Recently, while in battle with the nefarious Queen, Spider-Man was transformed into a giant spider creature. Upon his return to human form, Spidey found that, despite the fact that it made no sense whatsoever, he is now even more spidery, due to the addition of two new powers: insect telepathy and organic web-shooters. But instead of trying these new powers out last issue, Spidey instead decided to play poker with the Kingpin.
This issue opens with Spider-Man standing near the top of a new building, contemplating his new abilities. But looking down on the city from his point of view, Spidey discovers a city block where normal people become miserable for no reason at all. The web-slinger swings down to investigate and follows his spider-sense to the source: a homeless man. But upon a closer look, Spidey realizes that he knows the man.
This homeless man was once the criminal called the Mindworm. He and Spidey tangled several times over the years, and after their last tussle, he was incarcerated in Ravencroft. When Spidey last heard about him, he was a model prisoner, but it would seem that things went downhill for him after he was released from prison. He possesses the ability to alter people's perceptions, which Spidey surmises to be the cause of the misery of so many people on this block.
Peter Parker carries on with his life, although he stops every chance that he gets to beat himself up over what happened to Mindworm. A week later, Peter swings by as Spider-Man, hoping to try to get Mindworm to a doctor. But when Spidey arrives, he instantly knows that something's wrong, and his fears are confirmed when he sees the crashed cars and unconscious bodies on the block. He deduces that the people have been felled by a massive surge of neural energy. When Spidey looks down the street, he finds several thugs beating up Mindworm. Before the wall-crawler can intervene, Mindworm unleashes a psychic attack that terrifies everyone present. Chaos results, with the thugs fleeing Mindworm's psychic visions in every direction, and one thug even meets his death when he runs into the path of an elevated train. Eventually, the thugs all run away, the visions cease, and Mindworm crumbles to the ground. Spider- Man goes to check on him, only to find that he's dead.
Mindworm is dead, right? The story-telling in this sequence isn't particularly clear, which is one of my complaints about this issue. It's pretty clear that Mindworm is dead, but how exactly does that happen? Does he die from the shock of producing that psychic vision? Or does that one thug do something to him as he runs past? It's impossible to tell.
Other than that, this issue is decent enough. The story by Paul Jenkins is fine, and the art by Talent Caldwell and Norman Lee is fine, but none of it is terribly impressive. I guess the bottom line is that this story just doesn't do anything for me. I mean, everyone knows that Spider-Man already blames himself for everything, and I don't imagine that anyone really cares about the welfare of the Mindworm. So with that taken into consideration, why would anyone really care about this issue? The heart-strings that this story is meant to tug on just aren't there.
There's nothing really wrong about this story, but nothing really great about it either. Two and a half webs.