The Kingpin has been attacked and is hovering near death. Darkdevil is missing. Normie Osborn has been gunned down by an unknown assailant. A woman Spider-Girl believed to be a friend is working against her. Spider-Girl is being stalked by somebody with the ability to teleport, someone who might know her secret identity. And before this issue concludes, somebody is going to die. "Marked for Death" continues now.
May Parker watches her parents comfort "Foggy" Nelson in the waiting room of a major hospital, barely holding herself together. Her friend (or the man she loves?), Foggy's stepson Normie Osborn, is in critical condition after being shot four times, the latest in a series of attacks sponsored by a mysterious South American crimelord. May waits as long as she can, but the tension is slowly ripping apart until, with her mother's blessing, May suits up to track down Normie's attacker. But she gets no farther than the roof of the hospital before running into Kaine.
Back in the hospital, Peter figures out where May ran off to in short order, but resists the temptation to go hunt with her. He then spots his precinct commander, Captain Ruiz, who is here to check on the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk. Fisk, who was attacked in part one of the storyline, has taken a turn for the worse and is undergoing emergency surgery.
In his coma, Fisk begins to dream. A shadowy figure shows him images from his past; showing the chubby young boy who was picked on by the neighborhood bullies and how that boy grew up and became the tormentor. Fisk demands that the figure reveal himself, and he turns out to be his own dead son, Richard, wearing the Schemer outfit he donned the first time he tried to overthrow his father. The scene then shifts to show Fisk murdering Don Rigoletto, the man who plucked him from the streets and saved his life. Fisk is unimpressed. "Yes, I am a criminal. I've lied, cheated, murdered, and all before breakfast. I make no excuses for the life I've lived. I did what I had to do in order to survive." Just then, Fisk's dead wife Vanessa appears, condemning him for his lust for power. Fisk pleads for her not to leave him. "Perhaps," she replies, "if you were sincerely repentant. Are you capable of renouncing the life you once lived?"
Up on the roof, May slams Kaine into a chimney, demanding to know if he was behind the attack. Kaine denies it, but the two are interrupted by a burst of gunfire. The shooter is Mr. Nobody, who claims to be working to save her life. Spider-Girl doesn't believe him for a second, webbing his guns and tossing them to the street below, but Nobody says that he was recruted by the government for an experimental program ("It's kind of a work-release thing that employs former super villains.") and that Quickwire and Raptor were part of the program until they went rogue. Kaine insists that Nobody is the rogue agent. Nobody insists that he's been watching Spider-Girl's back to keep her safe from Kaine's hit squad, and that Kaine is at the hospital to finish off the Kingpin. Suddenly, he vanishes. Spider-Girl demands answers from Kaine, who refuses. Nobody reappears, having collected his guns again, and Spider- Girl realizes she needs to decide whom to believe.
Back in the hospital, Normie Osborn is deep in a coma dream of his own. He sees his grandfather, squatting on the Osborn family headstone in a cemetary somewhere. Norman begins to beat his grandson, punishing him for not killing May Parker. "You had to fall in LOVE with her. And how's that working out for you... NORMIE?" Harry tries to protect his son, but Norman is too much for the both of them. They are interrupted by Liz Allen Osborn, who drives Norman away and tells Normie his destiny is in his own hands. "You can choose the peace and security of the grave, or the pain and uncertainty of life."
On the roof, Nobody fires at Spider-Girl and Kaine. They leap in different directions, but May webs Kaine's foot to the ground. Nobody thanks Spider- Girl for the vote of confidence, and aims at Kaine. "I promise to give your regards to the Black UFFFT!" Spider-Girl jumps back into the fray and tackles Nobody, having used Kaine as bait. "Too bad he's the murderer," Nobody says. "So you've said," May replies. "I can prove he murdered Darkdevil." And with that, Nobody disappears. Kaine has already vanished. And May is wondering if she just made a huge mistake.
Inside the hospital, a team of surgeons is wrapping up. A patient has died. But whom?
Okay, I think it's pretty safe to say that Wilson Fisk is the patient who dies at the end of the story. I've been wrong before, but my track record concerning this storyline is pretty solid. Mr. Nobody is involved, and the man behind it all appears to be the Black Tarantula. I'm not too thrilled about that as his appearances in ASM a few years back weren't anything special, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. This story's looking good with or without him.
"Marked for Death" shifts gears in part three, slowing down to focus on Normie and Wilson Fisk both. Their coma dreams were nothing new, but handled well. Bonus points for showing Richard Fisk in his Schemer and Rose outfits.
The strength of this issue was the scene on the roof between Kaine, Nobody, and Spider-Girl. Who's lying? We still don't know. Mr. Nobody isn't the most trustworthy person--and guys who spray automatic weapons on rooftops aren't usually very credible--but Kaine offers nothing in his own defense. Maybe he is involved in some fashion. Nobody's story about the government program would account for Raptor's release last ish. And while Kaine would never hurt any of the Parkers directly, he already tried to hit the Kingpin back in issue 17. Is it so farfetched to believe that he wouldn't try again? I like the uncertainty here. The only thing we can know for certain is that neither Nobody nor Kaine is on the side of the angels. But who's the real enemy? We still don't know. But I'm looking forward to finding out.
The art was good. The cover was okay, but didn't really fit the story at all. Something we're seeing a lot more of these days. I don't much like it. A cover should at least alude to what we can expect to see inside. Oh well. End of rant.
Another good story filled with twists and turns. Heck, with all of the plot twists going on, maybe the South American crimelord really is named "Black UFFFT."
A nice change of pace, but loses a little something for treading some all-too familiar turf, namely Normie and Kingpin's backstories. Three and one half webs.