This volume of “Worldwide” is all about setting up the next big Spider-event as the title of the arc collected here, “Before Dead No More,” indicates. Vol. 3 left off with the cliffhanger of Jay Jameson, father to Jonah, wife to Peter’s Aunt May, collapsing suddenly. He’s in the hospital and things aren’t looking good. But wait! Along comes New U Technologies with some revolutionary medical techniques that will save Jay. Before they can do that, an explosion goes off at a Parker Industries plant and Spider-Man springs into action to save its employees. One of them winds up on the brink of death and Peter requests that New U use their techniques to save him. That they do and the man is as good as new afterwards, save for the fact that now his very presence sets off Parker’s spider-sense like nothing else.
While the reason for that isn’t given here, it’s likely to have something to do with the fact that New U is being run by one Miles Warren, A.K.A. The Jackal, who has a history of clone-related shenanigans with Spider-Man. Though this makes it look like he’s the bad guy here, he has yet to do anything truly villainous. Even his gathering of a rogues’ gallery of Spider-Man villains has yet to blow up in his face. Granted, Warren’s constant proclamations that he’s not the bad guy here are a sure sign that he’s exactly that, but writer Dan Slott has some good fun playing them for self-aware laughs here.
As far as setup for the main event goes, this volume of “Worldwide” does its job pretty well. In addition to introducing the main big bad, a number of other notable plot threads are teased here as well. From the compromising of Hobie “The Prowler” Brown, to a surprise resurrection, and the return of the one true Doc Ock, there’s a lot of promising stuff on the table here. Most interesting for me is the involvement of the Kingpin, which is expertly set up in two connected shorts at the beginning and end of the volume. It’s not all success, as the drama involving Jay’s condition reaches a familiar-for-Spider-Man fever pitch near the end that feels more manipulative than anything else. That aside, this volume works well enough to get me sufficiently enthused for the main event.