People who checked out the last couple of new issue write-ups that I’ve done understand that I’ve turned fast and hard against “Spider-Verse,” but if you really want to go back and mark the moment where I first saw a chink in the armor, it was with the publication of Spider-Verse #1. In that review, I said I found the concept of taking a standalone miniseries/tie-in for the sole purposes of introducing more alternative Spiders felt superfluous and unnecessary – especially when you consider how the Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries essentially accomplished the same thing.
Well, earlier this week, we got the second (and final) installment of the Spider-Verse mini, and obviously my opinion of the series hasn’t changed one iota. Actually, I stand corrected, because as I’ve been saying about Amazing Spider-Man #12 and Spider-Man 2099 #7, we are at a point with this narrative where Dan Slott and the rest of the Spider-book creators need to start defining what the end game to this big bloated arc is going to be. Introducing more and more Spiders, whether they be cult favorites like Japanese Spider-Man in ASM #12 or entirely brand new characters like Punk Spider-Man here, does little to push the narrative “Spider-Verse” forward. Instead, it’s just another month of treading water, and after spending upwards of $50 (or is it more? I’ve lost track) of all of the tie-ins and crossovers, treading water doesn’t exactly reward the reader who has committed to following “Spider-Verse” through all of its alleged twists and turns.
The contents of Spider-Verse #2 made me realize that as of this moment – and as has been the case for the past few months – “Spider-Verse” doesn’t actually have a narrative. Instead, the purpose of this whole event, at least as defined by the last half-dozen issues of it, is to function as an exhibition for new worlds, new (and old/forgotten) characters, and a hodgepodge of creators. I guess if “Spider-Verse” was successful in getting a paycheck and some possible opportunity for classic creators like Tom DeFalco and Gerry Conway, and up-and-coming writers/artists like Jason Latour and Robbie Rodriguez, that’s good for the comic book industry and the Spider-book family in general. But what has “Spider-Verse” itself actually given me, outside of a couple of fleeting moments of excitement for a character, whether it be Spider-Gwen, Peter Porker, Mayday, Spider-Man ’67 or whoever?
As I’ve said too many times over the years, it all comes down to whether or not I like the story in a comic, and I just can’t say that I like “Spider-Verse” (or Spider-Verse) in the regard. These little snapshots can sometimes be fun – I actually quite liked the Spider-Punk story from Jed Mackay and Sheldon Vella – but they still add little to anything to “Spider-Verse’s” actual story. In fact, in the opening story about Anansi from Kathryn Immonen and David Lafuente, we see that Spider-Man UK is still pounding the pavement trying to find more Spiders for their battle with the Inheritors. The Spider-army has been building and building since the summer. I’m tired of stories about recruitment. It’s just not interesting enough to carry water for more than a couple of introductory installments.
I’ve already invested my time and financial resources in about 75 percent of “Spider-Verse’s” output, so it would really seem silly and/or spiteful to cut myself off at this stage of the game. Still, I can’t help but look at the calendar and think about how come next month, my monthly pull list will be that much lighter, allowing me to more thoroughly explore books that may not be connected to the Spider-Man Universe, but are quite frankly better written and constructed from a narrative standpoint.
Perhaps it’s premature to say this with a month left of “Spider-Verse,” there’s always hope for a turnaround, but if this latest event has taught me anything, it’s that I need to be more judicious about how much Spider-Man I rush out to buy and read. I’ll always buy Amazing Spider-Man, just because I’ve been collecting this one series above every other for the vast majority of my life. But I’m not going to commit to buying future spinoffs unless I’m given an explicit reason to – whether it be a creator I truly adore working on the book (like Peter David on Spider-Man 2099), or a character or cast of characters that intrigue and interest me (Spider-Gwen).
I get that Slott isn’t going anywhere as he makes Marvel money, and I also understand that there are probably a fair number of you out there that actually think this endless parade of characters and gimmicks is the best thing ever, and more power to you. But I am just so overwhelmingly fatigued with the state of the Slott-driven Spider-Man Universe right now. Something, at some point, has to give.