By Eric Drumm
Since the life-shattering events of CIVIL WAR, Spider-Man has been through the wringer. On the run from the law and hated by a good deal of the hero community and public alike, Peter Parker has been struggling to keep life as the amazing Spider-Man intact. Unfortunately, things just keep getting darker.
FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN has seen a lot of action since its inception during "The Other" crossover event. Peter has seen the inside of a body bag, a rebirth, new powers, dead uncles returning to life and other weird tales. Issue #17 saw something truly odd: a team-up with the formerly villainous--and formerly heroic--Sandman.
Sandman sought help from his old foe Spider-Man to clear the name of his father who is on death row for killing a homeless man. Sandy reveals to a shocked Spider-Man that this dead man just so happens to be identical to his long deceased Uncle Ben. As the mystery unraveled, so did the logic of the situation. Spider-Man had previously encountered the Spider-Man and Hobgoblin of the year 2211, leaving both dead but producing one alternate timeline Uncle Ben.
Discovering that the alt-Ben had killed Spider-Man 2211, Spidey and Sandy meet a young man named Dennis who is willing to help them solve the case. Possessing the helmet of Spider-Man 2211, Dennis claims that "Uncle Ben" might in fact be alive, and use the helmet to track his whereabouts. Raiding Midtown High, "Uncle Ben" reveals himself to be in fact Chameleon 2211 (of course, why not?), and attacks Spider-Man and Sandman. During the demented dust-up, Spider-Man manages to use the helmet's "administer justice" function, switching Sandman's father and future Chameleon's bodies just at the point of Sandy's dad's lightning ride at Rykers.
Still on the run, and Aunt May still dying from an assassin's bullet, Peter Parker is certainly not his cheery self as "Back In Black" continues. Will the pages of FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN get cloudier as well? "He's headed on the ride of his life," says Marvel editor Axel Alonso, and head honcho of all things Spidey. "It all starts with the bullet that hit Aunt May. Peter Parker will embark on a mission to find the man who pulled the trigger and, more importantly, the man who gave the kill order. This will be Spider-Man at his darkest hour–-dressed in his old black costume to show he means business. It may be too late to save Aunt May. Question is, just how far will he go for revenge?"
For the first time, Peter Parker is embracing his anger and nixing the wise cracks. Will he finally snap or will he be able to reign himself back in? Alonso says to keep reading and find out. "In August and September, Spider-Man will be the number one topic of debate at your local comic store. What we're about to do is historic."
See if Spider-Man leaps into the summer with blood on his hands in FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #20 by Peter David and Todd Nauck, on sale May 1.