Marvel’s Spider-Verse kicked off in full-swing last week with The Amazing Spider-Man #9 which brought Peter Parker from Earth -616 firmly into the middle of the event. Many of the most powerful of Spider-totems have already allied together against the all-consuming rampages of the Inheritors and we’ve also seen what the larger plan in effect is. This is certainly an event set to touch across all corners of the Marvel omniverse and the sheer volume of stories itself is pretty damn amazing, with Spider-totems from lots of different Earths being featured.
In this week’s Spider-Verse #1, we see some more Spider-Totems in the vein of Spider-Verse Team-Up and it is quite a fun look as well. Combining several different art styles and several different Spider-totems, this issue is mostly just an “extra”. Nothing important really happens in here unless we count this one story featuring the Master-Weaver himself, which is pretty striking in its implications. Though I must say that my favourite story is the steampunk one featuring May Reilly. Brilliant that one. With the mix of stories here, some of them work really well and some don’t and you run the gamut from serious intense stories to cartoony ones.
The Master Weaver kicks off this anthology issue, introducing us to the Spider-Verse, where there are infinite realitiesand each reality harbors a Spider-Totem of some kind, whether that is in Shakespearan England or Steampunk New York or something resembling the old Spidey cartoons or what have you. There’s even an Earth where Peter’s work reflects a very Avatar: The Last Airbender vibe, which was a fun story in this issue, but very disappointing as well since the apparent core-thrust (for me) of the story never materialized.
Dan Slott has to be the craziest guy in comics right now, alongside Charles Soule. These two individuals put out tons of stories each month and the last few weeks have seen an enormous amount of finished work from Dan Slott in particular. How he does all that he does is pretty much beyond my understanding. And he maintains a double-shipping schedule on his main Spidey books, has been since before Superior Spider-Man started I believe.
Any way. Back to the issue. Given the different stories told within this issue, you would kind of expect that there would be more than one writer, and that is exactly the case here. Dan Slott, Skottie Young, Robbie Thompson and Katie Cook deliver some interesting takes on the Spidey mythos, drawing in characters of different ages and both male and female to add to the growing lore surrounding Spider-Verse.
In some ways, this issue feels like a bit much. It doesn’t advance the overall story so much and is basically just something that can be told in backups in several different other main series without the necessity of a completely new title. And if I’m not mistaken, then there are only going to be two such issues total for this event, so I’m a bit confused.
But I won’t deny at the same time that I didn’t love seeing black & white Peter Parker with Mary Jane, locked in a chronal limbo while Morlun tries to consume Peter’s Spider-totem. Or May Reilly fighting off against a Steampunk version of the Sinister Six, the Six Men of Sinistry. The only story that really gave me a pause was the one with Penelope Parker, a kid in a cartoon-like setting where she is the one to get bit by a Spider and gain some wonderful powers as a result. It is kind of fun but drags on a bit too long, longer than it should have and just got boring in the end.
After all, how many Spidey origins can you read without all of them just seeing too similar?
The opening story is drawn by Humberto Ramos, a Spidey stalwart in recent years, with inks by Victor Olazaba and colours by Edgar Delgado. Skottie Young’s Avatar-like story is drawn by Jake Parker with colours by Andrew Crossley. Steampunk Spidey is drawn by Denis Medri with colours by Paolo Francescutto. The Penelope Parker story is drawn by writer Katie Cook herself with colours by Heather Breckel. And the final black & white story is drawn by Grummett and Palmer.
There is a right mix of styles here, as I said, and each has something to recommend itself. But I loved the Steampunk Spidey one the best. Very colourful with some great visuals all around. Humberto Ramos & Co. do some straight-up great work, as they’ve done on Superior Spider-Man before, and I loved that too, but some of the panels were a bit too busy and cluttered so that took away from the whole thing a little bit. Jake Parker and Andrew Crossley did some good work too, but it was just too… weird for me, I’ll admit. Fun, but weird.
Not so bad an issue after all. It kind of doesn’t add much to the event itself, but it is a good read still.