The Gamerverse continues to expand at Marvel Comics and this week is a good time to jump into the second Spider-Man series based on the PS4 video game. Subtitled “Velocity,” the series, written by Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum and drawn by Emilio Laiso, features one of the amazing costumes featured in the game, some new villains to populate that universe and a whole lot of charm. That charm comes from the great balance of science-minded Peter Parker and superhero Spider-Man melding into an ever so slightly different version fo the character apart from the 616 universe version.
This five-issue series picks up with an action sequence where Spidey fights Swarm. We got a hint of this villain in “City at War,” but he’s given a bit more room to breathe here — plus, he pops up again later. Very quickly, it’s clear this is a different universe due to the character design of Swarm and the costume Spider-Man is wearing as he fights this bad guy. Hallum and Laiso do well to capture Spider-Man’s ability to mix hard hits with strategy and using his noggin. It’s one of the wackier villains and it plays well into the main threat that’s being established later on, since it’s an enemy that doesn’t immediately make logical sense.
Mary Jane gets a good deal of page time as she shadows superstar reporter Ben Urick. She’s enamored with him due to his track record as a great journalist and it’s fun to see Mary Jane’s turn as a reporter further developing. She’s very much the main character here and she’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (maybe more so than Peter). Much like the game, it’s her investigating that helps cue Peter into a greater threat he would have otherwise missed. It’s also nice to see how they team up in a way as they attempt to figure out who the “ghost” is in the story.
Speaking of the “ghost,” I don’t want to spoil it, but Hallum and Laiso play up this character’s powers well. Spider-Man ends up figuring out how to combat the character and there’s some interesting speed-power usage going on that puts a new spin on Spider-Man. It’s yet another example of how this Peter uses more science than the conventional character in the 616 does. There are some good twists connected to real science (like how if you’re moving so fast you wouldn’t even register ads on the jumbo screens in Times Square).
The main story for Spider-Man revolves around the Velocity suit, which has an adequate reason for its development. The science element, or the trial and error of science, is worked into the plot well with this suit’s development. The fact that Peter can be totally armored — and even beaten with a crowbar — without budging is quite cool and should ramp up what kind of villain he can fight as the story pushes forward.
Artist Laiso (with color artist Rachelle Rosenberg and letters by Travis Lanham) excels at the Spider-Man scenes. The PS4 suit looks great and there’s good detail in the curves of Spider-Man’s body that make him pop. Subtle details like a ridge around the eyes add to the reality of the suit too. Mary Jane is excellently rendered (maybe even better than Peter) and she’s a dead ringer for her video game counterpart. They’re both rendered youthfully which helps remind us where they’re at in their lives.
The Gamerverse is particularly interesting if you’re interested in the PS4 game and the eventual sequel that’s bound to come out. As new characters are introduced or familiar faces pop up into this universe via the comic, I often wonder how they might play a part in future video games. That adds a nice wrinkle when reading the book since there is inherent value in the characters even if they’re not in the main Marvel universe.
This is a good follow up to the first Gamerverse series thanks to its developments of new characters and integrating familiar faces into the universe as well. Above all, Hallum clearly understands how this version of Spider-Man is ever so slightly different from the 616 version and continues to play around with interesting new ways of showing his science side.
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