As the villain in “Renew Your Vows,” Dan Slott’s “Spider-Man” contribution to “Secret Wars,” Regent wasn’t all that special. While it was interesting to see a villain with a power-hoarding gimmick like his amass enough power to take over the Marvel Universe, his main purpose in the story was to just be the big bad that Peter Parker and his family had to overcome at the end. Still, it’s not like Slott would create an all-new villain for Spider-Man (particularly for such a high-profile and bestselling miniseries) and then never use him again. So we get the return of Regent in this latest volume of “ASM: Worldwide” as he looks to take over the Marvel Universe using the powers from the heroes and villains he has locked up in his high-end prison. It’s about as exciting as it sounds. Had Slott made more of an effort to give Regent more personality than he had in “Renew Your Vows” this might not have been a problem. Except that the villain is now lacking the one interesting aspect of his character — the fact that he did succeed in defeating all the heroes — and he’s even more dull to read about here as a result.
That doesn’t make this volume a lost cause, however. While Regent may be driving the plot of this volume, its most interesting conflict comes from Peter Parker and Tony Stark. Both are at odds for most of the volume as Parker Industries’ stock is on the rise while Stark is struggling, and Peter’s insistence on keeping his secret identity leads to some awkward moments with the futurist. Particularly when Stark tries to recruit Spider-Man, saying that he can always come work for him after Parker Industries crashes and burns. That’s when the fisticuffs start. Norman Osborne also gets a lot to do in this volume as well. From dealing with his ex-wife at a corporate dinner, to figuring out Regent’s identity in a great bit of self-aware detective work with Betty Brant and Mary Jane, to actually doing something about the villain on his own. Oh, and MJ gets to have some fun as a superhero again when she has to save Peter and Tony’s butts when Regent has them on the ropes. (She also gets the spotlight in the not-bad reprint of “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #19 included here to round out the page count.) Along with Giuseppe Camuncoli’s always-enjoyable art, there’s enough going on around the edges of the main story to make this volume a decent read. Though, if Slott wants to bring Regent back for a third go-round, he’s got a lot of work ahead of him to make this guy into a worthy villain.