To paraphrase Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “Welcome back my friends to the event that never ends.” Because just when you think “Spider-Verse” is over, there’s enough going on in this issue of The Amazing Spider-Man (and Marvel’s promotional material for their new Secret Wars), there’s enough to tell you that even though it says it’s over, it’s still not over.
WRITER: Dan Slott
PENCILER: Giuseppe Camuncoli
INKERS: Cam Smith and Roberto Poggi
COLOR ARTIST: Justin Ponsor
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Devin Lewis
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
THE STORY: As various Spiders return to their own dimensions, Mayday apologies to Peter for accusing him of not being her father or the real Spider-Man (as seen in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #12). Peter, however, forgives her, saying that despite what she’s been through, she didn’t let her father’s death break her. As she returns home, she finds not only Uncle Ben Spidey and her brother, Benjy, waiting for her, but that her mom, Mary Jane Parker, and boyfriend, Wes Westin, are still alive. Wes explains MJ pulled him out of the house before it collapsed. MJ also managed to save one of the few things that survived the fire and what the MC2 Peter wanted Mayday to have—his Spider-Man costume. Thus, with the Uncle Ben Spidey deciding to stay and be a grandfather, Mayday no longer will call herself Spider-Girl but Spider-Woman.
Back in Loomworld, the spider-senses of the remaining Spiders become overloaded, and Karn explains it can only mean the Web of Life and Destiny is being tampered with. When the Spiders return to it, they find SpOck is using Morlun’s knife to slice and hack away at various threads. Why? SpOck, having deduced Peter is from his future, knows he’ll die once he returns to his own time, and refuses to have his fate predetermined. His tampering of the Great Web causes Julia Carpenter, the current Madame Web, to wake up from her coma back on Earth-616, regain her sight, but lose all of her precognitive abilities. Karn warns they could all be erased from existence if SpOck isn’t stopped, and Spider-UK teleporter shows him portals between dimensions are also disappearing. So Peter orders Miguel O’Hara and Spider-Gwen to return to their own worlds as they’re not from the 616, while he, Jessica Drew, Silk, and Anya go after SpOck. During their fight, Anya notices Morlun’s knife has the same language from the Scrolls written on the blade. SpOck is about stab Anya, but Peter punches him before he can do this.
Anya reads the inscription on the blade, which says, “There shall always be a Master Weaver, spinning at the center of The Web.” Silk, recalling how Morlun called her “The Center of the Web,” believes she’s meant to take the Master Weaver’s place. However, the other side of the knife states, “Only death can release the Weaver from their sacred task,” meaning Silk would have to make a lifetime commitment, and thus once again be trapped like she had been before. However, when Silk removes the Master Weaver’s mask to reveal he’s Karn, only several years older. A place on the Master Weaver’s mechanical spider-leg harness allows for Karn’s spear to fit like a key, thus allowing him to unlock and remove his older self from the harness. When Anya points out only a Spider should spin the Great Web, Karn states he’s consumed so many Spider-Totems that “their essence flow inside [him]” and that this will be his “penance” and “salvation.” SpOck, meanwhile, is fighting Peter one-on-one, declaring their outcome will decide who “is the greater hero.” Peter, however, says SpOck’s actions prove he’s no hero, as a hero puts others needs before their own—a lesson, Peter adds, SpOck will finally learn when he gives Peter his own body back (as seen in Superior Spider-Man #30). Once Peter has him pinned, SpOck yields, but secretly whispers to his Anna Maria Marconi hologram to enter into “sleep mode” for the next 100 days just as they “talked about” beforehand.
Karn, now the Master Weaver, tells the Spiders that, due to the damage done by SpOck, their connection to the Great Web will be diminished, meaning their spider-senses will also not be as powerful. SpOck vows revenge against Karn, but Karn points out that, by killing his older self, SpOck already has, and the trip through time will also make SpOck forget everything that has happened besides. Peter then shoves SpOck into Karn’s portal, returning him several hours after the destruction of Horizon Labs (as seen in Superior Spider-Man #19). Karn says he can also send the rest back, except for Spider-UK, as his home dimension is mysteriously gone. Spider-UK realizes this is the result of an Incursion (as seen in Avengers and New Avengers) and feels guilt for choosing to help his fellow Spiders over his duties to the Captain Britain Corp. The other Spiders, however, console him, saying they couldn’t have stopped the Inheritors without him. Silk asks if the Inheritors will survive given their weakness to radioactivity and their need to eat Spider-Totems to survive. Karn, however, says the Inheritors can consume any animal-totem, and shows them feasting on the mutated spiders (as seen in Spider-Verse Team-Up #3). Peter mourns the loss of Kaine, while Spider-UK states that, since there are worlds which no longer have a Spider-Man to protect them, he, with Karn’s help, will do so. Anya decides to join him, as her knowledge about Totems can help. Karn then sends Peter, Spider-Woman, and Silk back to the 616, then he, Spider-UK, and Anya decide to rest. After they leave the palace, however, we see Kaine’s hand bursting out of the Other’s carcass. On Earth-616, Peter, having gained new confidence from his leading the other Spiders, believes he’s now truly reader to be CEO of Parker Industries. After leaving Jessica and Silk, Peter wonders how he can ever deal with “the small stuff” again after his adventures across the multiverse when he sees someone steal a lady’s purse. Peter, reminded that there is no “small stuff,” stops the purse-snatcher, much to the woman’s appreciation. “The End.”
THOUGHTS: And so, at long last, “Spider-Verse” has officially and mercifully finished. That is until Spider-UK and Anya recruit Mayday, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man: Noir, Spider-Man: India, and Spider-Gwen for the upcoming Secret Wars: Spider-Verse, which this comic just so happens to remind us to check out once it hits the stands. Yes, even at the story’s supposed “epilogue,” Marvel via Dan Slott cannot help but sneak in advertisements for new series and tie-in comics. Even so, as an “epilogue,” Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #15 does an adequate job in wrapping up a few loose story threads while also addressing some lingering questions from Slott’s own Superior Spider-Man series. Yet given how poor the previous chapters of “Spider-Verse” were, being adequate isn’t good enough to salvage the comic or the event.
Of all the various subplots “Spider-Verse” introduced, it’s strangely enough the ending involving Mayday that’s the most effective. Yes, Mayday’s entire quest for revenge against the murder of her father by Daemos was plagued with cliched, over-used story beats from the start, and was nothing but a source of cheap drama to give her some unnecessary angst and tragedy to make her involvement in “Spider-Verse” more personal. Even her apology to Peter is a predictable, foregone conclusion, as was, in hindsight, her discovering that her mom and boyfriend had survived (after all, as comic book reading veterans can tell you, if there isn’t a body, that means they didn’t really die). Nevertheless, Mayday inheriting her father’s costume to wear in place of Ben Reilly’s and renaming herself “Spider-Woman” is a fitting resolution (and something her creators, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz had originally planned for her when ending Spider-Girl), and the Uncle Ben Spidey deciding to stay and “be something no Ben Parker has ever been” underscored the appropriately bittersweet tone of those scenes.
Also effective, albeit less so, was the way Slott used this epilogue to tie it back to Superior Spider-Man, specifically those missing hours Otto Octavious underwent after the temporal implosion of Horizon Labs. After being made, at times, to look more competent and resourceful than Peter throughout this whole event, Slott reminds us that Otto, at this point in his career as “Spider-Man,” hasn’t fully abandoned or reformed from his villainous ways, and his attempt to destroy the Great Web and thus all of reality in a desperate attempt to save himself reminds me of how he nearly destroyed the entire world during Slott’s own “Ends of the Earth” in the earlier volume of Amazing Spider-Man just make himself be remembered. Then again, given how Otto secretly gave the Anna Maria hologram some instructions he programmed into her ahead of time, it’s more than possible his attempt at destroying the Great Web was a calculated ruse, and that just he did for “Ends of the Earth,” he has a contingency plan in place for his own survival and return. Either way, it’s spot-on characterization, and provides for another, but more satisfying, rematch between Peter and his long-time archenemy.
The problem, especially for anyone who read Superior Spider-Man, is we already know the outcome: Otto will lose, get sent back to his own time, then allow himself to die to give Peter back his body. Then, as if we needed any reminding of this, Slott decides to have Miguel O’Hara tell Spider-Gwen exactly what’s going to happen right as the 616 Spiders are about to fight SpOck, a completely unnecessary exchange of dialogue which ruins what little tension and suspense there was left. That and the non-too subtle hints towards Secret Wars, which will lead to the eventual collapse of the Multiverse into “Battleworld,” this also means the Spiders saving all of reality from SpOck’s temper-tantrum is all but meaningless anyway. Furthermore, Slott has made the baffling decision to juxtapose the fight between the 616 Spiders and SpOck while they’re also deciding who will replace the Master Weaver. This attempt at “channel surfing” between two sequences happening simultaneously results in some jarring tonal shifts, a lack of cohesion, and—yet again!—sloppy pacing. And all Slott had to do to fix this was to simply have the Spiders defeat Otto first, then figure out what to do about replacing the Master Weaver, not have both going on at the same time. Grant Morrison may be able to get away with narrative stunts such as this, but Slott is no Grant Morrison.
Speaking of the Master Weaver and his relationship to Karn, the revelation they’re the same person but from different points in time does make sense within the logic off “Spider-Verse’s” framework, and it addresses the nagging question about why the Master Weaver, being as seemingly powerful as he was, would agree to work with the Inheritors, much less be enslaved by them. After all, those who did read the “Edge of Spider-Verse” tie-ins, Superior Spider-Man #32 and #33, knew there was something more to Karn which set him apart from the other Inheritors, and that the Master Weaver did seem to know an awful lot about him. And there lies the problem—Karn was built-up as a major and important player heading into “Spider-Verse,” but with the exception of one story in the Spider-Verse Team-Up #3 tie-in and a single cameo appearance in Amazing Spider-Man (2012) #12, he never played a role in the story until the end. Had he actually been a major character as “Spider-Verse” initially lead us to believe, then his fulfilling his destiny as the Master Weaver would have had far more significance and meaning as opposed to coming across as being tacked on in the finale. Ironically, Slott brings up a plot point in this very issue which would’ve carried far more dramatic weight—that because Morlun also refereed to Silk as “the Spinner at the Center of the Web,” she may have been destined to take the Master Weaver’s place. But because “you demanded her own series thanks to all those hundreds and hundreds of letters you sent into Marvel” (as opposed to the Spider-Office planning in advance her own solo series because they believed she would become a breakout female superhero) she’s spared from having to make what could have been a fitting self-sacrifice as the task is given to someone who wound up having little to no role in the story.
But the least satisfactory resolution for a character’s story is the one who has been short-changed all throughout “Spider-Verse,” even though his name appears the front cover and who all of this was supposed to revolve around. I know I remarked earlier how the rematch between Peter and Otto was more satisfying, and it was great to see Peter call out Otto on his delusions of grandeur and hypocrisy over being the 616’s “best Spider-Man” and “greatest hero.” But how much more satisfying would this have been had we seen Peter being heroic, not just the occasional lip-service or something hastily shoved-in at the last-minute? Aside from coming off as one of those “I learned a valuable lesson today” scenes that are parodied at the end of every South Park episode, Peter’s declaration that his experience as a leader has prepared him to properly run his own company rings hollow, not only because he barely acted like a leader during this entire story, but upcoming solicitations strongly hint that he’s going to lose his job as CEO anyway–right in time for Secret Wars conveniently enough. In short, nothing which has happened to Peter feels earned in the slightest. Plus, would someone as seemingly humble as Peter Parker ever acknowledge that he, and not Otto, was “the Superior Spider-Man,” even if he was quoting something Otto would eventually say to him?
As for Giuseppe Camuncoli, his art, along with Cam Smith and Roberto Poggi’s inking, and Justin Ponsor’s colors, is once again the comic’s strongest asset…so long as you don’t realize that all the action for this issue is taking place in the same room, with the background being a black void with the occasional spattering of Greek columns to give it some illusion of depth. Also, given that Slott script shifts between both the fight between SpOck and the revelations about the Master Weaver as I mentioned earlier, the panel construction is as clumsy as the expository dialogue. Not that Camuncoli doesn’t give it his best considering what Slott’s script forces him to work with, as his visuals still manages to do a half-way impressive effort.
While Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #15 is a little, but not a lot, better than last issue, it’s still the sum off all the earlier mistakes committed over the course of what has come before. It is attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas for having said, “an error in the beginning is an error indeed,” and if ever there was a comic book example of that maxim, “Spider-Verse” would be it. For because Slott, Nick Lowe and Marvel promised to give readers “every single Spider-Man ever,” and because (as revealed in an interview with Slott by The Verge) the apparent theme from the onset was that “all those Spider-Men are the true Spider-Man” and that “Whichever Spider-Man you care about is the real Spider-Man,” it resulted in reducing every single Spider-Man in statue as characters, and Peter Parker in particular. It also is what created the need for different tie-ins, which resulted in the main story becoming so dependent upon them to the point where plot developments which should have belonged in Amazing Spider-Man happened in those ancillary titles instead. And it’s why what should have been a fun, nostalgic, adventurous romp celebrating all things Spider-Man turned into a disjointed, bloated mess and cash-grab. Perhaps next time, Dan Slott can have a Spider-Man story which is an actual story instead of being so much desperate fan service.
- With regards to Mayday apologizing for what she said to Peter, you may remember that she said during Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #12 that “As far as I’m concerned, you’re all fakes.” You may also remember I said that, technically, she wasn’t far wrong based on how Peter had been depicted up to that point. So dare I say why is she even apologizing to Peter at all?
- And Mayday, you should know your dad is dead because, unlike your mom and boyfriend, you saw his body being dragged out by Daemos back in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #8. I know you being reunited with the people you thought had been killed gave you back your optimism and hope, but it also doesn’t mean you have to be so naïve, too.
- “Don’t worry, Miles. I’m sure we’ll see each other again.” Oh, Pete. You have no idea how you’re going to regret those words come Secret Wars. And I agree, Miles. I bummed out that you didn’t get to hang out more with Pete during “Spider-Verse,” too. Heck, I’m bummed out you were barely in “Spider-Verse” as a lot of the exciting, wacky stuff that apparently happened to you mostly happened off-panel.
- Unless we’re supposed to believe that Dan Slott’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions video game is now canon, Miguel O’Hara should not have a spider-sense and not sense any danger from SpOck cutting up the Great Web. And unless I missed something, Miguel is also not, contrary to what Spider-UK says, from “Earth-616 circa 2099,” since the 2099 universe is officially designated as “Earth-928.” Which means Peter, when he told Miguel and Spider-Gwen to get home before it was too late and that only Spiders from 616 would be left behind, was right the first time.
- No wait, scratch that! Spider-UK isn’t from Earth-616 either. So why didn’t Peter order him to return back to his homeworld, too? After all, none of them, including Peter, knew it had been destroyed yet.
- And if Peter, just like his counterparts, are having their heads all but exploding from their spider-sense warning them about the Great Web being in danger, then shouldn’t Otto, since he’s in Peter’s body, also be having a near debilitating attack from his own Spider-Sense the moment he started cutting strands from the Great Web?
- “You figured it out? How?” Gee, Pete? Maybe it had to do with you blurting out loud that you recognized SpOck’s interactive hologram as Anna Maria when Otto realized you shouldn’t have back in Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #13? Or maybe it had to do with the fact you called Otto by his real name in the last issue? Either way, it really didn’t tax Otto’s “superior intellect” all that much, shows just how careless you are at keeping secrets, and gives credence to Otto’s notion you may indeed be a “dolt.”
- Let me get this straight–Peter, because he’s still weak from Morlun slurping some of his totem energy, is so weak he gets tangled in the thread of the Great Web. And yet, despite this, he still can lay in some well-landed punches into SpOck. I guess it’s one of those “it comes and goes” depending upon the demands of the plot kind of weaknesses, then.
- So the knife Morlun was going to use to sacrifice The Other, the Bride, and the Scion, also foretold the role of the Master Weaver? So is that supposed to mean it’s actually the Master Weaver’s own knife Morlun was using?
- Hey, nice to see you again Julia Carpenter! Sure, it’s been almost two years since we last saw you in a Spider-Man comic, and, despite your dire prediction that “All the Spiders will die,” you wound up not only being wrong but also had jack-all to do with “Spider-Verse.” But, at least you finally got out of that coma and are no longer the worst psychic ever.
- SpOck: “This the only way you can best me? By outnumbering me?” Peter: “Says the founder of the Sinister Six.” SpOck: “…Touche.” Okay, you got to admit. That exchange of dialogue was genuinely funny. In fact, it’s probably one the best exchanges of dialogue from this event.
- So at least Karn reassures us that, rather that Peter and the other Spiders condemning Morlun and his siblings to starve to death on a radioactive Earth, they’ll have plenty of those mutated radioactive spiders to eat. Wait a minute! If those spiders have been mutated by radiation, wouldn’t that be akin to eating poisoned food? Also, how does Silk recognize those mutated spiders? She never saw them the whole time she was there as far we know.
- This story now makes it…what? The fourth time Kaine has been killed and come back to life? Are we sure the Jackal didn’t splice Kaine’s DNA with that of a cat?
- “Hope they haven’t let me go at the Fact Channel.” Silk, you managed to land that job in spite of having no college degree, no credit or work history, and no references to speak of. Given how that news station literally hires people off the street, the chances of you being fired after missing a few days of work is pretty much zero. Besides, as the editor’s note reminds about your new series, we see that you did, in fact, not lose your job.
- By the way, since Peter and Cindy Moon’s spider-sense is now less powerful, does this also mean they won’t be compelled to get it on Every. Single. Time! they’re within two feet of each other? Oh dear Lord, please, please, please let this be true.