Spider-Verse is the latest in a long line of trying to get the readers money by putting out a big “game changing” crossover from a comic book company. Now fortunately unlike most this won’t tie up every comic book in the line but only the ones with spider in the title. Not sure if that’s better or not. Anyway the idea is that this story will cross universes and draw in every spider-man whoever was, including a few specially made for this story. That is where “Edge of Spider-verse” comes in. This short mini-series is a set of ones offs that will centre on a different “Spider-man” each week ideally to introduce us to some of the new guys before they get lost in the shuffle of regulars and fan favourites that will no doubt dominate the series.
Unfortunately going slightly against this, the first issue launches with a story centred around Spiderman: Noir a character first shown in ‘Spider-man Shattered Dimensions’ which took the same basic idea as this series but ran with only four spidermen, only one of which was a newbie, Spiderman: Noir. Now I believe they’ve even admitted that giving Noir his own issue aside from the main spider-verse crossover was an attempt to push the series into a spin-off with his own series.
Unfortunately Noir is probably the least interesting of the series but that’s to be expected when you’re going up against Gwen Stacy’s hoodie and giant mechs. Set during the late thirties during the heyday of gangsters and the great depression. This means you get basically the same Spiderman that you see everyday in the comics and movies except a bit grimmer and a bit darker. Picking up where the game and the Noir mini-series left off we find Peter taking Aunt May and MJ Watson to the world’s fair where he runs into the great escape artist Mysterio. As can be expected this Mysterio is not just some humble escape artist and is soon hired by the Kingpin to track down and kill the thorn in his side, Spiderman. However the comic doesn’t really end instead it just segues awkwardly into the crossover with the superior Spiderman turning up and drafting him. Now this is a trend we’re going to have to get used to unfortunately with none of the books having a great ending though this is possibly the worst out of the bunch.
Now the second issue was when the series began to pick up with an all new spider-man or in this case woman. In this universe it was Gwen “destined to drop from a bridge” Stacy who got the legendary spider bite. She still dated a young man called Peter Parker, who was bullied every day of his life, but instead driven by the hatred and the longing for the unique abilities of Spider-woman he took a serum that turned him into ‘the Lizard’. A tumble with Spider-girl later left him dead and J. Jonah Jameson using his position as head of the Bugle to lead a campaign against her. Thus the issue follows every day girl and kick ass drummer Gwen Stacy dealing with every cop in the city ready to shoot on sight, including her dad the chief of police. This is made all the worse when the Kingpin’s right hand man Matt Murdock hires ‘the Rhino’ to wipe Captain George Stacy off the map. This is probably the best of the books, for feeling the closest to Spiderman but different enough to keep you guessing. It also has the least connection to the overall spider-verse with only a single panel at the end.
Next we have Aaron Aikman a brilliant bio-chemist who intentional injected himself with the d.n.a of a spider to become a hero to the city and its people. This plays out very much like the first issue of a new series for the character with notes and bio-cards telling us the newbies what we’ve missed so far. This works quite well and building up the world around this character such as name dropping villains we don’t see and hinting at other characters running around the world like the fact that Naamurah first showed up in an issue of ‘Terrible Hulk’. This probably plays out as the most unique by not name dropping almost anything we’ve heard of and dropping us in the middle of a pitched struggle between Spider-man and Naamurah who is prowling the city each night and taking innocent civilians for no known reason.
The Penultimate book features Patton Parnel in a tale just close enough to Peter Parkers to emphasize the dark nature. Taken in by his cruel Uncle Ted and content to spy on the cute girl next door Sarah-Jane, in a scene carrying some perverted intentions Patton is a scientist at heart just like Peter but without any of the warmth. When Sarah-Jane ropes him in to help free some of the test Animals while on their science trip to Alcorps, of course this results in Patton receiving a bite from one particular spider as to be expected. This comic sticks much closer to horror routes than any from the super hero genre and manages to be dark and twisted enough to be entertaining.
And finally we have SP//dr otherwise known as Peni Parker a young pre-pubesant girl drafted into the organisation after the death of her father. Now living with her aunt May and Uncle Ben she meets the source of the spider powers a large red spider who serves as a sort of cross between a pet and a sidekick. Once this spider deems her worthy to follow in her father’s wake it gives her a bite and moves in as a constant companion both in and out of school and of course inside the suit. In truth the suit is probably the most interesting part of the whole get up giving her the usual array of spider based powers and the look of an Evangelion. In fact it’s not clear what exactly the spider bestows upon her as the fact that she swings around in a towering mech suit approximately twice human height it doesn’t seem to matter about organic webbing or the ability to cling to walls. Peni doesn’t seem to have a secret identity with Daredevil picking her up in the middle of class to kick ass and eat their packed lunches together. This comic probably has the least amount of plot out of the group especially as the “spider-verse” gets in and dominates the last few pages in a big way but it still manages to a fairly interesting and unique world.
If this all seems a bit shallow and lacking in depth then in truth it is. Each of them has a varying amount of connection to the overall spider-verse event with some only giving a panel while others are content to wrap up their book with a page or two starring someone from the crossover. You don’t need to know much about the spider-verse event to follow these but I think it will impede upon your ability to enjoy these as standalone comics with many ditching their story to link into the event stopping them from reaching a satisfying conclusion further emphasising the idea that the notion of telling a complete story in one comic is pretty much dead these days.
Each managed to read and look decent but different enough so that you always feel like you’re picking up a whole new series with each issue and I would probably recommend this to anyone who enjoyed what-ifs and ‘The Exiles’ for their wild and unpredictable universes but I can’t see this being looked back on in even a few years though that might be a different story for the spin-offs the series is desperate to sell. More-so for Gwen than for Noir in my opinion. And now to play us out Gwen Stacy with her band The Mary Janes. No prizes for guessing who the lead singer is.