EDGE of SPIDER-VERSE #3 (of 5)
“Aaron Aikman: The Spider-Man” (20 pages)
Story, Art, Colors by: Dustin Weaver
Letters by: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Covers by: Dustin Weaver; Greg Land & Morry Hollowell
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
AAAHHH, there’s no narrative device better than tabula rasa (that’s a blank/clean state for all you laymen out there). This week’s critique is gonna be a cinch 😉
What’s über-cool about EDGE of SPIDER-VERSE is that each issue is a standalone. No need to worry about crazy crossovers or teasing tie-ins. Even if this is the third of five in a limited series it doesn’t matter because it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Want more? Well, that’s what SPIDER-VERSE proper is for. Have I whetted your appetite?
Like the previous issue before this one, a real quick origin is provided for all us readers. Given that this is a brand new take on an old favourite, Dustin Weaver doesn’t bombard the book too much with overbearing exposition. Aaron Aikman, brilliant molecular biologist has the audacity to breach humanity’s imposing limits by resequencing his DNA with cloned spider-genes. Thus, The Spider-Man is born! There is specific emphasis on “the”.
AA’s first foe is a former astronaut stranded on Jupiter who becomes the rage-filled Redeye. Kudos to Dustin Weaver for presenting this ‘backstory’ in the form of the trading card. It’s real nifty to see Marvel Fleer logo from the 90’s on the back of the card. Looks like his first appearance as the Jovian Destroyer was also his last one.
Next new nemesis: Naamurah. Who says Stan Lee is the only one who effectively employed alliteration? Natch!! At any rate, this villainess is so elusive and so enigmatic that there is no feasible way The Spider-Man can defeat her. Naamurah’s stats and story are also presented in the form of a trading card albeit without any Marvel logo. *sniff* Why the short end of the stick, Dustin?
Major props to Mr. Weaver for using the most plausible scientific jargon I have ever come across. I never was any good at Science. *sigh* Reading all that mumbo-jumbo not only makes me confused but makes me feel infinitesimally inferior. At any rate, like any captivating story, the ‘Marvel method’ is used here — tragedy strikes an innocent child henceforth altering a family’s bliss forevermore. Marvel characters have always been more grounded, more flawed, more appealing. This definitely applies to Dr. Kaori Ikegami, a scientific prodigy who also happens to be Aaron’s boss/lover. Talk about spinning a web for the fly! Due to Kaori’s daughter Hannah being hit by a car and having to live the rest of her days as a vegetable, Dr. Ikegami breaks off all ties with Aaron completely shutting him out of her life.
As with all complex human relationships, it’s only a matter of time before Kaori comes around (literally, and figuratively). Her impetuousness and overzealousness are off-putting and suspicious to Aaron. He has every reason to be concerned since she is downright paranoid! We all know that the mystery will be revealed really soon considering this is a one-shot. However, Aaron takes the heroic route by focusing all his brain and brawn in capturing and defeating Naamurah.
Aaron seems like a pretty slick, suave scientist until he spoils it by uttering a clichéd monologue stating that he is the only one to defeat the ultimate evil. He goes into full-on science mode scanning the city for the slippery scourge who resembles a spider!! The Spider-Man foils his foe but much to his chagrin, he’s been duped!! Horror of horrors! The real culprit got away and to make matters worse, the newer versions of Naamurah are her kidnapping victims. Dr. Aikman is asked to save the villain/victim Daarroh but he flatly states that he’s not a roboticist. His weak attempt at modesty is called out as is the fact that a spider-like neural interface has been removed from said victim. BUSTED!! The jig is up!
Dr. Aikman’s world comes crashing down on him when he connects the dots and confronts Kaori about Naamurah’s involvement. The fact that Kaori knows that Aaron is The Spider-Man made me do a bit of a double-take. Touché! Kaori confesses to everything. Inadvertently, in saving her daughter, she brought forth an insidious being that festered in Hannah’s subconscious. Kaori via Hannah not only brought forth Naamurah but a slew of inter-dimensional invaders! Aaron races against all odds to thwart it all but it is not meant to be.
The last segment is brief and concise. A metaphorical door (aside from literal) emerges with an unknown entity at its threshold. The simplicity of it all is beyond brilliance!! When the ‘stranger’ identifies himself he aptly utters: “The end of your story.” to The Spider-Man. Metaphysical and taunting at the same time!! Damn you, Dustin Weaver! Here’s the biggest question of all: will Aaron Aikman reappear or was this it? A passerby or a mainstay? Marvel must decide!
page 2 — helmet with sensor array and display
— silk spinner with cartridge and solution concealed in arm casing
— neuro-pulse stinger located on belt
— catapult propulsion boots
page 11 — rear-view display
Aaron’s helmet has eight eyes just like most spiders
Nostalgia: never gone & never wrong!
Those pseudo-Marvel trading cards!!
Page 2 — Redeye: complete with origin, stats, first appearances, and “Did you know?”
Page 3 — Naamurah: I get a kick out of her ‘first appearance’ being in TERRIBLE HULK #50
Does this mean that Dustin Weaver is pulling a Grant Morrison/Multiversity? Are the cards for the readers of the real world (us) or the citizens of Aaron’s world?
On to the art!! I’m familiar with Dustin Weaver’s work his run on AVENGERS vol. 5 with Jonathan Hickman. I like his illustrations well enough. Despite me not being talented in this field, I appreciate that his approach is not too cartoony nor is it blocky. His best layouts are in The Spider-Man’s helmet/face, arm casings, and propulsion boots. Everything here is extremely proportionate. He also has a varied technique on faces. Aaron looks eerily like Doc Ock on pages 1, 3, 4. Other times, Aaron has a quasi-Peter Parker appearance as shown on page 1 with the open helmet, page 5 when he’s kissing Kaori, the visualization of his face under the helmet on page 9, and the close-up of the neural interface on page 15. Aaron seems almost animé-esque on the last panel of page 6.
Being a triple threat is no easy task. I know that this is Dustin’s first foray as a writer but I didn’t realize that he was an inker and colorist as well. What’s really refreshing is the organization of panels. Not all of them are in the standard square format. Pages 10-12 are intentionally angular to showcase The Spider-Man in motion through a sky-high chase.
None of us could read an issue properly if it weren’t for the letters. Clayton Cowles is another long time Marvel staffer who nails it. After 30 years of reading comics, I finally notice something a bit different!!! Clayton has put ample space around each thought bubble. @_@ Now I gotta leaf through my more current batch to see if they’re all presented that way.
Another entertaining read from the House of Ideas. The overall arc has barely scratched the surface. What may have been the end for Aaron Aikman is only the beginning for all the Spider-Fans out there.
I give this book 7 legs out of 8 (87.5%) THWIP! THWIP!
Tags: dustin weaver, Edge of Spider-Verse, Marvel Comics, Reviews, Spider-Man, Spider-Verse