This mini-series is yet another re-imagining of the Spider-Man mythos. This one explores what would happen if Spider-Man began his career in the 1930s. It presents a more mature take on the character and explores much darker themes.
Last issue we left Spider-Man at the mercy of the Crime Master and Sandman. While the Sandman pins him down, the Crime Master tries to slit Spider-Man’s throat. Spider-Man slips away, however, and breaks the Crime Master’s fingers. Sandman gets a grip on his leg, however, and starts pounding on him. Since his spider-enhanced strength doesn’t affect the Sandman, our hero comes out on the losing end of a brutal beatdown.
While all this is going on in the Seventh Heaven nightclub, however, Jean De Wolfe and his men are standing outside, debating whether to go in or not. They finally decide to go in, with their guns drawn. They see the Sandman standing over a bloody-faced Spider-Man, while the Crime Master and the rest of his gang are watching. They shoot the Sandman, but he still keeps coming. After a barrage of bullets he finally goes down. But the resulting confusion gives the Crime Master and his gang enough time to slip away.
De Wolfe and Spider-Man share info about the Crime Master’s operation and its ties to the American Nazi Party. De Wolfe says he can’t touch Octavius because he has government-backing, but Spider-Man can.
But our hero is too beat up to go after Octavius just yet. Instead he once again goes over to Felicia’s apartment, and collapses in the doorway. She bandages his wounds and lets him sleep. In the morning, she kicks him out once again, saying she’s expecting someone. Spider-Man leaves by way of the balcony. Then she hears a knock on the door and her mysterious caller enters. But wait! He’s got a bandaged right hand, the same one that Spider-Man broke on the Crime Master! It seems that Sammy, Felicia’s new beau, is really the criminal mastermind everyone’s been searching for!
Felicia makes the mistake of asking him about the negro kidnappings, and he figures out that she’s working with Spider-Man. He roughs her up real bad, smacking her into a mirror and cutting her face up, and then leaves her for dead. Afterwards, Josef Ansell, head of American Nazi Party, calls him and tells them to shut down the Ellis Island facility because the heat is getting too hot.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man is busy breaking into that very lab. He finds the holding cells and frees the prisoners. He sees Robbie Robertson and goes to help him, but we see that Doc Ock has already given Peter’s friend a lobotomy!
This storyline is closely emulating the gritty pulp stories from the 20s and 30s. People get beat up and have to actually deal with injuries as a consequence! That’s not something you usually see in comics.
Mad scientists, police shoot outs, and melodrama… what more could you ask for?