Last week, I had a chance to see (and podcast about) Into the Spider-Verse and immediately came home with plenty of Spidey stuff on my mind. There were books to be read, action figures to be made, fun to be had. It really got me excited about all things Spider-Man. This week, I went to see Aquaman and…let’s go back to talking about Spider-Man stuff.
Here’s a Spider-Man impulse-buy Christmas album for you to listen to while read this week’s column.
One miniseries that just wrapped up this week is Spider-Geddon, the crossover event meant to coincide with the release of the PS4 game and a certain animated feature that I described on our podcast as the best representation of Spider-Man in decades.
The crossover event itself made its way through 6 books: Spider-Geddon, Ghost Spider: Spider-Gwen, Spider-Girls, Spider-Force, Vault of Spiders, and Peter Parker: Spider-Man. That doesn’t include the Edge of the Spider-Verse prequel books. I’m going to be looking at the Spider-Geddon series on its own merits, primarily because I haven’t been ready to read Spectacular since Chip Zdarsky left (sniff, sniff) and I loaned out my copy of Vault of Spiders to my friend whose kid wanted to read Spider-man Noir stories or Aunt May stories after Into the Spider-Verse, and the rest was just too darn much to keep up with. Marvel’s cash grabs are seeing less and less of my cash these days. If they turn out to be great, I’ll pick them up down the line.
To touch on Vault of Spiders quickly for those that haven’t seen it–I think that’s the best part of the crossover. It contains 3-4 short stories per issue dealing with various incarnations of Spider-man from across the multiverse. There’s the Lone Ranger-esque Web Slinger, the sentient stack of Spiders known as Spiders-Man, and Spider-Ma’am, a story where Aunt May gets bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter. There’s the manga-inspired story of Leopardon, the giant robot piloted by Spider-man based on the Japanese show from the 70’s. Each character gets their own chance to shine just a bit before being shuffled into the Spider-Geddon series. It’s pretty fun, it’s only 2 issues, and I love the ideas. I wish they had a bit more time to explore the rando Spider-Men, as I think I found that more fun than the big main series itself.
Spider-Geddon serves as the sequel to the original Spider-Verse story and its many varied spin-offs. Mild spoilers ahead. The Inheritors, a family of Spider-Man vampires, find a way to come back to life and continue hunting Spider-Man totems across the multiverse.
To combat the enemies that he accidentally allowed to regenerate, the Superior Spider-Man, a.k.a. Doc Ock mind-controlled Spidey, assembles as many Spiders from across the multiverse as he can to help solve the problem. Several of the big-name Spider-Mans get taken off of the board pretty early. Captain Britain Spidey, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Gwen, and regular Spider-Man get shuffled off to their own books or just off this mortal coil by issue #2. Don’t panic though, as none of this series seems to matter anyway. I’m sure if there’s a Spidey you like, they’ll find a way to bring him or her back eventually. There are still plenty of Spideys left (and a lady Doc Ock), as the series focuses on Miles, Ock, the Ben Reilly Spidey (that was the Jackal but is apparently good now), and Spider-Man from the PS4 universe. Spider-Punk, Ham, Sp//der from the first Spider-verse story are relegated to backup duty, but they’re there, too. That doesn’t include all the new Spideys from Vault of the Spiders and the bajillion of other Spider-Men-and-Women also serving supporting roles. From there, it’s the Superior Spider-Man bossing around the other Spideys and calling them names. Eventually, it boils down to Ock learning to work with the other variations of Spider-Man instead of fighting them. If they work together (and if Leopardon would just start with his finishing move), they can use the brains of the Ock Spideys and the clone Spideys and the Norman Osborn based Spideys and the Miles and Peter Parker based Spideys and all the other Spideys to beat the silly family of Spider-totem vampires.
If my overview sounds a bit glib, it’s because there’s not a whole lot of substance here. It really is just here’s a crazy Spidey talking to this other Spidey who’s going to ask this other Spidey for help even though they think that other Spidey over there is going to double-cross them all. You either enjoy it or you don’t, I feel. It’s barely hiding the fact this story exists as a promotional cash grab, as they released the #0 issue with the debut of the PS4 Spider-Man game, even though content-wise, it fits after issue 2. Why not make that issue (drawn by the really cool and high gloss Clayton Crain) issue 3? It wouldn’t fit the cash grab motif.
Why bother serving the story when the story doesn’t really matter? They wanted a story to start with the PS4 game and wrap up shortly after the animated movie hit theaters.
Spider-Geddon also is very continuity heavy, and as someone who’s read the main Amazing Spider-Man book from issue one but will often skip the ancillary titles, I still found myself a bit lost or confused or not really caring about a lot of the characters. It’s just too much to matter.
I’m getting ahead of myself here. The story is written by Christos Gage, based on an idea from Dan Slott, with art by Jorge Molina, (1-2, 4-5) Carlo Barberi (3-5), Stephano Caselli (5) Joey Vasquez (5), and Todd Nauck (3). Molina’s art is solid, and despite the rotation of pencillers, it never gets too far off course.
I’ve gone on record as not being a big fan of the Slott era of Spidey–I think he’s a great idea guy, but the logistics and storytelling execution were always a let down. Christos Gage was always the Giligan to Slott’s Skipper, filling in the few times when Slott was too overwhelmed to finish scripts or needed somebody to flesh out plots. Unfortunately, he was really good at keeping in the Slott spirit and maintained most of the things about Slott that I never really cared for–and that carries over here. This story, much like Slott’s original Spider-Verse, is a fun idea that suffers from too many characters that don’t really need to be there. The character development of the characters that are given important notes isn’t compelling or interesting. It’s just there. So in a way, this is kind of like Aquaman. Spider-Geddon isn’t bad; it’s just not good. It’s not even bad enough to be fun bad. There were some cool moments, but not nearly enough to justify the story. It has plenty of potential, but that potential is mostly unrealized by a plot where characters don’t seem to matter and is a bunch of standing around talking.
Also, the villains and plot structure of the Spider-totem is a relic of JMS’s run that I’ve never been a big fan of. I know lots of folks like Morlun and his ilk; I just think they’re silly Spider-Man Draculas. The idea of the spiders choosing their hosts and everything being predestined takes a bit of the shine of Spider-Man off for me. I like the fact that people can make choices and suffer the wins and losses of their decisions (with a few random dice rolls from the universe mixed in to keep things interesting). The whole spider-totem idea takes away from that. I don’t need the Other or Pattern Masters or Web Weavers….just a multiverse of varied Spider-Folk is cool enough. Some are Peter Parkers, some are Doc Ock’s, some are spiders bitten by radioactive pigs, and some drive giant robots and fight monsters. That’ll do. One of the nice things that the Into the Spider-verse movie does is that it takes the Spider-verse idea and condenses it to just the essentials. Even though there are a lot of characters, they all feel developed and human, even if some of them are pigs. Even the bad guy is better as he’s just a gangster trying to use the multiverse to make his life better for personal reasons. That makes sense. Spider-Draculas that feed off of clone bodies to regenerate and search the web of life to seek out Spider-prey so they can suck out their life essence does not.
In conclusion, Spider-Geddon exists. It’s ok. It bogs itself down with too many characters that it can’t successfully realize and bad guys that are lame. But it does have lots of Spider-Mans arguing with each other and referencing stories from the last few decades. That’s fun. There are great ideas. There are fun moments like how Leopardon Spidey doesn’t want to start with his finisher Sword Vigor because it just seems…boring. I would still say to take the $25 MSRP for this series and go to the movie theater with a friend instead to see the animated version. You’ll get a full dose of Spider-Verse fun in a way that is fully realized and the characters are respected. Then, maybe stop on your way home to pick up Vault of Spiders to see some of the cool concepts you can play around with in your head. Maybe make up your own story with Spider-Draculas; it probably will be a more rewarding experience than Spider-Geddon.
Final Grade: C-
If you’d like to give these series a try, but don’t know where to go, try the comic shop locator.
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Until next time, my friends,
My blogs will be the ones consumed and enjoyed by Spider-Folk and Spider-Draculas alike across the multiverse!