Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
So far we’ve met Spider-Man, his wife, the mysterious doctor the FBI wants to snag, and a brief glimpse that Aunt May isn’t in the hospital this month. I do like that even with the character introductions time has been taken to move the story along in a way that’s natural for the flow of the story and to the lives of the characters. Now we move over to the Daily Bugle, Peter’s place of employment, to get some more information and meet more of his supporting cast.
This is before J. Jonah Jameson had a solo podcast or was mayor or any of the other changes to his character in other continuities or even the main Marvel one. I’ve often wondered why Peter stayed there. Jameson seems to hate him in both identities, I’m sure Robbie alone doesn’t keep him there, and there were plenty of other news sources who would love to get shots of Spider-Man or other Marvel heroes by that point. I guess that’s not an issue anymore but it is a curious thing and I needed to pad out this intro a bit.
Ah, the newspaper. What a dying art it is. I wonder if newsrooms today are just as busy as the Bugle newsroom is described here? Things change in a couple of decades. I don’t even know if the reporters still hang out there or work from home. They do a good job describing the chaos and layout of the newsroom though. Peter asks one of the interns for info on Dr. Catrall, and it goes over how Peter’s learned to work with them since his time as one. We meet one of two characters I don’t know, Danny the intern and a reporter named Joy Mercado. I looked her up on the Marvel fan wiki and it doesn’t say a whole lot about her. Maybe she never featured prominently in any of the stories? Her first appearance wasn’t even in a Spidey comic, but an issue of Moon Knight. We also learn that Jameson has cooked up an event to feed the homeless (the pun wasn’t intended) in order to draw attention to their plight. At least Jonah cares about something.
Then we move the plot forward as we learn that Catrall is a genetic engineer at a company called Lifestream Technologies. Before he has a chance to ponder what he was doing in that alley running from the government, he runs into a character I do know, Ben Urich, who is hoping Peter has some leftover pictures of Carnage he never used before. Fun fact learned here: Peter actually released a book featuring many of his pictures of Spider-Man and it does pretty well. So he has money coming in, just not as much as he’d like. However, the reason Urich wants some unused Carnage shots is not happy news for Peter. Apparently they’re planning to find a way to kill off the Carnage symbiote without killing Kasaday in the process. Given that he was a serial killer long before he bonded to the symbiote I’m not sure why they care? It’s not like he was influenced by the symbiote. If anything, given how they’re written now the reverse is probably true, although I think they went back to symbiotes = evil thing recently. The image that leads into the chapter is a mock-up of where the tests are going to happen, right in a city full of potential victims. Good going, dimwits!
At this I think we the audience have a chance to guess that the two incidents are probably related. I’m betting Lifestream is behind the experimentation and Catrall was part of the project somehow. Exactly how is not yet known, and the next chapter seems to be more about introducing the readers to Aunt May and whatever problem she’s having this week. Join us next time to find out.