** (two of five stars)
Favorite Quote: none, really, if I'm being honest
Peter comes home to find Michele talking to a rough-looking guy who sets off Peter's Spider-Sense. He follows the guy to an abandoned construction site, only to find that Parker Robbins (aka the Hood) is holding open "auditions" for the next Scorpion, after he bought the costume off Norman Osborn. While observing the scene, Spidey is surprised by the new (female) Scorpion, who injects him with a power-dampening bite. She throws Spidey to the guys below, but they instead wind up pursuing her when she steals the Scorpion costume. Depowered, Peter changes into his street clothes, only to encounter Michele, who reveals the guy was a former client who she's trying to convince to go straight. They track down the guy, who reveals that he committed the crime Michele thought he didn't commit and tries to attack her. Peter helps her and sends her away. With his powers back, he rescues the new Scorpion from the mob. At the bar where he agreed to meet Michele, Peter apologizes for the "incident" of a couple of issues ago and makes a truce with Michele.
[Sigh.] I have no idea why this issue wasn't considered part of "The Gauntlet." In fact, of "The Gauntlet" stories, it has a helluva lot more to do with "The Gauntlet" than most of them (such as Electro, Sandman, Mr. Negative, Morbius, or Mysterio, just to name a few), with the Kravinoffs actually directly manipulating events, rather than just approaching the super-villain after the fact. But, it wasn't under "The Gauntlet" banner, yet we still get the Kravinoffs appearing in the last panel of the issue. I'm really over this storyline.
Given that he's the one who originally began portraying Michele as an unhinged escaped mental patient, I'll give Van Lente credit here for resolving issues between her and Peter. I've spent most of the last few issues hoping she'd just disappear, but I'm happy for her to stay if we see more of who she was during the issue where Aunt May got married than who she was in "Red-Headed Stranger." I will note that I'm not entirely sure why Michele feels like it's Peter's responsibility to apologize, since she was as willing as a participant as he was. But, whatever, I'm trying to throw Van Lente a bone here.
The BadThe art in this issue is pretty bad. The Scorpion's body is almost always out of proportion and everyone is pretty indistinctly drawn. I think Gaydos was trying to convey that most of this issue happens in the quasi-dark, but instead it all just looks more or less sloppy.