Credits: Gerry Conway (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Keith Williams (inker), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Following an experiment at ESU, Spider-Man finds himself with greatly enhanced powers. Elsewhere, Dr. Doom places a micro-sensor on Titania, and orders her to take care of Spider-Man. She storms into the Daily Bugle offices, demanding Spider-Man show up to fight. During the battle, her micro-sensor breaks, which allows her natural fear of Spider-Man to resurface. Spider-Man accidentally inspires her to continue the fight, which forces him to unleash an energy beam that knocks her unconscious.
The Subplots: Thomas Fireheart has called a meeting of Bugle staffers to explain the newspapers new pro-Spider-Man direction. When discussing the move in private with Kate Cushing, he has to knock her unconscious so that he can transform into Puma and defend the staff from Titania. Nick Katzenberg, meanwhile, has developed a crush on Cynthia Bernhammer, Robbie Robertson’s lawyer.
Web of Continuity: The Marvel event “Acts of Vengeance,” which has supervillains swapping foes with other villains, has begun. This is why Dr. Doom is finding opponents for Spider-Man, while other villains are taking on the Fantastic Four.
*See _________ For Details: The ESU experiment that Peter believes granted him new powers occurred in Spectacular Spider-Man #158. Dr. Doom references Titania’s recent loss to She-Hulk, which occurred in Solo Avengers #14 (in a cute back-up story by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis). Titania has an irrational fear of Spider-Man, following their battle in Secret Wars #7.
Review: “Cosmic Powers Spider-Man” has begun. I fully recognize this is the gimmickiest premise on earth, but I loved this story arc as a kid and won’t abide any trash-talk. I have no idea what the impetus for this story was; it’s possible the Spider-office already had this arc mapped out when “Acts of Vengeance” was imposed on the line, or perhaps this storyline was specifically designed to coincide with “Acts.” If Spider-Man is being forced into fights with various villains throughout the Marvel Universe, maybe someone thought he needed a power-up to make his way through the event. Then again, do you really need cosmic powers to take out Goliath or the Brothers Grimm?
The appeal of the storyline really comes from Peter’s reaction to his new powers -- he hates them. Flying nauseates him, punching someone is now potentially lethal, and his spider-sense is so powerful it gives him migraines. The fans might get a kick out of seeing Spider-Man develop a new power set, but it’s sheer misery for the character. The structure of the story is also worth noting, as every chapter is self-contained, yet obviously you get a fuller idea of what’s going on if you buy all of the books. I only purchased half of this story arc as a kid (completely missing all of the Spectacular segments, even though the story started in that title), but was still able to follow the events without feeling left out. Limiting the arc to only three months was also a smart move, since there’s no way the gimmick could’ve worked for much longer, and this is really all the time you need to explore Peter’s reaction to the new powers.