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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #591

FACE FRONT - PART TWO - 'NUFF SAID

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WRITER: DAN SLOTT
PENCILLER: BARRY KITSON AND DALE EAGLESHAM
INKER: BARRY KITSON, JESSE DELPERGANG AND DALE EAGLESHAM
COLORS: DEAN WHITE, CHRIS CHUCKRY AND TROY
LETTERS: VC'S JOE CARAMAGNA
COVER: BARRY KITSON AND MARK FARMER
ASSISTANT EDITOR: TOM BRENNAN
EDITOR: STEPHEN WACKER
EXECUTIVE EDITOR: TOM BREVOORT
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: JOE QUESADA
PUBLISHER: DAN BUCKLEY

PREVIOUSLY: When a distress signal from the Macroverse calls specifically for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Spidey and the first family of super heroes set out dimension hopping to investigate. It's not the best time for Peter Parker to be off grid, though, as his best friend Harry Osborn has seemingly fallen off the wagon after discovering his would-be-fiancée, Lily Hollister, was secretly the villainous Menace, who terrorized New York for the better part of the year. He’s also leaving his beloved Aunt May without someone to look after her, but such is the price of super hero-dom.

In the Macroverse, Spidey and the Fantastic Four discover the signals they found weren't distress calls but rather prayers – the five heroes are seen as gods to those of the Macroverse – they've even built idols for them. Johnny Storm notices that the statue of Spider-Man wears no mask, and the features on his face have been worn down to hide his identity. The four then remember that they once knew Spider-Man's true identity, but now cannot remember the face they saw. As tempers flare, the Thing and Invisible Woman try to separate Johnny and Spidey, while Mr. Fantastic tries to alert all of them to a bizarre fluctuation in time, but protests are to no avail when Torch hurls a fireball at Spidey's mask, forcing him to remove it, and shocking the group at what lies underneath.

REVIEW: No wonder Johnny is so freaked out upon seeing Spider-Man's unmasked. His entire head is invisible, thanks to the nick-of-time intervention of Sue Storm. Sue cannot believe that Johnny would try and unmask Spidey against his will; she feels it's an invasion of privacy, a betrayal of trust. Johnny argues that trust is sharing your secret identity with your friends. He’s mad that Spidey gave it to them and then took it back. Reed points out that it is very unlikely, as it would involve wiping the memories of everyone on Earth as well as altering all of the physical evidence, paper trails and computer files. The Thing is fed up with all the talking and wants out of the force field. Spidey is in agreement – they have to do something before the war between the Dregans and the people of Kort escalates. Sue drops the force field and off goes Spidey and the Fantastic Four. Fighting the hordes of lizard-riding Dregans, they get unexpected help from Patronus, the masked warrior introduced in last issue. Although he helps them, he is rather unhappy with them. He wants them to clean the mess they created a lifetime ago. Upon hearing him say that, Sue asks Reed what Patronus means by that. Reed explains that the adventures they had two years earlier happened before Patronus were born. The longer they stay in the Macroverse, the faster time moves back on Earth. They have to go home as soon as possible but Patronus wants them to stay and fix their mess before leaving. Spidey asks Reed how much Earth time they will miss. Just in the few seconds it takes Reed to provide the answer – for every hour spend in the Macroverse, thirteen and one third days go by back on Earth – the following events take place:

Carlie Cooper helps Harry Osborn with the reemergence of his drinking problem by ridding his place of all alcoholic substances and accompanying him to an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. It almost seems like Harry might be falling in love with Carlie, though it is never implicitly revealed.
J. Jonah Jameson tries to get an audience with his own wife, whom he's been estranged from since she sold the Daily Bugle to Dexter Bennett. His attempts, some more "colorful" than others, appear futile at first, namely because they are so unpleasant, but once Jonah calms down and gets back to his senses, Marla agrees to go out with him later that night at their favorite restaurant, where they can talk.
Randy Robertson pays a visit to his dad, Joe "Robbie" Robertson, at the Daily Bugle, but Robbie is too busy putting out the next day's issue to go out to lunch with him. He introduces Randy to Norah Winters, staff reporter, and the two of them hit it off quite well.
Recently relocated to New York City, J. Jonah Jameson Sr., introduces himself to Aunt May at Martin Li's campaign headquarters. He followed up on Betty Brant's suggestion that he meet Aunt May, as she thought the two of them would hit it off. Betty should play matchmaker more often, as the two grow quite close together over movies, dining, etc.

Back in the Land of Kort, Spider-Man cannot believe they've already lost close to an entire month of real time. Reed Richards points out that he wants to get out of there as fast as they want, but their past actions have led to the current war between the Dregans and the people of Kort. They must therefore fix things before leaving. Spidey is in agreement. On the other hand, the Thing doesn't know whether to trust Patronus or not. When asked by Sue if he registers any danger coming from Patronus, Spidey explains that he's not picking up any bad vibes from the would-be armored knight; he thinks Patronus can be trusted. Johnny refuses to believe that Spider-Man can be trusted, seeing as he's lying regarding his secret identity. Fed up with all the arguing, the Thing yells at the two of them to stop their bickering. He tells them that when you join the Fantastic Four, you're not just friends, you're more than family and you're not a team, you're the world's greatest team. It's not about what they want or need, it's what the team as a whole wants or needs that's important. Having said that, he asks if they are now ready to fight – he puts his hand out. One after the other, Spidey, Johnny, and Sue and Reed reach out and touch his hand. Minutes later, everybody is in full battle mode, helping Patronus and the people of Kort. Reed is quick to point out that they are not there to topple a regime, but to help put an end to the fighting. Having said that, he asks Patronus what they can do. Patronus tells them to get him past the Dregans defenses and he'll take care of the age-old conflict between their respective factions in a peaceful manner. Ahead of the others, Johnny and Spider-Man are still arguing. Johnny doesn't understand what Spidey's problem is – they used to have fun during battles like that one. Spidey explains that they have matured and that things are now different. Johnny fails to understand what Spidey means by that. Spidey responds that with the current state of the world, which has gotten quite dark recently, he really doesn't want his secret to get out. If that were to happen, his family and friends would be in danger. Spidey goes on saying that his costume is a disguise, it's not who he is. The super hero stuff is not his life; his real life is back on Earth, with his real friends and real family, and he's missing it.

While Spidey is stuck in the Macroverse, his answering machine picks up the slack. He first gets a phone call from Ben Urich of the Front Line newspaper who has a job for him – taking pictures of that night's debate for the special election. There are apparently three candidates but only two of them, Martin Li and Walter Declun partake in the debate. The identity of the third candidate is not immediately revealed. The next phone call Peter receives is from his apartment's rental office. They received his rent payment but there is a problem. The name on the lease is for Vincent Gonzales so he needs to have Gonzales contact them. It seems that things are not going well for DB owner, Dexter Bennett, who is told by his financial advisor to liquidate all his assets and sell the DB. The reason for the paper tanking is mainly because he was falsely accused of being a serial killer for a solid year, which has caused his credibility and the paper's circulation to go down the toilet. Bennett doesn't care; he doesn’t want anyone taking the DB away from him.

Through the intercom of Marla Jameson's house, J. Jonah Jameson is getting an earful. She cannot believe why he really wants to get back together with her. Jameson cryptically explains that his backers, whoever they are, not only need him to have a clean bill of health, they also need him to have a stable home life too. Jameson begs Marla to fake it for him, at least until he succeeds. Whether she accepts is not revealed.

Peter gets a call from Betty Brant, who is reminding him to show up at the YMCA the following day, as it's a big day for Flash Thompson. Turns out that Flash won first place at a sporting event for the physically disabled, which he competed in. Flash is disappointed that Peter could not attend. Betty covers for him, again.

The next call is from Aunt May. She is inviting him for dinner the following Sunday, as she wants to introduce him to someone – J. Jonah Jameson Sr. Unfortunately, Peter misses out on that as well. The romance between JJJ Sr. and Aunt May is blossoming. Could there be a marriage on the horizon?

The last message is from Mary Jane Watson. She is about to tell him something but there is no more room on the tape and the last message is therefore erased. What she was about to say remains a mystery...for now.

In the royal throne room of the Dregans, the king waits nervously for the arrival of the "Gods" of Kort. Minutes later, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four come bursting through the throne room door. Spidey disarms the Dregans guards while Sue creates a force field, blocking the only way in. Having accompanied them, Patronus faces the king (named Dargo). He tells the king that, years ago, his father struck an accord with Kort – an arranged marriage to bind their two kingdoms in peace. Dargo concurs and explains that it was with the Princess J'Tal but that the arrangement was broken. As Patronus starts taking his helmet off, he tells Dargo that, while the Princess was stolen from them by a young foolish warrior, who in turn was aided by five even more foolish gods, J'Tal was true to her word – the arrangement was kept and the marriage was consummated. Having fully removed his helmet, it is revealed that Patronus is half-Kort, half-Dregan. Upon seeing this, Dargo bows to him, stating that, by their laws, he is their rightful king. He then asks Patronus why he kept that secret for all these years. Patronus explains that he did so because the people of Kort have always feared a more powerful Dregan; however, where it is just family at that moment, he can finally show his true face.

Moments later, the Dregans agree to cease the attack on Kort and vow to keep the matter in the royal family. Patronus acknowledges their effort and thanks them. As Spidey and the Fantastic Four board their ship, Patronus bids them farewell. Before disappearing into the ship, Reed turns to Patronus and asks how he is going to explain the sudden outbreak of peace to his people. Patronus answers that he's going to tell them that it was delivered by their five Gods, which wouldn't be too far from the truth. Reed concurs.

With some time on their hands before departure from the Macroverse, Reed asks Spidey how the "mindwipe" works. Spidey explains that it is a psychic blind spot, of sorts, and the way it works is quite simple. Even if someone has enough evidence pointing to who he really is, their mind will not allow them to connect the dots, or if they did, they would come up with their own solution, but not the right one. Reed asks if there is any way his identity can be compromised. Spidey indicates that if someone unmasks him or if he unmasks himself, that someone's memories of him will all come rushing back. Having overheard their conversation, Johnny tells Spidey to unmask for them, as they are his friends and they could help him with things. Spidey retorts that it is too dangerous for him to reveal his identity to them, because they could be forced into revealing it, should they ever get captured and be tortured by super-villains, and what not – he cannot risk that happening. Reed points out that he might not have to and goes on explaining that he could replicate the psychic blind spots, and then they could share and keep his secret too. Johnny tells Spidey that, like Ben said earlier, when he's with them, he's not just part of a team, he's also part of a family, and they won't let him down. Spidey hesitates for a few seconds and proceeds to pull his mask off, revealing himself as Peter Parker. Memories come flooding back for the Fantastic Four and they embrace Peter.

A short time later, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, reappear in New York City, atop the Baxter Building. Using his quantum synchronizer, Reed reveals that two months have passed since they left New York. Realizing the consequences of having been gone so long, Spidey says goodbye to his friends and web-slings away in a hurry.

Spider-Man is swinging frantically, trying to get back home as soon as possible, when something off-panel distracts him, sending him crashing into the support of a billboard sign. Getting back to his feet, he cannot believe what he's seeing. On a giant display above Times Square, the face of a smiling J. Jonah Jameson fills the screen, and the scrolling text below reveals why. J. Jonah Jameson has been elected as the new mayor of New York City.

To be continued.

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