Credits: Todd Dezago (script, plot), Mike Wieringo (pencils, plot), Richard Case (inks), Gregory Wright (colors), Comicraft’s Kiff Scholl (letters)
The Plot: The Human Torch is bothered by the Hornet’s cryptic comments regarding Spider-Man, but changes his mind after meeting the Hornet in person. As the Hornet, Peter agrees to a press conference being held by Norman Osborn. Osborn gives the Hornet a check for $25,000, which he immediately asks to be donated to Hope’s school. The Vulture interrupts the event and attacks the Hornet, claiming Hornet’s stolen his chance to kill Spider-Man. During their fight, Vulture deduces that Hornet really is Spider-Man. He shouts the information to the crowd shortly before Hornet knocks him out.
The Subplots: Billy Walters tells Peter not to bother trying to be his friend again. Hope signs to Peter his signature web-shooting sign, leading him to believe she knows his secret.
Web of Continuity: Billy tells Peter that he was “alone a lot” as a kid and hasn’t made any friends in New York. I don’t think we learn anything else about his past. Billy was obviously intended to become a major supporting character, but he’s dropped as soon as Todd Dezago leaves the titles. As for where this story fits into the larger "Identity Crisis" storyline...don't ask.
Creative Differences: The name of the Lothridge School for the Deaf has been hand-corrected.
Review: Once again, “Identity Crisis” is an obvious gimmick, but Sensational manages to have fun with the idea. The story doesn’t just coast on the novelty of seeing Spider-Man in a different persona, there’s actual thought put into how to create interesting scenarios for this new identity. Little moments, such as Peter trying to figure out where to hide the much bulkier, heavier costume, are nice, and just seeing the joy Peter feels when Osborn tries to adopt the Hornet as his own personal hero is great. Of course, that joy is short lived since the Vulture ruins everything, but that’s just classic Spidey. The subplots and personal life scenes are also handled well, with MJ acting thankfully non-shrewish and Billy Walters being a little more likeable. The prospect of Hope knowing Peter’s secret ID also adds some much-needed tension to the title. The cameo scenes by other heroes are also fun, aside from being a clever excuse to see Wieringo’s interpretation of other corners of the Marvel Universe. It’s a shame we never saw a ‘Ringo run on Marvel Team-Up.