A guy from Peter's childhood has asked for Pete's help with an experiment, and has ended up getting in deep trouble...
|Writer:||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Pencils:||Mark Brooks, Mike Deodato, Jr.|
|Inker:||Jaime Mendoza, Joe Pimentel|
|Cover Art:||Mike Deodato, Jr.|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #9|
In the wreckage of Charlie's lab, firemen find Charlie's unconscious body covered in a metallic skin. They also find vibranium, and so rush to get Charlie out of the area. Charlie wakes, though goes nuts, throwing his rescuers away. One of them gets his oxygen tank damaged, and it explodes. The other two run, and turn back to see Charlie have a ton of debris fall on him.
Next morning, Pete is getting ready for work and catches the news about the warehouse explosion on the news. He calls in sick for work and heads out to investigate....
We then turn to a flashback. Pete finds Charlie sitting in the gutter with a black eye. He asks how Charlie is doing. Charlie tells him how he has had it with being bullied and wants to get revenge, but won't tell Pete how. Pete is worried, and later, when he is with Charlie, the bullies start picking on Charlie. Pete sees Charlie pull a knife behind his back. Not wanting Charlie to do something stupid, Pete runs into him, making him drop the knife. A teacher comes upon the situation and demands to know the owner of the knife. Charlie doesn't own up, but Pete does, and is sent to the principal's office. Pete tells the principal that it's his uncle's, and when Uncle Ben comes, he backs up his story. On the way home, Pete tells him the full story and Ben says he's proud of him.
Back in the present day, Spidey is at the scene of the explosion and overhears the police say that it was caused by a dodgy experiment involving vibranium. Pete knows it was Charlie, but the police have no clue, but are looking to find out who he is to charge him with murder. Pete goes back home, knowing that Charlie will try and find him. It doesn't take long, until there's a knock on the door, and Pete opens the door revealing Charlie in his metal skin and demanding Pete's help...
Flashback time again. The segue is a similar scene with Pete opening the door of the Parker residence to reveal a dishevelled Charlie demanding help. Charlie tells Pete that the bullies are after him because "somebody" slashed their tires. Uncle Ben is soon on the scene, and so are the bullies, demanding their revenge on Charlie, who they assume did it. Ben refuses to give Charlie over to them, and has to smack a couple of them around when they attack him. After they leave, Ben confronts Charlie and asks him if he did it. Charlie lies and denies he had anything to do with it. Ben, disgusted with Charlie, forbids Peter from assosciating with Charlie and kicks Charlie out...
Back again in the present, Charlie explains to Pete his solution: get the skin off, and then he'll be able to claim he had nothing to do with the murder or explosion. Pete tells him he should just turn himself in. Charlie claims Pete just wants to see him in jail and take his scientific discoveries for himself. When Pete presses his point, Charlie smacks a hole in the wall and tells Pete he'll kill everyone he knows if he doesn't follow his plan!
The plot basically just develops this issue. Though we get a better understanding of Charlie through the flashbacks, they make him a slightly more sympathetic character. There are hints that he is beaten at home, and the way the bullies beat on him made me cringe in sympathy. At the same time, it's Charlie's reactions to these situations that highlight the grey moral area in which he operates. Charlie is similar to Pete, but makes choices regarding his problems which make him very different from Pete. While Pete tries to make the right decisions, Charlie instead seeks revenge through violent means and dishonesty. He's like Pete, but gone wrong. Charlie doesn't have a positive influence like Uncle Ben in his life, and as a result, goes awry. I really like how this pans out and how the contrast shows Pete to be a great guy. Charlie is also developing into a believable character.
On the other hand, for the first time in a long while, I have a complaint about the art. I don't know what happened, but there're two really irksome mistakes this issue to do with the art. One might be the colourist's fault, but the other is just unclear storytelling. Firstly, the scene where the rescuer's tank bursts and he is killed is drawn in an unclear manner. It took me a couple of reads and actually counting the number of characters from panel to panel to figure out exactly what happened. This is annoying because this death is an important plot point and really could've been done better. Later in the issue, it's morning when Pete heads off to the warehouse to check out the wreckage, but it's dusk when he arrives? Then it's night by the time he gets home? What's up with that? What did Pete do all day? Did it take him all day to get to the warehouse from home, and then only an hour to get back? There's no indication in the script of how much time has passed. It just seems to be up to me.
On the whole though, this is pretty good stuff. As with last issue, I'm impressed with how Charlie is being developed as a potential villain. I really hope JMS doesn't just kill him off at the end of the storyline...he's definitely as interesting as some of Spidey's old-school sparring partners!
Good, good stuff.