward the ground, saved only by a last-second web, and she collapses. Moose runs to help her and berates Spider-Girl, who can only leave and wonder, "What kind of monster am I?"
While this has been going on, Normie Osborn has contacted Fury, the Goblin Queen in an effort to see what she knows about Project Changeling. Fury recognizes the name but denies any knowledge. Back at Oscorp, Normie meets up with Peter, who is draining some of the substance in the stasis tube for analysis. The green liquid starts to bubble, and before Peter can get rid of it, it explodes in his face....
Chalk up another artistic tribute, as the shot of the beaker exploding in Peter's hand is a near duplicate of the original Goblin formula exploding in Norman Osborn's face way back in ASM #40. Nice job by Frenz and Buscema in giving a little nod to the long-time fans.
A good issue with plenty of things going on, although Tom DeFalco seems to be going out of his way to make his mutants as bizarre as possible. Gene's gone from stupidly possessive to outright stupid, though, and it's hard to believe May is going to put up with it much longer, especially when Gene reams her for missing cheerleader practice. Hopefully Sara Hingle's stint as a supervillainess is short-lived: the costume is blah and the name really doesn't strike fear in the hearts of do-gooders everywhere.
The only real problem with this issue is that the subplot is more effective than the main story. After showing up with a clone of May last issue, DeFalco ups the ante by having the goblin formula (or some derivation thereof) explode all over Peter. What's going to happen to "Uncle Pete" now? What's up with the girl in the tank? That held my interest more than the ongoing mutant plot, I have to say.
Can't wait to see what happens next ish, though, and that's the mark of a good comic.
I'll give this one four webs. Don't know where DeFalco's mini clone saga is going but I've got to give him credit for pushing the envelope.