Gwen Stacy, that firecracker of a girl, is staying with Peter and May for the weekend while her father, Captain George Stacy, attends a police convention in Atlantic City. But when the Captain is killed by an impostor Spider-Man, life has clearly gotten a lot more complicated for everybody in the Parker household.
Aunt May calls Ginger Stacy, Gwen's mom, to console her about her late husband and to ask her to pick up Gwen. But Ginger needs no consolation, and apparently, she doesn't need Gwen, either. "Told you." Gwen says, "She's a real piece of work." "Work" isn't the word I'd use.
Back to the imposter: it's not Mysterio, not the Chameleon, not a clone and not a robot. As the title suggests, it's just some guy. With the ease that Peter seems to beat him, he probably doesn't even have any powers. But that doesn't stop Peter from beating him within an inch of his life. Peter is enraged that this imposter steal his name and dirty it up with multiple robberies, assaults, and the murder of a police officer.
Once the hostages are freed, the police, lead by Captain Jean DeWolff (!), go in to find the fake unmasked, and hanging upside-down from the webs of the real Spider-Man (which, apparently, are no longer green.)
Peter ponders his actions and realizes he almost became a murderer today, so unfettered his anger was. He finds Aunt May sitting outside the house, and she needs to talk about Gwen.
What about Gwen? With her father dead and her mother a deadbeat, she apparently has no place to go. Or least she wouldn't, if May's heart and home weren't so large. May opens here home to Gwen, and she seems to accept.
And just when everything seems right again in Peter's world, it all hit's the fan instead. When Peter tells his girlfriend that Gwen's going to be living with him and his aunt, it opens the floodgates. Mary's been reliving her being tossed off the bridge every night. She fears for Peter's life, and is conviced that he'll lose it if he keeps being Spider-Man. She's jealous of Gwen, who she thinks is in love with Peter too, and won't abide her being in the same house as Peter. Unlike Mary's mom, who's been trying to convince herself that Mary's dad doesn't cheat on her, Mary refuses to live in denial.
"But for the record," Mary concludes, "--it's not just Gwen. It's ALL of it. I love you Peter. I just can't do this."
Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson have broken up.
The art was as good as ever, with one glaring exception. Issue 32 marked a change in the paper Marvel uses for their Ultimate line. In addition to a more glossy, if flimsier, cover, the slick inside pages make for some trouble in the digital printing. A particularly pixilated page, where Peter is choke holding the impostor over himself, hurts the consisistency of the art and thus hurts the grade.
If it looks like I'm nitpicking, then it's only because there's so much good in this arc, and in the Ultimate Spider-Man trifecta's work as usual. Peter and Mary's breakup was handled very well, both through the dialouge used and Mark Bagley's uncanny ability to display facial emotions. In dumping Peter, Mary doesn't come off as shallow or self- centered at all, as she did in the core titles. She has plenty of legitimate reasons, and, if anything, Peter comes off as a bit self- absorbed. And he is! I mean, he spends a lot of time thinking and worrying about her, but Spider-Man became the crux of the relationship, where Peter and Mary had to spend all their time maintaining Peter's costumed alter-ego.
Oh, and I love that Gwen's gonna be a regular presence in the Parker home now!
A good story, brought down by editorial decisions and Bendis's refusal to tread lightly when bringing out-of-title characters into the fold. Four webs, which is quickly becoming the Bendis minimum standard.