Amazing Spider-Man #46-48 (2002-2003)

These issues begin a big “spider saga” that really turns the legend of Spider-Man on its head. It’s a great, sweeping retake on Peter Parker’s origin, the source of his powers, and just about everything else we readers thought we knew about Spider-Man.

Sadly, most of the new additions to the legend of Spider-Man don’t go much further than JMS and JR Jr.’s run on this title. But it’s great while it lasts.

It starts with Peter returning home from California (where he visited Mary Jane in the last arc), and being visited by Doctor Strange in his sleep. The dream conversation is very funny but it ends on a serious note…

Doc tells Peter that something is coming for him and tells him to look in a nearby textbook, where he finds a picture of a spider wasp–an apex predator of the insect world. A few hours later, as Spider-Man, he confronts a new enemy…

Shathra. The Spider-Wasp.


After a battle, the being takes on a human form and begins to ruin Peter Parker’s life by being the “source” for a (fake) Daily Bugle story detailing her two-year affair with Spider-Man. Obviously, this impinges upon Peter’s hopes of getting back with MJ.

After a rematch with Shathra, a wounded Spider-Man crawls away and gets enveloped by spiders.

Ezekiel returns, too. He digs Spider-Man out of the spider pit and tells him the legend of the first Spider-Man.

Peter taps into that power for his final meeting with Shathra–and appears to control spiders and use them to destroy her.

She will be back, though.

At the end of the arc, Shathra is vanquished.


Peter feels badly about killing her but, as Ezekiel says, “the food chain goes both ways.”

I’m not going to dig too far into the mythology here because, like I said up top, it’s not used very much in the future. Note that Spider-Man leaves this arc with the ability to communicate with spiders–a new power.

Also: Mary Jane gets on a plane to return to New York, in preparation for issue #50’s very touching reunion.

A lot of people hate JMS for his reimagining of Spider-Man, but I thought it was a really cool take on a character we’ve all known for decades. It was, at least, an attempt at something new.

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