Warning: SPOILERS up to Amazing Spider-Man #2
History is repeating itself with Nick Spencer's Amazing Spider-Man, giving Peter Parker his own logic-defying twist on par with Captain America's now-infamous "Hail Hydra." This time around, he hasn't revealed Spidey is working for Hydra - he's just split Peter Parker and Spider-Man into two separate entities.
The previous issue ended with a shocking twist, after Taskmaster and Black Ant attacked Curt Connors' university class. Since Peter Parker was in attendance, things didn't go well for the two supervillains. But seeing them defeated by Spider-Man was only the beginning.
In the final panel, Spidey helped one of the students to his feet after the tussle. The student in question? None other than Peter Parker.
Amazing Spider-Man #3 explains just what's going on, and that Connors was experimenting with the isotope genome accelerator that irradiated an ill-fated spider all those years ago. He had reverse-engineered the tech in an attempt to separate his own lizard and human DNA. When Taskmaster and Black Ant broke in, they knocked Peter into the isotope genome accelerator.
The machine activated, splitting Peter Parker and Spider-Man into separate bodies. Peter no longer has powers, and is free to live a normal life. Spider-Man has all the powers, and little interest in living anything close to normally.
It's an amusing riff on the "Spider-Man No More"... only this time, Peter Parker really isn't Spider-Man any more. But the issue also reveals how the division works, splitting skills, aptitudes, and abilities between the two entities. It's strongly implied that Peter Parker has lost both his spider-powers and his scientific acumen - but Dr. Connors speculates that the isotope genome accelerator may also divide emotions and moral beliefs. So Spider-Man has all the power. Peter Parker, the sense of responsibility.
Nick Spencer is already showing a habit in using shock tactics to launch his run. Spencer's approach is the same as the one he employed in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, an issue that ended with a cliffhanger in which Cap declared, "Hail Hydra." The twist was then explained in the next issue, acting as the foundation for everything Spencer would do over the next few years. Amusingly enough, Spencer's Secret Empire event ended with two versions of Steve Rogers alive and well.
Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this story, though, is that Peter Parker is back with Mary Jane - and hasn't told her what's happened. She believes Peter is still Spider-Man, which doesn't bode well for their fledgling relationship, awhile also leaving her vulnerable. Spider-Man has no sense of responsibility, and behind the mask he looks just like Peter. And, presumably, shares his attraction to Mary Jane.
After Secret Empire almost anything is possible, no matter how offensive. It wouldn't be hard for this potentially-rogue Spider-Man to take advantage of MJ's lack of knowledge to change Peter's life forever.
Amazing Spider-Man #3 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.