The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #42 was written by Dan Slott with art by Cory Smith, Terry Pallot, Brian Reber, and Alex Ross
The first Amazing Spider-Man Annual came out in 1964, just about a year and a half after the debut of Amazing itself. If we’re putting out one of these issues per year, hence the term “annual”, this should be Annual #55 . So where are the missing thirteen issues? Well, there was no Annual issue in 1972, 1974, 1975, 1995, from 2002-2007, or from 2013-2017 because…reasons? That would mean that there have been 39 annuals so far, which is appropriate since the last one to come out was Amazing Spider-Man Annual #39 in 2012. To make this issue #42, you have to count the two annuals that came out for The Superior Spider-Man. They counted all the issues of Superior when the Legacy’d up the numbering for Amazing, so they way they’re doing it makes sense even if what they’re doing doesn’t.
A bunch of formerly dead secondary Spider-characters are alive again thanks to the Clone Conspiracy story. Among them are, pertinent to this issue, former Daily Bugle reporter and kinda-but-not really Hobgoblin Ned Leeds and old school goons The Enforcers (Ox, Montana, and Fancy Dan). Much like Miles Morales’ uncle Aaron Davis, they remember dying, then all of a sudden they’re alive again. Montana talks about being dead and says definitively that there is no afterlife, saying “There was no fire and brimstone. No pearly gates neither….Nothing lies beyond the grave.” I’m gonna have to call shenanigans on that one. I know there’s tons of Marvel stories that deal with the afterlife. Off the top of my head, Nightcrawler died & went to heaven and Wolverine died & went to hell.
Anyhoo, the Enforcers went after Leeds for some reason and managed to catch him on the phone with his long-widowed wife Betty Brant telling her something about something called “blood creek”. It seems this is important, because after Leeds gets away the Enforcers to go a Maggia underboss to tell him about it and the news makes him very unhappy. Turns out “blood creek” was related to a Maggia secret that Leeds was getting close to uncovering right before he died.
After the phone call, Betty Brant is convinced that the spirit of Ned Leeds reached out to her via telephone, just like Rick Grimes thought he was talking to his dead wife in The Walking Dead. I guess that’s infinitely more believable than the fact that your dead husband has been cloned. Betty looks into the “blood creek” mystery to find that there’s a statue outside of city hall that commemorates the Revolutionary War “Battle of Blood Creek”, then does some further digging to find out that there never was a “Battle of Blood Creek” during the Revolutionary War. Around this time the Enforcers show up, but thankfully Peter Parker was sent to help Betty look into this story, so Spider-Man isn’t too far behind.
Ultimately we find out that the statue in front of city hall is made out of precious tritium, a very rare metal that is extremely explosive under the right circumstances. The Maggia had it placed there as a failsafe to take out pretty much the entire city government if the need ever came about. Now that it’s been found out they plan to detonate it. While Spider-Man takes on the Enforcers, Betty stops the Maggia from detonating the statue thanks to a helpful hobo that turns out to be Ned Leeds in disguise.
So the lesson to be learned from this issue is this: Always be nice to hobos. They could be long lost loved ones in disguise.