Last issue, everything went wrong. Peter Parker, using his Daily Bugle credits, attended an exclusive scientific demonstration. The experiment was being used to test a gamma virus that would be used to help people release their rage. Doc Samson, who has been VERY involved with gamma radiation, was also there, hoping to use the virus to help Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk!
The experiment went terribly wrong. The virus was unleashed on a schizophrenic man, hoping to help him overcome his problem. Rather, the virus rejected him and transferred over to Doc Samson, attracted to his gamma radiated blood. Samson went on a rampage looking for Bruce Banner, completely overwhelmed by rage. Spider-Man tried to stop him along the way, but was just smashed.
When Samson found Banner, they immediately got in a brawl. In the end, Hulk, the stronger man, won. But the virus wasn't subdued like Samson. Attracted by his gamma blood, the virus transferred to the Hulk!
Leaving off directly from the last issue, at Manhattan's Washington Square Park, Hulk smashes the ground, causing a ripple that launches Spider-Man and Doc Samson into the air. Doc Samson tells Spider-Man that the virus has been attracted to the Hulk's gamma residue, which is greater than his. "But wasn't the artificial "germ" designed to release repressed anger?" Spidey asks. "Yes, and the Hulk's got that to spare," Samson replies. Spidey jumps up and punches the Hulk, hoping to "stop him before he levels the city."
Doc Samson tries to render the Hulk unconscious with a choke hold while Spidey distracts him, but Hulk easily throws Samson into a wall. Hulk jumps and smashes into the ground, launching Samson yet again. Spider-Man, using his webbing, halts Hulk for a few seconds, telling Samson that they need to take their battle to a place where nobody will be harmed. (I think that everybody in their right mind within a ten-mile radius has cleared already.)
They decide to lure him to Empire State University, which had been wrecked by The Human Torch and now has many vacant buildings waiting to be torn down. Spider-Man tells Samson to go find the gamma scientists from the demonstration to "see if they have any ideas." Reluctantly, Samson leaves him alone with the Hulk. Spidey starts punching the Hulk once he tears from the webbing, but he easily recovers.
To lure the Hulk to Empire State, Spidey sticks his fingers to Hulk's back and throws him into the ground. The Hulk is pissed. "Hulk tear Spider to pieces! Then eat pieces!" Spidey swings away and Hulk follows. "Y'know, sometimes I wish I had the luxury of thinking things out a bit more thoroughly," he thinks.
Meanwhile, at Aunt May's house, Richard is talking about how he needs a full-time job to May and Mary on the front porch. A man named Bernard Scudder walks up. Frantically, May greets him and tells Richard and Mary, "Bernard is helping me with some...uh...charity work for church!" She pushes him inside and Bernard reveals that he is a private investigator that May had called. He asks what she needs him for and May answers, "I have reason to believe that my brother-in-law and his wife aren't...well...what they pretend to be!"
At the Midtown Research Center, the remaining doctors are startled by Samson's return. Samson explains the problem and the scientists tell him that the virus was designed for normal people. "Apparently, when encountering subjects with gamma radiation of their own, the results are extreme...and dangerous!" a scientist explains. Samson asks if they have a cure, and he says, "Well, actually, o-our research hasn't gotten quite that far yet..."
Across town, Spider-Man has finally led Hulk to Empire State University. The Hulk crash-lands into a building, which immediately collapses. "I'm saving the university one heck of a demolition bill," Spidey thinks. The Hulk quickly smashes him into the floor. He is about to finish Spidey off when Samson comes to his rescue!
Things aren't going well for Mary Jane at the set of the Soap Opera she is part of. The director stops a scene when he finds MJ smoking and tells her that they are cutting the scene anyways. MJ is unhappy distraught, considering it was her only scene that week. She thinks about telling Peter, but decides that he has enough problems already.
Speaking of Peter's problems, Samson and Spidey have a moment to discuss things while the Hulk is momentarily down. Samson tells Spidey that the scientists didn't have a cure. Spidey asks why the virus hasn't used itself up and they come up with the thesis that the Hulk's "animal side" is preventing the virus from burning out. "Too bad his good side's too weak to resist!" Spidey says. "I don't know, Spider-Man! I've learned from experience that when there's a choice between right and wrong, Bruce Banner will choose "right" every time!" Samson exclaims.
The Hulk launches himself up and punches Samson square in the jaw. "Kill Spider--and Ponytail!" Hulk cries. Samson quickly revives himself and helps Spider-Man hit the Hulk. "We have to work together!" Samson cries, but the Hulk hits him to the ground AGAIN. (Samson is really going to be sore tomorrow.)
They battle to a standstill where Hulk raises his fist to kill Samson, who is unconscious on the floor. Spider-Man jumps in front of him. "Samson says you're passionate about doing what's right but killing someone who's tried to help you is wrong! Only you can destroy what's destroying you! It's the virus, the fever!" Spider-Man convinces. "Let go completely! Burn it out! If you don't it could survive within you forever!"
After Spidey's inspirational talk, it seems as if the Hulk's mind is exploding with green energy. The sudden burst leaves him on the ground. When the Hulk raises his head, it's obvious that the virus has been burnt out. "That was a smart move, Spider-Man!" Banner says. "As for you, Leonard--maybe next time you'll listen when I say it isn't smart to muck with gamma rays." When Banner walks away, Samson says, "There's a core of good there somewhere. I know I can help him. I just need to convince him that he needs that help!" He walks away, leaving Spidey to ponder that he can finally relax.
In New Jersey, a white-haired man in a black suit is standing before a tiny plane, yelling at some workers loading the plane with supplies. "We weren't able to render a satisfactory verdict against Venom in San Francisco and we don't want to repeat that failure with our new target!" he says. Of course, the target is Spider-Man and, in case you haven't read Venom: Lethal Protector, that is Orwell Taylor, leader of the Jury!
This is some pretty typical Michelinie stuff. It's pretty much an all-out brawl the whole issue, with the exception of a few subplots. Is that really bad? No! This is a great comic to read if you're just looking for a story without much depth to read in your free time at work. The panel layout is great and the dialogue is clever and funny.
Mark Bagley is my favorite Spider-Man artist. He is able to keep everything energetic and exciting without drawing excessive lines and detail. Plus, he portrays emotions extremely well. (Even though it isn't particularly shown in this issue. Check JM DeMatteis' run for that.) I love how his characters are always jumping out of the panels.
This is an entertaining read, without much depth of complication. Plus, it has killer art!