Ever since the Spider Hunt, everyone's been asking the same question... Who is Joey Z? Well, both Spider-Man and Jill Stacy are looking for answers, and what's going to happen to them in the process? Even the Watcher isn't telling!
This issue opens up with a prophetic Watcher, claming that Peter and Jill's lives are linked, and only fate (and some good writing) will decide the outcome. This preludes Peter waking up from a nightmare about Joey Z. He decides the only way he can settle his mind is by talking to Arthur Stacy. He swings over to the Stacy estate, only to have a couple of pot shots taken at him from Arthur! Seems like someone's after the Stacy family (the organization that shot up the Parker house and injured Jill during Spider-Hunt). Arthur vows to protect his children no matter what, and Spider-Man decides to follow Jill's trail as she hunts down the truth behind Joey Z.
Meanwhile, Ox and the unstoppable Wilson Fisk are dealing with some... business, in an alleyway, when Fisk discusses Jill Stacy and her snooping around. Fisk wants her investigation stopped before it brings her too close to his plan to re-emerge as the Kingpin of Crime.
Peter hunts around town, from the Bugle to Silvermane's hideout, for Jill Stacy, and they both meet up at the Hellfire club. After unsuccessfully trying to get some information, Peter finally faces his fears and he and Jill walk around the city, talking about Gwen and old times. The two find out a lot about each other, and find they have a lot in common. Peter is reminded of Gwen as he walks with her.
Just as they're about to call MJ and let everyone knows they're okay, a black car pulls up and a bunch of crooks nab Jill. Peter scurries up a wall, changes into his red-and-blues, and gives chase! He stops the car with some webbing, and when Ox gets out to smash the webslinger, Spidey gives him a ride with his super speed and agility. Finally, he chases Ox off, who jumps into a car and escapes, while the other crooks are handily tied up. Spidey tells Jill to forget Joey Z, but she says she can't. Later that night, Spider-Man visits Jill's bedroom and agrees to talk about Gwen.
Wow! After all the twists and turns we've been dealt over the last couple of years, this one has to be the most unexpected. Is Marvel priming us for another woman to enter Peter's life?
This issue was a good issue, and it wasn't because we saw the Kingpin, or there was great action. This was a good issue because of the new direction. What is Jill's role going to be in Peter's life? Uatu gave us some subtle hints, but nothing substantial (that would ruin it). So, we'll just have to wait and see what develops.
I also have to say that Howard Mackie's stories are getting better. The past couple of issues have been relatively bullet-proof, and if Marvel's going to give him the post-Byrne scripting duties for both Amazing and PPSM, then I'm all for it (as long as he keeps it up).
Because of the teasers, and the development of the Stacy family that we've all been screaming for, as well as some Fisk thrown in for flavor, I've got to give this one four webs. I liked it a lot, and it's the kind of story that sticks with you after you've read it. A comic hasn't done that to me since the Heroes Reborn Captain America #2 (shameless plug). This Spider-Man was an all-around great read.