Credits: Howard Mackie (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Williamson/Stegbauer/Milgrom (inks), Rick Parker (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)
The Plot: Peter Parker runs across Betty Brant, who’s working on an undercover story. She takes him to a diner, urging him to tell Jonah Jameson that the story is bigger than they originally suspected. Suddenly, the diner is attacked by Whisper and Pulse. As Spider-Man, Peter defends Betty, who surprises him with her new, tougher attitude. Pulse accidentally kills Whisper during the fight, but seems unaffected. He triggers an explosion to cover his escape. Betty reveals that the Foreigner was behind the attack, but she refuses Spider-Man’s help.
The Subplots: Before encountering Betty, Spider-Man happens to swing past Killer Shrike’s hotel room. Convinced that Spider-Man was sent by mysterious agents to kill him, he attacks. After leaving Shrike for the police, Spider-Man begins to contemplate why so many of his old enemies return, and questions if he ever really helps anyone.
Web of Continuity: The Foreigner arranged the death of Betty’s husband, Ned Leeds, whom everyone still believes was the original Hobgoblin at this point.
*See _________ For Details: Peter wonders if his recent encounter with Carnage has shaken him. A footnote points to recent issues of Amazing Spider-Man.
Creative Differences: On page 15, an added word balloon claims that Spider-Man’s spider-sense is detecting Pulse’s attack, which clearly isn’t what the art shows us.
I Love the ‘90s: Spider-Man remarks that Killer Shrike is filled with more conspiracy theories than an Oliver Stone film.
Review: Overlooking Betty’s butch makeover, this isn’t bad at all. After an opening action sequence with perpetual loser Killer Shrike, Spidey begins to wonder why his old foes never go away, and if he’s actually helped any of his friends by becoming Spider-Man. That’s classic Spidey melodrama, and it’s a respectable starting place for a story. He can’t talk to MJ about his feelings because she’s late for work, but as luck would have it, he just so happens to spot Betty, dressed like a hooker, down the street.
I can understand why Gerry Conway made Betty a reporter towards the end of his run, but I wish someone had made an effort to actually show her transition into the job. Out of nowhere, she’s been given a massive undercover assignment, learned jujitsu, and grown a spine of steel. Having her investigate the Foreigner is a nice use of past continuity, but she’s almost “Betty” in name only at this point. As for Whisper and Pulse, the metafictional answer to Peter’s earlier complaint that he only faces old villains, well…it’s the ‘90s. They could’ve been worse. I actually do like Whisper, who has the power to absorb sound and use it as energy, and a decent character design by Saviuk. It’s possible he’s an early Spawn clone, but Saviuk doesn’t go too far over the top, and I like his color scheme. Pulse, on the other hand, just seems like a generic laser blaster in body armor. At least this time, Spider-Man’s not facing an entire team consisting of this brand of loser, so he’s not a major drag on the story.