May Parker is desperate to save her friend Davida Kirby from the wrath of anti-mutant extremists. She is also trying to keep Sara Hingle from falling under the tutelage of the Sisterhood of Mutants, a band of mutant extremists headed by Magneta. Her father is behaving more and more erratically. But all of those thoughts flee from her head the moment she hits the roof of Midtown High only to confront... herself.
May, stunned to find herself facing an exact duplicate, refuses to believe the Brand New May when she claims to be the original May Parker. She also doesn't have time to deal with her doppleganger; Davida Kirby is in danger. As the new May leaps at her, May steps aside and lets her take a header down the stairway. May quickly moves out of sight, leaving her double lost behind her.
As May suits up, Normie Osborn is found by Brenda Drago on the floor of his underground lab. Normie tells her that Project: Changeling has escaped and hurries to call Peter. Peter reacts strangely to the call, then runs off to join Normie. He calls the May he has raised while running down the street, but Spider-Girl is too busy to pick up. She calls Davida, who is busy telling her about the new shoes she just bought. Davida notices that May breaks off for a minute. "Sorry," May says. "Momentary distraction." "Some hottie catch your eye?" Davida replies. "Nah. Just a couple of jerks." And just like that, the Humanity First thugs who intended to ambush Davida are strung up in an alleyway.
With one crisis averted, Spider-Girl calls Push, who is busy checking in on Sara Hingle. Push says that Sara doesn't seem to be up to anything, and Spider-Girl decides to take her word for it. Her return call to her father goes to voice mail, and Spider-Girl decides to head back to school to see if her double is still there. At school she meets Wes by his locker and is stunned to see that he has been pummeled, presumably by Gene Thompson. May storms off to the practice field in a huff and confronts Gene, who admits to sabotaging May's campaign for student council president (though not to beating up Wes for calling him on it.) May loses her temper, breaks up with Gene, and storms away to have a good cry. She is interrupted by a call from Push. Sara Hingle has, in fact, flipped out and is tearing the X-People to shreds. May suits up and swings away again, but not without being seen by her duplicate.
Peter Parker, meanwhile, is frustrated at his inability to get his daughter on the phone. He has just arrived at Osborn Chemical when he is forced to duck away from an energy blast. His attacker is Fury, the Goblin Queen. While Peter still has his reflexes, he has no webshooters with which to defend himself. He takes a blast to the chest and succumbs to a smoke grenade, and Fury takes him captive, wondering all the while who he really is.
Spider-Girl swings downtown to the church where Humanity First is headquartered (and where Sara Hingle has decided to attack, having chosen to fall in with Magneta and her cronies.) Suddenly, her spider sense goes off just in time for her double to jump onto her back. Spider-Girl manages to keep from falling, but her double knocks her onto a nearby rooftop. The double tries to pull Spider-Girl's mask off, and May flips her off the roof and webs her up to keep until later.
Finally reaching the church, Spider-Girl arrives just in time to catch Push, who has been sent flying by Sara Hingle's energy beams. With the rest of the X-People out of the fight, Spider-Girl tells Push to get them to safety. She tries to leap inside Sara's energy beams but catches one in the chest. Sara recognizes the maneuver and realizes that Spider-Girl is May Parker. May tries to talk her down and tell her that she can still choose not to fight; Sara tells her that it's too late. "It's never too late, Sara. We all make mistakes. After all, we're only human." Sara powers down. Unfortunately, Magneta and her cronies are watching the fight. Magneta's eyes glow blue. Sara grabs her stomach. "I suddenly feel like I'm going to..." Sara explodes, taking out several city blocks.
Back at the Parker house, MJ sees the news of the explosion on TV and is horror stricken to learn that Spider-Girl may have been caught in the blast. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. MJ opens it to find a bruised and bloodied May Parker at the door. "I wasn't sure I'd make it," she says. "But I'm finally home where I belong." MJ embraces the girl she believes to be her daughter as firemen continue to work the site of the explosion, not seeing the scrap of Spider-Girl's costume that still remains....
Now THAT is a cliffhanger!
This issue gets excellent marks all across the board. The May vs. May conflict is tense and believable, Sara Hingle's storyline comes to a rather violent conclusion, and Gene Thompson gets his arrogant butt dumped in appropriate fashion. Oh, and Peter is kidnapped by the Green Goblin's flunkies after becoming more and more goblin-like himself over the past few issues (note the none-too-subtle goblin mask in the store window behind him as he answers the call from Normie.) What more do you need in a comic book?
Seriously, it's a rare issue that contains this much action without giving anything short shrift, and this one manages to do so. About the only plot thread that is wrapped up quickly is May saving Davida, but it's not as if two hoodlums would give Spider-Girl a run for her money. May's double comes off as a tad more angry than her counterpart--probably the best hint so far that she is not who she says she is--but believably so. May seems to take the whole thing better than can be expected, but it's not as if she has much time to process anything that happens this issue, so that's forgivable. And now that May's double has taken her place, what will become of the daughter of Spider-Man? I don't know, but this issue left me wanting to find out, and as soon as possible.
As for Sara Hingle, it's hard to imagine her bouncing back from this one (though anything is possible; Marvel could always call in Mephisto if necessary.) Her inability to fully embrace the dark side was predictable, but the consequences of her decision were anything but and made for one powerful twist ending. The Sara Hingle storyline line dragged out a little longer than perhaps was necessary, but one must admit that she went out with a bang.
Well written, well paced, and no shortage of action make this the best issue of Amazing Spider-Girl to hit the stands since the series was relaunched.
Five full webs for a spectacular (or is that amazing?) issue.