We get another 30-years ago flashback to Smithville where a second part of the meteor hsas given powers to a second man (the blonde one from issue 8). He gains huge strength too but scares off his family when he accidentally destroys their house with his power.
Back in the present and the blonde chap, whose name we now know is Ludlow Grimes, has burst in, as at the end of last issue. He tries to kill the Thunderbolt but Spidey holds him off, while Roxanne takes photos. The battle stops when the police arrives and Ludlow runs for it.
Shortly after, Pete goes to the offices of the Smallville, oops, Smithville Gazette to try and stop Roxanne publishing her story and pictures about Fred being the Thunderbolt. Meanwhile, Fred goes back to his house and reluctantly picks up a gun determined to stop the truth about him coming out. He puts it down though after deciding he can't shoot anyone and sets off unarmed
Next, as Roxanne sets off in her van to go to the publishers, Pete (as Spidey) clings onto her roof as he still wants to stop her printing. She runs into trouble however as the Thunderbolt has set-up an elaborate hoax to create the illusion of boulders falling onto the road. He uses it to 'save' Roxanne in the hope that she won't reveal his identity in return.
Spidey uncovers the truth though and Roxanne is annoyed, hopping back into her van to head off to the printers. Ludlow then jumps out, still determined to kill the Thunderbolt so he can take on the role and the glory that goes with it. Spidey hurls hims into the van though knocking it over a cliff, giving Fred an actual opportunity to save Roxanne while Spidey battles Ludlow.
Eventually Ludlow realises that Fred is just like him and calls a truce. After being arrested, he is given the opportunity to put his strength to good use as a SHIELD agent.
Finally Pete thinks that Roxanne has decided not to publish after Fred saved her life. He's wrong though - she does. Pete sees a crowd of protestors marching towards Fred's house and thinks they are a hate mob going to hurt them. He soon notices that they're actually marching to thank him for saving so many people over the years.
Pete rushes over to Fred to make sure he's alright but hears a gunshot. He bursts inside and Fred has shot himself ... he is led on the floor with a copy of the paper's expose. Roxanne is shocked at the impact of her story initially but as Pete walks out disgusted she hangs around to take pictures.
The ending is what hits you here the most. It's great ... in a sad way. Really poignant. It doesn't need to point out the obvious and leaves Pete's feelings up in the air. You know he's agonising over the responsibilities heroes have and the importance of his own identity. The issues are really powerfully dealt with.
On the flip side, with all the importance being given to keeping identities secret, why would Pete spend so much of the time in the open as Spidey when he's not in NYC? Roxanne is supposed to be a good reporter but fails to notice that Spidey's never been to Smithville before, yet turns up at the same time as Pete does. This just doesn't add up. No-one could be that stupid and surely Spidey's identity would be a much bigger story than the Thunderbolt's? It's just not thought out properly.
The simplistic artwork - which makes NYC look dull - does work nicely in these two issues. The art style has finally found its niche in Smithville, which is a good thing for these two issues but needs a big rethink for the future of the title.
Overall, not bad. A nice idea with some good moments and a moving ending. The problem is that the idea just doesn't hold up properly. I've never been a fan of Spidey being Spidey away from his home and this shows perfectly why it doesn't work. Why do a story about the importance of keeping identities secret when Pete spends a lot of the issue being reckless with his own?