Which brings us to volume 2, Revelations, of the JMS and JRJR Spider-man trades. I enjoyed volume one enough that I bought this second volume. In retrospect, I probably could have stopped with volume 1, but I hadn't put as much thought into my feelings about Spider-man then.
This volume isn't a coherent single story the way Coming Home was. It starts with the single issue commemoration of the 9/11/01 World Trade Center attacks. While that's a nice tribute to the real life people who died and to those who strove to rescue them, it's oddly disconnected from the universe in which the story is told. While Marvel has always been more in touch with our world than DC, bringing in whoever's currently president on occasion and taking place in actual locations on this planet (Metropolis, KS notwithstanding), it's still entirely separate from our reality, what with its super heroes, aliens, and fantastic technology that, if really existent in our world, would have us living very different lives.
To me, that meant the dedication of an entire issue to what happened on 9/11/01 was weirdly out of place. Furthermore, while we've been operating under assumptions created by that day ever since, the Marvel U went back to its own world after the commemorations were done. Stories may have been influenced by 9/11/01 after that, but the stories were still in the removed world of super heroes.
Back in the Marvel U the next month we start three issues of not much happening. Aunt May discovers Peter is Spider-man when she comes to visit him, post his battle with Morlun in volume 1, finding him beaten and sound asleep with a tattered Spider-man costume nearby. She leaves without waking Peter and spends the rest of the issue thinking. When Peter wakes he spends the rest of the issue dealing with a student who's homeless and in the care of her drug addicted brother. There's then an entire issues spent with Peter and Aunt May talking about him being Spider-man, their mutual guilt over the death of Uncle Ben, and a detente of sorts being reached.
The last of the three, entitled Meanwhile... is entirely free of dialogue and features the heretofore unseen MJ and Aunt May as they go about their lives, with Spider-man on the periphery. Truth be told, I have no idea what's going on with MJ at this point. She hasn't been mentioned in either volume until now. From what I can guess in the context of things, she and Peter are separated. She's still working as a model. She's not sleeping, yet looks fantastic. If she could sell whatever it is that allows her to go without sleep and still look that good, she'd be wealthy beyond measure. Anyway, nothing much comes of our little visit to her.
Aunt May's interlude has her going through a list of things to do, which includes being a crank in local newspapers. She goes on line for several papers and cancels her subscription to the Bugle due to its anti-Spider-man tenor. She writes a nice note to a paper she thinks is fair in its coverage of Spider-man. Her last item on her list is to work on forgiving Peter. Not for Uncle Ben's death, which she blames on herself because they'd had a fight before hand, leading him to leave the house and be in the path of the robber/killer. No, she's mad at Peter for not telling her he's Spider-man all these years. Wonder what she'd think about One More Day (or whatever our lame memory wipe of all humanity was called).
The last two issues of this volume are really the best. They're from Spider-man's Tangled Web 5 and 6, written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Duncan Fegredo. Spider-man's not really in it much. It's mostly the story of the Rhino, forever a very dim man in a massively powerful form. Tiring of being manipulated and abused due to his stupidity, he goes back to the AIM scientists (ok, maybe they're not AIM, but they are scientists) who put him in the armored skin. At first he wants them to remove the armor, but they can't without killing him. Stumbling upon the fact that they've developed a method to increase intelligence, he opts for that instead.
At first all is joy with his increased mental prowess, leading to a happy relationship and wealth, but in due course he becomes dissatisfied with being smarter than everyone else, as his intelligence keeps on increasing. The relationship dissolves and he disposes of his wealth. He returns to AIM again to have his intelligence brought back to its original level. Back to square one. Nothing much to it, really, and a set piece we've seen before, to some extent with the Hulk, but nice in its own little corner of the world.
So, we have three issues of nothing much but navel gazing, bookended by a 9/11/01 memorial and a one off tale totally irrelevant to any larger story lines. Seems like the volume is misnamed as Revelations. The only revelations in the story are Peter and Aunt May's mutual admissions to feelings of guilt over Uncle Ben's death. Peter didn't reveal his identity to Aunt May. She discovered it on her own. On the whole, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone other than the completists out there.