SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #4 by Nick Spencer, Ryan Ottley, Cliff Rathburn, Laura Martin and Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
The last issue of Amazing Spider-Man started to show the effects of Peter Parker's split from Spider-Man after his exposure to the same device that originally gave him his spider-powers. At first, the unusual separation seemed to be a win for both parties involved, until side effects like behavioral changes (in Spidey) and loss of intelligence (in Peter) became apparent.
In Amazing Spider-Man #4, Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley's story moves forward to show how the disparity between Peter and Spidey continues to widen, to the point of potential life-threatening consequences. The two halves somehow need to again become one – and they presumably will – but once they do, will Peter, or Spidey, ever be the same?
What Else Spider-Man Has Lost
While his sense of responsibility remains intact, the now-powerless Peter can only fulfill it with well-meaning but somewhat pedestrian acts of kindness. Spider-Man, in contrast, selfishly and unwittingly trashes New York City even as he increasingly cashes in on his own fame. A fed-up Peter eventually confronts the reckless webslinger, and during their discussion learns a heartbreaking and startling revelation: Spidey has no recollection of their Uncle Ben.
The disclosure provides a bit of solid insight into Spider-Man's increasing recklessness: He has no memory of the man who instilled the very notion of great responsibility in him. More importantly, though, it signals something more significant; that there is even more – or less – to this troubling new Spidey than either man first realized. Peter's most cherished memories are the latest aspect of his personality that are lacking in this less-than-Amazing Spider-Man.
Less Than the Sum of Their Parts
In the wake of his dismaying encounter with Spidey, Peter heads to Empire State University to see if he can press Doc Curt Connors (aka Spidey's former foe, the Lizard) for more info on what exactly might have happened to him. Upon arriving, though, Peter learns of another dismal development: The laboratory mouse – or mice – initially used to test the genome accelerator have died. Cause of death? Loss of basic life functions after prolonged separation in the wake of their split.
This is the worst news yet for Peter, who now knows that his separation from Spider-Man is potentially fatal – for both of them. It's a quandary that Peter can't turn to Connors for help, though, without risking his secret identity – an identity that, ironically, Peter no longer has for the moment. Just what can Peter do at this point, and how can he ever convince Spidey to go along with it?