Edge of Spider-Verse is an odd type of mini-series. The thing that makes it odd is not that it’s a mini-series that is leading up to a much larger event, but that each issue has very little or no real connection to each other and yet it still is trying to build hype for the upcoming Spider-Verse event. Each issue follows a different Spider-Man across multiple dimensions in their own little short story and then briefly at the end somewhat connects the events to the ongoing story of Morlun hunting down and killing all of the Spider-Men. It’s an odd approach for a comic to take in order to try to build hype, but the question is “does it work?”.
Edge of Spider-Verse #1 stars the fan favorite Peter Parker from the Noir Universe as he investigates the emergence of the mysterious magician*ahem* Mysterio. Is Mysterio just your typical Magician? Or is there something more dastardly at work? If you know Mysterio, you probably know the answer. It’s a joy to see the return of the Spider-Man Noir. He was one of the few Noir characters that I felt could have had a lot more done with, but outside of the occasional cameo and a role in the “Shattered Dimensions” video game; nothing has really been done with him. But now he is back in the spotlight, though sadly his tale is very average. And it’s especially unnoteworthy when compared to a few of the other tales in EOSV. Nothing is exactly terrible about the tale, but nothing stands out about it either aside from the introduction of the Noir Mysterio.
The art on the other hand is handled very well with artist Richard Isanove capturing a great look that encapsulates the very dark and noir feeling from the original mini series. You can really feel the 1930s vibe jump off the page with the uses of black and white and the look of New York. If there’s one thing Edge of Spider-Verse #1 excels at its tone and art. Overall, though, Spider-Verse #1 is probably the most average of the entire mini series.
Edge of Spider-Verse #2 stars Gwen Stacy as the spectacular Spider-Woman and it is pretty much an inverse on the Peter Parker story. Instead of Gwen Stacy dying in Peters arms, Peter dies in Gwen’s. Instead of Uncle Ben, Gwen has her father Captain Stacy. The story is basically just a very important day in the life of Gwen Stacy after Spider-Woman has been accused of killing Peter Parker. What’s most interesting about this issue is that the whole Gwen Stacy with spider powers idea is nothing new. However it is one that has never really been rolled with. It’s difficult to really pin down why this idea has never been played with but it’s nice to see that Marvel is embracing the idea with the announcement of a new ongoing series starring the blonde arachnid. A few details in the story did make me raise an eyebrow; for instance, why were Gwen and Mary Jane in band together? What about either character really feels like that’s the direction they would go? Maybe it’s a trait that is only linked to this particular Gwen? It’s hard to understand since we don’t get nearly enough character definition in this one issue and it’s practically begging for more room to tell the story.
The Art by Robbi Rodriguez is also quite impressive. He seems to be another one of these that is using a very light and free-flowing art style. Very thin lines mixed with over exaggerated features mixed with muted semi pastel colors. It actually reminds me a bit of Babs Tarr over in the new Batgirl. Rodriguez does a fantastic job in giving this issues its own identity from the art alone. The stand out part is his very impressive design of Gwen’s costume, the hood and the uses of white just work to create a costume that screams awesome. EOSV #2 is arguably the stand out issue of the mini-series and it’s not hard to see why Spider-Gwen has quickly become a fan favorite.
Edge of Spider-Verse #3 stars Dr. Aaron Aikman, the Iron Spider-Man, has he attempts to track down the mysterious and dangerous Naahmurah, but can he do so while also being hunted by the villainous Morlun and his sadistic quest to kill all the Spider-Men? Too be honest this is the hardest issue to talk about because it’s the most forgettable and the worst of the entire Edge of Spider-Verse mini series. The story isn’t that bad, but the issue ends in such an anti-climactic and unsatisfying way that I almost suspect writer/artist Dustin Weaver was told he was going to have more than one issue to continue this story but never got another one. But what really fails this issue is Weaver’s character writing and dialogue. Both are some of the most heinously boring I have read all year. Each sentence either blandly explains what’s happening or blandly explains what the characters are thinking or feeling. None of these characters seem like they have emotions put into them. They are just stock characters going through the motions. It’s a shame cause I understand what Weaver is going for with his Aaron Aikman character, a mix between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius sprinkled with a small hint of Tony Stark. But Weaver completely fails to capture any of those three characters’ wit, personality or charm.
If there is something to be praised in this issue, it’s definitely Weaver’s art. The man has a clear knack for creating fantastic designs and landscapes. The detail in this Spider-Man’s costume is very impressive and makes this Iron Spider costume a thousand times more interesting and dynamic then the main 616 Iron Spider costume. Sadly, though, great art doesn’t make up for an incredibly bland story with a horribly frustrating ending. It’s the weakest of the EOSV issues.
Just in time for Halloween comes this very different issue in the Edge of Spider-Verse mini series. Patton Parnell is just your usual high school nerd. He is constantly picked on by both the bullies at school and his abusive Uncle Ted. One day on a class trip he is bitten by a mysterious spider. He soon learns that the Spider has done something to him and that maybe he can use this power to win over the beautiful girl next door, Sara Jane. But will this young teenager become more Spider and less Man? This is the odd issue in this mini series that really stands out from the rest. It has no super heroics to speak of and the Spider-Man in the tale is very different to what Spider-Man is usually thought of being like. But at the same time this issue is alot of fun. It’s a shakeup on the typical Spider-Man origin story and it’s interesting to see how different these characters are compared to what we know they should be. And it actually works very well as a self-contained horror story with its methodical pacing and growing sense of dread.
The art by Ella Bonetti is decent. Theres’s nothing really wrong with anything in the issue but it’s very overshadowed by other more impressive and standout artists like Dustin Weaver and Robbi Rodriguez. Bonetti does do a fantastic job at portraying the monsters in this story but he needs work with some of his facial expressions (particularly one panel near the end that shows Sara Jane being a bit more calm about something then she should be.) But the art does what it needs to do and doesn’t get in the way of the enjoyable story being presented. This is probably the most fun issue of EOSV.
Edge of Spider-Verse #5 stars the mysterious SP//dr, a walking mech copiloted (to the best of my knowledge) by a mysterious spider and someone who is able to communicate with the spider. After Peni Parker’s father is killed while piloting the suit, she is next in line to take over the role of SP//dr. Does she have what it takes? Of all the universes in Edge of Spider-Verse, this is the universe I want to see more from. This is such an interesting and unique take on Spider-man and his world that I would love to see more. And it’s no surprise how unique it is when the writer is Gerard Way, author of The Umbrella Academy, one of the most unusual comic books in the last fifteen years. I just wish that I knew more about this world. As was mentioned I’m unsure of what is the connection between Peni and the Spider and just how they interact to battle crime, but it’s a minor gripe in a fascinating story.
The art by Jake Wyatt is very well suited to this book. It surprised me that it’s the same fill in artist from Ms. Marvel, because some of the designs are so different compared to that book. It’s not my favorite art out of the mini-series (or by him for that matter) but it definitely gives the issue a solid and unique identity to go along with its unique story. And be on the lookout for some cleaver cameos from a whole different medium and you will understand where a lot of this issues influences obviously came from. This is my personal favorite issue of EOSV.
So with all the issues reviewed and talked about, let’s return to the question that I posed at the beginning of this article; is this mini-series effective in hyping up readers for the Spider-Verse event? In a way, yes but it does so in a different way. The parts that involve the ongoing story with Morlun are interesting and are the obvious draw for readers to check out Spider-Verse, but these parts are not the main draw. The biggest hook EOSV creates is in creating or reestablishing interesting and memorable characters that readers will want to follow into Spider-Verse. Each issue gives the reader something different to draw them into the event that may not focus on that particular set of characters but may still have them involved in someway. I think all of these issues do a great job of making the readers want more (even issue 3 has the interesting premise to draw people back). I can certainly say that I am more excited for Spider-Verse, and if it turns out to be half as good as this mini-series then we are in for one hell of a treat.