Mary Jane and Peter decided to give their marriage to Mephisto to save the life of Aunt May. Much debate and teeth gnashing ensued on the part of readers. Last issue, Pete somehow CPR’d May’s failing heart back to life with his bare hands. Also, this issue mainly takes place during the time period of Back In Black.
Once again flashing back to the recent past: the doctor is telling Peter that for lack of a better explanation, the simple power of Pete’s love for his Aunt brought her back to life.
Doc says May is going to make a full recovery, and tells Peter to go home and get some rest, which Peter balks at. A suspicious-looking red-haired orderly says she’ll keep a close eye on May, but Peter with MJ at his side persists. As the two go to camp out in May’s hospital room, the orderly nurse on duty checks in via cellphone with her secret employer—Kingpin. He tells her to finish the job started on May. The nurse tells him off, which strangely calms Kingpin, who says he has other means to deal with May. The nurse says this squares her and Kingpin—as she leaves the hospital she hangs up with him and catches a cab.
Kingpin, in prison, puts his own cell-phone call in to a shadowy someone, telling him it’s time. Kingpin also mentions that there’s a nurse he wants to introduce this someone to.
Mary Jane is awakened at the hospital by her cell—Aunt Ana is calling, saying she heard a noise in her backyard. Ana says it’s probably nothing—before MJ can say much more, MJ’s cell phone battery dies out. MJ leaves the sleeping Pete, telling the new orderly on duty to tell Peter she went to the ladies room if he should wake up.
Mary Jane arrives in Queens twenty minutes later by cab, to find Ana’s front door glass broken. She enters, hearing a crash upstairs—she sneaks up to find a masked gunman; the gunman is unaware of MJ’s presence and starts talking to the unconscious Ana. He says “killing old broads ain’t (his) style”, but that he owes the Kingpin big. He also says it’s all her niece’s fault anyway, that somebody needs to tell her “it don’t pay knocking boots with Spider-man”.
MJ breaks a vase over the gunman’s head before he can shoot Ana. He gets up and begins to chase MJ down the stairs, taunting her. He says “if it means anything, he asked me to treat you extra special”. He says he’ll take his time cutting off her head, and “hand-deliver it to your boyfriend”. MJ finds her cell phone still won’t work. She jumps into the fenced-in back yard, and runs afoul of the Doberman on guard duty. The gunman shoots the animal, yelling at and smacking MJ for making him kill a defenseless dog. Another dog from the property then pounces on the gunman.
Peter and Ana end up on the phone and Ana gives him the lowdown. The gunman is still chasing MJ, telling her he’s going to finish off her Aunt and MJ’s sister Gayle and the kids, even cousin Kristy. MJ says to just kill her and leave her family alone. She tries once last to attack the gunman but he whacks her with his gun. As he’s about to finish her off, Spider-man kicks him away from her. He asks the gunman who sent him—as he takes his mask off, Spidey finds it’s Eddie Muerte, the “brick” from two issues ago. “Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it?” Eddie asks. Muerte says everyone knows who Peter is—that he can’t run forever. Spidey webs Eddie to a lamppost again and swings off with MJ in tow.
Spidey ends up at Dr Strange’s place—Spidey says he’s blown it and that he needs to Strange to reverse the identity reveal. Strange goes into his astral form to think it over. The last page shows Strange in astral form with an astral Tony Stark and Reed Richards present. Strange asks them what they think.
The suspense and story pacing in this issue is done pretty well. I hope this is the last we see for awhile of Eddie Muerte, who is one nasty dude. (Looks as though he’s lost some weight at least)
Queseda takes great pains to show us the cost that Peter’s heroics exact on those close to him—MJ is seen thrown into the trash and nearly gets her brains blown out here. We get the point Marvel or (JQ)—you hate the marriage.
Like many thought, the identity was concealed by magic, but Stark and Richards are involved too? So it’s a mixture of magic, tech and science. Next issue should clear that all up, hopefully.
Props go out again to Paolo Rivera—his art evokes the primal terror of MJ being chased very well. The scenes of Kingpin in prison are moody and well-composed, too.
It seems mean-spirited to slam on the “love saved Aunt May” scenario at the beginning—but it was a howler of an opening just the same. There seems to be some contention as to whether May being revived had something to do with the Mephisto deal, or that's just how it played out after the timeline got altered. It read to me as a rather pointless story flourish on the part of the writer.
Yeah, the review may have read as if I liked it more, but this is a two-web issue. The story here is tighter, barely interrupted by the frame story of Peter and MJ talking in present day. It’s not as ambitious as part one, the best of the lot so far, yet almost as depressing as part two. Spidey lives in a dangerous world to be sure, and he put his loved ones lives at risk, but the point is hammered home in an unsubtle way here for anyone who may not see.
I accept that there’s a fair amount of reader manipulation as a means of suspense that goes on when one is telling a story (especially comic stories) but the treatment of MJ here is distasteful, just like the last two issues. We demanded a resolution to the ending of the marriage / identity un-remembering and we’re getting it, but this tale is getting a tad gratuitous. One more part to go--then we can finally move past this awkward era in Spider-man history.
Also, maybe I’m dense, but I don’t see where the “borrowed” part of the title of this issue plays into this story as the other titles did—'borrowed' as in 'time' referring to Aunt May?