Published by Marvel Comics
After being forced to flee from the Inheritors at every turn, the army of Spider-People finally gets a chance to take the fight directly to their pursuers. This is the final battle, the last stand against an unstoppable force. Can the Spiders save themselves before the Inheritors carry out their master plan?
Right out of the gate, it’s obvious that this issue sets out to be one thing: a massive fight scene. Anyone itching for long term ramifications and moral repercussions will have to wait for next issue’s epilogue. Despite the action, however, the book fizzles out when it counts. The Inheritors, lauded as ultra-powerful and unstoppable, are reduced to Saturday morning cartoon villains by the end of the book. The Inheritors, who have shrugged off bullets, sonic blasts, adamantium claws, and everything in between, who have taken on dozens of Spider-Men simultaneously, allow themselves to webbed (webbed!) and brushed away. Here, they simply lose because it’s the end of the story. Gone is the logic that drove the final battle of “Spider-Island,” instead replaced by a contrived solution dictated because the plot demands it.
In addition, much of the potential of Spider-Verse is seeing different Spider-Men and Women interacting and bouncing off one another. Fight scenes are well and good, but the real drama lies in the dynamics between the colorful cast. Unfortunately, this issue neglects to truly explore those dynamics. Once the action takes off, much of the character drama is overridden by spectacle. It’s not all gone, however. There are a few great moments; the Superior Spider-Man gets the best of the issue, making a bold decision that reminds everybody what makes him different from the other Spider-Men. Gwen Stacy’s breakout Spider-Woman also gets a great piece, delivering a wallop to one of the multiverse’s Green Goblins, an action that she may not fully comprehend, but one that longtime fans of Spider-Man will appreciate. However, characters often narrate their actions, and in some cases, make massive personality shifts completely out of nowhere, again, because the plot says it’s time for those shifts to happen.
There are also several separate moments where someone bursts into the comic to save another group of Spider-People from certain doom. Ignoring the mind-numbing repitition of this, all of them rely on moments built up in the ancillary “Spider-Verse” books. In one case, a crucial event happens completely off-panel, between issues. This is the wrong way to build a cohesive narrative. Events in a story need to happen in the story itself. It’s not that hard. Nothing’s wrong with having side books to expand a story, but don’t make them essential to the main plot, and whatever you do, don’t say they’re going to be non-essential and then turn around and make them required reading. That’s called lying, and is a pretty good way to drive off readers.
“Spider-Verse” has always been a pretty event to look at, and that’s pretty much the case here. This time, Olivier Coipel and Giuseppe Camuncoli split art duties. Both are wonderful artists, but Coipel is in a whole other league from Camuncoli, whose work suffers slightly from being displayed so soon after Coipel’s. However, colorist Justin Ponsor does a great job of making the transition between pencillers less jarring. Every Spider has distinctive colors, and the backgrounds, while detailed, don’t distract from the characters that inhabit them.
At this point, I’m honestly glad “Spider-Verse” is, for the most part, over. What could have been a meta-fictional look, set against a multiversal backdrop, at what makes Spider-Man so popular became instead a festival of death, deus ex machina after deus ex machina, and needlessly complicated prophecies and plottings, all hopelessly entangled in each other, like fifty people trying to escape a burning building all at once, only to keep each other from getting out. Hopefully, the upcoming epilogue will wrap everything up on a dramatic level, but I highly doubt it fix the event that preceded it. That ship has sailed.