Peter Parker is still trying to come to grips with the fact that he’s somehow slipped into an alternate universe where their world’s Peter Parker is dead, a new kid has picked up the Spidey mantle, and probably strangest of all… the entire world knows that Peter is Spider-Man. At the end to ‘Spider-Men’ #3, Peter left the S.H.E.I.L.D. compound where the Ultimates were trying to figure out his predicament. He had to find a way to clear his head after all this craziness. In a move that I thought was totally out of character for him, Peter went to his old stomping grounds and ended up meeting the alternate universe’s version of Aunt May… and a Gwen Stacy that’s still alive!

Be warned. I’ll try to keep spoilers light and not drop any big bombshells but there will be some minor spoilers below.

As this issue opens, Peter doesn’t get the reception that he’s expecting. Aunt May gives Pete a good (and well deserved) slap across the face and then Gwen cuts into him with a cursing tirade and some boot stomps. Luckily Miles (this universe’s Spider-Man) shows up to save Peter from his family and to tell them what’s going on. Cue Aunt May fainting.

Back at the S.H.E.I.L.D. HQ, Tony Stark is still trying to figure out exactly how Mysterio broke the barriers between the two universes so that it can be reverse and, more importantly, that it doesn’t happen again.

Back at the Parker house, Aunt May and Gwen are drilling Peter on what his world is like and how it is different from the one that they live in. This leads to some truly wonderful dialogue and character building, especially between Gwen and Peter. When S.H.E.I.L.D. finally arrives to break it up, I felt bad and didn’t want it to end. The conversation is just too touching, right down to the facial expressions and hugs. In the end, there’s even a brief scene with Mary Jane that nearly broke my heart.

But then we’re back with S.H.E.I.L.D. and their attempts at stopping Mysterio. To make sure that things go smoothly, Nick Fury calls in a full squad of Ultimates. Next month’s issue is sure to be a universe hopping all action throw-down!

Okay… occasionally when you write reviews on episodic materials like comics, something that seems like a bad idea in one episode makes much more sense in the larger picture. In those instances, the review ends up eating their words over the event. Last issue’s finale with Peter visiting the Parkers seemed out of character to me, so much so that I really wasn’t looking forward to the rest of this series. However, now that I’ve seen his reasons behind it, Brian Michael Bendis, has made this one of those word-eating occasions. I stand corrected. Gulp!

On the art front, Sara Pichelli continues to make this one of the best looking Spider-Man series (or any other series for that matter) I’ve read in quite a while. It’s her detail on the faces that make Bendis’ family reunion and S.H.E.I.L.D. banter work. In less skilled hands, Bendis would be relegated to thought balloons but Pichelli handles Bendis’ quiet drama with apparent ease.

Verdict: Buy

Story by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Sara Pichelli
Cover by Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato, & Sara Pichelli