by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Dan Slott, Art by Olivier Coipel
Published: February 2015
If I went back 6 months and someone told me that by December I would be reading a mini-event where 50 dimension displaced Daredevils were running around wisecracking and saving the universe and that it would be the greatest series I had ever read, I would have laughed in your face. If you had in fact told me it would be Spider-Man then my response would probably have been something along the lines of ‘Over my dead body’ or ‘yes, and pigs will fly and hell will freeze over.’ I cannot explain how much I dislike the Peter Parker Spider-Man, a character who is so over used, and from my point of view misused, throughout the decades of Marvel. I have never found his humour funny, his near third wall breaking antics are an immersion breaker and his awkwardness around women so ridiculous given his incredible luck with so many hot women.
So here I am, it’s Christmas and I am praising a Spider-Man comic. No, not just praising it, sitting here seriously considering whether it is better than the Whedon run of Astonishing X-Men. For me that is my holy grail of comics, the series against which I set all my personal benchmarks. The art in it is utterly beautiful and the characterization of every major player so perfect that they will forever be my take on those heroes. I know it was not a perfect run, there have been prettier comics and there were a few weak points in the middle of the series, but over all those 26 comics are as good as it has ever gotten for me. Well, until now.
If you think I am over exaggerating how good this book is, please bear in mind what I have said – I have actively disliked Spider-Man for decades. Other than the first couple of volumes of Ultimate Spider-Man and parts of the Superior run I have intentionally avoided the character wherever possible. I used Daredevil as the example in the first paragraph because he is the only major Marvel hero I dislike as much as Spider-Man, but if I was to include all Super heroes then this is on a par with me praising a Batman series. He is a character that is so stereotyped and used and abused in DC comics that unless I absolutely have to, I refuse to read a book with him in it because I know it is going to make me sigh or groan. Well Dan Slott is clearly a genius because he made me appreciate Spider-Man during his Superior run and has now made me not only love the normal Spider-Man, but 50 other clones of him as well.
There are two things I would have changed in this book to have made it 100% perfect and I am using a microscope in order to find this issues. In fact one of them is not even an issue, it is probably something that is held over for another book and it is the wording during the fight between Peter Parker and the Superior Spider-Man. Otto thinks that he cannot kill Peter because he is a previous incarnation of his body and thus killing it would kill himself. Peter works it out in his head, but I would have loved for him to have beaten Otto to the ground and then told him that he is a later incarnation and thus that Otto lost. However the more I think about this the more I feel it is ground that is going to be covered later on and that this little punch up is not the end between them.
My second minor complaint with this is a few panels of the art. Peter really does look horribly insane and almost disfigured with his mask off, both as Peter and Superior. I feel incredibly mean for mentioning it because other than those 3 panels near the beginning of the book, the art in this issue is about as perfect as I have ever seen. There are 7 pages/panels where the art is so perfect it puts the cover of this book to shame and it is pretty perfect in itself. I cannot emphasise enough quite how stunning it is and specifically the inheritors who benefit so much from the heavily inked shaded appearance. The death in this issue, and that is not a spoiler because they have killed at least one Spider in every issue, is about as disturbing and important as they come.
It is interesting that this book came out this week because it is in fact the jumping on point for 3 other tie ins, two of which came out a fortnight ago. I stupidly read Spider-Verse Team-up before this issue and thought it was horrible, but in retrospect when read after this issue, it makes so much more sense. It is quite incredible to me that they managed to dedicate five full pages of this book to what amounts to advertising for other series and still made this feel coherent and important, it’s a master class that should have been read by the people doing Logan’s Legacy because issue one of that book as a travesty for this very reason.
I have well and truly run out of superlatives for this book, I think my biggest worry from here on out is that everything Spider-Verse has been so well done that there is no way Slott can carry on upping the anti week after week. Eventually he is going to run out of ideas or summits to climb and the resolution to the story is going to be a let down by comparison. I will leave my decision between this series and Astonishing until he resolves it. If he can top the concluding Giant Sized issue of that series then this will take its place as my new benchmark in comics.