Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #508

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This story is part of an Arc: "The Book Of Ezekiel"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Ezekiel's secret agenda is revealed: he must kill Spidey to survive!

In Detail...

Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #508
Jul 2004 : SMURF 508.500 : SM Title
Arc: Part 3 of "The Book Of Ezekiel"
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  John Romita, Jr.
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #7
Articles: Ezekiel, Gatekeeper, Giant Spider (From Peruvian Temple)

The book opens with a shot of Pete beaten and bleeding and thinking that he's going to die. He thinks back to what led him to this point. He reflects on Ezekiel's actions since they met and how he was unwittingly manipulated by Ezekiel. His thoughts finally settle on the scene we were left with at the end of last issue: Ezekiel standing menacingly above Spidey and revealing that one of them had to die.

They fight, Ezekiel is fueled deadly determination and produces a syringe, injecting it into Spidey to slow him down. At this Spidey realises how desparate the situation is and though he's weakened and slowed by the drugs in the syringe, he fights back. But, he eventually falls.

He wakes later and we're back to our opening scene. Spidey is chained to a column in the same chamber that we've seen Ezekiel in previously. Ezekiel is standing over Pete with a knife and tells him that he has no choice. He cuts Spidey so that his blood flows into the spider runes on the floor and tells him that the powers will come for his life soon. Ezekiel then walks away.

In desperation Spidey struggles against his bonds. This only seems to cause more of his blood to flow from him. Something malevolent also seems to rising out of the blood pooled in the spider rune. In his panicked state Spidey somehow uses his spider-sense to join with Ezekiel's mind. Through this bond Ezekiel sees the heroic things that Spidey has done with the powers given to him. Ezekeil contrasts that with his life and how he's only sought wealth. He realises that he's wasted his life and has done the wrong thing and turns to return and help Spidey.

Meanwhile, a giant spider has arisen from Spidey's pooling blood and has started to chow down on his back. Ezekeil arives and plows into the spider, knocking the spider away and Spidey out of his bonds. Spidey struggles to stay conscious, as Ezekiel battles. He finally loses concsiousness just as he sees Ezekiel die in the spider's grip. From the darkness the shaman/priest guy, who gave Ezekiel his powers, appears.

Spidey wakes later, he's bandaged and he sees Ezekiel's body wrapped in cloth on the floor. The shaman guy talks to him as they bury Ezekiel's body and leave the temple ground. Pete explains how he still doesn't understand if his powers originate from magic or science. The shaman gives a nice spiel about the sun to prove his point that magic and science co-exist. SO the answer to Pete's question is that it's due to both magic and science that he has his powers... the end.

In General...

Well, that's it! After 3 years of stories, JMS wraps up his main storyline! If he kept it going much longer he would've started to rival the Clone Saga. So the question is: was it worth it? Did it end well? Did it make sense in the end?

From this final arc and this issue, its clear that JMS planned this story out and from day one. As a result it makes sense and most of the story threads are wrapped up nicely here (there are some loose threads, like what's the full deal with Ezekiel's company? And what about those ex-cons that Ezekiel was gathering?). This is a releief and much appreciated change to previous Spider-Man plotting. This definitely wasn't the case with the Clone Saga or Howard Mackie's relaunch stories involving Senator Ward and the kidnapper... ugghhh... bad memories surfacing.... revulsion building...

Anyway, the point is, JMS automatically gets my respect because he obviously took the time to think out his storylines in advance. This is a rare occurance and its great that Marvel gave him 3 years to play out his story. So, as far as the story goes, it makes sense and its wrapped up cleanly.

But, was it all worth it? Was trying to link Spidey's origin and powers to magic really worth 3 years worth of stories?

I think I've made it pretty clear what I think of linking Spidey to magic in my previous reviews. But, just for those that didn't notice, in my opinion, its crap! It's just not needed, doesn't add anything to Spidey as a character and in fact I think it takes away some of the appeal of Spidey; that he's an ordinary guy that just gets lumped with these powers. Having said that, there were some good things. But, on the whole I really just don't like the main idea.

This issue, on its own merits is fairly good. Ezekiel and Spidey's battle is exciting and Ezekiel comes across as creepy and crazed. The resolution is a little too clean, nice and a little too convenient. At least JMS had the guts to kill off Ezekiel. The "science and magic" conclusion still doesn't make things sit any better with me. At least its better than just discounting the science aspect altogether, which for awhile I thought was going to happen.

And of course this is John Romita, Jr's last issue for awhile. He's a great artist and once again he does a solid and at times spectacular job.

Overall Rating...

3.5 as a stand alone comic. As a long running storyline, I think I would give it less purely because I don't like the main gist, the execution on the otherhand was mostly great stuff.