SPIDER-VERSE TEAM-UP #1 (of 3) Review
Covers by: Dave Williams & Andrew Crossley; Dave Rapoza
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
“The Power of Positive Thinking” (10 pages)
Story by: Christos N. Gage
Art by: Dave Williams & Dexter Vines
Colors by: Chris Sotomayor
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Two stories for the price of one? Does that mean my review will only be half as long?? Read on!
Earth-94: Ben Reilly is in mid-air fending off an attack from The Vulture. Just like Peter, Ben doesn’t waste any time ribbing into Vulchy. This version of the elderly avian has a little twist to him: vampire teeth. As if that isn’t enough, multiple versions of Vultures appear out of nowhere! Now that’s a twist!!! We all knew that there’d be endless versions of Every Spider-Man Ever but who’d have thunk that this would apply to the villains as well?!? Makes sense, I guess.
Ben appropriately names this group ‘A Flock of Vultures’ then realizes it’s the worst band name ever. Hands up if you know which 80’s group he is actually referring to! Bonus points if you can name said group. At any rate, all looks lost until the cavalry comes in: Old Man Spider-Man (my first exposure to him) and Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham!!! Enough of a dramatic entrance or did the cover give it away? Ben passes this off as a dream especially when he spots Ham and states that he’s a cartoon pig. That’d be cool to see in ‘real life’! Ham is quick to retort: “What’re you, prejudiced?” Touché, my prickly porcine! These two play for keeps moreso the Old Man Spider. He breaks Vulchy’s arm. The other Vultures prey on the fallen one. The dream has now become a nightmare.
Mention of Verna and The Inheritors is made. Ben realizes that the other two Spiders are not clones but from parallel worlds. He wins a gold star!! Old Man lays it out: war is imminent and all Spider-totems must be spared. The debate and processing of the situation costs the three Spiders when they are shot with a short-lived paralytic. Ben breaks free in less than a second. He is convinced to convene with many other Spiders. His world’s Peter Parker never was blessed with the totem, therefore his Earth is safe.
Ben is a bright spot in the assemblage of arachnid altruists. His positive outlook on life against unseemly odds makes him an asset and gives the others an edge (zing!!) in the coming battle. Ham and Old Man reflect further on this Ben’s fate: if he can survive this war, it’s a walk in the park compared to what his fate will be as those of his former counterparts.
The story ends with a Cosmic Spider-Man hovering over the others.
WHEW!! Never have I written such a short review. What more is there to say? Brief and concise.
Christos Gage has dipped his hand in the Spider-pool on-and-off the last three years. Here he writes a quick one-and-done that doesn’t require a lot of unnecessary exposition. All Spiders are wanted. Thus, they must band together and defeat the vampiric hunters. Aside from the witty banter, there’s a side of sarcasm and urgent responsibility inherit in all the Spiders. It’s a satisfactory tale that sets up the main story of a grander scale.
Dave Williams is new to me but he seems to capture the essence of the Spiders’ appearance. I find the three a bit bulky especially around the shoulders and torso. The Vultures look extra creepy in any incarnation.
Dexter Vines is Ed McGuinness usual partner. It’s surprising to see him here given that he’s away from his main man and on a Spider-book. The lines are quite solid for the bodies and the webbing.
Chris Sotomayor manages to make the red-and-blue of each costume a different shade to distinguish and differentiate each Spider-Man. The webbing is solid but fluid at the same time.
Joe Caramagna is one of the regular rotating letterers from the Venerable VC Studios. As usual, the best use of his talents is in the sound effects. The classic “thwip” can never fade away!
I give this story 5.6 out of 8 legs (70%). Get it? Arachnid? Eight…? Ah, forget it!!
“The Luck of The Parkers” (10 pages)
Story by: Roger Stern
Art by: Bob McLeod
Colors by: Andrew Crossley
Letters by: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Onto the next one!! In another reality in the present day, Six-Armed Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir are watching over that world’s Peter Parker who has been hospitalized after receiving the spider-bite. He’s been comatose for weeks now and is on life support. Aside from a severe allergic reaction, there’s one telling side-effect: a huge hairy spider-arm.
The best part of the story is the mismatch of the two different Spider-Men. Six-Arms is a lot more cutthroat as well as protector/do-gooder whereas Noir is more covert and sticks to the shadows (rightly so). Six-Arms takes as many pot-shots as he can towards Noir. He can’t see why he’s teamed up with a ‘relic’ from the 1930’s who is not only unfamiliar with modern-day machinery but can’t fully grasp the severity of the situation. This world’s Peter needs safeguarding since the totem is in him whether it has manifested or not. Six-Arms calls him “Bogart” and refers to the tech as “Buck Rogers machines”. This is after Noir calls Peter a ‘freak’ and refers to Six-Arms as ‘kid’.
As Six-Arms stealthily enters the hospital and hatches a scheme to snatch Peter, Noir looks on and muses at how young this world’s Ben and May Parker look unlike his world’s counterparts. Also, he comments on the irony of younger people trying to look older in his world as opposed to the older trying to look younger in this world.
It’s only a matter of time before Peter wakes up and transforms into a Man-Spider. DUH!! The savage spider gives the other two a run for their money until Six-Arms injects him with the same serum he had used on himself. The effect is immediate and a resounding success. The Man-Spider is just a Man once more. Score one more for this Peter: he’s devoid of the spider-totem. Thus, he’s off the hit list. The Parker Luck turns out to be a very good thing in this world.
Roger Stern decides to make Noir the narrator of this story. This is quite the departure from his run on Amazing Spider-Man back in the 80’s. Even though this is a new Spider-Man for him, he provides the character with depth and gravitas not unlike the Distinguished Competition’s ‘darker’ character. Six-Arms is more in tune with the classic, original Spidey. Heroism mixed with humour. It’s good to see Mr. Stern back on a Spider-story even if it features alternate arachnids.
Bob McLeod is not a name I instantly recognize. He’s worked on various Marvel books since the mid-70’s. Admittedly, I wouldn’t really notice his name in the credits but he has done blasts from the past: other Spider-Books, Star Wars, and Wolverine. His take on Six-Arms is reminiscent of Pat Olliffe’s version from Untold Tales of Spider-Man. Noir is easy enough to draw. Peter looks really boyish, emphasizing his youth and ‘innocence’. May looks a lot younger with her long hair and wrinkle-free face where Ben carries his years and is more portly. The best rendition is the Man-Spider. Freaky doesn’t begin to cover it!!
Andrew Crossley (the cover artist) does the colours here. Simplicity works best. The plain clothes sported by the Parkers, the purest white for the hospital sheets, the red-and-blue tried-and-true costume of Six-Arms contrasting the grey-black of Noir’s costume, and finally the hairy dark grey of the Man-Spider.
Joe Caramagna does it again!! Granted, it’s one full issue for him so he doesn’t even break a sweat. I especially love the ‘KRIISHH’ sound effect simply because it’s all in white blending with the broken glass. I also noticed that the ‘o’ in ‘hospital’ is unlit. Does this stand for a broken circle of sorts?
This story is a step up to the first. The juxtaposition of the two Spider-Men as well as the juxtaposition of their team-up is the highlight. Plus, irony makes its presence known in three instances: (1) Peter being hospitalized didn’t prevent the burglary at the Parkers’ home from happening but it did spare Ben and May’s lives, (2) the discrepancies in age, (3) the serum made Six-Arms the ‘freak’ that he is but it saved this world’s Peter in more ways than one.
Dan Slott promised to be extremely nasty to several Spider-Man across the alternate universes but he never said that he’d do the same for Peter Parker!!! Sit on that one and let it stew. Slaughter the Spiders but protect the Peters? What a concept!!
I rate this tale an 8.5 out of 10 web strands. THWIP!!
Tags: Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel, Marvel NOW! (All-New Marvel Now!), Spider-Man, Spider-Verse