A mysterious box is delivered to May Parker’s home, which promises to prove that Mary Jane is really dead. It’s from the airline who owned the jet that exploded, with MJ in it.
For most of issue #19, Aunt May tries to track down Peter, who is having various street-level adventures as Spider-Man.
Much of the supporting cast is contacted, and they all gather to wait for the opening of the box.
Lots of suspense, but we don’t get to find out what’s in it because the perspective shifts and we just see Peter and May looking down into it. Then issue #20 starts with Peter at Uncle Ben’s gravesite, crying and mourning. The issue is mostly flashbacks of Spider-Man’s history.
Then #21 has him bonding with Human Torch and then going to an open mic night to try to be a stand-up comic because apparently he had planned to do that to surprise Mary Jane when she was alive (she still is alive). Kinda random, but it makes sense in context. Peter is trying to find his sense of humor–and that’s a great statement about late ’90s Marvel in general.
All of this is well done but…What the Hell is in the damn box? After three issues, it’s just irritating that they’re not telling us. Plus, we know she’s alive because we were shown in Amazing Spider-Man that she was being held captive somewhere. So as good a job as everyone does here, it’s all meaningless. It almost feels like the creative teams weren’t talking to each other (even though Mackie wrote both titles).
Also across these issues the creative team transitions from Mackie/Romita Jr. to Jenkins/Buckingham.