A stranger named Ezekiel has entered Spidey's life, he has the same powers as Spidey and knows who Spidey really is. He has also told Spidey his powers may not have been an accident. A new menace arrived on the scene. And last issue Pete went back to school, as a teacher.
|Writer:||J. Michael Straczynski|
|Pencils:||John Romita, Jr.|
|Cover Art:||Scott Campbell|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Must Haves #13|
|Reprinted In:||Marvel Tales Flip Magazine #3|
|Reprinted In:||Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 Collected Edition|
|Reprinted In:||Spider-Man TPB (Amazing) #1|
This issue starts with a hilarious sequence of Spidey rescuing a hostage. It's worthe the entrance fee alone. Then the story progresses onto what turns out to be a long conversation between Ezekiel and Peter. In fact the majority of the issue is spent in conversation over pizza, between Pete and Ezekiel. Ezekiel explains to Pete about totemistic forces that represent powers from the beginning of time. How Peter is a true representative of these forces, how there are pretenders to these forces who have sought his destruction (i.e. Doc Ock, Scorpion, Rhino, etc). To cap it off, Ezekiel reveals that there are hunters who hunt down and feed off the true representatives of these forces. Such a hunter, named Morlun, is gunning for Pete!
Pete prompts Ezekiel to reveal more about himself and is taken to one Ezekiel's skyscrapers in the city. Ezekiel reveals he used his powers for profit and to gain wealth. As a result he feels that he hasn't really done any good, unlike Pete. He reveals he admires Pete and wants to do something for him. He leads Pete to a chamber, built specifically to hide and protect Pete from Morlun. Ezekiel stresses that he believes Pete will die from a confrontation witgh Morlun. Pete refuses and leaves
Back home, Pete watches the news and it's reported that an emergency is underway. So, Pete swings out to help. After saving a someone from a building fire, Spidey's spider-sense goes nuts and he is punched in the face, flying back to leave a dent in a car. He looks up and is facing Morlun... It's a cliffhanger ending.
After JMS's first two issues being great, but not really mind-blowing, I'm finally starting to think after reading this issue that things are shaping up to be... well... amazing! Yep, this issue is pretty much awesome and while I'm still not convinced on some of the plot points, it at least is explained well and makes sense.
The opening scene of Spidey rescuing a hostage is awesome. It's funny and also interesting to see (what would normally be a mundane thing for hardened Spidey fans) such a situation from the perspective of the hostage. I think this is the single best sequence of Amazing Spider-man in years. Anyway, it's great.
The main story though is mainly a conversation between Spidey and Ezekiel. Which in the hands of another creative team, would probably have been horrible (when I think of Mackie or worse still, Claremont, writing something this, I shudder!). But, instead of being boring, it's great! It does what is needed, to further the plot and develops the characters of both Pete and Ezekiel. The best thing though, that was done really well and I didn't even really notice it until the 3rd reading, was the way Peter reacts to Ezekiel's story. Peter's reaction mirrored the things I had been thinking about Ezekiel and his so called 'mind-blowing' revelations. Almost exactly. Unobtrusively.Freaky... WHich is why, though I still have doubts about the plot-line, JMS is whittling them down and I'm definitely on-board now.
The only doubt that is lingering largely in my mind is about Morlun. He's played up by Ezekiel to be the most unstoppable villain Pete will ever face. And Ezekiel, with his billion dollar protection chamber goes to a lot of trouble to convince Pete. And then at the end, when Morlun smacks Spidey, Pete reveals that it was a harder hit than the Hulk or Thor could've of delivered. Now come on! Hitting harder than the Hulk? This is a bit much, JMS is trying a bit hard with this. But, I guess next issue I'll discover just how tough Morlun is.
A mention should also go in for Romita, Jr. JMS's script may be great, but Romita's art pulls it off. He does great job of making an issue of conversation interesting visually. Top notch stuff.
Five webs. Though I have some minor lingering doubts, it'd be a crime to give this less.