It’s a fairly common opinion that Marvel has too many events and major crossovers. This year alone, we’ve had The Trial of Jean Grey (which I thought was pretty good), Original Sin (was not received very well), and Axis is 4 issues in this week. The Death of Wolverine could also be considered an event, especially with two mini-series exploring the aftermath and a weekly ongoing starting next year. That’s not to mention that they’ve already teased 2 events for next year, one of which will supposedly affect every single title published by the company (Secret Wars). I’ve only been reading comics for 3 years and I’m suffering from event fatigue. That said, Spider-Verse looks so good. And today saw the release of Amazing Spider-Man 9, officially kicking off the event. Apologies in advance, but the word “spider” will appear a lot in this review.
The gist of Spider-Verse is that a family of inter-dimensional vampires are killing off Spider-Men from across the multiverse. One of which, Morlun, has been seen before. As such, several armies of Spider-people have gathered. One is led by The Superior Spider-Man, who found himself trapped in the year 2099. The other’s leader hasn’t quite been revealed yet, but they consider 616 Peter Parker to be the best of them. Basically, we have a massive Spider-Man event that involves pretty much every Spider-character ever created by Marvel. For the most part Dan Slott’s Spider events have been great, with Ends of the Earth being the only real exception.
This issue kicks off with an alternate Peter Parker being killed by one of the villains to set the darker mood. It then introduces the family of vampires and the idea that the 616 universe is special. These pages do exactly what they needed to – set the mood for the overall story. Afterward, we move to Peter Parker being awoken by Silk. At this point, the comic moves into a scene that pretty much everyone saw coming the moment the event was announced. This rather amusing scene has Spider-Man and Silk working together to stop a bunch of criminals on a rampage, and then most of the other Spider characters from the main universe show up. And then alternate dimension Spider-Men show up and everything spirals out of control for the poor villains. This is by far the most entertaining scene in the comic, and it wisely doesn’t waste too much time having Peter reunite with alternate versions of dead people from his own universe. The most important of them have their own one-shots anyway. Even with everything that’s going on, Slott finds room for brief emotional moments – including Mayday Parker holding her baby brother. Also, Spider-Ham is back!
The backup story mostly expands on the villains as a family unit. I don’t know too much about Morlum as a villain (I only heard of him in the lead-up to Spider-Verse), but the family seems interesting enough with varied personalities and sibling rivalries. Their motivations vary from a sense of duty (from the heavily armored member who doesn’t really show up in this issue) to those who are just sadistic. The head of the family is only shown in shadow, but when the others seem to fear his wrath, he will certainly become a problem by the event’s end.
The art is split into the main story, drawn by Oliver Coipel, and the backup story, drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli, and they both do a great job. Coipel’s pages are full of detail, both in the characters and the environment. While Peter and Silk swing through New York, the city scape shows a great variety of building shapes, sizes and colour. Even the cars on the street are varied, and the glow of sunlight just off panel adds a neat effect to the look. It’s impressive how, even with all the different Spider-Men running around (many with similar costumes), it’s always easy to tell them apart.
Camuncoli’s pages are also well-detailed, but the environments are mostly simpler in design. The main attraction is the splash page of the Web of Life and Destiny. Dozens of alternate Spider-Men are shown, and a bunch of them are twists on famous Spider-Man storylines. The ones that caught my attention the most were Western Spider-Man and Spider-Pool, but there are too many neat pictures to list them all. Each of the villains have a distinct look (save for the two that are supposed to appear almost identical), and the head of the family is kept in the shadows.
There’s so much to talk about with this issue and the majority of it is good. The chaotic number of Spider-people could have been a detriment to the book’s pacing yet Slott kept the time wasting to a minimum. The plot is set up in a way that you don’t have to read any of the tie-ins to understand what’s going on. But most importantly, Spider-Verse 1 strikes a good balance between dark and fun. If an event involving pretty much every Spider-Man in the marvel Multiverse interests you, then you should pick this up.
And regarding the $5 price tag, you’re getting 32 pages of story content when the normal $4 comic has 20. In this case it’s more than worth the difference.