Spider-Geddon is here in full force and with the death of Spider-UK and Spider-Man Noir so, too, are The Inheritors. It makes sense then that Karn, in his duties as Master Weaver, would set out to find new, and old, soldiers to wage war against the spider’s vampiric foes.
He does just that in this anthology issue from the likes of Jed MacKay, Cullen Bunn, Nilah Magruder, James Asmus and a talented assortment of artists introducing a cowboy Spider — The Web-Slinger, and Supaidaman, a comic adaptation of the live action Toei Spider-Man television character that aired in Japan in the 1970s (and more!) to the fray of Spider-Geddon across four separate stories. But is it all created equal?
There’s simply not enough breathing room across 29 pages for all four of these stories, and a short prologue, to earn their keep. As such, some, like “Final Galaxy Battle” from Jed MacKay and Sheldon Vella more than make their case, really leaning into their best ideas and executing them near flawlessly in their short time, while others, like “The Web-Slinger” from Cullen Bunn and Javier Pulido don’t. The other two more or less fall somewhere in the middle, neither here nor there.
“Final Galaxy Battle,” succeeds because it so wholly takes on the trappings of its source material. It’s a manga styled, high octane triumph that doesn’t stop to explain much of what’s happening but also doesn’t need to. It’s entirely unexpected, and most importantly fun to see Spider-Man flying through space on a missile surf board screaming that he is the “emperor of demons”, the “god of death” and the “emissary of hell”. That’s the kind of character I want to see more of in Spider-Geddon because it’s the kind of character that only exists in the wildness that is the interconnected spiderverse. MacKay’s writing, alongside Vella’s impeccable art smartly leans into that and offers up a brisk but enthralling vignette.
Elsewhere, though, things like the “The Web-Slinger” are undeniably tasked with a more challenging job in introducing characters to the canon that don’t pull from existing source material like Supaidaman does and in still maintaining a compelling narrative. They struggle. None more so than the aforementioned Web-Slinger which is a coyly western dressed but slow, and clunky story that tries too hard to be equal parts character piece, moral pontification, and comprehensible story across its short page stay to a misfocused effect. It’s not a total failure, the look of a horse with a Spider-Man mask all his own is hilarious in its own right, it’s just too much at once without a stable footing in a single direction, relying too much on its aesthetic over focus.
“Spider-Byte” introducing a computer-based spider of the same name and “Savage Spider-Man” doing the same but with a Tarzan-esque character who has it out for Kingpin struggle with the same things but are elevated slightly more so than Web-Slinger’s story by the strengths of their premise or characterwork, relying less on aesthetic and more on introducing characters more wholly. They don’t quite reach the crazed heights of Supaidaman’s story, but do give a little insight into characters we should be happy to see more of in Spider-Geddon (although the continue of growth of this cast seems unsustainable).
In the end, it’s a mixed bag. Not everything here is created equal and not everything gets the equal chance to shine. The highs, specifically the hyper-violent manga ones, are especially high, but the lows aren’t drastically low in kind – just kind of there, waiting to be wrapped up into the larger story. Not a total shame but one that could’ve used a little more focus.