Slott successfully keeps the momentum from last issue going, and I'm glad to say that it's a pretty great ride.
Peter and Hobie go on a banter-tastic trip under the sea to retrieve Peter's watch -- and its access to his personal data cache -- from the Zodiac. (In an example of pet peeve #1, the intro page tells us that Webware is actually "a state-of-the-art wearable device that knows what users want before they do.") It's a remarkably good time and, as I mentioned in my last review, I really hope that we keep seeing Hobie frequently. (It seems likely that we will, since we learn in this issue that he's the Head of Security for Parker Industries.)
In the Zodiac's base, Cancer is trying to break the encryption, but he's going too slow: Libra observes that it's already taken him 12 hours, and she's ready to have one of the thousands of other Zodiac members take a look. (It seems Zodiac has truly gone global. A few of the goons are chatting at some point in this issue, and one of them mumbles that he should've stayed with HYDRA. They've apparently been recruiting.) Unfortunately for Cancer's attempts to prove himself, Spidey and the Prowler arrive at that moment, and a fight ensues. Libra gets the jump on Spidey, disabling him with fire and water blasts. She notes that he's too trusting of Parker's technology, since his Spider-Sense probably could've helped him dodge the blast. Moreover, she's already sent the Webware files to all the Zodiac bases so that the aforementioned thousands of members can get to work at decrypting it. She then activates the self-destruct device, and everyone flees the base. Hobie grabs Peter's watch (even though it's sort of a moot point), and Peter demands that they take the two guards that they knocked unconscious earlier in the episode with them, since "good guys never leave people behind." This comment makes him think about Silver, and Hobie notices the change that comes over him. They escape just as the base explodes.
Later, Slott reveals the cleverness that he displayed last issue: apparently, it was all part of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Spidey's plan to take advantage of "Parker's fumble:" they tracked Libra's transmission and now know where all the Zodiac bases are. The plan is to disable them before Zodiac can crack the code, though Hobie seems skeptical. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure approaches the Rhino (!) in Tahuexco, Guatemala. He wants Aleksei to work for him, but a broken Rhino refuses. However, the man reveals Oksana, telling the Rhino that "all things are possible" for him. Needless to say, Aleksei is on board.
As I said, this issue is fun while also advancing the larger plot. Although the main story is pretty straightforward, Slott makes it clear that clouds are gathering. Last issue, most of those problems seemed related to Peter's stewardship of Parker Industries, but, with the epilogue, Slott also makes it clear that Spidey doesn't exactly have a lack of enemies out there himself.
On the plus side, this issue also highlights the amazing work that Peter and his team have been doing at Parker Industries. We've got the Spider-Tracers that he's selling to the public to keep track of keys and remotes. (Apparently he's selling them for $49.99 despite them costing $16.23 to make, leading Hobie to comment on people calling him a crook.) We've got the holographic plating for a car that he failed to sell to S.H.I.E.L.D. but allowed him and Hobie to disguise the Spider-Submarine as a humpback whale. We also learn that Webware's firewalls are actually "nanotech computers that physically reconfigure the software and hardware." Sajani wants to sell them as perfect cybersecurity devices that'll make a fortune, but Peter refuses, saying that they can only trust themselves with. (Given that Sajani is the lead on nanotech, I assume that it's this project that she ordered Anna Maria to expedite last issue. At the very least, it seems like to be the source of her final betrayal, if we get there, since it'll presumably let the Zodiac to the Webware system.)
All in all, I definitely like where we're going. It's like a second "Big Time!" Given how much I liked that story arc, it bodes well for me liking this one.
*** (three of five stars)