Not much center to this story. Spider-aMan is still hated and Peter Parker is still living in a motel, with MJ believed dead. He fights bankrobbers. He fights “The Wicked Brigade,” which consist of truly D-list villains. They include Squid (he shoots ink) and a new gal called Ms. Fortune who looks like DC’s Terminator and is never seen again…

…As well as Razor Wire, Ogre, and Lightning Fist.

These losers are in turn victims of a plot by a guy called Master Monarch who, despite the important name, is never seen again and doesn’t matter AT ALL. It sure looks like writer Howard Mackie is seeding future plots but…He’s not. Some of these guys will reappear many years from now as throwaways in a Marvel Zombies story. Ironically, the dumbest one, Squid, will have the biggest legacy, but, again, he doesn’t reappear until 2007’s Civil War event.

So what the #Uc& is going on here?

When we’re halfway done with the issue, Venom appears. Then Sandman. The three fight until Venom bites of a chunk of sand and Sandman limps away. (Really? He gets injured when some of his sand is bitten off??). Then Spider-Man beats Venom with a cigarette lighter.


Then in the last panel of #16, Spider-Man jumps up on a roof and accidentally steps on Thing’s jelly donuts so Thing decides to beat him up.

This issue is complete Twilight Zone.

In the next issue, Venom is still hunting the new Sinister SixFive because they didn’t invite him to the villain reunion, so he beats up Electro.

Then Kraven beats up Spider-Man and then uses him as bait to capture Venom.

After all that is done (and it all feels crammed and rushed), Peter Parker goes home to find his stuff on the street in the rain for failure to pay rent.

I can’t say that Howard Mackie’s run is bad but…It’s missing something. The stories are haphazard (but admittedly do flow together) and there’s just no tension. The stakes feel low and attempts to introduce character drama (like MJ being blown up by terrorists) fall flat because we know that Mary Jane can’t possibly be dead.

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