“Spider-Verse Part Three: Higher Ground”
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILS: Oliver Coipel
COLORS: Justin Ponsor
INKS: Grawbadger, Livesay, and Olazaba
LETTERS: Chris Eliopoulos, and Lanham
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
PLOT: The issue begins with a smack-down between 616 Peter Parker, and The Superior Spider-Man. 616 Peter outsmarts Superior Spider-Man because Superior thinks that he is a past version of himself and that killing him would disrupt the time line. Superior Spider-Man begrudgingly accepts 616 Peter’s leadership, and the two agree to team-up. From here we see Karn slaying a Werewolf Spider-Man attempting to earn his way back into the inheritors. Solus who is watching the fight is disinterested, and states to Morlun that Karn will need to do a lot more in order to earn his place back with the family. Morlun, and Solus then devise a plan to take out the Spider-Men’s last hope in order to take out the Scion. From here we cut back to the Spider-Men who are all being sent on individual missions by 616 Peter. Peter sends both Miles Morales, and Ultimate Peter Parker (the cartoon) out to track down more Spider-Men for their army. The two Ultimate Spider-Men travel to the 67 cartoon Spider-verse in order to enlist him (see their exploits in Spider-Verse team-up). 616 Peter travels to Spider-Man Noir’s universe in order to supply him with a cloaking device due to him being injured, and in order to give Spider-Woman a secret mission (see Spider-Woman #1 in order to make any sense out of this). After 616 Spider-Man leaves all hell breaks loose as the inheritors attack the Spiders stronghold. Spider Captain Universe unleashes a full out assault on the three inheritors (Solus, Jennix, and Morlun). Jennix is killed by Captain Spiderverse, and then respawns at the inheritors cloning facility (to make any sense of this read the Scarlet Spiders ongoing). Solus then grabs Captain Spiderverse and drains him of all his power effectively killing him. The last page of the comic reveals the identity of The Scion, none other than BENJY JR.
STORY: This issue represents exactly what I dreamt of when this storyline was proposed. All of the characters feel unique even though they all essentially the same power sets. The action is breathtaking, and the lines are hilarious. There are tie-ins to other Spider-Verse issues but the story in itself still works on its own. There are also a plethora of moments that really hit me emotionally, which is surprising because I’ve seen so many Spider-Men die already, and yet still it hits me every time. I really grew to like characters like Spider-Monkey who receives a quick but tragic death. I cared when Captain Universe Spidey failed, because he represented the big guns of the team. He was supposed to be their hulk, the one who would get them out of the toughest situations. When he failed you could feel his sadness, and seeing his husk of a body near the end was really effective. It seems to me that we finally have a reason for Slott writing our Peter Parker so incompetently these last few months. He needed it to feel important for him to step into his big boy pants and take charge of the situation. We needed to see Peter at his worst to appreciate him when he is finally back doing the things that we all knew the character capable of. He outwits Superior Spider-Man which earns him his respect, we see him put aside his pride when he decides he still needs Doc Ock’s help in the coming battle.
Now that I’ve gushed about my emotional enjoyment of this issue lets talk about some of the cool plot points:
- Solus being able to eat Captain Universe WAS INSANE, and not what I expected at all. (although he kind of looks like Maestro the hulk from the future).
- While Benjy Jr. being revealed as the Scion was heavily hinted upon it actually makes a lot of sense. The definition of Scion is “a descendent of a notable family” what family is more notable than that of the Parkers?
- ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN TEAM UP. I didn’t even release that it was Ultimate Spider-Man until the Chibi reveal.
- SPIDER-MAN 67: Oh man I can’t wait to read Spider-Verse Team-Up because all I want in life is a Spider-Man 67 ongoing.
- The reveal of what scientists are being the cloning. Smythe (not clear which one), Marla Madison (she made Spider-Slayers dontchyah know), and of course Miles Warren
ART: This issue excels in the artwork category, so much so that I’m willing to say this is some of my favourite comic book art I’ve ever seen, and would love to go out to buy real versions of these pages to frame on my wall. There are a number of really fantastic details that really help you flesh out the characters and help you to see the small differences in each universe they inhabit. Take for example the Ultimate Spider-Man (cartoon version), teaming up with the Ultimate Spider-Man (Miles Morales), in the Spider-Man 67 universe. Miles Morales looks like a three dimensional character featuring a more rounded traditional comic book appearance. Cartoon Peter Parker looks almost identical to his cartoon appearance, and even though the 67 universe is still animated the two are differentiated expertly. You can tell that the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon has a more nuanced modern animation style whereas 67 Spider-Man’s world looks exactly like the 60’s cartoon did. Another great example of this is when we see 616 Amazing Spider-Man duke it out with Superior Spider-Man. Both characters have the exact same facial structure but you can easily tell which one is which simply by looking at the way they style their hair. It’s such a small addition but it really helps to paint a picture of who each character is and how they tackle a situation.