Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale continue their tale of Spider-Man's past. Expectations are still very high, this time because Mary Jane just made her "Hello tiger" appearance on the final pages of issue 2.
Peter continues telling this story to his now-deceased girlfriend Gwen. He records his thoughts with a tape recorder. We see a gorgeous Mary Jane saying "See anything you like?". She's hanging over a jukebox and is talking to Flash. She knows who he is, same goes for the others, Harry and Gwen. Then Peter arrives, MJ is all over him. When they see an item on televison about the Lizard being at Penn station, MJ insists they leave the place. The gang is left behind, stunned. Who is that girl? How come she knows Peter?
At Penn Station, there is a police line. Mary Jane distracts the officer and Peter slips through. Then, in his Spidey costume, he talks to Mrs. Connors. He says he'll find Curt. Underneath the station, Spidey locates the Lizard. A fight follows, and the two get separated when a train comes by. A shadowy figure helps the Lizard escape. Above ground, Peter meets up with Mary Jane. Peter has to go to the Bugle to get an exclusive to the Lizard pictures. No problem, she'll just go her own way. Where she goes, the party goes, she says.
Spider-Man then goes to the private laboratory of Doctor Curt Connors. There he finds the Lizard. They fight again, until Spider-Man uses weblines and liquid nitrogen to hold the Lizard. As Mrs Connors is outside the door, wanting to come in, he cooks up some serum to bring the Lizard back to his Curt Connors self. After that succeeds, the Connors family is reunited.
Back home, Peter finds Harry sitting on the porch. He asks whether Peter would like to be roommates with him. Harry's father Norman, who's still in the hospital, has an appartment in the city going empty. They can move in, rent-free. Then Harry asks about Mary Jane, whether she's free. Peter says they're just friends, and that he'll have to talk to his aunt first about the appartment. Before leaving, Harry thanks him for the info on MJ and tells Peter that Gwen has been giving him the eye...
The story is told as a flashback, like it was the previous issues. MJ meeting the gang is from Amazing Spider-Man (volume 1), issue 44; the fight in the train station is, too, but happens earlier in issue 44. Spidey fights the Lizard in issues 44 and 45, but at different locations. Aunt May is at home, where in the original story she's on vacation. Harry's offer to share an appartment is from issue 46.
The opening is rather cool. Read it right after issue 2 and you might think she's talking to Peter. Very cleverly done. Unlike the original Stan Lee story, you get to know Mary Jane very well in just a few pages. Also a nice touch, it is hinted that Mary Jane might know that Peter is Spider-Man. Why? Let's go back in history to the Marvel Graphic Novel Spider-Man: Parallel Lives. There, it is established that MJ knew Peter to be Spider-Man from the day Uncle Ben was murdered. Here, in Spider-Man: Blue #3, she talks about a "photo op" when they see the Lizard in television. Which could be sincere, but she insists that Peter goes there. And when they get there, she makes sure Peter gets behind the police line, as if she just knows he has to be there to do his thing. I'm probably reading something that isn't there, but hey, I've got a weak spot for MJ.
The fight with the Lizard, on the other hand, is far less expanded than the original. Like with the Rhino fight from the previous issue, this one too only takes key elements from the original story. This time we get to see the very intense fight with the Lizard. But without the injury from the original where Peter has to wear his arm in a sling for a couple of issues. Too bad--the sling made Spidey more vulnerable. He's not Superman, you know (thanks to Aunt May for that line).
Oh boy, this is hard--a great issue, but not as good as the previous one. Still 4 webs, for I cannot give it 3.75 webs. Like with issue 2, they changed history again. This time, they made major changes. Call me a purist, call me a nerd, but I do not like those changes. When they do this with the next issues as well (and I fear they will), the rates will definitely drop. Mind you, I really liked the story. I loved the artwork. But Stan Lee's work is a classic. You can expand on it, but not change it. Even hinting between the lines that MJ knows Peter is Spider-Man will not get you bonus points. Period.