“All right Spider-Men. . . Action’s our reward. What do you say we go save the Multi-Verse?”
Wallopin’ Websnappers! It’s the return of Spider-Man ’67! What do comics’ and TV’s current Ultimate Spider-Men want with the throwback hero? Watch as television’s oldest and newest Spider-Men team-up, with Miles Morales stuck in the middle! . . . Oh, and Gerry Conway writes Spider-Gwen. No big deal.
PENCILLERS: (I)Dave Williams & (II)Steven Sanders
INKERS: (I)Dexter Vines & (II)Steven Sanders
COLORISTS: (I)Chris Sotomayer & (II) Andrew Crossley
LETTERING: VC’s Clayton Cowles
COVER by Dave Williams & Andrew Crossley
ASSOCIATIVE EDITOR: Ellie Pyle
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
“Too Many Spider-Men!”: Peter Parker ’67 gets word from Jonah Jameson that two Spider-Men have been seen swinging around the city. No sooner does Pete suit up to investigate when he bumps into Miles Morales and TV’s current Peter Parker. Thinking the Ultimate Spider-Men to be imposters, they have the briefest of altercations before Miles explains the plot of Spider-Verse, which Spidey ’67 hilariously and immediately accepts, despite its absurdity. The three characters have some fun interplay, with Spidey ’67 referencing some of his more ridiculous adventures, Miles taking things very seriously due to the hyper-realism of his home-world, and TV-Ultimate Spidey just being a goof, breaking the 4th Wall and trying to speak in 60’s slang to his cartoon predecessor. Their conversation is interrupted by some of ‘67’s villains, when Green Goblin, Blackie Drago-Vulture, Electro, Scorpion, and Dr. Noah Boddy ambush the Spider-Men. When the latter villain incapacitates the heroes with his “Uranium-Powered Futuro-Rifle,” the villains begin to bicker as they debate who will finish off the Spiders. This allows the heroes to recover and make short work of the assembly of baddies. The two cartoon Spider-Men split up to tell ‘67’s supporting cast that he will be away for a while (with an almost-awkward moment when Spidey ’67 sees Miles unmask and is surprised to see that he’s. . . a high-schooler!), before the assembled heroes go off to join the war against the Inheritors.
I really enjoyed this story. Where else could you ever see these three characters team-up? It was just fun, which is at the heart of what superhero team-up stories are meant to be.
As I mentioned, the interplay between the characters was great. I really feel like Gage maximized the potential in the meeting of these three Spider-Men. And I thought it was so cool how Williams pencils, and especially Sotomayer’s colors, captured the varied palette’s of the three characters: ’67 has his classic, simple, primary colors, TV-Ultimate Spidey has the more crisp and clean look from his cartoon, while Miles has the detail he is drawn with in his own comic.
The only thing I honestly did not care for in this first story was the current cartoon Spidey, but my problems with him are not so much due to the story at hand as they are due to his character. I found his breaking of the 4th Wall and general immaturity (“H-Heh. . . ‘Uranus’. . .”) grating, as it made him seem more like “Kidz Bop Deadpool” than Peter Parker. Peter has always been funny, but not really in an immature kind of way, as it is usually an extension of the gravity of the situations he finds himself in. (And admittedly, like our newest podcaster, I’m still smarting that we don’t get more of Weisman and crew’s excellent Spectacular Spider-Man show because Marvel would rather produce this goofball’s show instead) However, when he called ’67 “Spider Mad-Men” in his aside when Miles unmasked and it seemed like ’67 might be “old fashioned in bad ways, too” I laughed out loud, furthering my previous point that Gage was really able to use these three to maximum effect.
A (excellent – I really can’t find anything to complain about in this story; it was everything it could have been and more)
“A Spider in the Dark”: Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman is chasing Earth-21205’s Peter Parker, who dresses like the Hobgoblin, sans cape, and calls himself “Goblin,” through the sewers of his world, as they are both pursued by Morlun’s sister Verna, and her “hounds,” this time a feral Scorpion and Rhino. Spider-Woman unloads Goblin’s satchel at the villains, allowing the two Spiders brief a respite. As Goblin-Peter and Spider-Gwen unmask for one another, we find out that this universe is one where Spider-Man actually went through with murdering the Green Goblin after Gwen was killed, subsequently renouncing the identity of “Spider-Man” and becoming a “Goblin” himself. Gwen reaches out to him, saying that she was responsible for his death in her reality, and that she was sent “to offer you a way back to the man you were supposed to be.” Before they can share more, Verna and her hounds blast through the barrier of debris. As the hounds approach, Goblin sees Gwen lying still in the dust, and embraces her in the same Pieta-pose as he did in ASM#121 (“. . .Don’t be dead . . . Please . . . Not again.”) This time, Gwen slowly opens her eyes, giving Goblin a second wind. He rushes towards the villains, making short work of the hounds and heads straight for Verna. However, the Inheritor overwhelms Goblin, pulling him off his glider and viciously slashing him across the gut and face. But before she can feast on his totemic energies, Goblin sacrifices himself, setting off a Pumpkin Bomb point blank. The tables turn as Gwen holds a dying Peter in her arms, who tells Gwen with his dying breath that she saved him. As Gwen retreats, she swears that she will kill Verna, who looks down at the peaceful look on the Goblin’s lifeless corpse and scoffs, “Waste of a perfectly good meal.”
I did not see this coming, not after the previous story. I admit to being hesitant towards the announcement of Gerry Conway’s return to Spider-Man comics. As classic, lauded, and character-defining as his early run on Spider-Man was, I know that many were disappointed by his concurrent SPEC & WEB run from the early 90’s (I actually enjoyed that run, but I recognize the valid criticism of those who did not care for it). But this most recent of Conway’s returns was thankfully in a powerfully written story with a fan favorite character.
I know that Spider-Gwen is in right now, but I straight up hated her character in her introductory story. I found her to be an abrasive, foul-mouthed punk who neither resembles the defiled-virgin Gwen of the 616 nor the plucky, charming Emma Stone of the current films, but actually more closely resembled the frosty Ditko-bitch of Spider-Antiquity. Her costume was cool, but that was it. However, Dan Slott, in the most recent issue of ASM, and Gerry Conway, in this issue, have both made me warm to her considerably. I saw in both cases (towards the original Spider-Man, in ASM(2014)#11, and Goblin, in the issue at hand), a softer, selfless, more heroic side of her as she expresses her care for these alternate versions of the young man whose death she feels responsible for. And the righteous fury that she felt in this book at the death of Goblin-Pete was justified and powerful. If these are dimensions of her character that will role over into her ongoing in February, than sign me up. Heck, maybe Conway, if he enjoyed this writing this short, would be able to come on board the Spider-Gwen crew for the occasional back-up, or even a mini.
This story had just the right level of pathos. It stood alone as a quaint, but powerful tale, in its own way, while rewarding those who have read ASM#121&122 and Edge of Spider-Verse #2, and other classic tales, at the same time. However, I did not think that Sanders’ pencils matched the quality of the script, as Gwen and Peter’s renderings hardly resembled the two characters. Gwen looked pre-pubescent in most of her unmasked panels and Goblin’s bowl-cut more resembled Dustin Weaver’s Aaron Aikman than Peter Parker. I also did not care for the rigid, Mask of Thespes style face for the Goblin. I would have much preferred the pliable rubber mask of the classic goblins, although I do appreciate the twisted symbolism of this universe’s Peter Parker wearing something that resembles a mix of the Faces of Tragedy and Comedy in the wake of the tragedy that ended the Silver Age, as the line between good and evil, happiness and despair in comics became more blurred in the wake of “The Night Gwen Stacy Died.” So I do have to give Sanders props for that, as well as credit for using the classic Pieta pose to great effect.
B (good – Conway returns to Spider-Man comics in an emotionally satisfying little tale whose art doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of its writing)
MVSM: Spider-Man ’67. Seeing him interact with the two polar opposites of modern Spider-Men (the goofy, anime-influenced Peter Parker and the grim, hyper-realistic Miles) was good fun, but I especially loved how ‘67 responded to Miles’ accusation that he wasn’t appreciating the gravity of their situation, saying that the cartoon Spideys are not used to dealing with life and death situations, to which ’67 said, “My Uncle Ben was murdered because I didn’t act in time. I know all I need to know about death.” This provided Miles and ’67 with a nice character moment, as Miles was taken aback by the response (“Sorry. . . I’ve been treating you like an amateur. . . which drives me nuts when people do it to me.”), but I also read this as a commentary on modern storytelling and the purpose of censorship for the sake of preserving innocence: So often nowadays, violence, death, and evil-in-general invades our fiction in graphic, and often gratuitous, fashion, so it’s refreshing to have this character from a much more innocent age show that he can fully recognize Evil in the world without having it disturbingly force-fed to him in explicit detail, as so often happens in modern stories.