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Off The Page: Spider-Verse

By Patrick McNair Jan 23, 2017 - 8:23 AM print


Spider-Man is Marvel's flagship character. Since his debut in 1962, the web slinger became a smash hit with readers, who could identify with him as Peter Parker struggled to balance his superheroics with real-life responsibilities. For the first time, a teenage superhero existed in his own right and was not a sidekick to an older, established hero. Having been orphaned at a young age, Peter tragically lost another guardian in his Uncle Ben, giving him the mantra, "With great power, comes great responsibility." After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter vowed to use his powers for good, becoming a crimefighter to protect New York City to honour his uncle. Spider-Man has always been one of the most popular characters in pop culture history, given his unique background and distinctive presentation. Easily holding his own against heavy hitters such as Batman and Superman, Spidey’s ongoing comic, The Amazing Spider-Man was in continuous publication for over 50 years, providing such classic stories like the Death of Gwen Stacy, The Clone Saga and the birth of arch nemesis Venom. Along with the reintroduction of Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War and a new film, Spider-Man: Homecoming out this year and a new animated series as well, the web-head's future has never been brighter.

During the summer of 2014, the biggest Spider-Man comic event there has been took place with Spider-Verse . This event would unite every Spider-Man that had appeared in any media in a fight for survival against a force dedicated on eradicating every incarnation of the wall crawler.

The Setup:

Across the Multiverse, Spider-Men are being systematically hunted down by a family known as the Inheritors. While stopping a robbery, Peter Parker encounters various Spider-Men (and Women) from different dimensions, informing him of the Inheritors’ plot. Peter must act quickly before the Spiders are wiped from existence.

The Players:

Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Miguel O'Hara/Spider-Man 2099
Otto Octavius/Superior Spider-Man
Spider-Girl
Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman
Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man
Cindy Moon/Silk
Animated Spider-Man (2012 Disney version)
Kaine
Morlun
Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen
Inheritors

The Breakdown:

Following the conclusion of The Superior Spider-Man comic in June 2014 (a point where Otto Octavius swapped minds with Peter Parker), The Amazing Spider-Man was relaunched and two additional issues of Superior Spider-Man (#32-33) were published as a lead-in to the Spider-Verse storyline. In these issues, Otto finds himself pulled into a time warp to the year 2099 and attempts to find a way home. Instead of returning to his time period, Otto journeys to alternate Earths and finds the bodies of different Spider-Men, all with the same neck puncture wound. Otto decides to form a Spider Army to confront the killer.

Meanwhile, in the mainstream Marvel continuity on Earth-616, Peter Parker and Cindy Moon (a.k.a. Silk) stop a robbery, only for the culprit to be apprehended by alternate Spider-Men, including Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Girl and Spider-UK. The Spiders inform Peter and Cindy that a group known as the Inheritors are coming to Earth-616 to hunt down Peter since he is considered to be the "main" Spider-Man and is the only one who has defeated an Inheritor. The group travel through a portal to Earth-13, where a large group of Spider-Men have gathered. This world is under the protection of Captain Universe (a.k.a. Cosmic Spider-Man) and is considered a "safe zone" from the Inheritors. The group gets a reading on another Spider team and they travel to Earth-928. Peter finds that this team is led by the Superior Spider-Man and the two argue about who should be in charge. Peter discovers that Otto thinks he is from before the mind swap took place and uses this information to his advantage telling Otto that he should kill him to prove his superiority. Not wanting to create a supposed time paradox, Otto backs down. The Spiders are attacked by the Inheritors, whereupon a number of Spider-Men are killed. It is revealed that the Inheritors are clones since their bodies disintegrate upon death, causing Ben Reilly and a number of other Spider clones to travel to the Inheritors’ homeworld, while the rest retreat to Earth-13. Before dying, Old Man Spider explains that the Inheritors are a type of "spider vampire" who feed on Spider Totems (supernatural entities) and that Kaine, Spider-Girl and her brother Benjy are the current avatars for the Other, the Bride and the Scion respectively. While checking on their away teams, Superior Spider-Man states that while they have located the Inheritors’ homeworld, they need more recruits and sends Miles Morales and Animated Spider-Man to gather more troops. During a touching moment, both Peter and Spider-Gwen agree to look out for each other, having failed to save their respective counterparts on their own Earths.

Earth-13 is breached as the Inheritors attack, draining the life force from Captain Universe and steal Benjy Parker from Spider-Girl, who Morlun declares is the receptacle of the Scion, planning to sacrifice him in a ritual. The Spider-Army travel to a random planet in order to escape as Peter reasons if they do not know where they are, then neither will the Inheritors. Peter is contacted by Spider-Woman, who has infiltrated the Inheritors’ compound and had encountered the Master Weaver, a cosmic being the Inheritors subdued to gain the ability to travel the Multiverse. Spider-Woman transmits a number of scrolls to Peter, one of which contains a prophecy stating that the Spiders will defeat the Inheritors in 1000 years, unless the Inheritors sacrifice the Bride, the Other and the Scion, preventing new totems from existing and effectively ending the Spider lineage. The Spider-Army travels to Loomworld to battle the Inheritors for the final time. With the help of Karn, a turncoat Inheritor and an alternate Uncle Ben, the team rescues Benjy, thereby stopping the ritual and exiling the Inheritors to a radioactive wasteland from which they cannot escape. Karn becomes the new Master Weaver and the Spiders say their goodbyes as they travel back to their respective dimensions.

Summary:

Spider-Verse is perhaps the ultimate Spider-Man story, starring virtually every version of the character (save the movies) there has been. The Inheritors have featured as a recurring antagonist for Spider-Man, as they seek to destroy the Spider Totems that imbue individuals with arachnid abilities. Spider-Verse builds on the Spider-Man mythology, established in other titles such as Spider-Man: The Other , highlighting that certain totems exist within individuals, becoming the living avatar for that totem (such as Spider-Girl being the avatar for the Bride). Nearly every Spider-Man appears at some point, including Takuya Yamashiro from the 1970s Japanese Spider-Man TV show and his giant robot, Leopardon, aiding in the fight. The series examines themes of predestination as the Inheritors attempts to alter their fate (as prophesised) by destroying all versions of Spider-Man. The Spiders themselves find a novel solution as they battle to avoid their extinction. All in all, Spider-Verse is well worth the time reading (the core series is enough) if you're a fan of Spider-Man or comics in general since it is well written and as a story, does justice to one of the most popular characters in comics history.



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