Peter David and Sal Buscema craft a sequel to one of Spider-Man's most acclaimed stories. How does it hold up to the original? Read on and find out!
A year after Spider-Man captured the Sin-Eater, a remorseful Stan Carter has been granted a clean bill of mental health and released. Upon his release, he attracts no shortage of publicity, including a self-appointed publicist who seeks to cash in on Carter's notoriety. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with Spider-Man, who has neither forgiven nor forgotten Carter's past crimes and thinks he's actively looking for the limelight. He goes to confront Carter, intending to warn him that he'll be watching him. However, he's horrified to learn that Carter is permanently crippled and partially deaf...as a result of the injuries he received from Spider-Man during their last fight. Horrified by what he's done, Spider-Man becomes afraid of his own strength, to the point where it impedes him as a crime-fighter. The timing on this couldn't be worse, because Electro, one of Spider-Man's more powerful (if not more ambitious) recurring villains, is at large again. Spider-Man, afraid of doing to Electro what he did to Carter, fares badly in their battle - and to make things worse, Carter has to save Spider-Man's life. (This does wonders for Spidey's popularity, naturally, and he's not exactly the Big Apple's favorite person to begin with). Electro, newly encouraged by his victory over Spider-Man, decides to get more ambitious, to the point where the entire city is in danger if Spider-Man can't stop him. Meanwhile, Carter's struggling not only to make ends meet, but to repress his murderous alter-ego, and it's a struggle he may be losing.
That being said...I personally liked this story even better.
I've come across lots of "justice vs. vengeance" stories over the years in a wide variety of mediums, and while The Death of Jean DeWolff was...well...spectacularly executed, it still was familiar territory. But Stan Carter - a serial killer - sincerely attempting rehabilitation, combined with Spider-Man dealing with the consequences of maiming a man when he lost control...I don't see that kind of story get told anywhere near as often. David plays fair, representing both sides of the dilemmas faced by our principled cast evenly. Even the doctors evaluating Carter's mental state and debating the merits of keeping him locked up vs. letting him go make good points on both sides, rather than David taking the easy way out and making one side a strawman. (Said debate also serves to concisely summarize the previous Sin-Eater storyline for the benefit of new readers.) Best of all, I like how David doesn't let Spider-Man off the hook for crippling Carter. Nobody's mind-controlling or emotionally manipulating Spider-Man into thinking he was responsible for something he didn't actually do. He did what he did, and now he must take responsibility for it.