This story can take place in practically anywhere in continuity before Doc Ock took over Spider-Man's body your heart desires.
This story begins with Spider-Man battling Firebrand, thinking that the contest should “be a walk in the park, but I’m carrying too much pie tonight.” Our hero jabs to the scoundrel, “C’mon, insurance fraud for the Maggia? Really? Is that what our depressed economy has brought you to?”
While Spidey is the stronger of the two, Firebrand is the angriest and quickly pins Spider-Man to a jalopy. The villain then becomes purely fire, burning Spider-Man, but his fun is brought to a halt when the jalopy explodes. Amid the resulting fire, Firebrand falls to the ground unconsciously while Peter, burned beyond recognition, follows his lead.
Soon, a black medical vehicle drives by and two people retrieve Firebrand from the wreck. They figure he was beaten by “lower-tier Avengers” and cart him to the vehicle. Then, they spot our hero, who is in far worse condition, and hastily take him too. The men flee the scene before the authorities reach it.
Quickly, the medical vehicle reaches its destination and the attendees quickly cart our hero through what seems to be a hospital. Eventually, a man with a long face prepares to treat Peter, still charred beyond recognition and orders a nurse to send the mechanisms they cut off his wrists (webshooters) to his private lab.
The doctor reveals that the hospital in which Peter resides is meant to serve the “masked criminal community.” He says, “We are beyond morality. Beyond any form of judgment. We are healers.” Mona, exposed to be the doctor’s name, puts on some music and begins surgery on our scorched hero.
In the morning, Peter awakes to find himself covered in bandages. He attempts to leave his bed but falls to the floor. A nurse attends to Peter and suggests that they fix him with a wheelchair for mobility. She begins pondering about identity, but Mona enters the room and explains that they she shouldn’t be concerned about it.
When the doctor suggests a blood test on Peter, our hero begins to panic. He assumes that his patient has a healing factor, and explains that he performs all high-risk operations. After being assured that he’s completely safe, Peter begins speculating as to where he is.
Six hours of sleep later, Peter wheels his way around the hospital in a wheelchair. He finds two guys sitting on a couch, watching the news, and joins. When a battle between the Thing and Rhino comes up, they begin complaining about how it’s “reported like weekend box office scores.” One guy thinks they should get Rhino’s side of the story, which disquiets Peter.
The conversation is halted when a man named Eddie Lavell is ushered into the circle of patients. When a nurse asks Peter how he’s doing, he quietly responds that he’s fine. Lavell complains about how he was shot in the gut, saying “I thought Cap was all about the shield.” This alerts Peter big time. They begin talking about S.H.I.E.L.D. and one guy asks Peter if he’s ever been caught by the agency, to which he responds, “I’ve…uhhh…had my run-ins…”
Interrupting his answer, the loud speakers at the hospital announce that at midnight, telecommunication and internet connections will be disabled to “avoid S.H.I.E.L.D.’s orbital SAT sweeps.” One patient says, “I’m tellin’ ya, it’s like a fascist state or sometimes.” The man sitting next to our hero says that he’s simply happy that they has somewhere where they can get their flu shots, which infuriates Peter even further.
Pretty soon, a new patient enters the group eagerly with a delivery from Phineas Mason. He divulges that he was placed in the hospital from a mild case of hypothermia after surviving a subway flood. Then, the man dons the mask from his shipment and reveals that he’s the Shocker! Now, Peter connects the dots and learns he’s surrounded by villains. Shocker asks for Peter’s opinion on his new mask and explains that “we’re all friends here.”
Soon, back in his room, Peter wonders if anybody knows that he, a hero, is being treated in a hospital for villains. He rises from his chair and, hoping that he heals quickly, wonders how he will escape before the surgeon general finds out who he is.
In Firebrand’s room, the villain begins muttering and the nurse nears to listen to his words. Elsewhere, the surgeon general examines Peter’s webshooters, which have been melted beyond recognition. Suddenly, the nurse runs into Mano’s lab and reveals that Firebrand told her that they’re taking care of Spider-Man!
I found this issue to be an interesting set-up for what could be an exciting conclusion. The idea that villains would have a clinic is a novel premise. After all, who is there to help the villains when they flee from the crime scene injured? More importantly, what happens if a hero finds out about the clinic? This is the main idea of this arc and, while it hasn’t fully explored the second point, this issue is obviously leading into it for the next part.
Beyond the premise, I was a bit disappointed by the actual storytelling. I found it a bit lazy how Casey simply laid all his cards about the clinic on the table almost immediately after Peter arrived at the clinic. The story and suspense would have been far more effective if the readers were left to find out that the hospital treats villains along with Peter. Instead, the scene with the villains gathered watching the news is more tedious than interesting; you’re left waiting for Peter to finally connect the dots.
Also, I must ask… How a whole hospital could operate underground? How do they get supplies and medication? How come nobody questions the black medical vehicle driving around town? How is Obamacare affecting them? I’m sure I could think of tons of other impracticalities, but I’m too lazy. I guess you just need to concentrate on story over logic, right?
Lastly, I found Green’s art to be exceptional. I appreciate the hatching and texture he uses, solidifying characters. Overall, though, the art doesn’t really add much to the story. The drawing lacks any interesting layouts or tones to set it apart. Simpson’s colors with unsettling greens and blues are the only visuals that help the story’s disconcerting tone.
Let's see where this goes...