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The Amazing Spider-Man #47
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artists: John Romita, Jr. and Scott Hanna

As the legend goes, a lot of people thought that Spider-Man would never make it as a character because, well, spiders are icky. JMS remembers this, and has skillfully brought that idea back into the mythos.

Facing off against Shathra the Spiderwasp, Peter has to be careful not to give into the spider side of himself. A year ago, he didn't even know he had that side. And from the rage he vents, it's quite possible he's given in quite a few times over his career, but it never posed a problem before. Until now, Shathra didn't know he existed. In a quite disgusting touch, Peter wouldn't be fit for feeding to her young if a trace of the human remained.

Though Spider-Man and the supernatural wouldn't seem an easy mix, JMS makes it work. Once again, questions about the nature of Peter's powers arise, and though the answers aren't any more forthcoming, the story is so skillfully done to make the wait worthwhile.

Romita also would seem at odds with the more supernatural aspects of the story, but his art gives the paranormal a strangely earthy quality. Maybe he's just at home with insects, but both forms of Shathra are great designs.

And once again - FRANK CHO COVER! Woo-HOO!


Batman: Gotham Knights # 35
writer: Scott Beatty
artists: Roger Robinson and John Floyd

Whether or not you like the idea, Bane and Batman as brothers sure seems to have people talking. Beatty has also taken the opportunity to bring back some old wounds, such as the Nightwing and Huntress relationship. (Remember that?)

The story plays pretty cagily with the "are they or aren't they" question, and after three issues, it's getting old. It may be a flaw in the artwork, but it still remains unclear if the DNA tests have been tampered with, so it's hard to know what exactly we are to suspect. At least the subplot with the new Tattooed Lady has been paced well, and gives a better explanation for the power than any previous version. (Not to mention a far more terrifying use for it.)

In the back-up slot comes a story that should provoke debate. Though I don't necessarily have hopes that it will, it would be cool if the regular storylines picked up the question posed here. After at least a decade of portraying Batman as urban legend, Brian Azzarello wonders if that's the most effective way for the caped crusader to fight crime.


Birds of Prey #49
writer: Terry Moore
artists: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti

In the DC Universe, all roads of political intrigue lead to only one man. It's kind of a shame that Moore keeps it up in this otherwise fun story. But if it has to happen this way, it makes sense that the Birds would be high on the list of thwarting.

It's also a shame that here endeth the Moore run on the book. He brought a sense of fun to the characters to match the adventure that Chuck Dixon gave them. If the producers of the television show had had a chance to copy this take, they might have been successful with it. (It's too late, but guys, Barbara just works better without self-pity.)

Matching Moore every step of the way is the Conner and Palmiotti art team. Not only are their storytelling powers top-notch, but they give every character a really strong sense of identity. Interestingly, Conner draws Talia far more Asian than she appears in other books, but considering her heritage, that might be the way to go. The only drawback to it would be people confusing her with Lady Shiva when drawn badly. But believe me, that isn't happening here.

Hey, DC, how about an inexpensive collection of this arc?


Daredevil #39
writer: Brian Michael Bendis

artist: Manuel Gutierrez

Once you get past the District Attorney's disturbing resemblance to the pre-op Al Roker, this courtroom drama proves pretty compelling. Bendis makes it at least seem as real as any topnotch lawyer TV show, which is hard to do considering that the defendant is a superhero. True, a third-rater, but still…

Just as Alias tends to deal with obscure corners of Marvel history, this trial may send some fans scouring back issues, or at least Marvel trivia websites. By using the White Tiger, Bendis deftly illustrates how little the man on the street would actually know about so-called superheroes; their powers would readily become the stuff of urban myth (unlike their actual existence, Batman).

Gutierrez turns in another stellar job with this issue. If Bill Jemas had used him on Marville, some of his jokes might have worked. I emphasize the might.


The Rest of The Week...

Derek McCaw


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