Spider-Man, Silver Sable, and the Sandman travel to the European country of Belgruin to restore the country's dictator, who has been overthrown by democracy-seeking rebels. Are they playing for the wrong side? Figure in that the rebels are backed not only by the Sinister Syndicate but a secret mystery villain, and all is not as it seems here. And Spidey's back in black!
Setting: Before the events in Amazing Spider-Man #289, presumably prior to Spider-Man vs. Wolverine.
Spider-Man's normal routine is interrupted by ten anonymous goons with a Spider-signal, a lá Batman. They don't give Spidey much difficulty, but Silver Sable calls him off before he can completely thrash them. She admits she was looking for him and merely wanted to verify his identity. They travel to the Symkarian embassy where Sable lays all of her cards on the table. It seems that the ruling monarch of the country of Belgruin (don't bother with an atlas; I'm guessing it's right next to "Symkaria") has been overthrown by rebels that are being aided by the Beetle, Rhino, Speed Demon, Hydro-Man, and Boomerang, who make up the Sinister Syndicate. She has been contracted to restore the king. Spider-Man listens patiently until Sable reveals that the king was a tyrant and the rebels are pro-democracy, at which point he tries to leave in disgust. But the king has an eleven-year-old daughter, and if Spidey "won't help for a share of the money, how [would he] feel about saving a child?"
In Belgruin, all is not well for the Beetle. Sure, he and his cohorts are treated like heroes (a role that he enjoys) and they haven't run into any difficulty, but his relationship with the rest of the Syndicate is fragile in the best of times, much to the chagrin of the palace room they trash in a scuffle. More importantly, the Beetle is feeling bad about pretending to support the rebels as a ploy to steal the contents of the royal treasury. The shadowy man the Beetle is reporting to has no such concerns, however.
Meanwhile, Silver Sable, Sandman, and Spidey (all decked out in his black suit) are parachuting into Belgruin under cover of darkness. Inadequate cover, as it turns out, since the draw the rebels' fire before they even manage to land. Spider-Man is separated from the other two and dons one of the soldier's outfits for cover, deciding to walk to a nearby village in order to avoid suspicion. He arrives shortly after daybreak in time to catch the parade the rebels are throwing for the Sinister Syndicate. The language barrier proves costly for Spidey, who spooks after an old woman takes notice of him and reveals his true identity. Just in time to take a beating from the Syndicate, none of whom are exhausted from walking all night and have little trouble wearing down the web-slinger to the point that the angry crowd can capture him.
All of this provides a great show for the mystery man who's running the Syndicate. But then, one would expect little else from Doctor Octopus...
"Sometimes you don't get to wear the white hat."
That's a quote from my favorite TV show, Law & Order, and it seemed to fit this issue like a glove. Having Spidey fly halfway around the world to save a tyrannical king from a group of people who only want their freedom was a nice twist. Spidey's initial reaction was predictable, as was the means by which Sable cons him into going (that whole power and responsibility thing) but I liked the idea enough that I didn't really mind. On the other side of the coin we have the Beetle, who makes the mistake of actually liking the adulation of the masses. You have to wonder what's really driving Silver Sable here, though. Is it possible that she's only using the king's child as an excuse to assuage her guilt for freeing the king? Remember, her organization was originally founded to stop Nazism during the Second World War, and while this monarch wasn't a Nazi (as far as we know) he's awfully close.
Sometimes you don't get to wear the white hat. Or, sometimes you end up doing things you'd rather avoid because of what you are or what you do, whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. Nice theme.
The art is good (I miss the black costume sometimes) and once again we get a good, solid look at what makes Spider-Man tick. Good job so far.
A very good story, which leads me to wonder why this book is the one on the cancellation block. Four webs