The Spider-Verse re-opens.
In terms of both premise and execution, Spider-Verse ranks among Marvel’s best crossover events of the past decade. The idea of dozens of Spider-Men from across the multiverse joining forces is sound, and that crossover truly made the most of it weaving a dramatic conflict and celebrating the Spider-Man franchise in its many varied incarnations. But even with Spider-Man, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing.
Spider-Geddon is both a direct sequel to Spider-Verse and a means of tying up one of the last loose ends from Dan Slott’s massive Amazing Spider-Man run. Last time around, the united Spider-Men managed to outwit the Inheritors and leave them stranded and starving in a radioactive wasteland. But because they refused to kill these unstoppable vampires, the implication was that it would only be a matter of time until the Inheritors escape and the slaughter resumes. That day has arrived in Spider-Geddon.
The problem is that it’s not enough to simply recycle the Spider-Verse formula. We’ve seen that conflict play out before. Moreover, we’ve seen variations of the Spider-Verse story in animated series like Ultimate Spider-Man and even video games like Spider-Man Unlimited. Spider-Geddon needs to find some way of building on that foundation and pushing the Spider-Men/Inheritor conflict in new directions. The primary flaw with Spider-Geddon #1 is that it fails in this goal. The foundation of this sequel is more or less identical to the original.
Tonally and stylistically, Spider-Geddon reads very much like a continuation of Spider-Verse. The fact that it’s developed from a story by Dan Slott and scripted by Slott’s frequent collaborator Christos Gage certainly helps in that regard. But at the same time, it lacks the same spark and sense of excitement. Too often Marvel is guilty of rehashing successful storylines to diminishing returns. At this early stage, at least, Spider-Geddon reads like another example of that troubling trend.
If anything, Spider-Geddon reads like a necessary stepping stone to the truly interesting story to come, which is the upcoming Superior Spider-Man relaunch. Gage is writing that series as well, and he wisely makes Otto Octavius the focal point of Spider-Geddon #1. Otto’s hubris is the spark that kicks off this renewed war, and an early confrontation teases the major character arc to come for Otto in both Spider-Geddon and Superior Spider-Man. But with one specific Spider-Man dominating the book so dramatically, it’s enough to wonder why a massive crossover team-up is even necessary (well, ignoring the financial benefits for Marvel). Would simply making the Inheritors the early antagonists of Superior Spider-Man not result in a better, more streamlined story? Or at the very least, why not shake things up by doing an Ock-Verse crossover instead?
Visually, it’s tough for Spider-Geddon to live up to its predecessor when so much of that crossover was rendered by Olivier Coipel. Jorge Molina does an admirable job, even if his art doesn’t pack quite the same level of detail or visual intensity. Molina crafts some eye-catching action scenes and manages to make the Inheritors visually imposing (eve if they aren’t that memorable in terms of their characterization). Colorist David Curiel brings an attractive sheen to the book, but also one that enhances the sense of foreboding leading into the renewed war between heroes and villains.
The one area where Molina seems to struggle is in conveying the necessary level of emotion and nuance in his costumed characters. His facial work is clean and refined when it comes to unmasked characters. Unfortunately, this is a story dominated by Spider-Men wearing full-body costumes, and Molina’s use of body language isn’t enough to make up for the lack of visible facial expressions.