|Cover Art:||Mark Beachum|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #37|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #38|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #39|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man & Zoids (UK) #40|
Spider-Man is swinging through NYC as newspaper clippings tell us a story of how he apparently induced a vehicle to run over a man at a crossing. It's fairly clear from the images that the guy was just 'spooked' by Spidey's appearance and had rushed front of an oncoming van. The webbed one had then tried to stop it hitting him by using his webline.
As Spidey attends to the man, many in the assembled crowd turn on him. The rest of the crowd see the incident for what it was though, insisting our hero had tried to save him. Spider-Man gets angry with the bickering and shouts for someone to call an ambulance.
A freelancer has taken photos of all this and hawks them to JJJ at the Bugle. Jonah is only interested in the ones putting Spidey in a bad light and persuades Robbie to run a front-page editorial: 'Spidey Goes Berserk!'
As reporters besiege the hospital, Ben Urich senses something isn't quite right but JJJ storms in, saying he'll pay for the injured man's medical bills, etc. He puts words in the guy's mouth about what Spidey did and gets Pete to take some pics.
Later, Spidey is involved in foiling a bank robbery. The robbers start shooting, though, and half the crowd turn on him after the event saying that if he'd just left things, no-one would have been endangered by the flying bullets. Back at his flat, Pete is mad and calls MJ to sound off. He's annoyed that he is constantly putting his life on the line but gets no credit for it.
Back at the hospital and Ben has found out the truth. Our runaway is actually a wanted conman. He bolted when he saw Spider-Man because he thought he might be onto him. He hadn't been attacked at all, it was just his own guilt that made him dash across the road.
Meanwhile, Spidey bursts through Jonah's window at the Bugle. He webs the office door closed (while the rest of the Bugle staff mass outside wondering what the noise was). He tells Jonah that he's saved him and his friends on many occasions and he doesn't get why he has to keep pushing him. Spidey loses it and launches himself across the room. JJJ is speechless and Spidey taunts him. As he winds up to punch him, Jonah says that the Bugle was only reflecting the public's opinion.
Spidey counters that the Bugle has helped form the public opinion but Jonah says that the very fact Spidey is threatening him proves he was right all along. We cut away and Spidey has left. Robbie and some other staff enter JJJ's office and ask if he's OK. JJJ sends the rest away but tells Robbie to stay.
Robbie tells him the truth about the guy in the hospital who Jonah is paying the medical bills for. Jonah tells him to run the story (clearing Spider-Man's role). Robbie said he was going to anyway and would have quit if Jonah had stopped him. Jonah says he knew that and wouldn't have accepted his resignation. On his own, in the wreck of his office, Jonah admits to himself that he could be wrong about Spider-Man's motives but also points out that Spidey could be wrong about him - he does have a heart. After all, it 'just all depends on your point of view'.
This really is Spidey at his best. A brilliant self-contained story with a great pacing and a full-circle type ending.
I really like how the opening few pages is told through the eyes of a news report. It leaves the circumstances slightly ambiguous as, until Ben hits upon the truth, you don't really know yourself what has happened.
Peter David's script is even better than his excellent issue 12, while Jim Owsley's editorship is finally finding its own niche among the other two titles. The characterisation is what hits you most. As with Pete's vigilante issues (11 and 12) the issues are taken off the two-dimensional pages and given a three-dimensional twist.
Spidey beating up people and stopping the bank robbers doesn't just make everything alright. Jonah taking the side of the 'innocent' isn't as clear cut as he'd like it to be and eventually both characters are forced to re-think their opinions.
Pete must take on Jonah's point that by attacking him and being reckless, he is merely re-inforcing what JJJ's editorials have been saying. But Jonah is forced to see that Spidey isn't just a cold vigilante. He does try his best but, like everyone, makes mistakes.
The late exchanges between Spidey and JJJ and JJJ and Robbie are excellent. The lines between good and bad are blurred. Is Spidey actually the good guy at this time? Is Jonah just a reckless publisher? Like life, the book reflects the shades of grey and, as such, is a great, great read.
Easily the best Web Of... book so far and, apart from the superb 'Who Shot Jean DeWolf series, probably one of the best titles since the early days of Lee/Ditko or the stories around the time of Gwen Stacy's death. Brilliant.