In this corner, weighing in at 165 lbs, we have Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man! And in the other corner, also weighing in at 165 lbs, we have Otto Octavious, formerly known as Doctor Octopus and now the Superior Spider-Man! It’s the rematch you demanded to see, so let’s get ready to rumble! Oh yeah, there’s bunch of other stuff that happens, too. A lot more than the main bout, actually.
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Olivier Copiel
INKERS: Grawbadger, Copiel, Livesay, Olazaba, and Morales
COLORS: Justin Ponsor
LETTERS: Elliopolus w/ Lanham
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
THE STORY: Picking up directly where Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #10 left off, Peter declares that he, not SpOck, is in charge, and the two argue over who has more experience. After more goading from SpOck, Peter punches him in the face, and the two fight. Realizing SpOck assumes Peter is from earlier in SpOck’s own timeline instead of the other way around, Peter calls SpOck’s bluff. SpOck, thinking he can’t kill Peter without erasing himself from existence, hesitates long enough for Peter to kick him in the face, thus ending the fight. Meanwhile in the Loomworld, Solus watches Karn kill “the great Spider-Wolf of the Lycansphere” of Earth-13989, then tells the Master Weaver to send his “wayward son to another world.” Solus then talks to Morlun, concerned his heir is afraid of the 616 Spidey since he’s been killed by him twice already. Morlun says all he’s concerned about is the prophecy that The Other, The Bride, and The Scion will end the reign of the Inheritors, and that one of them is with the other Spiders on Earth-13. This, however, doesn’t worry Solus, and he tells Morlun to get his brother, Jennix, as they’ve “played with the Totems long enough” and that they will now “crush [the Spiders] last hope.”
Back on Earth-13, Peter and SpOck agree to work together, and both note the “Safe Zone” is not really safe since it’s in open ground, with no building to crawl on or swing from. Even though Cosmic Spidey insists he can protect them all, Peter orders the Spiders to move closer into the city should the Inheritors attack. Peter then tries to contact Ben Reilly, Kaine, and Ultimate Jessica Drew but gets no response; he then tries to reach Miquel O’Hara and his team (as seen in Spider-Man 2099 #6), but Miquel, due to being preoccupied from being pursued by Daemos, pretends his communicator is losing reception despite being trans-dimensional. Spider-UK then informs Peter he’s received word from the 616 Spider-Woman, that Spider-Man: Noir is injured and being taken back to his home dimension to recover (as seen in Spider-Woman #1). Peter takes one of SpOck’s cloaking devices, knowing it will hide Noir from the Inheritors should they find him. SpOck confirms he’s also reverse-engineered the device to detect the Inheritors and knows the location of their home dimension, but they’re not yet ready to engage them head-on. Peter decides the 616 Spider-Woman can go to the Inheritors’ home world on a covert, fact-finding mission, and takes Anya and Spider-Gwen with him to Noir’s dimension on Earth-90214 (as also seen in Spider-Woman #1). Before he leaves, he sends Miles Morales and the Spidey from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon on their own mission to recruit more Spider-Men. Miles and Ultimate Spidey’s first stop? The 1960s Spider-Man cartoon universe (as seen in Spider-Verse Team-Up #2).
Suddenly, the remaining Spiders’ spider-senses go off, and Morlun, Jennix, and Solus arrive, killing Flash Thompson/Captain Spider (from What If? #7) and Spider-Monkey. Cosmic Spidey takes to the sky and blasts the Inheritors, killing Jennix, who re-spawns as a clone back in Earth-802 and that dimension’s Baxter Building—which is also where Ben Reilly, Kaine, and the Ultimate Jessica Drew are about to infiltrate (as seen in Scarlet Spiders #1). Solus then leaps up and grabs Cosmic Spidey in mid-air and slams him to the ground, as Spider-UK tries to contract Peter to get him to return. Cosmic Spidey can’t understand how Solus can fight him since, as the host for the Enigma Force, Cosmic Spidey is “the most powerful being in the universe.” Solus, however, states he’s the “Patriarch, king, and god of those who inherited the multiverse,” and that the Enigma Force is “pure life force” which is what he and his children feed off of. Thus Solus, being the first of his kind and thus able to withstand the excessive energy, drains Cosmic Spidey and kills him. Morlun then finds the Scion, who is revealed to be…Benjy, Mayday’s baby brother.
THOUGHTS: So this is part of the story in which the stakes are raised to such a degree that it seems hope is about to be all but lost for our heroes. What they thought was sanctuary turns out to be anything but; their most powerful member, as predicted, is slain; and one of the Spiders prophesied to bring about the downfall of the villains now appears to be in their clutches via a cliffhanger. But this isn’t what you really care about or why you picked up this comic, is it? No, you picked this issue up because, as advertised on the cover, you wanted to see the inevitable rematch between the Amazing Spider-Man and the Superior Spider-Man, and whether Peter kicks Doc Ock’s ass, right? And, as I mentioned in the recap, Dan Slott does deliver on this promise. For the first four pages, at least.
One of the reasons the opening fight between Peter and Otto works is that, having been built upon their earlier encounters, it’s a confrontation that’s long overdue. Never mind that Mayday is correct is saying the fight between Peter and Otto is a waste of time that would be better spent going after the Inheritors. Never mind that Otto has a point that he, which Peter later acknowledges, has experience about the Inheritors himself and how the arrival of Peter’s group (well, technically Silk’s) resulted in members of his team getting killed. And never mind that Peter, as he observes, cannot cause too much harm towards Otto without injuring himself because Otto is in Peter’s body from earlier in the past; neither can Otto, as he assumes Peter is from a time before he took over Peter’s body. Nope, this fight is happening because of pure fan-service and to make up for all the previous engagements Peter and Otto had since Amazing Spider-Man #700, especially the insulting attempt at moral equivalency that was Superior Spider-Man #9, and the anti-climatic non-resolution that was Superior Spider-Man #30. It’s also an opportunity for Peter, at last, to shine since his return, as he both out-snarks and outwits Otto to both take him down for the count and humble his ego. And, of course, these two adversaries end up putting their differences aside to work together for a common cause, because as anyone who has watched any Western, action flick, or Professional Wrestling match can tell you, when two men who don’t like each other have a fist-fight and beat each other senseless, they will inexplicably and against all logic and reason gain mutual respect for one another.
It’s also the moment where Peter, after eleven issues, finally stops acting like a bit player in his own comic, a complaint cited in my reviews and mentioned many times on The Spider-Man Crawlspace Podcast. Yet although it’s great to see Peter take on an active, leadership role in what seems like ages, it’s still not without it’s narrative drawbacks. The plot requires Peter to step-up and challenge Otto for leadership, but due on Slott’s prior characterization and depiction of Peter, the emergence of his much needed testicular fortitude is far too abrupt and sudden to be believable. Also, while Peter’s leadership is due to reaffirming his stance on not killing their enemies, it renders what could have been an engaging philosophical difference between the various Spiders all but moot, first, as Peter reminds them, that the Inheritors can simply clone themselves anyway, and when Cosmic Spidey later tries to kill the Inheritors anyway during their attack on the Safe Zone. It’s also this battle where, yet again, the other Spider-Men and Women get far more attention and importance than the supposed “greatest Spider-Man of them all.”
I believe I’m not alone in suggesting that with the Cosmic Spider-Man’s introduction in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #9, all of us saw his death coming from several miles away. What we didn’t count on was that he would be slain with little to no effort by Morlun’s dad, Solus, in one of the most naked attempts at elevating a new villain’s stature that I can recall. Because let’s be blunt: just as the various Spider-Men and Women are all derivatives of Peter Parker, the Inheritors, including Solus, are all but derivatives of Morlun; which, just as what’s been happening with Spidey, runs the risk of diminishing what little relevance, importance, and uniqueness Morlun had going for him, which wasn’t much to begin with. Thus having one of those derivatives, and Morlun’s father no less, literally consume the powers of god while proclaiming himself to be a god effectively turns Morlun into someone else’s lackey, and is a prime example of Slott trying way too hard at overselling how dangerous and unstoppable the antagonists supposedly are. Couple this with how Cosmic Spidey was set-up as obvious cannon fodder from the start, it becomes to next to impossible to have any emotional investment in the outcome of his and Solus’ skirmish. And whatever merit the other Spider-Men had as heroes gets tossed aside when, after Cosmic Spidey falls, they appear to just give up and walk away, leaving Mayday and her brother to their fate at the hands of Morlun and his big bad dad.
The other problem this comic has is the same one the previous issue did, and one that plagues far too many event-driven storylines: an over-dependence on too many tie-in comics to tell the complete story, with scenes and editorial footnotes reminding readers to pick up such-and-such a comic to see what happens next. There are no less than three references towards tie-in issues which have already been released—the same ones Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #10 cited, no less—but the scenes with Miles Morales and the Ultimate cartoon Spidey heading off to recruit the 1960s cartoon Spidey is egregious in own right when it comes to crass promotion. Sure, it’s amusing to see Slott gently poke fun at both the Ultimate Spider-Man and 1960’s Spider-Man cartoons, along with Oliver Copiel terrifically capturing the visual look of both, but make no mistake—the two pages devoted to Miles and younger-Pete in the 1960s cartoon world have no bearing whatsoever on what happens in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #11 at all, and thus is two pages of story wasted on what amounts to a glorified ad that says, “Wanna to find out what happens next? Go out and buy Spider-Verse Team-Up #2–in stores today!”
Still, there are some good moments. Aside from Peter and Otto’s opening fight and interactions, the moment where Peter and Spider-Gwen promising to look after each other, each one having lost the other in their own world, was poignant and touching. There were also some great one-liners, such as Ultimate cartoon Spidey’s response to Miles looking up to Peter, and SpOck’s comeback to Spider-UK once Peter put him in charge until he returns. Also, for as much as I’ve railed against Peter coming off like a bystander, by contrast it’s nice to see Mayday Parker play such a vital and important role in “Spider-Verse” via the reveal that her infant brother, Benjy, is the prophesied “Scion.” Yes, many of you correctly guessed this, and for those of you who did, the last page may have come across as being predictable; after all, we knew Slott was going to do something with Benjy what with all the emphasis he put on Mayday having to take care of him. Even so, given how readers of Spider-Girl knew that Benjy was no ordinary child being that he developed spider-powers so young when other mutants develop their during puberty, and how “scion” means “descendant of a noble family,” it makes all the sense in the world for a “chosen one” to be a possible progeny of Spidey’s—and thank God the Scion turned out to be the son of Peter and Mary Jane and not Peter and Silk like I’d been dreading. As for Benjy’s fate, Slott I’m sure will not go as far as to have him be killed; if anything, given how “Spider-Verse” relies heavily on time-travel and alternate realities, I wouldn’t be the least surprised if it’s later revealed that Karn is somehow Benjy all grown-up.
Finally, as has been the case for the first two chapters of “Spider-Verse,” Copiel’s illustrations are just outstanding and continue to be the strongest element of the story thus far. I loved the facial expressions he gives SpOck, as you can just see the smugness across his face as tells Peter why he’s more qualified to lead the other Spider-Men, and the shocked expression when it dawns on him that he (incorrectly) cannot kill Peter. Copiel also does a superb arrangement of the fight sequences, in particular the one between Solus and Cosmic Spidey. Seeing how he illustrates various blows, how characters land when they leap, there’s an illusion of literal weight within Copiel’s illustrations, and thanks to aid from Justin Ponsor’s colors, natural looking light and shade. Although, perhaps due to time constants, there are far more panels in which characters are standing in front of blank backgrounds, but this, no way, is distracting as it would be from a lesser talent.
In summation, Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #11 starts off with a strong opening which appeases those fans who wanted to see Doc Ock humbled at the hands of Peter, only to succumb to an expository and convoluted mid-section which not even the last few pages can recover from. It’s an enjoyable and integral comic, but one burdened by the problems of multi-part crossovers and a sense that Slott doesn’t know whose story he’s actually telling. At least Peter, for the briefest of moments, is finally manning-up.
- I know that, given how Spider-UK told Peter in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #9 that they had recruited some 20 odd Spider-Men and Women, some of which we didn’t see, it’s not unheard of that the Spidey from the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon was already there. Even so, given how prominent he gets featured in this issue, it’s more than a bit jarring that we’re only seeing him now during “Spider-Verse.” Also, how exactly does this square with the continuity in Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors since Miles Morales, presumably the same one featured in this comic, shows up in that cartoon for a series of episodes also entitled “Spider-Verse,” as well?
- “I’m still digging myself out of the mess [Doc Ock] made.” Not to quibble Pete but, as I mentioned before, how exactly is your life post-Superior Spider-Man a mess? Thanks to Otto, you have a doctorate, your own company, and more money than you ever had in your entire life. Not to mention that you’ve already patched things up with the Avengers, and gained yourself a new ally in the form of Anna Maria Marconi. Oh sure, Mary Jane is with some other guy and the Black Cat hates your guts, but your exes no longer seem to matter now that Silk has entered the picture (unfortunately). So really? Are you actually doing that badly, all things considered?
- “…where I come back and reclaim my body, and win!” Funny, I seem to remember Doc Ock, having concluded he wasn’t as “superior” as he thought he was, willingly deciding to give back your own body with little to no effort on your part, and you being all upset over how he had to commit “suicide” via erasing himself to do it. Then again, given how disappointing the conclusion to Superior Spider-Man and “Goblin Nation” really was, I don’t blame you for partaking in a little revisionist history to make yourself come off looking better than what really happened.
- You know, comic, if you’re going to hide someone like Solus in shadow and thus create an “air of mystery” around him, wouldn’t it make that much more sense for him to be someone the reader would actually recognize as opposed to someone who we’ve never seen before? Just because it worked with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko doesn’t mean it will work with you.
- “We should move closer to the streets and buildings.” And thus endanger all the innocent civilians of Earth-13’s New York City who’ll be caught in the crossfire during your battle with the Inheritors. Great plan, Pete!
- As sweet as the scene between Peter and Spider-Gwen is, I can’t help think the following: Peter is ten years Spider-Gwen’s senior and, at 18, she’s barely legal. So yeah, it comes off just a bit creepy when you take that into account.
- Quick Betty Brant Spider-Girl! Distract Morlun with your cleavage to stop him from eating Captain Spider before it’s too late! I guess you’re using your wall-crawling abilities to their fullest extent because that’s the only explanation I have for how you’re manage not to have a wardrobe malfunction.
- “How little you understand us, little totem.” I think, Mr. Solus, sir, your usage of the word “little” was a little redundant. At least for someone as erudite, sophisticated, and fashionably dressed as you appear to be.