You like those battles where the hero has the odds stacked waaaay against him? When he faces a power so much greater than his own that even he isn't sure what he's up against, yet somehow must find a way to prevail? Then you're gonna love this! Spidey vs. the former herald of Galactus himself: the Firelord! Round 1. Go!
The issue opens with the former herald of Galactus, the Firelord streaking through space talking to himself about how powerful and great he is, and trashing the big meteors that get in his way, but leaving the little ones alone because they are not worthy of being destroyed by him (seriously). As Firelord ponders what he should be doing with his life at this time, he spies Earth in the distance, and flies down to the surface of the planet, remembering his brief stay there in the past and that Earth is full of pleasures known nowhere else in the cosmos.
Meanwhile, at Aunt May's boarding house, Peter Parker is being showered with attention by the boarders when a report about mutants and the mutant threat comes on TV. Some boarders are concerned by the report. In the kitchen, Aunt May bugs Peter Parker to go back to graduate school, which he dropped out of a while ago. Peter explains that he's not ready as his spider sense goes off intensely. He will soon find out what triggered it.
In the city, Firelord enters a pizzaria through the window (I guess he's too important to use a door) and tells the pizza maker that he should feel honored, as he will make firelord a feast, and step on it. The pizza man explains that he hasn't even heated the ovens yet, and firelord melts them to slag with his eye beams. A contruction worker who had seen the mutant report assumes that Firelord is a mutant and goes to get all his construction worker buddies to go and get him. The construction workers attack Firelord with a hose, and even though the attack didn't hurt him in the least, he throws all of the construction workers out of the building and prepares to kill the one with the hose for the affront to his honor.
Luckily Spidey was swinging by and saves the construction worker. Firelord is ready to keep attacking the construction workers, but Spidey swings to the rescue and kicks Firelord. Firelord, right after trying to kill a ton of people, states that any who even touch his person have no hope of living (kind of a hypocrite there, that Firelord). Spidey avoids Firelords blasts and manages to use his agility to grab Firelord's staff away from him. Firelord then gets mad, and explains that the staff is just a conduit, but he alone is the power.
Firelord blasts and destroys the building Spider-Man was on, and then chases the web-slinger some more. Spider-Man continues to evade the Firelord, and then, realizing that he is in way over his head and that he can never hope to match the Firelord in power, Spidey takes Firelord's staff and chucks it off a bridge into the water below. Firelord goes to retrieve it, buying Spidey some time to escape. Spidey realizes that this will only buy him a few minutes before Firelord comes back to continue fighting, and considers changing into Peter Parker and let someone else deal with the former herald of Galactus. But then his sense of responsibility kicks in and Spidey decides to make a stand and fight Firelord to the finish. End of round 1!
DeFalco does a great job, as usual, setting up this story and making it exciting. Spider-Man vs. a heroic yet undescribably arrogant powerhouse that he really shouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of defeating. Great idea, a real page turner making you think "man, how is Spidey gonna get out of this one?" Good issue all around. I've never been good at critiqing art because it's never been all that important to me, but I think that Ron Frenz and Josef Rubinstein do a fine job. There art isn't the greatest in the world or anything, but it tells the story well and with enough detail. Man, Firelord sure is an arrogant jerk. I'm glad Spidey is gonna take him down quite a few pegs.
Fun, exciting, suspensful, DeFalco at his usual. I really can't give it less than 4 webs.