Once again, Norman Osborn is determined to make life miserable for everybody's favourite wall-crawler. Why does have have to be so mean? Kurt Busiek and Nathan Archer might not tell us why, but at least with this book we get to read a little about how.
An organsied bunch of well-armed scavangers named "The Rat Pack" are terrorising New York, attacking the city's infrastructure. Norman Osborn seems to be taking an unusual amount of interest as a concerned citizen. Perhaps understandable, since Norman is also co-owner of the Daily Bugle newspaper. That pretty well places this story against the regular comic timeframe as occuring somewhere between Amazing Spider-Man #430 and Amazing Spider-Man #438.
Norman manages to make enough political capital out the attacks to get himself appointed to the position of City Advocate. That makes him the next guy in line to position the Mayor if, God Forbid, anything should happen to the actual mayor. That's not too unlikely really, since a bit part of the reason that Norman got the job of City Advocate is the fact that the previous holder of the post turned up dead in a dark alley. What bad luck!
But is Norman really up to no good? He lost his memory a couple of times before, maybe he is really innocent in all of this? When he offers Pater and Mary Jane a chance for a high-paying Bugle position in Paris, Peter doesn't know what to think.
I guess it's not too much of a spoiler to say that in the end, Norman is the bad guy, and his scheme to take over control of the city involves a great amount of suffering for Peter Parker, and some collateral damage on Mary Jane. Perhaps also it's not too surprising that the Green Goblin eventually mounts his Goblin Glider in the final show-down. You kind of figured that had to happen, surely?
Kurt and Nathan manage to produce a pretty good tale between the two of them. The first half is mostly set-up, and in fact for the first quarter or more of the book, Peter is fair bouncing off the walls trying to figure out just exactly what Norman is up to this time around. Every time he thinks he has an idea, Osborn throws another twist into the plot. It all makes for some good page-turning reading.
Naturally, the action heats up in the second half of the book. Perhaps my only complaint is that the Rat Pack really don't give Spidey much of a run for his money, I really think Norman was being very optimistic if he even thought that they would tire Spidey out. Maybe throwing in a couple more major-league guys might have given Spidey a bit more of a challenge. Then again, it does allow Spidey to build up a fair bit of speed as he munches his way through the low-level bad guys until finally coming up, slam, hard against the climactic final scene.
In the final analysis, this book is a good read. Packed into the 260 pages is a tale which could easily have come from the comics - it's classic Norman/Spidey action from that period, i.e. 1999/2000. The characters are true to form, the plot is near-perfectly faithful to Spidey's history. I did notice one minor continuity glitch, but otherwise this book could have easily been written as an entertaining six-part comic book story arc.
Good fun reading. True to Spidey and Norman, and plenty entertaining on at least a couple of levels. I give it four webs.