by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Dennis Hopeless, Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Frank D’Armata
Published: January 2015
This book sums up all the reasons why I love Marvel as a company, even if I have a few issues with their recent choice of Event comic. Marvel have their A-List characters, so many in fact that they just bumped one off in an effort to boost their sales. They also have a pantheon of B-listers, all capable of holding their own comic, at least for a few arcs and if the MCU has any say in the matter, able to hold down their own film franchise. What Marvel has that no other comic publisher does is a legion of C-listers each with their own following, fully constructed backstory and the possibility to make that leap to the fore, at least for a while.
I am sure I will get hate mail for calling Spider-Woman ‘C-list’ but when you consider the pecking order of Spider characters you have Peter Parker way out in front as probably the best known Marvel character of all time, then underneath that you have characters like Venom and in recent years both the Scarlet Spider and Miles Morales with significant ongoing series. Then we have Jessica Drew who despite a lot of appearances in other comics has not held down her own book since 1983; even Mary Jane has had her own title in 2006 as well as Spider-Girl in the same year. Heck, Carnage has had 5 limited series with his name on the cover since 2004 and a 6th one just starting with AXIS. By comparison Jessica is practically Z-list, only ever seen in the company of others.
I am not trying to poke fun at the character, but to explain why I love the company and the concept so much – Marvel has this gigantic strength in depth that even monoliths like DC do not have. Sure Batman sells 100,000 copies every month, but once you get past the top 20 books it is all Marvel. Sure they do not have a Batman, or a Super-Man, but that means that everyone else gets a chance to be the hero and there is time in the release calendar for characters like this.
I am never convinced about an ongoing series being launched by an event comic, in this case Spider-Verse, nor for that matter do I think it does them any favours when the event comes a couple of issues in (like it did to the X-Men comic with Battle of the Atom). The reason being that you have no idea what the book will be about when the event ends and the legion of people who bought it for the event fade away leaving it looking like a sinking ship despite the fact it is merely returning to a normal level. This comic is no different, after reading it I have no idea what this book will be like when Spider-Verse ends, this could easily have been one of the anthology titles, like Edge of Spider-Verse, which told stories exactly like this about lesser known characters and how they tied in. To be honest, I am not even sure if this is meant to be a solo title long term; is it going to be a testing ground for all the female Spiders that survive the Inheritors and will it become Jessica Drew and her amazing friends?
In that vein this book stars Jessica, but Silk is the one that steals the show. While I am certain this book is supposed to be solely about Jessica, it is the ending that makes me question. In solo titles, unlike team books, it tends to be told much from a first person perspective as you follow the lead character around, but 3 pages from the end we simply leave her behind and follow Silk as she sulks her way into yet another disaster.
If you are not following Spider-Verse and simply want to pick this up it does a good job of letting you into the story. It is not too complicated and all you really need to know is that a family of creatures called ‘Inheritors’ is out to eat as many ‘Spiders’ as they can from across all dimensions. Coming together for mutual protection they have all ended up on Earth 003 which is a safe haven and from there they reach out trying to gather as many other dimensional clones as they can and seek a way to kill their hunters who so far seem to be invulnerable.
There are many disparagers of Greg Land, a quick internet search will lead you to many sites dedicated to his artistic talents, or depending on your perspective, his lack thereof. I have made jokes about it in the past and I do not care to go there again, but I wish to make judgement on a case by case basis. Therefore in that light all I can say is – this book is beautiful. The first panel of the first page is probably the worst of the entire book as Greg does not make the best of their lizard like riding beasts and for some reason it seems a bit out of focus, from there on this is a true feast for the eyes. One thing Greg can defiantly draw is pretty naked women and while no one in this book is ‘technically’ naked what we are taking about are a bunch of women with the ‘spray on’ style of costume and he does exactly what is asked of him. Yes there are a few facial expressions where they are supposed to be talking, but it appears they are trying to swallow a cucumber, but I will forgive those as this book is quite simply immaculate to look at in every other way.
So despite not having a clue what this book will feel like long term this is about as good a start as I could possibly ask for. It does help that I think Spider-Verse is about the most well constructed Event comic I have ever read and this does tint my appreciation for this comic. For me this is everything I want in a new comic; a character I am less familiar with, given a chance to show us why we should care about her, drawn by someone who makes everything look as perfect as possible, with stunning colour work as well and the promise of more to come.