A new villain, Shathra, is on the scene making life hard for Spidey.
Pete is at school, after hours with one of his students helping him out with some work. He is constantly distracted as he's waiting for Shathra to reappear and continue the brawl she started last issue. Pete's student finishes up and Pete heads off to the teachers' staffroom. A TV is on in the staffroom. The top news being displayed is an interview with Sharon (Shathra's human guise) detailing her 2 year love affair with Spider-Man. Pete's understandably ticked off and rings up MJ to assure her it's not true. MJ seems a little hesitant to believe him, which makes Peter even more angry and he storms off to find Shathra.
Meanwhile, in some undisclosed location we see Ezekiel watching TV and he utters the enigmatic words: "I've been away too long. It's started."
Back in NY, Pete is swinging his way across town as Spidey. He finds the studio where Sharon\Shathra is being interviewed, crashes in and attacks her. She emerges from the rubble and they fight going at it with parking meters and fists. During the fight Shathra tags Spidey with some sort of paralysis spike. Spidey manages to get in a cab and escape, desperate to hide before the paralysis takes full effect. He ends up crawling into a Spider exhibit where all the resident Spiders emerge and enveloped him as he finally collapses.
This issue is an improvement on the last, but I still have some problems with it. But, I'll focus on what I liked first.
I liked the Sharon version of Shathra pretending to be Spidey's lover to get Spidey going. It was pretty interesting. It's a good idea and played out pretty well. I thought it was going to pan out slightly differently though. I was expecting Pete to come in and punch in front of a live audience and for her to play dead or something so that everyone would end up totally hating Spidey. I think that would have been interesting to see, but I'm glad it went the other way, mainly because it surprised me a little.
The fight itself was okay, though a little too reminiscent of Spidey's fight with Morlun. The best part was Spidey's mode of escape. You could feel the danger Spidey was in, but at the same time the cab driver's dialogue is quite humourous and entertaining. Also, the ending with Spidey being covered in hundreds of spiders is eerie and a little creepy.
Last issue I was pretty dissapointed with the introduction of Shathra, but the way she masquerades as Sharon to get Spidey agitated makes her a bit more credible and unique. What she really wants is still a little unclear, she keeps on going on about bringing the out in Spider-Man before she kills him. That, the reintriduction of Ezekiel and Spidey's own musings seem to be pointing to more mystical spider crap. I haven't been a fan of the mystical spider angle JMS has been playing with since he started writing Spidey and have been happy that its ended up being a fairly low key part of his stories. But, it seems to be boiling to the surface and I hope it isn't dissapointing and has a good point to it all. I'm more than happy that Spidey is an ordinary guy who got accidently bitten by a radioactive spider. I think trying to mix mystical essence of a spider crap into that is just stupid and could end overcomplicating things. It would also diminish some of Spidey's appeal.
Lastly, Shathra's design continues to be unimpressive.
Better than last issue, not quite as good as what has been the norm for this title, but it could possibly look better after this storyline pans out.