The return of Ben Reilly meant either he or Peter was the spider-clone, and one of them was the original. After tests by Ben's friend, Seward Trainer, it was determined that Peter was the clone, and he chose to hang up his webs and commit to having a family with Mary Jane. Ben is now the man behind the mask, but the discovery in the smokestack where the original clone was dumped of a skeleton wearing a torn costume casts doubt on everything all over again.
To top it off, in part one of this storyline, Ben's new love interest Jessica, who's father was the burglar who killed Uncle Ben, managed to get a photo of Ben in costume with his mask off. What will this mean for the life Ben is trying to start?
|Al Milgrom, Larry Mahlstedt
Jonah's drinking a toast at the Bugle, celebrating Peter's photo of Spider-man with the stolen skeleton. He thinks he'll be able to convict Spidey of murder with this photo, and plans to use the forensic expert to reconstruct the skeleton and tell what he looked like when he was alive.
Ben's swinging around town thinking about Jessica. He goes to Seward Trainer's old genetics lab. The place is empty, all the equipment boxed up. Ben places a tracer on one of the boxes, in the off chance that Trainer has the items shipped somewhere. Ben thinks Trainer wouldn't be missing unless he was in serious trouble. He heads home to change for work, noticing it's colder than usual in his apartment. He tells his landlady, who says his rent check has bounced and calls him a deadbeat. Peter and MJ are discussing the appearance of the smokestack skeleton, what it means for Peter's origins. She tells him he's depowered now (as seen in the Spider-man: Final Adventure story), and that Ben is now Spider-man, and that the only duty he has now is to his family.
Meanwhile, Seward Trainer is at the Multivex Corporation. He's discussing regeneration with a man in a green cloak and cybernetics covering his face and neck. The man says Trainer had better deliver on restoring him to his physical prime. Ben goes to the bank to check on his assets and learns the IRS has placed a hold on his account. He goes to work to ask for an advance from his boss Shirley, where he finds two heavies in trenchcoats waiting for him, and setting off his spider-sense. He goes in back to change into work clothes, the heavies leave. Shirley says they told her Ben has a history of becoming violent with his employers. Ben says it's a lie. Pete and MJ are shopping and discussing going back to Portland early and leaving the recent craziness behind for good. They're being tailed.
Jessica comes by the Daily Grind to get the shoulder bag she left there, which Ben has. Ben asks if that's all she came for. Jessica says they have much to discuss but she doesn't even know where to begin. She says she'll call Ben later and leaves.
Back on the street with Pete & MJ; Pete agrees to cut their visit short and get them a sooner flight out. They embrace, but are then snagged by ropes and dragged into the alley. The four metal-clad humanoids there identify themselves as cybernetic mercs called Cell-12. They're there to punish Peter for poking his nose around where it doesn't belong. They also seem to think he is still super-powered. They proceed to beat Peter into a pulp in front of MJ.
Ben breaks up a holdup attempt (made to look just like the Batman origin: the mugger pulls the woman's pearl necklace off, and it's a father, mother and son in a Batman shirt--what's this all about??). He comes back to his apartment, but it's been emptied out. Someone has written "we know who you are" on the floor. Ben has lost everything he owns, but realizes that those close to him may be in danger. He bolts over to the Daily Grind in costume, but finds it in flames.
The plot deepens. Somebody knows who Ben been is, and has it out for him. They don't do much else with the Jessica subplot here. The mercs who pound on Peter are straight out of the generic 90's cyber-humanoid design book, and are as boring as they are annonymous. We still don't know what Seward Trainer is up to, or who the Silvermane-looking benefactor of his is.
Summary: Not as good as part 1, but this ish lays the groundwork for more things to come.