Hello and welcome to another exciting week in Ye Olde School Café! This week, we’ll be checking out three more chapters in the Evolutionary War saga! Two Spidey stories, and a West Coast Avengers one as well, will be on tap, so buckle up and get ready for the talents of Steve Gerber (RIP), Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom, Gerry Conway, and Mark Bagley! (Web of Spider-Man Annual #4, The West Coast Avengers Annual #3, and The Spectacular Spider-Man #8, respectively!)
Peter Parker is being interviewed on a talk show to promote his new book Webs: Spider-Man in Action. Peter then retreats to his room at a hotel (he’s in Miami for this TV show), and then he and Mary Jane talk dirty to each other over the phone (she’s in L.A. I think, doing a photo shoot). Then Pete’s spider-sense goes bonkers, but the knock at the door is only the cleaning lady. They make polite conversation, and then she leaves. Peter’s head is still ringing from the experience. She talks to someone that is unseen about something unknown. Down in the Everglades, the High Evolutionary has his troops looking for something. They set up some kind of wacky looking satellite dish, and before you know it, it begins broadcasting a sound that even makes Man-Thing shudder! Back in NYC, the Kingpin is on the phone with a man who calls himself “The Slug.” This crime boss of Miami and the Kingpin make a deal. Meanwhile, that “cleaning lady” that bothered Peter’s spider-sense is heading to the bus for a ride home. While there, she looks into the glass window and we can now see that someone or something has possessed her, and they begin to discuss her next bit of “work” she must do.
Later that night, Peter wakes up and decides to go for a stroll to help with some anxiety. The cleaning lady also is stirring, and she tells her son that she needs to go out. Peter tries to enter a diner, but a drug pusher attempts to make a sale with him. He tells the dealer to get lost, and sits down for a burger. He sees the dealer getting dragged into a car outside, and springs into action. He quickly saves the guy, and then we head to another scene. Back at the apartment of the cleaning lady, she dons a dress with a skull pendant, and looks into the mirror to see her “other self.” On the other side of town, the Slug is suffocating a man with his fat (seriously!). A couple of Purifiers show up, and kill the man Spidey just saved, because in their words, they need to stop the “spreading of his genetic structure.” In mere moments, the Purifiers come face to face with the possessed cleaning lady, and she’s ready for a fight! With great fighting skill, she dispatches each of them, and then retreats when the police get close.
Spidey is then seen in the swamps, and looking for clues to the government scandal or even the drug trade that’s running rampant. As he finds some evidence, some of the Slug’s thugs (sorry, I had to) show up. But before they can get a round off, the Purifiers gun them down. As Spidey is dodging the Purifiers’ blasts, that possessed cleaning lady shows up and evens the odds, but before she can do anything, Man-Thing reappears and begins to tear it up! After Spidey wraps up the last Purifier, he gets back to his hotel room, and is surprised by MJ. She made the trip to see him because she missed him.
The next chapter involves the West Coast Avengers. Specifically, a man named Bill Foster. You see, Foster was a one time assistant of Hank Pym, but has been “recruited” by the High Evolutionary to construct a genetic bomb that will alter every living thing’s DNA on the planet. Foster realizes that he must contact the Avengers, so he slips a capsule with a note inside it into one of the Purifiers’ suits as they head out for another bloody mission. The Evolutionary then recounts his former defeat at the hands of the Beyonders, when he created Counter-Earth (great Adam Warlock stuff, FYI). The scene quickly switches to The Black Panther and his troops in Wakanda, as they’re fighting off a horde of “Gatherers” sent down by their master (the High Evolutionary). It is here that the Panther discovers the capsule sent by Bill Foster for the Avengers to come and aid him aboard the floating fortress of the High Evolutionary.
The Panther takes the note to the Avengers, and they recount the days of hanging with Foster. As they’re reminiscing, suddenly the Panther statue rises, and it’s revealed that a group of villains is inside pounding the crap out of the guards! A huge fight ensues, and eventually the Avengers come out on top. As they finish mopping up, a mysterious figure grabs something from behind the Panther, and even his keen senses don’t alert him fast enough to see who it was. Meanwhile, at the Savage Land, Mockingbird, Tigra, and Moon Knight are investigating some stranger occurrences. Ka-Zar tells them that the citadel of the High Evolutionary is the epicenter for all the goings-on, so they seek answers there.
Once inside, they learn of his insidious plan and try to stop him. He basically swats them away like gnats, and they regroup to figure out how they’re going to stop this seemingly unbeatable foe. As they get tossed into a maze, Mockingbird is the first to find her way to the Evolutionary. She challenges him physically, and initially has some success. He eventually overpowers her, though, and is at his mercy. Foster sees this, and pops one of his pills that is basically Pym Particles in pill form. He grows to enormous size (without the use of Viagra, I might add) and immediately fights his master. The banter during the fight leads the Evolutionary to believe that Foster might have some of the same ideals that he has, so he leaves before it is settled.
In the following book, Spider-Man is web-swinging around the city when he sees a bunch of thugs that heave gotten their hands on some hi-tech equipment, and are terrorizing a young girl. As Spidey swings in to stop them, he’s stunned to see the girl is none other than Gwen Stacy! Just as he’s about to question her, the thugs attack. By the time he cleans up that mess, Gwen is gone. Under the ocean, the High Evolutionary tells his first in command to recite his newest mission back to him. He asks why they must kidnap Gwen Stacy, and the Evolutionary tells him that she is an anomaly, and shouldn’t exist. The Evolutionary then exits to check on the progress of a group called the “Young Gods,” who were ordinary kids that were given extraordinary powers by the Elders of the Earth.
Peter gets home and is visibly shaken. He tells MJ what happened, and she’s stunned and jealous at he same time. The Evolutionary pops in on the training of the Young Gods, and at first they fight with each other. He convinces them to listen, and then to buy into his theory that all should be like these perfect creatures. Back in NYC, Spidey is on the prowl and searching for Gwen. It doesn’t take him long to find her, because those lackeys of the High Evolutionary are after her again, and destroying half the city in the process. As Spidey is taking them out, one grabs Gwen, and then teleports away, but Spidey dives into the portal after them. He ends up in the lair of the Evolutionary, and then must fight his way out of the room filled with Purifiers and Gatherers. Gwen is strapped into some wacky machine to test her genes.
Half of the Young Gods then show up, and begin to help Spidey. Ten seconds later, though, the other half shows up that agrees with the Evolutionary, and they begin to fight and make matters even worse. Eventually Spidey makes his way to Gwen, and the Young Gods’ teacher shows up, and things are taken down a notch. Spidey tells Gwen that even if she’s the real Gwen, he’s in love with someone else now. The Young Gods are whisked away by their teleporter, and Spidey is left to confront the Evolutionary. The Evolutionary explains that Professor Miles Warren kidnapped a young girl who was similar to Gwen. Then he used a genetic virus to alter her DNA so she would appear to look exactly like Gwen. He also implanted memories into her mind. The Young God named Daydreamer appears out of nowhere and uses her powers to take away the illusion for the young girl, who then walks away, none the wiser. Spidey then swings home to MJ, who is waiting for him, and the two iron out the entire mess, and Peter tells her that she’s the only one for him!
Well, that’s it for now, but be back next week for the exciting conclusion, as we head to the depths below and watch as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes attempt to stop the near god-like powers of the twisted High Evolutionary! See you next week!