Spider-Geddon has been a complicated event to describe. Its highs, like giant robot fighting at the hands of the Toei Spider-Man and the introduction of characters like Spiders-Man who harness the best of the Spider’s unique voice among Marvel characters, and even their own kind, have been fantastically, unexpectedly high. In return, however, its lows, such as the recursive nature of explaining the threat of The Inheritors again and again and connecting a complicated weave of tie-in issues have been very, very low. So where does the penultimate issue of the main event sit? High in the list! In fact, just below the debut issue is a real return to form that sets the stage for a bombastic, revelatory ending that may just turn the spider-world on its head.
What’s it about? After a brief, largely perfunctory (and, again, recursive) introduction that re-establishes the threat of The Inheritors (not dissimilar to what happens in, and directly connected to Spider-Force #2, also out this week) we move onto two tightly scripted parallel stories that have important work to do.
The first follows the Norman Osborn Spidey from Edge of Spider-Geddon #4 and his new lackey, the hilarious and frightening Spiders-Man, as they enact a plan that may leave the other spiders to die at the hands of their vampiric foes. This thread is really the more surprising of the two here and I’m genuinely excited to see where it goes, as it delivers on the evil energy that Osborn exuded in that Edge issue, tying in threads from both Spider-Verse and the current story exceedingly well. This is the kind of lore rich but also revelatory storytelling that these big events can offer and when realized this well, it’s hard to not feel wrapped up and excited by the prospects and ramifications even if we know things can easily be undone in one event to come not dissimilar to the one that sets a world like this up.
The second follows Miles and Otto (The “Die is Cast” Superior Spider-Man) as they attempt to compromise over how to best handle The Inheritors — especially as potential allies such as Osborn and Spiders-Man are dying or peeling off their force due to disagreements. The leading Spiders here set aside their differences and come to a sensible compromise that sees Miles looking for more Spider-people to join their forces while Otto and his “geniuses” survey for weaknesses in The Inheritors’ stronghold. Hilarity in the form of a Spider Totem T-Rex and a literal Spider-Cop (much to the Insomniac game’s Spider-Man’s delight) punch up the fun here before all of that is sucked away by the vacuum that is Norman’s treachery setting Otto down a path of decisions he and the other Spiders are undeniably going to regret. It’s fantastically balanced writing that relies on storied tropes of both Marvel and more narrowly Spider-Man character arcs meaning it isn’t particularly surprising, but it also makes a poignant point about the nature of old habits dying hard in a way that might impact the whole Spider-Verse yet. Cool, calculated and worthwhile in the end — also entirely different from the separate thread Norman finds himself in to great effect.
Finally, it’s fantastic to have Jorge Molina back on main art duty. His take on the spider-cast is so dynamic and realized that even the rote dialogue scenes, of which this issue has many, feel interesting and unique. Characters are expressive, position themselves in ways apart from each other, and Molina revels in their costumes’ intricacies and finer details in a rewarding, fun, way. Not a lot happens here but it feels so lively regardless — the mark of a truly thoughtful artist who can do a lot with little.
All in all, this issue doesn’t benefit from the synaptic energy that the debut issue of the series did, and it finds itself relying a little too heavily on some worn tropes. But, free of the weave of tie-ins (there’s only one ed note pointing you to another book!) it succeeds in setting up something new and fresh to come in a tightly executed and enthralling way that these events so rarely get to revel in. That’s a success as far as I’m concerned.