The penultimate chapter of “Spider-Verse” begins with the ragtag band of Spiders scattered and lost. However, having perhaps finally found a safe refuge from the Inheritors, they find a Spider-Totem tied to Peter’s personal history unlike any other. But can an army of Spider-Men fight back against the greatest enemy of all – a plot so wrapped up in itself that forgets its own potential?
When “Spider-Verse” was being advertised months ago, it was promised by the writers that an event of this scale and scope would still only require reading the main book to enjoy the plot; the substantial amount of side issues would be just that – side issues. However, the latest installment of “Spider-Verse” proves this once and for all to be false. The biggest problem with this issue, and the previous issues thus far, is the presence of vital dramatic moments and plot catalysts in the side issues. The set-up for the final battle is supposed to be in this issue, but it’s all so reliant on tie-ins that it becomes virtually incomprehensible for anyone only reading Amazing Spider-Man. Much of what we do get in this issue is unfocused, and the major developments seem to happen simply because the plot demands it and not because of any logical plot development. The best parts of the issue are the parts that aren’t referencing any tie-ins and instead focus on introspective character moments, which the event as a whole has been lacking thus far.
The characters themselves are interesting to see in action, but most of them, including our very own Peter Parker, are just bit players in a drawn-out conflict. Despite being the titular character and main protagonist of the book, Peter has yet to make any real decisions that impact the constant back-and-forth between the Spiders and the Inheritors. Instead, secondary characters, like the Superior Spider-Man, are made to look more capable than Peter and take it upon themselves to control the situation. Otto himself gets one of the best character moments this issue; first having to come to grips with his mortality once again, then composing himself to deliver an inverted take on the oft-repeated superhero mantra of getting up and fighting back no matter what, that only a redeemed super-villain could deliver. It’s a fantastic look into Otto’s psyche, that’s made all the more heroic after Otto’s somber realization just a few panels before. However, if Peter Parker is supposed to be the most capable and heroic Spider-Man in the entire multiverse, then we need to be shown this, and not simply told, as has been the case since the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man in April of 2014.
In terms of art, “Spider-Verse” remains as colorful and dynamic as ever, thanks to the pencils of Giuseppe Camuncoli. Camuncoli excels at illustrating emotive faces, and this issue finally him allows an opportunity to do what he does best. That’s not to say that the action scenes are lacking; each Spider-Totem has varying cosmetic details to tell them apart even in the midst of a heated battle scene, and the massive battles are clear and concise, and are dense without falling into a cluttered mess of identical Spider-People. Every scene is colorful and bold, courtesy of Cam Smith. The brightly charged colors suit a story full of myriad dimensions, and has been one of the event’s greatest strengths. The plot may be cluttered and convoluted, but the art itself is on point.
With just one main issue left in the series, “Spider-Verse” is running out of time to deliver the character focused storytelling that Dan Slott is fully capable of writing – simply look back to 2011’s “Spider-Island” for evidence. While next issue is set up to be a massive, final battle against the Inheritors, there’s still time to tie these twisted and knotted strands into something resembling a logical ending . Hopefully now that most of the tie-in series have finished, here’s hoping Amazing Spider-Man #13 will have more time to deliver that conclusion, and be a more tightly plotted comic book in general.