Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artists: John Romita Jr (p), Scott Hanna (i)
The book starts with Peter reflecting on the previous week; a meeting with MJ, a fight with Doc Ock, and some other misfortunes. While he is sleeping, he receives a visit in his dreams, from Doctor Strange. Strange asks him if he wandered away from his path during his visit in the astral plane. Strange asks this because as he strayed from his path, he has now entered a food chain related to his icon: the spider. Listening to Strange, Peter reads a page in a book; from this page he learns more about the spider wasp - according to the book, the spider wasp is the most effective spider-killer. Soon a “spider wasp” named Shathra comes into play; she arrives from the astral plane looking for her new prey: Spider-Man. The chase begins through New York City and ends up in the subway. At the end, we see Shathra in a human form at a newspaper office, telling a reporter that she has some dirty secrets to reveal about Spider-man.
This issue brings us to where this arc started, with Dr. Strange and the astral plane. I didn’t read the previous story with Ezekiel and Morlun, so this icon business is new to me but I find it really appealing. It gives a more spiritual form to the story. I found Shathra really interesting because we are not so sure what kind of power she has. We already know that she can smell Spider-Man like a dog can smell rabbits and she can turn into human form. When Shathra turns into a human she is a bit clichéd; she is the dark, sexy, mysterious and really dangerous women that can use sex as a weapon. I just wonder if it’s really needed since the Spider-Man/Black Cat book from Kevin Smith already has a type of sexual content.
The humor is still present in this book; there are lots of funny lines from Spidey, the ad for the lobster man movie fits right in and the Superman reference is great too. As usual, Romita Jr provides strong artwork, except for the walking dream moment; I just find it flat, like it’s missing some detail and color. Shathra is well drawn; we can clearly see her wasp side as well as her human side. Unfortunately, the cover just looks ordinary, nothing to be impressed by. It’s nothing compared to the cover of any Hulk book presently. Also, I found it really annoying that the cover drawing has nothing to do with the story inside. I understand that Straczynski does not want us to know anything about what could happen in the book but at least they could provide us with more descriptive and beautiful artwork for the cover, just like Romita Jr. knows how to do.
This book is a lot of fun to read and it’s really got me hooked for the next part of the story. I’m looking forward to see what the impact will be on Spider-Man’s life regarding Shathra’s actions. Also, all those allusions of something important that Dr. Strange has to do make me hope that a new Strange series is coming. For those who missed the previous issues this could be a good jumping point.
What did you think of this book?
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