By Marc Guggenheim (writer), Salvador Larroca (art), Stephane Peru (colors)

Last issue, Spider-Man was poking around Menace’s backyard along with Jackpot when she double crossed him. Her “back up” arrives in the form of The Blue Shield – a completely irrelevant and forgotten character from the early 1980s. Spidey does exactly what any normal person would do, he laughs and pokes fun of The Blue Shield’s name. Very funny stuff.

Eventually, the Menace shows up, riling enough distraction for Spidey to escape his would be capturers. Spidey pursues Menace and the dialogue that follows is laugh out loud funny. Marc Guggenheim is completely in his element when he writes Spidey, making it all seem so natural and effortless. However, when Peter’s not in the suit and we deal with the supporting cast and subplots, the writing quality lessens.

After Spider-Man’s initial confrontation with Menace the story slows down considerably. Peter meets with the new DB publisher who still can’t seem to get his last name right. It’s a running gag, I know, but it’s no longer funny. Next we cut to the construction worker who Spider-Man saved last issue. The worker claims Spidey knocked him off the building and draws up plans with his lawyer to sue Spider-Man! Finally, we go back to Spider-Man meeting with the cops about the spider tracer killing, which turns out to be worse than expected; it’s not just one killing, but a series of killings over the past three months, each of the victims having been planted with Spidey’s old model of the tracer? Spider-Man has no answer, and neither do the cops. But they do want to question him. Meanwhile, Menace attacks the mayoral debates in Harlem. Spidey’s up to his ears in trouble as usual – and he still doesn’t have a job!

So how was the issue? Uneven. The story doesn’t flow well – it jumps around way too much for my liking. It’s weird too, because both Marc Guggenheim and Salvador Larroca are fantastic when Spidey’s doing his super hero thing. But when it comes to everything else in this issue, they falter. Larroca’s civilians look off (especially Peter) and his storytelling stumbles (especially when Menace attacks the theatre). The same goes for Guggenheim. His dialogue isn’t as entertaining and the pacing languishes. We do learn Jackpot’s real now, though! (Grade: C+)

– J. Montes