Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you; even though the cover is showing SpOck, the title is correct. But after you read Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #10, some you might come to the conclusion it should have been titled Superior Spider-Man #34 instead. Or perhaps, being this is the second part of “Spider-Verse” and thus involves more than one Spidey, perhaps Otto Octavious and His Superior Friends: Featuring The Amazing Spider-Man!
“Spider-Verse Part One: Superior Force”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Oliver Coipel
INKER: Wade Von Grawbadger
COLORS: Justin Ponsor
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
THE STORY: In the Ultimate Universe, Verna and her hounds (Silver Sable, Kraven, and Puma) are attacking Miles Morales and Ultimate Jessica Drew when out of a dimensional portal, the Superior Spider-Man, along with Assassin Spider-Man (from What If? Spider-Man vs. Wolverine) and “Spider-Punk of Earth-138” come to the rescue. They kill the hounds, and Miles and Jess go with SpOck’s crew, with Miles telling Verna has made it personal she destroyed his mom’s tombstone. Meanwhile, at the “Safe Zone” of Earth-13, Peter insists to the other Spiders he’s no more different than they are, but Spider-UK states Peter is the only Spider-Man who has survived going up against an Inheritor. As they talk, Silk wonders if she has the same bond with the other Spider-Men as she does with Peter; however, the closest “hit” she gets is Kaine, noting his pheromones are “like Peter’s, but off.” Spider-UK states he’s located of the “second team” of Spiders, and it’s agreed they should bring them to Earth-13 before the Inheritors find them. Peter is given a teleporter, and the Spider-Men divide into three groups. Old Man Spider insists that Silk must stay behind, which doesn’t sit well with her at all. So as the three teams enter the dimensional portals, Silk chases after them.
They arrive in 2099 and meet SpOck’s group. However, SpOck’s tells them their arrival is ruining months of work, as he’s developed a cloaking device to mask their “spider scent” from the Inheritors, but only with small groups. SpOck’s device detects that Kaine and Silk’s signatures are higher than the rest, and Old Man Spider explains it’s because they’re “The Other” and “The Bride” respectively. SpOck says their signatures will attract the Inheritors, and sure enough, Daemos appears out of a portal. SpOck, however, is able to lead a coordinated attack, although the Cyborg Spidey (from Superior Spider-Man #33) is killed. Kaine is able to do the most damage to Daemos, and SpOck delivers the killing blow. However, because SpOck augmented his suit with 2099 tech, he prevented Daemos from disintegrating like Morlun did, thus allowing them to autopsy the body to study their weakness. Old Man Spider, however, says he’s the only one of them who knows what’s really going on, but before he can explain, his neck is snapped…by another Daemos.
The new Daemos is with the twins, Brix and Bora, and another fight ensues, resulting in Assassin Spider-Man’s demise. Ben Reilly and Kaine realize the Inheritors can clone themselves and, opening a portal from where the Daemos clone originated, head off to investigate, with Jess, being a clone of Peter herself, joining them (to be continued over in Scarlet Spiders). As the remaining Spiders retreat, Old Man Spider calls for Peter and reveals he’s an alternate version of Ezekiel Sims. As he dies, Ezekiel says Peter must protect the Other, the Bride, and the Scion from the Inheritors or all is lost. Silk, knowing the Inheritors are drawn to her, grabs Peter’s teleporter to lead them away from the Spiders. Spider-Woman, along with Spider-Man Noir, follow after her (to be continued over in Spider-Woman). Miquel O’Hara, the Six-Armed Spidey, and Lady Spider (from Spider-Verse #1) escape with Daemos’ former body (to be continued over in Spider-Man 2099). Back on Earth-13, as the Spiders recover, Peter’s spider-sense is triggered as SpOck announces that “from this point on, I’m in charge!”
THOUGHTS: There is one word which can best describe this comic, and that word is “frantic.” Not just in terms of the frenzied state in which the Spider-Men and Women find themselves, but also in terms of the narrative. As he’s done in the past, Dan Slott crafts an issue which weaves so many divergent plot threads it’s a wonder he can keep everything straight and not get trapped in a tangled, confusing mess. Although this time around, he comes dangerously close. Just like his “Spider-Island” years before, Slott has so many characters (too many, in fact) in the story he’s forced to shuffle them off into their own separate subplots, or in this case comic book tie-ins.
Yet, it’s that same sensation of chaos and that everything will go every which way that makes this chapter of Spider-Verse all the more energetic and exciting, as Slott turns in for Amazing Spider-Man (2014) a script that is both fast-paced and heavy on the action. He also does an adequate job advancing the overall plot, answering some all but forgotten questions while raising a few more. We now know, thanks to Daemos’ death and immediate return via cloning how Morlun was able to cheat death, something which was never explained in “The Other: Evolve or Die.” Old Man Spider being revealed as alternate version of Ezekiel instead of Uncle Ben as I assumed is also a decent twist, one which makes sense given how “Spider-Verse” is heavily tied into J. Michael Strazycinski’s run on Amazing Spider-Man. Also, given how this Ezekiel is from an Earth where Peter was killed by Morlun during Strazycinski’s “Coming Home,” it also hints why he wore the same costume the future Peter from Amazing Spider-Man #500 wore (as revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #502, it was a concept design sketched by one Leo Zelinsky, a tailor for superheroes and villains, as a thank you to Spidey for saving his life, thus on “Earth-4,” Leo would’ve made the costume for Ezekiel instead). And of course, we get more enigmatic hints about Kaine, Silk, and whoever “the Scion” is when it comes to defeating the Inheritors, made more enigmatic by Ezekiel’s death just before he could conveniently explain what was going on, of course.
Of course, this depends upon how heavily interested you’re into, as J.R. Fettinger calls it, the “Ezekiel-Morlun-Totem-Shathra-Mystic Spider Crap.” Because if you never liked the idea that Peter’s origin as Spidey has ties into Totemism, and that he was chosen by the Master Weaver or whatever cosmic deity to be bitten by the radioactive spider instead of it being mere chance and circumstance, then this comic is bound to try your patience. Especially now since three other characters have been roped in with Spidey as being part of some prophecy, including someone who Marvel just so happens to be trying their damnedest to promote as their breakout female superhero of 2014, and I don’t mean Spider-Gwen.
Just as she was in the last issue, Cindy Moon continues to be a nuisance no matter how much Slott desperately wants you to like her, root for her, or especially feel sorry for her. Having her mingle among the other Spider-Men to see whether she’s compelled to have sex with them like she does with Peter doesn’t help matters, nor does her accusation of Ezekiel being “sexist” for refusing her to join the rescue party in spite of the fact he chose Spider-Gwen before Peter talked him out of it. Not to mention, in spite of it being established Silk is very much aware she attracts the attention of the Inheritors–hence why she didn’t want Peter to free her from her bunker in the first place back in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #4–she appears to forget all about this until after Daemos attacks for no other reason than “the plot said so.” To be fair, Silk is somewhat redeemed through her decision to lure the Inheritors away from the other Spiders to make amends, but it still doesn’t help that, as I’ve mentioned before, she’s isn’t so much of an actual character than she is a two-dimensional walking plot-device, which will not bode well if Marvel is banking on crafting a credible and viable solo series around her.
If you’re wondering where Peter is supposed to fit into all this given how this is supposed to be his comic, Slott does his best to elevate his importance by having other characters regard him, often sarcastically, as “the chosen one.” Peter is told it’s because he survived going up against Morlun, with Spider-UK using a Harry Potter analogy of all things for emphasis, only this winds up being moot once the Superior Spider-Man and his team, with Kaine and Mayday’s help, is able to take out Daemos. Yet apparently, we’re still supposed to regard him as “the chosen one,” not because he’s should be the protagonist, but because he’s assigned the task of protecting “the Scion, the Other, [and] the Bride” even though two of them have already fled. Or perhaps it has to do with Peter’s “bond” with Silk, as SpOck, being that he’s physically Peter himself, also finds himself attracted to her, which I really hope isn’t suggesting Peter and Silk are “destined” to have spider-babies. In any case, just as he has ever since the relaunch, Peter fells like a supporting player in his own story, especially once SpOck appears on the scene.
As the main cover hints, Otto Octavious takes center stage almost from page one and all but never relinquishes the spotlight. With his arrogance, petulance, and need to be in charge, not only does SpOck come across being more dynamic than Peter, he also winds up being more colorful than the other alternate versions of Spider-Men. This is due in large part with the story calling for “every single version of Spider-Man ever,” which means a lot of them get reduced to one-note, side characters, or literal cannon fodder. Miles Morales is the young innocent one, confused by which Peter is the real deal, and who feels “abandoned” when Jess goes with the Spider-clone brothers. Mayday wants to kill Daemos for the death of her parents, mistaking justice for revenge, while also worrying about her baby brother. Spider-UK is the British stereotype, all stiff upper lip and in command until SpOck tells him to shut up. Spider-Punk is foul mouthed and “edgy,” while Ezekiel is the grumpy old man. Spider-Ham and Spider-Monkey are the comedy relief, and so on and so forth. Thus, SpOck winds up becoming the best written character by default. Also, given how proactive we see him be in this issue, including how efficient and organized his own ragtag army of Spider-Men and Women prove to be, it’s as if the comic is making the argument that SpOck should, indeed, be the leader even as it’s simultaneously trying to convince us with its cliffhanger this is a recipe for disaster.
But as light on characterization the comic may be, it’s never confusing about who is who, not because Slott manages to give every one of them a distinctive voice, but also because of Olivier Coipel’s stellar illustrations. Even as the characters are standing around talking and arguing, or posing in dramatic spidery postures, Coipel always gives you the sensation that something exciting is happening or is about to happen. Nothing appears dull or drab, nor does it feel the least bit excessive, even with four double-page spreads. Even so, there are moments where it becomes difficult to follow, as there are few oddly placed panels, and there’s one scene in particular where Daemos appears to have grown several feet in size after being killed. Nevertheless, this comic, just like the issue before it, is a visual delight.
To sum it up, I found part two of “Spider-Verse” to be a bit more enjoyable than part one. Even though it still involved a lot of set-up, including those for “Spider-Verse” tie-ins, it never felt the least bit dull. The main problem, however, continues to be that there are just too many characters, all of which who are derivatives of Peter, who risk diminishing his stature. Having various Spiders go off on their own allows Slott the opportunity to narrow his focus, and, with the next issue promising a fist-fight between Peter and SpOck for control of the Spider-Army, allows to actually show why Peter is “the greatest Spider-Man.” If only to remind readers whose name is actually on the title.
- So SpOck calls the Assassin Spider-Man “Parker,” which makes sense, but he calls Spider-Punk “Brown.” Does that mean Spider-Punk is actually an alternate version of Hobie Brown, aka The Prowler? Or is he an alternate version of Hobie’s brother, Abraham? What about a younger version of Arnold Brown, who in the 616 became the Imperial Hydra? Or Peter Brown, the mutant who was attacked by a mob in Uncanny Avengers #3? Unless, Spider-Punk is supposed to be a grown-up version of Charlie Brown who, having missed kicking Lucy’s football one too many times, became a disillusioned anarchist?
- It seems the Ultimate Universe experiences some erratic weather patterns. One moment it appears to be raining, then when SpOck’s team arrives it stops, only to start up again as Miles and Jess change out of their civvies and into costume, then stops again as they go into the portal. Must be all that dimension hoping, I guess.
- Also, wouldn’t have it made more sense for Miles and Jess to change into costume after they were rescued and safely away from the crazy steampunk vampire woman? It’s not as if we couldn’t figure out who they were without their costumes, right?
- So if Cindy, because she’s “the Bride,” has to stay behind for her protection, and it’s also of utmost importance for Kaine, because he’s “the Other,” to be kept safe as well, why wasn’t it insisted that he stay behind with Cindy, too? Oh right, because despite the notion that Peter is their “secret weapon,” Kaine is the only one who has been shown to be capable of harming an Inheritor. You know, that same “Other” Peter was once possessed by and got those new powers from, including those Wolverine-style bone spears, but then lost after “Brand New Day” without any explanation, which was also why he was able to defeat Morlun last time? Or maybe they’re just being “sexist.”
- Oh and Pete, with all your attempt at humility, I notice you didn’t explain how survived your encounters with Morlun. First time was injecting yourself with radiation which caused Morlun to overdose before his assistant ended up shooting him. Then it was when, after getting your eye ripped out and sent to the emergency ward, the Other turned you into some spider were-beast, stabbed with your bone spears, and then ate him. So yeah, you kind of had a little help both times.
- So if Peter, Miquel O’Hara, Spider-Woman, Ben Reilly, Old Man Spider, Spider-UK, Mayday, Spider-Ham, and Silk are all going to 2099 to recruit SpOck’s crew, why did they even need to split into three separate teams beforehand, much less use three different portals to go to the same place? Also, excluding Silk, I count nine Spiders going into those portals even though we’re told and later shown that Spider-Gwen stayed behind. So, what happened to the other unidentified Spider, hmmm?
- Not to question your superior science, Otto, but how does a “cloaking device” which, as you said, can prevent detection by the Inheritors also detect and examine the “totem energy” of other Spiders? Which means your cloaking device is also a tracking device? Kind of think of would contradict the other but, hey! I’m not a brilliant mad scientist like you are.
- Also Otto, you complain that you “had everything under control until [the other Spiders] came stumbling in,” that they arrived “too soon” and thus you and your army are unprepared for a potential attack. But then, when Daemos does attack you imply you’re ready for him and, sure enough you manage to take him down. So were you adequately prepared or weren’t you? Then again, like I said, I’m not the brilliant mad scientist like you are.
- The Six-Armed Spidey states he’s a “bio specialist,” and thus qualified to study Daemos’ body. But, considering how he’s also supposed to be just like 616 Peter only with four extra arms, shouldn’t that mean Peter is a bio-specialist, too? As would be any version of Peter Parker? So then what exactly makes Six-Armed Spidey more qualified aside from how he has four more arms due to taking an untested formula to get rid of his spider-powers? And how is Lady Spider a “bio specialist” when everything we’ve seen of her is all related to steam engines? Wouldn’t that make her a “mechanical expert” instead?
- So because the Inheritors can clone themselves, that makes everyone who is a clone an expert on cloning and, therefore, the only ones qualified to investigate possible shenanigans involving cloning? Or maybe the clones are just being “sexist.”
- Don’t you just love when the Inheritors are attacking and the Spiders have to make a hasty retreat, there’s still plenty of time for Ezekiel to get out his dying words about protecting Kaine, Silk, and whoever the Scion is, even though he supposedly never had any time to explain what was really going on to anybody before getting himself killed? Or how Daemos, Brix, and Bora, after starting to attack, seem to stand around just long enough for everybody else to teleport or run away and off into their own tie-in adventure? Why it’s almost as if some mysterious force beyond their control was determining when and where to act or something.
- Peter’s spider-sense goes off when SpOck declares he’s in charge. As it’s been established countless times, SpOck is really Otto Octavious in Peter’s own body from an earlier time, meaning, other than their minds, they have the exact same DNA and, as shown by Silk, are both attracted to her spider-pheromones. So then how can Peter’s spider-sense be getting warning signals from himself? Or maybe the spider-sense is just being “sexist.”