Finally, the last installment of this 6 issue series retelling some tales of Spider-Man's past. Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. The previous issue ended with... ah... I forgot. So, it must have been a terrible long time ago, such a shame.
We see a film projector. A shadowy figure is watching movies of Spider-Man fighting the Scorpion, the Octopus, the Rhinoceros, the Lizard and the Vulture. He cries he studied the beasts of the concrete jungle and learned from their mistakes. Now, the hunt begins.
Meanwhile, a voice over is telling he dreamed about the girl he's recording his tale to. Her name is Gwen Stacy, she's dead now. His name is Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. He continues his tale with Valentine's Day. He remembers it was that day because he got a card, unsigned, with a smiley face.
Peter is in his room, getting ready and talking to Harry. Harry borrows some aftershave and mentions that both Mary Jane and Gwen are eating out of Peters hand. The bells rings. Gwen has arrived, looking absolutely stunning. Mary Jane arrives about the same time. She too, looks fabulous. With her, the whole gang arrives, for the send-off party for Flash.
When Peter brings their coats in Harry's room, Harry is on the phone with his dad. His dad seems pleased Peter too is at the party and he might drop by later on. Which was odd, for Harry didn't realize his dad knew Peter well enough to asl about him. Peter too is not comfortable with the thought for he knows that Norman Osborn is secretly the Green Goblin and currently seems to have amnesia.
At the party, Flash is giving a little speech. Peter sits next to Gwen, but he isn't paying much attention. Mary Jane is standing right next to them, looking at them, almost jealous. Then Kraven the Hunter crashes the party. Flash immediately jumps Kraven but gets floored. Then Kraven takes Harry away with him. Peter jumps up, yelling camera, bugle, photos, Spider-Man, bye! Leaving Gwen and Mary Jane behind.
Judging by the pictues, it seems Kraven took Harry to a nearby construction site. Saying he studied his victim. Harry's afraid and yells that he's got the wrong guy. But Kraven won't hear of it, since he's got his scent. Then, Spider-Man arrives. A fight follows and Spider-Man realizes that the aftershave is wat made Kraven think Harry was him.
As Spidey tries to get Harry to leave, Kraven hits him from behind, off guard. Spidey goes down, almost. In return Harry hits Kraven. Who on his turn gets very angry at Harry. He's about to hit him when Norman Osborn enters. Kraven yells, I know you, you're... and at that very moment Spider-Man re-enters the fight and floors Kraven. Before going down for the count, Kraven says it was a contract. The Green Goblin paid him to kill Spider-Man.
Norman calls out Spider-Man, Spider-Man! He wants to thank him, for saving his son. The stress of the situation has done something to Norman. Harry comforts his dad and when they turn around, Spidey is already gone.
Back at the appartment, Peter is changing back into his normal clothes. Gwen calls, everybody's gone home and she heard something. She finds Peter partially dressed. He says he's getting ready for bed. Gwen is very proud of him, rushing off like some fireman. She sees the card and asks whether he read it. Then she asks, Peter, will you be my Valentine? And the voiceover continues, that's when you had me, Gwen Stacy, all of me.
Cut to Peter Parker, the present, recording the tale we've just read. He's sating he tried for years to makes sense of Gwen's death. And that her death was a wake-up call to Mary Jane. Mary Jane later became his wife and Peter learned to love again. Mary Jane taught him that. Mary Jane calls, she finds Peter sitting the floor, with the tape recorder. Turns out, she's been listening and wanted to make sure Peter's OK.
She then asks a favor, please, say hello to Gwen and tell her I miss her too. Peter does so, as he finishes his sixth and last tape. It's his tale about why sometimes, around this time of year, he feels blue. End of recording.
The story is told as a flashback and the continuity police are have the day of their live! In Amazing Spider-Man (volume 1), issue 48, Flash says he'll be leaving the day after. The fight with the Vulture (as shown in Spider-Man: Blue issue 5) is much later making it not possible for Flash to attend his own send-off party but he's there anyway. Furthermore, Kraven does not crash any party in the original story. There he is defeated along with the Vulture. If you've read my previous reviews, you'll know that I dislike these glitches. Will it have any effect on my final score? Just wait and see.
It's a great read, from the first page till the last, the tension builds up. Who that shadowy figure is, it doesn't matter anymore. It's Kraven (hurray, I guessed it correct) but he gets defeated very easily. Nope, the real story here is how Peter interacts with Harry, Gwen and Mary Jane. Peter is uneasy with all of them, in a way. But all for different reasons. And that's what makes Peter Parker such a great character. For I believe that's what makes him real! And yes, it's a real shame so much time went into creating the mystery of the shadowy figure when so little is done with it in the end.
Oh, remember the final page of the previous issue? Peter talks about a decision he had to make and being up to issue 50 of the original Amazing Spider-Man run, it almost looked like he was about to hang up his webs here too. In this issue, number 6, the decision is not mentioned again. Meaning, I did not spot it or I just don't get it. Perhaps any of you can help me out.
Finally, very nice timing! With Mary Jane back in real life (if you did not yet read Amazing Spider-Man 50, shame on you and sorry about spoiling your surprise, as if) this issue couldn't have a more appropriate ending. It almost makes me wonder whether they delayed the issue on purpose.
From start to finish, this 6 issues series took 10 months to get published. Real shame, an explosive story like this should be on the racks every 4 weeks. Now, I feel, the momentum is gone. True, the final issue was a great read. Heavy on the characterisation, easy on the action. The final three pages where the best. So, I'm inclined to give it the full 5 webs. But because of (a) the lateness and (b) the major continuity glitches I will deduct 1 web. Leaving a final score of 4.
Regarding the lateness, a hardcover version of this series will follow soon (scheduled for April 30th). Making it very easy for me to read the whole story in one sitting without having to dig up the single issues. For it's been so long ago that I put them away, I can hardly remember where I put them.