While dealing with an illness, Peter Parker fought the villain Morlun, but died in the process. At the hospital where the New Avengers brought him, Morlun came to finish the job, only to have Peter jump on him, sprout a stinger, stab him, and then suck the lifeforce out of him, causing Morlun to disappear. He then died, but something crawled out of his body, and is webbed up in a cocoon in an undisclosed location. The New Avengers are looking for him...
Iron Man combs the city searching for Peter. Far away, in a cocoon, a body rests. Peter hears a voice telling him to wake up, and opens his eyes, suddenly in a forest. He hears a scream and sees himself getting hit by the Spider, in his classic clothing. His friends and loved ones are webbed up to their hands, standing around him. A giant spider comes close, and Peter gestures to the spider, telling his friends to get clear, to not let him near them or else they'll die. Peter turns away and sees himself letting the burglar go free. He says good night to Uncle Ben, who's then eaten by the spider.
Peter vomits by a tree, and is then confronted by a shadowy figure who tells him that he's never understood just what he is and what he is becoming. He shows Peter a vision of Peter designing the costume, and questions why he put the source of his power on his chest. The creature comes into view and looks like Spider-Man, but the costume is a skin, and he has talons. He tells Peter that now the Spider has removed the man. The creature tells Peter that although he, the human, had died, the spider in him had not, and the spider fed on he who would have fed on the spider, Morlun. The creature explains cryptically how Peter is being reborn in the cocoon. He says that perhaps what will emerge will be more spider than man, or vice versa. Peter is forced to accept the spider, and not turn his back on it. The creature becomes a giant spider and slices into Peter, who then wakes up within the cocoon.
Blood starts to drip from the cocoon, finally depositing Peter into the water below. He emerges from the water, clean and anew. At Avengers Mansion, MJ and Aunt May deal with Peter's death, when he shows up at the door to a tearful reunion. Peter has dinner with the New Avengers and his family, and talk about his resurrection. Tony tells Peter that they got rid of his costumes except for one, and that he has some ideas for a costume redesign. Peter takes the night off, and wanders down to the morgue to his old body. He takes back his wedding ring, while wondering whether he's the one or the other that the mysterious creature spoke of in his dream.
This issue was well-written and well illustrated, I will certainly give JMS, Deodato and company that much. However, this issue just didn't sit well with me. I never minded the introduction of mysticism into Spider-Man's origin, because it was just one interpretation, and at the end Peter kind of rejected it, for the most part, and kept believing in the scientific reasons behind his powers, etc. However, this issue makes him a lot more supernatural and tied into mysticism, and it lost me. Peter Parker's strength as a character has always been his relatability, and now he's reborn through spider-mysticism? That's a LOT harder to accept than Morlun and Shathra from earlier on in JMS' stories.
So although the execution of the idea was actually fairly well done and interesting, it reallly bothered the Spider-Man fan deep inside, because it takes the character away from the core concepts which make him such a touchstone character in the first place. The writing could have been a bit clearer as well, and not as ambiguous, but one can only hope that JMS won't take too long to redefine and clarify the events and ramblings that take place within this issue.
As I said previously, the art is good, and well-suited to this story in particular, as the freakish Spider-creature looks fantastic, as well as the huge spider which devours Peter and Uncle Ben. The whole issue has a very macabre, dark and disturbing artistic feel, but it fits the script for the most part (although at times almost too dark).
Well executed, but the actual idea and plot leaves a lot to be desired, just because it isn't what works best with a character like Spider-Man. Its too mystic and otherworldly for Marvel's everyman.