As Ben Reilly picks up the strands of his life after "the Clone business," the Cabal's assassin Pike looks for the psi operatives Backlash and Taboo, and Venom hunts for a woman rumored to be bonded to a symbiont life- form not unlike his own...
Using the symbiont fragment as a tracking device, Backlash and Spider- Man find Taboo being held in an abandoned church. Venom, having realized that Taboo's symbiont is not derived from either himself or Carnage, is having second thoughts about terminating Taboo. When Backlash and Spider-Man burst into the church to tackle the bad guys, the container with the symbiont fragment breaks open. The fragment is seized by Pike, who attempts to bond with it (and creates a pretty cool-looking symbiont in the process). Remembering that (duh!) they're in a church, Spidey and the others race to the bell tower, convince the Pike symbiont to follow them, and ring the bell. Symbiont flees back to Venom (apparently far enough away not to fall screaming to the floor when the bell rings), Pike once again menaces Amanda, who can't manage to rescue herself, tosses a fusion detonator, and blows up the church as he seemingly falls to his doom. Amanda and Pike later walk through the scene, wondering if anyone else survived. Spider-Man watches them from a darkened corner, but doesn't pop out to let anyone know he's okay.
Okay, I think we all know how I feel about the helpless-female- superhero routine. And I think we all know how I feel about the chaining-the- helpless-female-superhero-to-the-wall-and-beating-up-on-her routine. This book contains both. Tacky. Demeaning. Childish. Cliched. Just what is the point of a super-heroine who apparently skipped any basic self-defense courses? Sheesh!
Other problems: Several 1 or 2 page pin-up shots that are dramatic, but do nothing to advance the story; confusing action scenes; and some real credibility problems with Spidey and Venom. And then there was the whole dramatic bit when Venom's webbing somehow "forced" Pike and Amanda over the edge of a building. Since when did Venom have impact webbing? And, reading through this a second time, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what Pike's powers were. I assumed he was a psi of some sort, but it was never made clear what he could actually do, apart from making his bo glow.
I give two webs, and that's just for the art. I would dearly love to see this art team do a Venom book sometime, although I think they need to be reigned in a bit. There's only so many pin-ups you need in one book!
Overall... Glitzy, but short on real content.