Friday, August 15, 2014

The Road to Spider-Verse

I make no secret of my love for Spider-Man, in fact I practically wrote a love letter to him a few months ago. Since then I have actually managed to read some Superior with Doc Ock web-slinging. But now Peter's back in charge of his own body, Miguel has his own comic again, and Kaine's title might have ended, but he got to join the New Warriors by the same writer, so it's cheat continuation. All in all it's a great time to be Spider-Man.

Yet that's not all. For you see Dan Slott is building towards a giant Spider Event called Spider-Verse. It's been a long time since I've got all fanboyie about a big crossover but Spider-Verse has sent me back to that way of thinking.

Mainly because it speaks to both my love of Spider-Man, and Marvel's alternate universes ala What If and Exiles. Basically, it sums up as Morlun, a bad guy from J. Michael Straczynski's run that seriously put Peter on the ropes, somehow starts jumping dimensions killing off Spiders left and right, and these multi-dimensional wall crawlers have to team up to stop him.

Marvel have promised that every single Spider-Man we've ever seen will feature (except those owned by Sony). This doesn't just mean various versions of Peter, plus Miles Morales of Ultimate fame, but universes where Doc Ock is still running around all Superior-like, or the version from a weird Japanese Super Sentai series. Even universes where Gwen Stacey was bitten by the bug, or where someone totally unconnected to Peter has taken the mantle.

But perhaps most importantly, versions of Ben Reilly where he didn't get taken out like a bitch.

So I'm back in, buying everything Marvel is publishing that is Spider-Man related at the moment, and so far, they're all pretty good.

The first was New Warriors, starring current Scarlet Spider Kaine, but in the seven issues we've had to date Yost is clearly focusing on the other members. Thankfully that means he's also taking the opportunity to delve deeper into the mystery he set up with Aracely and never got to resolve in the 25 issues we previously spent with her and Kaine. Plus I imagine things are going to get a little spider-centric in a few issues when Morlun comes knocking.

As I said at the start, Spider-Man 2099 is back as a proper title from Marvel, following on from the Superior storyline that saw Miguel come to present day and integrate himself with the founding days of Alchemax, the company responsible for his creation in the future. It's still a little early to tell, with only two issues out so far, but it's enough to intrigue me and get me interested as a standalone, not just a tie-in. Course the fact original 2099 scribe Peter David is writing is a big help.

Of course, the big title is, and always will be, Amazing Spider-Man, with Peter back in control of his own body. I'd already decided to start buying it again long before Spider-verse was announced as I'd been enjoying Slott's previous Parker stuff in trade. Spider-verse just sealed it. It seemed like the perfect jumping on point.

That said, it's not quite. A lot is carrying on from the Superior run, with Parker having to cope with the changes Ock made in his life, such as starting his own company, and Spider-Man generally thought of as a dick by the world at large. Oh and Electro out for revenge for how 'Spidey' pumped nanos into him and the rest of the Sinister Six and got them to work for him. Thankfully I read just enough of Superior to not get alienated by it.

However, one of the other plot points has quickly slipped into the lead story, that of Cindy Moon, aka Silk, a lovely girl who got bitten by the same radioactive spider as Peter did. So why haven't we seen this character in the 50 odd years of publishing, or 20ish Peter's been Spidey in his ow time? Because the poor girl was locked in a basement by Ezekiel, another character JMS gave the Spidey franchise. And it's her release that gets Morlun's attention and starts him jumping about. I think. The recent Superior issue has thrown me.

But Peter being back is amazing. The book has everything that I've always loved about Spidey and is stoking that ever burning love hotter.

Except, the one problem with Slott's rebirth of Peter is the reintroduction of Black Cat as a villain. Felicia Hardy has always been one of my big favourites in Spider-Man, and I have no real issue with her going back down a dark path, she's always been a shades of grey character, and her deciding to earn some money after Doc Ock cost her her entire fortune I can get behind. However, to have her come out and say that she needs to take Spidey down to earn her rep back is complete nonsense. Felicia has never cared what the criminal underworld things of her, mainly because half her time she's practically a superhero herself. Black Cat is out for one thing, and one thing only, herself.

Now as I said, last week saw the release of a new issue of Superior Spider-Man. But how can Doc Ock Spidey have more story when Peter's back in charge? I pretend I hear you ask. Because time-travel. And flashback. During the 2099 story Superior disappeared in a time bubble. It only seemed to last a page, but he came back pretty roughed up. Now Marvel are releasing two more issues of Superior to tell us just what happened while Ock was away. Turns out that thanks to Miguel being ripped from his time zone, Ock was pulled there. While trying to return to his own time he stumbles on the beginnings of a rampage killing off multi-dimensional Spiders.

However, the villain we see doesn't look anything like Morlun, and this is weeks/months before Peter releases Silk and gets his attention. So I have no idea what's going on. However, what follows is great.

We see shot after shot of well known Spiders – House of M, Civil War, Fantastic 5 – all murdered, and it doesn't take Ock long to realise he's not the only one jumping dimensions, and he's somewhere on that hit list. So, this being Ock and not Peter, he goes on the defensive and starts recruiting an army. Of Spider-Men.

That's a fair collection. With Indie and Ape both being interesting choices. However, I find the two on the right the most interesting. They're the two Spiders that fit Ock's more 'pragmatic' outlook. Obviously Noir is holding a gun. The other guy... well he did this.

He's Spider-Man goes Black ops. He appeared in one issue of What If? Where The 80s Spidey vs Wolverine crossover doesn't end with Peter heading back to New York but staying with Logan and learning the hard way of doing things. He's one of my favourite Spiders ever simply because he's the perfect merging of two of my favourite interests. I really hope he makes it past the next issue of Superior into the main event.

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