Last issue, we saw Johnny Rival—a classmate of Alex Power—plotting to shoot him because Rival thought Power was a mutant. In this issue, he takes action but happens to do so while Spider-Man and Hobgoblin are nearby, getting the villain’s attention.
Hobgoblin snatches the two boys up to try to lure Spider-Man away from stopping a Hobgoblin-protected drug deal.
I like the panel above because it establishes everything you need to know, but if I were grabbed by a frightening looking guy on a jet glider and flown hundreds of feet in the air, the last thing I’d be doing is continuing to squabble with my schoolmate.
Anyway, all ends ok.
Spidey saves the day, and even helps Alex Power come to terms with the fact that he didn’t use his disintegrating power (remember, the teams’ powers were recently switched) to hurt or kill Hobgoblin doesn’t mean he’s chicken, it means he respects life.
To illustrate, he tells Alex the story of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin. It’s a nice way to show how Spider-Man is now an adult, where he used to be a kid learning to use his powers (like Alex Power), and to tie the Green and Hobgoblins together. Lots of good through lines there.
It also resolves the Johnny Rival storyline because he now believes that Alex doesn’t have powers and isn’t a mutant. Strangely, Alex just forgives him and they walk away together—now friends, despite that Johnny literally was going to shoot Alex just a few pages earlier. The resolution is a little simplistic—and I’ve come to expect better from Louise Simonson, who writes the hell out of this comic, month after month.
A nice touch: WGBS news is on the TV, with an anchorman who can only be Clark Kent.
For proof, here’s how he was in DC in the late ’70s…