Written by: Dave Michelinie Art by: Todd McFarlane
This issue opens up in Colorado. The state that brought us South Park, John Elway and legalized pot. In a super prison called the Vault. An ex army soldier needed some job security so he picked up a job as a guard at the prison, and so far, its going great. That is, until his first week on the job is over and as he's making his regular patrol he sees a body of a fellow guard on the floor. He quickly shuts off the sonic shield designed to keep super villain Eddie Brock inside his cell and checks on the body, but that body isn't any regular body. That body has a very symbiotic quality to it! Being a religious man, Eddie Brock doesn't like the idea of killing for no reason, and does feel some slight remorse for what he did. A kiss on the forehead of his victim and a verbal apology cleanses his conscience, but some sacrifices have to be made if Venom wants to achieve their goal, and that's destroying Spider-Man! Speaking of whom, he's in New York fighting off a wet foe. Hydro-Man has tried stealing the pay of some local construction workers, which would be a great plan if anyone after 1980 got paid in cash. Even if he got off with their pay, it was all in checks and he'd never be able to cash them. That doesn't mean the man of wet can't be stopped for the principle of things. Spidey's doing the typical Spidey thing and making jabs at the wet villain, which gets Hydro-Man angry and sloppy in his methods. Pete's got a quick plan to make Hydro-Man electrocute himself on a nearby electrical box (Wait, was a writter of a certain other issue in a certain other review of mine reading this very issue for some inspiration? See my review on Marvel Knights Spider-Man 2!). Being quick on his feet, Spidey uses that door he just yanked off to throw it right at Hydro-Man, and of course it goes right through him. But what no one but Spider-Man noticed, until it was too late, was what the door hit. A huge bag of cement! It starts to quickly mix with Hydro-Man and he begins to get all clumpy and still. Hydro-Man also thinks quick on his wet feet and slips into a sewer grate and Spidey loses him. Probably mixed with the moisture of the sewage by now, and diluted all the cement. Also, the danger is over. Hydro-Man is gone, and Pete's camera has plenty of pictures to sell to Jonah. After all, he's had to rely on this again since they got evicted from their nice apartment and all of MJ's savings are tied in legal crap for the apartment.
Quickly, Spider-Man enters Peter Parker's new dark room in the basement of his Aunt May's boarding home where he and MJ now live in the meantime until they find another home. He's been gone for a while now though, so its time to get dressed and have Peter Parker make an appearance to everyone in the home. He meets up in the house with MJ and they decide to hit the city together. She's got to model in a runway show, and he's got some fresh pictures to sell to the Bugle. It seems like everyone is on their way out of the house though. Some of the boarders are headed to a nearby park for a poetry reading. All but one boarder is excited to go, Nathan. He's got better things to do than listen to nursery rhymes, his words at least. Pete says goodbye to Aunt May and MJ's cousin Kirsty and heads out, but on the way he passes Aunt May's room and finds Nathan inside. Not only that, but he's putting her wallet back into her purse. All of this doesn't seem right at all. Meanwhile, over at the Vault, a guard watching the security cameras reflects on his day. Asking himself if he set the VCR to record One Life To Live when Venom appears in his face. He wants to know how to get out, how to negate the cameras and escape quietly, and well, of course he finds out that information. The guard will be found unconscious. He'll be transferred and given early retirement but he'll never sleep soundly ever again.
Spider-Man swings away from the Bugle having made some decent bucks, and there's never a dull moment in the city that never sleeps. There's a commotion at a nearby bank, and the one responsible is that old Nathan from the boarding home. He's getting angry at an ATM for not giving him more money, it'll only give him $500 at a time but he needs more. That's when Peter shows up and asks him why he needs so much money, but Nathan ain't answering. Then Pete, gets upset and gets loud with Nathan, accusing him of taking Aunt May's bank card! Nathan admits that he is the one who took May's card. He needed the money because he owes some people back for fronting his hospital bills. He gambles to help, but that money hasn't come in yet, and he's got full intentions on paying the money back. Peter hears this sob story and decides to help Nathan out. He'll take the card home, and not tell his Aunt about the account. Instead, he'll deposit his money that he JUST made from the Bugle into May's account, in case she ever decides to check her balance. Everyone's home early, MJ got declined at the modeling gig, and Peter's sad about giving up his Bugle money. He's about to talk to MJ in private about what happened with Nathan when Aunt May screams out his name.
She caught him...stealing a snack! He speeds off in his little chair and leaves everyone to question him. May finds flour, which is an odd thing to sneak. Especially when he doesn't even like boiling his water for tea. Even Kristy thinks there's something up with this guy. As Nathan leaves the house to "get some air" he's followed by not only his shadows, but Spider-Man. Nathan goes to a nearby basketball court and meets up with 3 shady fellows. Once he tries explaining his financial situation, only being able to get $500, the guys don't take too lightly to that and attack him. Nathan isn't a dumb man though, he brought a knife and slashes the man who grabbed him in the hand. He quickly sprays another in the face with a can of Raid that he brought. The third man pulls a gun out on him, and Nathan throws a bag of flour in his face. They've all been beaten by a cripple in a wheelchair, but the victory doesn't last long, as he doesn't fully take out all three thugs. Luckily, Spider-Man was following and the red and blue now has his choice of the three gangsters to pick on. Fortunately for Nathan, Spidey chooses all three and takes them out calling them the three Stooges. Spidey quickly webs off leaving the three thugs to yell at Nathan, threatening him that there'll be another day, until Peter shows up shutting that idea down. He wanted to get some action shots of Spider-Man but instead, he got pictures of three men trying to murder an innocent senior citizen. It would be a shame if those pictures got to the DA's office, wouldn't it?
Nathan can't thank Spider-Man, since he's not around, but he can thank Peter for what he did. All Peter asked for was one thing in return. The $500 is a given, but there's one other thing, he wants Nathan to give up gambling. Its a dangerous habit that can hurt the gambler and the people they love around them. Nathan agrees to give up gambling, for May. It doesn't last long though, Nathan heads out the next morning to grab the paper, a Hershey Bar...and a dozen lottery tickets. This is a strong message that shows things like a gambling addiction are some of the hardest things to let go of. It truly is a set in addiction. the epilogue takes up elsewhere. A car with a family of three have picked up a hitchhiker who's been thumbing across the country, sleeping in caves. This hitchhiker is a Mr. Eddie Brock. The husband asks Brock that with sleeping in caves, isn't he afraid of snakes? The driver just hates snakes! Brock simply answers, "No. I only hate...spiders!"
Now that is an ending! Wraps up another great issue of the Amazing Spider-Man. This is another issue where the main focus wasn't a big name villain that takes up all the pages. A small fight in the beginning, an introduction at the end, and the beef of the issue was a real life situation. Something that can actually happen. Reading this Omnibus, I'm beginning to realize how much I can really relate to this character, and I'm finding again my old childhood love for this title. Its issues like this one that show we can all help out anyone who needs it, doesn't matter if we have powers or not. Be back in one week to see the return of one of the worst Spider-Man villains ever, Venom! -Matt Milanes