Spider-Man volume 2 features a three part story by Bruce Jones and Lee Weeks, a one issue story written and illustrated by Kaare Andrews and a story written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.
Bruce Jones (Hulk, Scarecrow Year One) is a very good writer. He really knows how to blend a moody niorish story into a superhero world. Lee Weeks (who drew the Hulk for Peter David's return, after Bruce Jones left) is also very good with moody settings. Without giving too much away, there's a cab driver who has some sort of connection to Spider-Man. This cabby has a problem in his brain which may be operable though it's risky, but he can't afford it anyway. He's seperated from his wife, and his son also seems to be ill. So this cabby sets up a theft and gets the crooks to help him by promising them Spider-Man, and he just might be able to make good on that deal.
The story wasn't bad, though it was a bit confusing. Jones bounces around in time, and we don't see what the cabby's connection to Spider-Man is until the very end. Whatever illness his son suffers from goes unnamed. And, to be honest, I don't think this story needed three issues, because nothing much happens in the first two, and it could easily have been compacted and been just as effective.
Kaare Andrews is a man of many talents. The work of his that I've seen most often have been his digital paintings which have graced the covers of Spider-Man and the Hulk (during Bruce Jones' run . . . this is getting weird). His story here is also done digitally. There are two brothers. The younger one is watching an "Insect-Man" cartoon on TV. The older brother of course says that superheroes are stupid. Then Spider-Man comes crashing through their wall. A fight between Spider-Man and Electro ensues in their living room. Needless to say, by the end of the fight the older brother is thinking superheroes are pretty cool. It's a simple and predictable story, one we've seen before, but it's still cute.
The last story is written and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke (DC: New Frontier, Catwoman). Mr. Cooke is one of the best in the business right now. This story takes place on Valentines Day, and while being distracted by worrying about his Aunt May, and bills, and his duties as Spider-Man Peter Parker has accidently agreed to dates with two women. To top it off, Spider-Man has an intense fight with the Vulture which sends him falling twenty stories into a dumpster. Unfortunately he doesn't regain consciousness in time to make his date, not that he remembers in the first place. J. Jonah Jameson is in his usual demeanor watching the fight between Spider-Man and the vulture out his window. And the Daily Bugle's intern meets a nice girl while getting coffee.
There are five characters in the story who get equal face time, and at least five more characters in supporting roles, but Cookes masterful writing and art style makes each character distinguishable and the story easy to follow. And it harkens back to the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man who has nothing but trouble in every aspect of his life.
There's nothing truly groundbreaking here, but it's definately a lot of fun.