Musician/writer Gerard Way makes his Spider-Man debut, closing out Edge of Spider-Verse. Do we end on a high note or is it all just noise?
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Jake Wyatt
Color Artist: Ian Herring
Letterer & Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Jake Wyatt
Variant Cover Artists: Greg Land & Morry Hollowell
Associate Editor: Ellie Pyle
Editor: Nick Lowe
The Story: Peni Parker’s father is a part of SP//dr, a metal suit he was psychically bonded with and would wear to defend the city. Upon his death in action, Peni’s Aunt May and Uncle Ben came to her, stating she was the only person genetically compatible to carry on if she would let SP//dr bite her. As it turns out, not only is SP//dr a metal suit, but there is an actual spider that goes along with it. Five years later, Peni fights against an enhanced criminal calling himself Mysterio. He reveals the location of a group of criminals who are aiding in others being enhanced. Peni and Daredevil swiftly defeat the gang. On her way home, Spider-Ham and another Spider-Man come to her, recruiting her to their side and they swing off into the Spider-Verse.
Thoughts: Edge of Spider-Verse, at least the mini-series aspect of it, reaches its conclusion this issue and finishes strong. The issue literally opens with a bang as we bear witness to the final moments of the current SP//dr. The look on pain and terror reflected in his eye was horrific to me, heightened by the fact that we don’t know what happened beyond the explosion in the sky.
We meet Peni as she apparently meets her Aunt May and Uncle Ben for the first time. Peni is very matter of fact in this scene as she explains what little she knows about the father she never met. I had to wonder what happened to her mother. Was she a part of SP//dr as well? Had she died earlier? The answers do not come as we go down a familiar, yet still very different path. Artist Jake Wyatt does a great job showing the trepidation in Peni’s eyes as she asks if SP//dr will bite her.
Flash forward five years later and we see a Mysterio-like orb causing rampant mayhem and destruction in the city. As SP//dr goes to confront this version of Mysterio, you can see two decals (tattoos?) on each shoulder, the blue one reminiscent of the backpack Peni had five years ago when she got bit. It’s a nice touch that shows sentimentality on Peni’s behalf and gives us a peek at her character. Another insight is that Peni advises Aunt May that no, she would not like Chicken Tikka, she’s vegetarian now.
We also hear Peni request a song on her playlist. It helps her focus. Once again, music features in a scene in Edge of Spider-Verse as the lyrics are “played” in the background. It’s a nice callback to issue #2 when Gwen’s band played and we could see the lyrics. Unfortunately, unlike in issue #2, I did a google and iTunes search and found no such band/song in existence. Maybe Way has it pending for future release?
Speaking of callbacks, Mysterio, albeit a version we’ve never seen, is the villain, bringing us full circle with issue #1. This one seems to be even more twisted than the Noir version, with his sycophantic attention seeking laying waste to all in his path. It was a nice touch to have his base of operations actually be his giant bubble head! We’re never given a date for when this story occurs, but I found it amusing that mix discs are alive and well. Unfortunately, so are gene pop magazines and Mysterio has pics of Peni all over his wall. Daredevil lets Peni in on this little factoid and that Mysterio had augmented himself, most likely to get her attention. Mysterio had even admitted to her that he hates his voice. Psycho genetics and bio enhancement are all the rage in this universe, and Oscorp is a pioneer. It’s uncertain if they were behind Mysterio, but it’s a cool little nod of the hat that the Goblin possibly plagues this Spidey as well. Maybe Oscorp was behind the death of Peni’s father? Regardless, this Mysterio has a lot of the same creep factor as the Spider-Man from the last issue, Patton Parnel.
I’m going to assume that Peni doesn’t have much of a secret identity as Daredevil himself comes to her class, interrupts, and takes her out of school. It’s nice to see them as friends, a welcome contrast to the Ultimate version where they didn’t get along too well to my recollection. This Daredevil seems to be more avuncular and in one of my favorite moments, right on the cusp of battle, Peni asks DD if her dad was a cool guy. It’s such a great character beat coming after Peni stating how tired she was. DD mentions that there always seemed to be a sadness about him, like something was missing. That’s very Spider-Man and the father in me assumes it’s due to him not being there for his daughter. DD reassures her that he thinks he was pretty cool and they leap into the fray.
We’re treated to a nice easter egg as the heroes go into action-the bad guys are none other than Section 9 from Ghost In The Shell! I got a pretty big kick out of their inclusion as I’ve enjoyed the anime quite a bit. Full confession-I often listen to music as I read comics at home. I like adding my own soundtrack to the proceedings and happened to be coincidentally listening to the score for Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society as I read this issue! Then, upon turning the page, we see Kaneda from Akira is also in the mix! They get trounced pretty solidly from SP//dr and DD and Peni quietly asks Daredevil if he thinks her father would have liked her. It gave me the feelz, I won’t lie.
Here’s something I have to credit to Way-he does a GREAT job on characterization in a single issue. Both this and issue #3 have a manga influence, but whilst Weaver presents a very well thought out world in issue #3, it comes off as very cold and distant. I don’t intend that to be a slight against Weaver. As I mentioned in my review, I think that was the vibe he was trying to capture, but I feel so much more involved in Peni and her world. She comes off as more empathetic than Dr. Aikman, who definitely feels more clinical and lacks the heart that Peni has. Peni is weary by battle’s end, saying that things are just LOUD all the time. Daredevil advises her that we’re all just some kind of noise, she just needs to be the good kind. It’s another great moment from Way, one that he pays off even more in a few pages.
Our sensational Spider-Verse guest stars are Last Stand Spider-Man from Amazing #500, most recently seen in the Spider-Man Unlimited mobile game, and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham! My kids got a thrill from Spider-Ham. I got the impression that the spider that comes along with the SP//dr suit probably has a stronger connection to the totem than others, but that’s just conjecture on my part. I got a chill when Peni said that she would be SP//dr till terminal failure. What kid talks like that??? It’s a fairly bleak statement, especially considering the basis of Spider-Verse, and it may be prophetic as well. As Ham points out, it’s fairly hard core. Ham then inquires if SP//dr makes a lot of noise and Wyatt gives us a great close up as Peni replies with “Yeah…the good kind.”
Edge of Spider-Verse #5 is the only issue that didn’t ship weekly. It was well worth the wait and the money. For me, this issue was up there with #2 as being my favorite. As of this writing, Marvel has announced an ongoing Spider-Gwen series. I’m not sure who’s going to be left standing once the Spider-Verse dust has settled, but I’d very much like to see Way and Wyatt return and do a SP//dr OGN or mini series. There’s a lot of ways they could go and it would be great to get a bigger peek at Peni’s father or more on Daredevil’s back story. I pretty much want to see more of everyone from the mini-series as a whole, definitely some more than others, but with confirmation on Gwen, I hope SP//dr gets as much fan love and we see this team return. I think if you keep it to something finite, you’d have a better chance of Way’s return and it would be something special.
My Grade: A+
Javi’s Huh?: Did Uncle Ben shave his beard by the time we reach the 5 Years Later part of the story? He gets mentioned, but the guy behind May definitely isn’t sporting the beard Ben was rocking at the start of the story.