So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…are you ready, at last, to see “every single Spider-Man ever?” Or least the one’s Marvel are legally allowed to use? And the one’s who haven’t yet been killed off? Because look out! Here’s comes the Spider-Verse! Or as I’m beginning to call it, “The Many Deaths of Spider-Man.”
“Spider-Verse, Part One: The Gathering”
WRITER: Dan Slott
ARTIST: Olivier Coipel
COLOR ARTIST: Justin Ponsor
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
“Spider-Verse: The Feast”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKER: Cam Smith
COLORIST: Antonio Fabela
LETTERER: VC’s Travis Lanham
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY #1: We open with Peter being woken up by a phone call from J. Jonah Jameson demanding he get some pictures of a “super-powered punk” at “Armstrong Park.” Peter, as Spidey, arrives at the park and finds Morlun waiting…who then drains Spidey’s totem energy. Turns out this Spidey is from “Earth-449,” a world where humanity has colonized the Moon. After his meal, Morlun returns to “Earth-001” or “The Loomworld” where his brother, Daemos, and sister, Verna are waiting. Verna decides to go hunting on a world with “young spiders” taking along her “hounds,” which are feral versions of Puma, Kraven the Hunter, and Silver Sable. Daemos wants to hunt on “Earth-616,” but Morlun tells him no, as he claims that Earth “his” and that he’s “saving it for last.”
Meanwhile, on Earth-616, a surprise appearance by Cindy Moon/Silk wakes up Peter. As he changes into Spider-Man, Cindy tells Peter her “solution” to their “problem” of wanting to have sex when they’re around each other—Peter can move somewhere else while she takes over looking after New York. She also says that something aside from their attraction drew her towards him after a week, as if “all the threads of the Great Web were drawing [her] towards him.” Spidey and Silk then go out on patrol, and they spot the Looter, along with SpOck’s spiderlings, robbing a bank, using one of SpOck’s spider-walkers as a getaway vehicle. As they start to take care of the Looter and crew, they’re soon joined by Jessica Drew, Anya Corazon, Miquel O’Hara, Spider-UK, Mayday, and Spider-Ham. Shocked and skeptical at first, Spidey is told about Morlun’s return and his brother, Daemos’ arrival, thus prompting Spidey and Silk to follow the other Spiders into a dimensional portal.
At Mount Wundagore, Daemos has made short work of the New Warriors and is about to feast on Kaine, when suddenly several spines from Kaine’s forearm impale Daemos in the chest. Daemos, much to his delight, realizes Kaine is “The Other” and assumes this was the reason Morlun didn’t want him on Earth-616. Only just as Daemos is about to finish Kaine off, another portal opens, and to the rescue comes “Old Man Spider from Earth-4,” the Bruce Banner Spider-Man from Bullet Points, Spider-Gwen, and…Ben Reilly! The Spiders rescue Kaine, but at the cost of Bruce Banner. All the Spiders meet up on Earth-13, the home dimension of the “Cosmic Spider-Man,” i.e. a Peter Parker who still has is Captain Universe powers, so long as he stays on Earth-13. He’s also been looking after Mayday baby brother, Benji. Cosmic Spidey, Spider-UK, and Ben Reilly explain to Peter that they’ve gathered a “little over twenty strong” to prepare for the upcoming battle with the Inheritors, and that Peter is their “secret weapon” and “the greatest one of them all.” Finally in the Ultimate Marvel universe, with Miles Morales his mom’s grave, thinking how him taking on the mantle of Spider-Man has cost him his family, while Jessica Drew—Peter’s female clone—tries to offer some reassurance. It is then that Verna arrives with her “hounds” and attacks.
STORY #2: On Loomworld, an alternate version of Jessica Drew is ordering wine barrels from an alternate version of Robbie Robertson in final preparation for the Inheritors’ banquet. At the banquet itself and seated at table are Daemos, Jennix, the twins Brix and Bora, and, at the head of the table, is their father, Solus. The Inheritors are waiting for the arrival of Morlun, much to his siblings annoyance, while on the table are the blooded and barely conscious bodies of the Bullet Points Spidey, a vampire Spidey, and a Man-Spider. The Great Weaver is overhead, whom Solus uses as council along with allowing the Inheritors access to the various “threads” of the “Great Web.”
Morlun arrives with a Spider-Man from an Earth ruled by Egyptian Pharaohs, but before they can “eat” Solus tells his children to say which Spider they’ve brought to the banquet. As they do, this, Brix and Bora bicker over who has the most points, Jennix expresses concern about the other Spiders joining forces, and Morlun and Daemos bicker over the later going to Earth-616, and how Morlun was twice “sent back” after Spidey defeated him. At this, Solus demands a stop to the bickering, telling them that, thanks to the Great Weaver, he “knows the location of The Other, the Bride, and even the Scion.” He also asks each of his children what they think the Great Web means. Brix and Bora consider it a game, as the Weaver told them they would play “until the end of time;” Jennix thinks it’s a mystery which the Weaver told him would be one “he’ll never solve;” Daemos considers it “license” to do what he wants, as the Weaver told him that, despite being the oldest, his siblings would outlast him; and Morlun considers the Web his legacy and, as Solus’ heir, his “obligation.” Solus says Morlun is close, but that the Great Web mean that they are “the Inheritors of all creation.” However, the Egyptain Spidey manages to tell them they’re all wrong—the Inheritors are thieves and that Spiders will stop them. An enraged Morlun, however, “reminds” the Egyptian Spidey they’re nothing but “food.” And with that, the Inheritors begin their feast.
THOUGHTS: For those of you who’ve been reading my past reviews of Amazing Spider-Man, you may have noticed my assertions that, ever since the title relaunched back in April of this year, the comic, and Dan Slott’s writing in particular, has been, for most part, pretty lackluster in the storytelling department, and didn’t have the same amount of energy and zeal as his Superior Spider-Man, or even Slott’s earlier work on Amazing Spider-Man pre-Superior Spider-Man. I surmised this may had something to do with Slott wanting to save up his energy for “Spider-Verse,” seeing as this appeared to be the pattern in the lead-up to other Spider-Man related events such as “Spider-Island,” “Ends of the Earth,” and Amazing Spider-Man #700. Now that the first chapter of “Spider-Verse” has hit the stands, however, we may have to wait a bit longer. Because as an opening salvo for such heavily-promoted, event-driven story, this had a lot of smoke and colorful pyrotechnics, but still a misfire all the same.
What is perhaps the most interesting element to take away from Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #9 is it would have been a far more effective read if there hadn’t been any “Edge of Spider-Verse” back-up stories or one-shots beforehand. Furthermore, it’s a far more effective opening if you haven’t been reading Spider-Man comics for the last several years, including Slott’s own stories. But since we’re expected to have been reading Amazing Spider-Man up to this point (and recent sales estimates suggest people have) including the “Edge of Spider-Verse” back-ups, then “Spider-Verse’s” opening chapter is not only a rather slow read, it’s also, at times, rather dull. For example, Dan Slott appears to write the opening scene showing “Spider Moon-Man of Earth-449” with the assumption readers will be entering “Spider-Verse” cold and thus doubly-shocked over not just Morlun’s “return,” but the “reveal” that scene takes place on a different universe. Except, since even new or lapsed readers going into this comic already know “Spider-Verse” is a story dealing with alternate realities and timelines, whatever intended surprise is lost even before the opening scene even ends.
It also doesn’t help that a fair number of pages get devoted to Spidey bantering and teaming-up with whom Marvel oh-so-desperately hoped would be their breakout new female character, Silk. If Slott’s intent was to make readers endear themselves to Cindy Moon (the better to pick up her upcoming ongoing series, of course), then he’s utterly failed in that regard. Slott clearly wants us to see Cindy as flirtatious, headstrong, and unpredictable like the Black Cat (she even calls Peter by Felicia’s pet name for him, “Spider,” at one point) except the way he actually writes her, she’s an insufferable know-it-all, made all the worse in that she’s more effective in bringing down the Looter’s hired goons than Spidey himself. The scene where she surprises Peter by waking him up in his bedroom also tries very hard to hammer home what “sexual chemistry” they have, including beefcake shots which show Peter sleeps in the nude, and Cindy watching Peter dress as she lounges on Peter’s bed like a pin-up girl. Again, its trying way too hard in getting readers to like her as a character when all you really want is for her to just go away and never come back. Also, do I really need to explain why Cindy suggesting Peter should leave New York and let her take care of it so they can avoid having sex is so inane? And if the rumors are indeed correct that Peter, after “Spider-Verse,” will be lost off world, then her comment is also a bit of clumsy foreshadowing, as was her callback to the opening scene about how he should try living on the Moon.
Where the issue genuinely starts to gather steam—and where the fun really begins—is when Spidey, and later Kaine, start meeting their various doppelgangers from other parallel worlds, and seeing just which version of Spider-Man and Spider-Woman appears. Some , such as Miles Morales and Marvel’s genuine breakout new female character, Spider-Gwen, are to be expected. Others tapped into long-time fan nostalgia, such as the Ben Reilly Spider-Man. Others stem from based an intriguing premise, such as the Cosmic Spidey (who, of course, will be forced at some point to join with the other Spiders in their “final battle for survival” and have to leave Earth-13, thus lose his powers and, as a result, becoming yet another meal for the Inheritors). And there are others who you assumed were one version of Spider-Man, but turn out to be quite another, such as the one dressed in costume a future version of Spidey wore in Amazing Spider-Man #500 who is officially dubbed Old Man Spider (and given how the narration underscores how his identity, unlike the others, will be kept “hidden for now,” odds are this version of Spidey is really Uncle Ben). Even more of a surprise was seeing alternate versions of Spidey’s supporting cast and villains who are being forced to serve and work with the Inheritors. Also, the appearance of Mayday allows for some genuinely touching moments, especially the scene where Spider-Ham reassures her that the other Spiders are her and Benji’s family now after the murder of her parents.
(Another brief Spidey Speculation—I suspect that Karn, the outcast Inheritor from Superior Spider-Man #32 and #33, is really Peter Parker of Earth-001, or another Peter Parker from another dimension. After all, not only does he have to use a two-pronged spear to siphon off totem energy unlike his “siblings,” but, looking at the back-up in Superior Spider-Man #33, his face bore an uncanny resemblance to Peter himself.)
Unfortunately, just like he’s done in the “Edge of Spider-Verse” back-ups, Slott can’t help but re-introduce alternate versions of Spider-Man only to just kill them off moments later. It would’ve been nice to see more of the Bullet Points Spider-Man involved in the story, especially since he’s also an alternate version of Dr. Bruce Banner who never became the Hulk. But nope! Just like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends or Mayday’s dad, he and other Spider-Men are nothing but cannon-fodder to show just how unrepentant and eee-vil Morlun, Daemos, and the rest of Inheritors are, even though it’s been done so many times already its no longer the least bit shocking or horrifying. It’s gotten the point where I’m short of past caring which version of Spider-Man gets killed next, especially if Slott ends up doing what I fear he might do at the end of “Spider-Verse:” have the Great Weaver re-spin various threads to bring the slain Spider-Men and Women back to life. After all, if he can, as shown in the back-up in Superior Spider-Man #33, destroy strands from the Web of Life, then he’s certainly capable make new threads and patterns to resemble the old ones.
And this leads to the biggest problem this issue, along with “Spider-Verse,” has to date—the Inheritors themselves. Whether you liked him or not, and even though he was essentially Dracula by any another name, there was a time where Morlun was a genuinely scary and menacing villain. Having now seen the rest of his family and his relationship with each of them, however, Morlun’s been reduced to just another member of a bunch of decadent, spoiled-brats who always have to be kept in-line and disciplined by their aged and overly-demanding father, Solus, who, of course, is all but hidden in shadow, save for his glowing red eyes and shaggy beard, to make him look more menacing. (Get it? Solus is a homonym for “soulless.” Oooh, spooky!) After reading the main story and the back-up, this family of steampunk vampires are about as scary and menacing as the Addams Family and the Munsters, only not as entertaining and without the depth. Not only do they kill various incarnations of Spider-Man, their presence kills off whatever momentum the comic had been generating, especially during the redundant, exposition-heavy ten-page back-up story where the Inheritors are literally just sitting around and waiting to eat dinner.
The only thing of genuine interest resulting from “The Feast,” apart from having glimpses of even more alternate Spider-Men courtesy of the Master Weaver, is the Inheritors regard certain Spiders as priority targets. We know Kaine is “The Other,” and Silk is the “Spider-Bride,” which leaves the identity of the “Scion” unknown. Best case scenario is that it’s either Mayday or her baby brother, Benji; worse case scenario, and one I’m praying will be wrong, is that it’s Peter and Cindy’s child from a possible future. After all, why else would Slott keep bringing up how Peter and Cindy, as Peter himself puts it, “feel the urge to mate…like spider-bunnies” aside from making a cheap gag? I expressed my misgivings that Cindy was being set-up as yet another “chosen one” in my review for Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #4, but now it seems she’ll be one of three, possibly four, during this story. Also, in keeping with stories which are dependent upon “destiny” to help our heroes win the day, you just know that the Weaver’s prophecies about the various Inheritors will result in ironic “twists of fate” which are nothing like what they assumed they would be.
And speaking of priorities, let’s not forget who is supposed to be the “star” of this comic, Peter Parker himself. Even though Peter and the reader are flat-out told he is the “greatest” of all the Spider-Men, nothing in Slott’s own writing up to this point backs this up. Heck, even Peter’s response to this assertion reads like even he thinks it’s bullcrap. Ever since the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter has all but taken a backseat to his own comic, and at worse, comes off looking like an incompetent, immature buffoon. It’s all the other Spider-Men and Women who come off looking more interesting, and, as in the case of SpOck and Silk, more skilled. Perhaps the idea Slott is going for is, just like he attempted to argue towards the end of Superior Spider-Man, is that even if other Spider-Men have better skills, a higher intellect, or more maturity, Peter is still the “greatest” because of his “heart,” his sense of personal responsibility, and his compassion for others, and thus trying very hard to recast him as the typical “unlikely hero.” That, too, would also be in keeping with how Daemos, in the back-up story, considers the 616 Spidey to be “a bland, flavorless totem,” the better to set up his hubris and how underestimated Spidey is, of course. Even so, this doesn’t excuse the fact we’ve seen little evidence of Peter’s “greatness” since his return other than the occasional lip-service to the fans. If Slott really wants us to convince us that Peter is “the greatest superhero of them all,” then he needs start writing Peter as if he were one, and soon. It also doesn’t help that Peter’s dialogue in particular reads like a poor-man’s version of Brian Michael Bendis, with his constant utterance of “Me?! Why Me?!” and a tendency to repeat whatever others have said verbatim in the form of a question.
There is, however, one very strong selling point for Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #9, and that is, of course, Olivier Coipel’s art. Too simply describe his illustrations as gorgeous wouldn’t be doing it true justice, because not only does everything have a proper scene of scale, proportion, and illusion of movement, Coipel draws almost every single panel and page with intricate, painstaking detail. The costumes actually look like fabric instead of appearing to be “painted on,” facial expressions conveying genuine emotion, and, along with Justin Ponsor’s use of color, excellent usage of light and shadow effects. It also helps to make such great moments of the issue stand out even better, such as Spider-Ham punching SpOck’s former goon, the arrival of Old Man Spider, Bruce Banner, Spider-Gwen, and Ben Reilly to rescue Kaine, and of course the double-page spread showing Peter meeting all his counterparts on Earth-13. Giuseppe Camuncoli work in the back-up story is decent, even if there is some irregularities such as the character of Solus having shoulders wider than his head, but it doesn’t quite match the level of quality Coipel brings.
So yes, Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #9 still has a lot to offer, and to be fair, it’s just the first issue of a six-parter, complete with various tie-ins to expand the story, such like any other comic book event. Since the next suggests Peter will come face-to-face with SpOck, their first confrontation since Superior Spider-Man while not occupying the same body to boot, this should be a guarantee for “Spider-Verse’s” cannons to really start blazing at full volley. At the moment, though, looks as if the powder still has ways to go yet before it gets dry.
- So if people living on the Moon in Earth-449 are called “Moon-Men” or “Moon-Women,” then what about a possible Cindy Moon from Earth-449? Given how Cindy is short for “Cynthia” and is also a variation of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the Moon, then that would mean the Silk of Earth-449 would be literally be “Moon Moon, the Spider Moon-Woman” And as if we didn’t have enough Moon, we also have Peter “mooning” us on panel, while talking to Cindy Moon, who suggests he should live on the Moon. Argh! That’s too many moons!
- “Ah right. You don’t set off my spider-sense.” Um…wasn’t it your spider-sense which allowed you follow her when you two first met, Pete? And isn’t it that very same spider-sense which has compelled you both to want to have sex with each other? Which means that, yes, she can set off your spider-sense! But even if you’re right about Cindy not being able to set off your spider-sense, then how can you set-off hers since, as your own first-person narration pointed out in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #4, it was her “faster” spider-sense and agility which made it possible for her to dodge your webbing? Jeez, Peter’s spider-sense has been depicted so inconsistently for so many times even he no longer knows how it works anymore.
- “Cindy Moon. The girl who claims we were bitten by the same spider.” Claims, my foot—you saw her being bitten by that same radioactive spider, Pete, when you had those visions of her past in the “Original Sins” tie-in [Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #4 again]. Granted, it did stretch beyond even comic book levels of credulity when, as according to Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #1, both you and Cindy were bitten during the same “split-second” before it died, so your skepticism is understandable.
- In case you’re wondering, yes, Peter and Mayday have met each other before years ago in the two-part “Spider-Girl Meets Spider-Man” as shown in Spider-Girl #10 and #11 where Mayday accidentally went back in time to the events of Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #25. And it turns out she did travel to the actual 616 since that’s the only way Peter would even remember her. Also, since Mayday called Peter “dad” during that story, then Peter also should know Mayday is his daughter from an alternate future, as well. So if all this time, Peter has known that, one day, he was going to have a kid one day, did he also know beforehand that Mary Jane could potentially be “the mother?” Or any relationship he’s ever had with any other woman, including Betty Brant, Gwen Stacy, Black Cat, or Carlie Cooper? Cause it’d be a little weird if all this time he’s gone out on a date, he’s been thinking, “This woman could be my future daughter’s baby momma.”
- Having read Scarlet Spider, I’m very much aware Kaine, thanks to merging with “The Other,” has Wolverine-esque bone spears the can protrude from his forearms, and can turn into a ferocious were-spider just like when the 616 Bruce Banner gets angry and turns into the Hulk. But I don’t recall The Other allowing for Kaine to have multiple elongated spines growing out of his arms as if he were Carnage. In short, the Other is not a symbiote.
- You know, Spider-Gwen makes a very good point—just why are all the different Spiders referring to each other by their real names within earshot of everyone else when they’re supposed to have secret identities? Maybe after berating Old Man Spider for doing so, she can berate Spidey for calling Spider-Woman “Jess” and Spider-Man 2099 “Miquel.” Or Spider-UK for calling Spider-Ham “Peter.” Or for Spidey calling Spider-Girl “Mayday” and Mayday herself for unmasking in public. Sure, the other Spiders need a way to get the others’ attention without calling each other “Spider-Man” or “Spider-Girl” or what have you without getting confused. Then again, since most of them are also “Peter Parker,” even calling them by their real names is bound to get confusing after a while.
- Here’s a question for the comic’s humble narrator: how come we readers were berated for looking at Peter’s butt, yet we weren’t berated for looking at the Betty Brant Spider-Girl’s (from What If? #7, by the way)? Because damn! To quote Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Baby got back!” Fair is fair, after all. And aside from Betty…
- Is that also Spider-Monkey and Spider-Man Noir with Cosmic Spidey and Spider-UK’s group? Aren’t they still supposed to be with SpOck? Other version of Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Monkey? Or did SpOck’s eight-person crew decide to join the other Spiders at some point off panel?
- So either Miles Morales and Ultimate Jessica Drew in this story are from an alternate Ultimate Universe…or somebody forgot that the official designation for the Ultimate Marvel Comics Universe is “Earth-1610,” not “Earth-610.” Oops!
- Now we’ve been told by Marvel they couldn’t use certain Spider-Men for “Spider-Verse” due to licensing issues with Sony. Yet, as seen in the Great Weaver’s Web of Life during the back-up, they can have a Lone Ranger Spider-Man, a Tarzan Spider-Man, and a Rorschach Spider-Man? I call shenanigans!
- Oh sure, seeing Spider-Man versions of the Hulk, Iron Fist, Wolverine, Human Torch, Cable, and Deadpool might seem pretty cool. As would no doubt seeing a Werewolf Spidey, a Venom-Spidey, another Doc Ock Spidey, a female “Big Time” Spidey, a black costumed Spidey, or the original Scarlet Spider. But nothing can compare to the sheer level of awesomeness that is Supaidāman, or the live-action Spidey from Japan! Well…there’s also the Spider-Man from the Ralph Bashki’s 1960s cartoon, I guess. But come on! Just look at Supaidāman in action and tell me I’m wrong.