Norman Osborn has escaped from prison, Peter Parker has returned and a pair of mystery Spider-Men are on a crime spree! On top of that, ex-SHIELD agent Maria Hill knows that Miles is Spider-Man. Even worse, Miles has not seen his father since he revealed his identity and when he told his girlfriend, Katie Bishop, his secret too she ran away!
When Miles discovered that Osborn was free, he headed straight to Aunt May's house. Upon arrival, he wound up face-to-face with the fiery figure of Osborn transformed into The Green Goblin!
Katie Bishop arrives home in tears! Her sister (Misha) asks her what is wrong so Katie tells her Miles's secret. Katie knows that Miles told her because he loves her enough to trust her with it but doesn't know what to do!
Outside Aunt May's house, The Green Goblin determines that Spider-Man is a disciple of Peter Parker and must receive the full treatment - death! He hurls a flaming car at him but Spider-Man uses his invisibility powers to evade him. Spider-Man slams a post-box into his skull then punches him in the face... only to have Goblin smiles and smack him across the street!
Meanwhile, the world watches and the armed forces mobilise. Ben Urich, Maria Hill, Ganke, J. Jonah Jameson, Mary-Jane Watson, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy and Katie Bishop watch the coverage in horror.
The police arrive as the fight continues! Spider-Man tries to convince Green Goblin to stand down but, when he tries to leap on him, Goblin sets him on fire! As Goblin is about to deliver another ferocious blow, Peter Parker/Spider-Man appears and announces that he is going to smack the ugly off his face!
All those watching are stunned!
Goblin is livid and his attacks become more feral, questioning how Peter Parker/Spider-Man is alive! Peter Parker/Spider-Man webs Goblin up long enough for Spider-Man to use his venom blast! Goblin explodes and quickly realises that everything is wrong. He leaps away! Spider-Man and Peter Parker/Spider-Man stand together as the police surround them, demanding that they surrender!
Watching, Aunt May feels like she is going insane... but knows that her Peter is alive again...!
As it stands by itself, this is a great issue.
The fight sequence is clever, dangerous, funnier at the introduction of Peter Parker/Spider-Man and contextualised with aplomb with the shots of the wider supporting cast reacting to the events.
Brian Michael Bendis gives us the typical end-of-arc confrontation here, which is a nice surprise half way through. Working as a chapter within a larger story, we're given a nice slice of fight and a build up to some interesting ramifications in #5.
Bendis creates some hilarious Spider-Man lines but delivers on more than just fight banter. The relationship between Peter Parker and Miles Morales is developed through only a few speech bubbles and the threat of Norman Osborn could easily develop here from a rampaging beast to someone who has to think, plot and plan his next moves due to Peter's revival. I, for one, would welcome this as he's been somewhat of a escaping-prison-then-go-all-flaming-meteor character for a while without the mind of his Marvel Universe counterpart.
The balance between action, thought bubble and speech is excellent. Where Bendis has overused thought bubbles in the past, here you get immediate impact from the few he uses and the focus remains on David Marquez's outstanding visuals.
All these great things mean I great rating, but I have to take my overarching issues with Peter and Norman's return into account. Even the conclusion draws Aunt May back into the series proper. All this steals away from Miles Morales. I know Peter wont last and there's a switch in focus at #6, but we only get four pages devoted to Miles' story and that's with Katie Bishop (a fresh and natural move to have her spread the burden, unlike MJ).
Speaking of opening scene, this is first time where I've questioned Marquez's work. Some of his outer inked lines are way too thick, almost making Katie's sister look like an actual mistake was made, especially when she and the other characters are so well defined and consistently drawn in the rest of the book.
And I do mean the every other panel in the rest of the book. It is a feast for the eyes and everything makes sense. The mood is right, the power and ferocity is there and the shot of Peter Parker/Spider-Man arriving is both typical in stance but original in quality and detail. Marry this with the reaction shots of the supporting cast and you have a perfect page!
A great, pacy fight but I'm not sold on the direction of this arc yet.