Comics : Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #48

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This review was first published on: 2004.

Background...

Ezekiel has turned up in Spidey's life and possess similar powers to Spidey. He claims that Spidey's powers have a mystical origin and purpose. A new villain, Shathra, is also on the scene. Last issue she gave SPidey a hard time and he's crawled away to hide in a spider exhibit...

In Detail...

"A Spider's Tale"
Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #48
Feb 2003 : SM Title
Summary: (#489) Spider-Man vs. Shathra, Ezekial Returns
Editor:  Axel Alonso
Writer:  J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils:  John Romita, Jr.
Inker:  Scott Hanna
Cover Art:  Frank Cho
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 Reprinted In: Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #19
 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #4
Articles: Ezekiel, Shathra

This issue starts of with Spidey still unconcious and hiding in a spider exhibit, where he is found by Ezekiel. Ezekiel gets Spidey out of there and ships him off to the African continent.

While Spidey is regaining conciousness, Ezekiel retells the story of the First Spider-Man. In Ezekiel's story he claims that this first Spider-Man somehow ascended to a higher level an dwells now on the Astral Plane as some sort of spider-god. He intimates that it is this being that caused the events which led to Pete getting his spider powers.

When Spidey awakes, Ezekiel takes him to a nearby spider temple of some sort to wait for Shathra. Shathra comes, they fight it out. Thousands of spiders erupt from a pit in the centre of the temple and engulf Shathra until she tumbles to the bottom of the pit beaten.

Meanwhile, back in America the news stations are brushing aside the bungle they made in believing in Shathra's story. And MJ is in LA booking tickets to NY, presumably to catch up with Pete!

In General...

I really don't know about this issue. It wasn't excatly bad, but I didn't really like it much. It had way too many things that annoyed me. But, on the other hand it's fairly well written and very well drawn. I guess I just don't like the plot.

As I've said before, I really DON'T like all this mystical spider stuff. It just doesn't sit well with my idea of Spider-Man being an everyday guy given powers by a freak accident. But, fortunately this element to JMS's stories haven't really taken centre stage so far. In this issue though JMS brings to the fore his subplots on the mystical spider-man stuff and makes some further assertions. He also tries to set up his idea as not being in conflict with Spidey's origin, but rather to compliment it. In the end it just seems totally stupid, hokey and unwarranted. It has provided the setting for at least one good storyline (the Morlun one), but now it just really seems to have no real purpose. This current storyline with Shathra has wrapped up in an unimprssive and formulaic fight with seemingly no overall purpose. I guess could still be turned around, its not unsalvagable. I'm guess I'm just looking for something more.

The fight scene wasn't even enjoyable on a superficial level. I've mentioned how I've really liked the way JMS and JR, Jr weave comsequence and power into their fight scenes. But, this issue that seems to be missing. It doesn't help that Shathra is so ill defined and boring, right down to the way she is depicted.

There are a couple of other annoying things. This whole 'be the spider' and 'bring out the spider in you' business that Ezekiel and Shathra keep harping on about is quite annoying. Why would Pete want to bring out the Spider in himself? It's not like spiders are noble creatures (which is pointed out in the script). They don't have anything good or heroic going for them. In fact, since Pete has been listening to these people the only change seems to be that he seems to think that killing his enemies is a good way to go. He was seriously tempted with Morlun and he seems to think that he would kill Shathra (its not really clear on whether Shathra IS dead at the end of this issue). I mean if the only affect of 'getting in touch with his inner spider' is to be ready to kill his enemies, I don't think that's really a good thing!

It was good to see the return of Ezekiel though. And the last page with the brief look at the how the media handled Shathra's hoax was pretty good. I'm also looking forward to more MJ, I enjoy the way JMS writes her.

Overall Rating...

This issue is probably JMS's worst issue so far in my opinion. I was really hoping something more.