Peter has discovered that someone else was bitten by the same radioactive spider that gave him his powers. That person, Cindy ‘Silk’ Moon, has spider-powers that surpass Peter’s, but she’s spent fourteen years in a bunker and has only now come out of hiding. For some reason, she and Peter immediately fell in lust, groping each other desperately on a New York rooftop; this may have something to do with their respective spider-senses resonating with each other.
On other fronts, Felicia ‘the Black Cat’ Hardy has decided that she hates Spider-Man and has dedicated herself to sabotaging his life. The Cat has teamed up with Max ‘Electro’ Dillon, who also hates Spider-Man because of experiments that Otto Octavius performed during his ‘Superior Spider-Man’ days. The Cat has kidnapped Sajani Jaffrey, Parker Industries’ most high-powered employee, for reasons that are not yet clear.
Oh, and J. Jonah Jameson, ex-mayor of New York, has taken on a new gig as TV media personality, not unlike that ex-mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer.
We open on the Eel, low-rent supervillain, preparing for a meeting with Martin ‘Mr. Negative’ Li and Phil ‘the Goblin King’ Urich (i.e., the former Hobgoblin). These three supervillains intend to carve up the New York underworld amongst themselves; the Black Cat intends to deal herself in. With Electro as her willing power, the Eel - whose claim to fame is that he wears a battlesuit that shoots electrical blasts - is hopelessly outclassed. With the Eel fried to a (non-fatal) crisp, Hardy tries to take his place in the criminal triumvirate, but Li and Urich are reluctant to deal with her as an equal. She doesn't address their concerns directly, but implies she’s about to prove her worth as a supervillain by doing “...something you boys never could… smash the spider and break the man”.
This may prove trickier than Hardy expects, because Dillon doesn't seem as committed to the task as might have been expected. While Hardy meets with Li and Urich, Dillon checks in with the imprisoned Sajana Jaffrey, locked away in a luxury suite (the Black Cat hides out in style). Jaffrey knows she was targeted because Parker Industries is working on technology to neutralize Electro. “I’d rather work on any other assignment,” she grumps. “But my stupid partner, Parker, has made you our top priority. Next time, why don’t you and Ms. Skanky Leather Queen try kidnapping him…? Why are we wasting time and resources on ways to capture and cure you?”
Given that a cure for his out-of-control power is all that Dillon wants, the fact that Parker Industries is working on exactly that problem immediately captures his attention. I wonder if Hardy will find him as willing a minion in the future.
But enough with the supporting cast! Let’s check in with our hero, who’s locked in passionate embrace with Silk. As she tries to remove his mask, he manages to mutter “No. Mask stays on.”
“It’s okay. I know who you are, Peter.”
The knowledge that Silk knows his secret identity breaks the spell, and the making-out stops. Given a moment to reflect, both realize that neither can account for the sudden passion that overtook them both. Deciding that Silk can’t return to the bunker - if Morlun is indeed now hunting her, returning to the bunker won’t end that threat - the two repair to Peter’s apartment, where they’re overcome by lust again. This time, they’re interrupted by Anna Maria Marconi, Peter’s roommate, who finds them macking out on the hallway ceiling. Cindy immediately leaps down and tells Anna Maria to back off, only realizing after the fact that she’s behaving irrationally; more evidence that something to do with their mutual spider-powers is making Peter and Cindy passionately, and jealously, attracted to each other.
Anna Maria isn’t pleased by any of this, but doesn't have time to go into it: Peter is needed at the Fact Channel, JJJ’s new employer, to do a spot on Parker Industries’ new superhuman-containment-and-corrections initiative. Sajana Jaffrey was supposed to make the appearance, but with her disappearance (actually, her kidnapping by Felicia Hardy) Peter will have to do the interview in her place.
Peter and Cindy head over to the Fact Channel, the latter coming less because she’s interested in the subject and more because she wants to see the world. “Also,” she admits, “if Morlun does suddenly show up, I wanna make sure he eats you first.” Peter checks in with JJJ, who was supposed to do the interview, but had to recuse himself as Peter is his ex-employee and his stepbrother. In Jonah’s place, his new colleague Natalie Long does the interview, but they've only scratched the surface when Electro and the Black Cat storm the set! “There’s only one thing that Electro and I want,” the Cat says. “Spider-Man. And if he doesn't show in the next fifteen minutes, his good friend Peter Parker is as good as dead.”
Nether Peter nor Electro are impressed. Peter’s annoyed because it’s now a matter of public record that he and Spider-Man ‘aren't friends anymore’, as per the press conference Peter gave in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) #1. Electro is annoyed because he didn't realize this was the Cat’s plan, to simply issue threats on live television. What happens when the Avengers show up? That’s a good question, but someone else shows up first: Silk, who’s used her organic webbing to whip herself up a costume. Her arrival gives Peter a chance to slip away and change into his action uniform. The two web-slingers begin mixing it up with Electro and the Cat.
Hey, a few pages back, Electro learned that Parker Industries was working on a way to cure him of his power difficulties, and was extremely surprised; excited, too, or so I should think. Getting cured is his number-one priority right now. So why is he blithely going along with this plan to electrocute Peter Parker, the man who can give him what he wants above all else? It doesn't seem to make sense.
Anyway, as the foursome battle, Silk holds her own, thanks to her amped-up spider-speed and spider-sense. Spider-Man isn't so lucky; in fact, he’s distinctly unlucky, thanks to the Black Cat’s probability powers. Spidey is felled by a lightning bolt and falls to the ground, unable to move. He probably should have been dodging, rather than using the live TV feed to tell the world that Doctor Octopus, not Spider-Man, was running his body for the past year. As he lies on the ground, paralyzed, the Cat approaches, intending to remove his mask. JJJ, his news instincts sound as ever, leaps into the shot, telling the world that he’s about to deliver the scoop of the century: the secret identity of Spider-Man!
For the early days in a new volume of Spider-Man, this is pretty thin stuff. By this point in the ‘Big Time’ era, we had Peter set up with a new job, new supporting cast, new goals and priorities, and a new primary antagonist. By this point in the Superior era, we had Otto set up with new goals and priorities of his own, and a sense that anything could happen. In this issue, we’ve got Mr. Negative and Phil Urich (again), setting up gang wars for control of the underworld (again), a this-time-it’s-personal Electro out for revenge (again), and a palpably hollow threat to expose Peter’s secret identity (again). We’ve also got a newcomer with a variation on Spider-Man’s powers, just like Ben Reilly, Kaine, Ezekiel, or any of the Venoms or Spider-Womans or Spider-Girls. Oh, and Morlun is making his inevitable, unstoppable return for vengeance. Same as it ever was. The closest thing we’ve got to fresh air here is the Black Cat doing a heel turn, which is a slender reed to hang Amazing on.
It’s too bad this issue came out the same month as Superior Spider-Man #32. Seeing Otto back as Spider-Man, however briefly, was a fun ride, but unfortunately for this reviewer it reinforced just how dull this new volume of Amazing is. Maybe “Spider-Verse” can shake this title out of its sophomore slump. Too bad that storyline won’t roll out in this title for a while yet.