Amazing Spider-Man #11’s cover says it all. Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, vs. Otto Octavius, the Superior Spider-Man, in a battle royale complete with laser bolts, spear-tipped mechanical arms, and lots of webbing. The interior story wastes no time in finally having Peter assert himself as the leader of this ragtag group of Spider-Men, a moment that couldn’t have come early enough. This sets off the egotistical Otto and the two do battle for control not only of the Spider-Men but also over the ideology that will define their strategy against the Inheritors.
I cannot stress how relieved I was as a long-term reader of Spider-Man comics to see this scene play out the way it did. This moment marks the first real appearance of Peter Parker and the characterization that makes his books enjoyable to read since the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man. Here Peter comes across as a veteran superhero that isn’t willing to put up with what Otto had done to his life and is proactive enough to do what he needs to do to quiet him. Yet he knows his limitations because in order for his eventual return to his body to occur Otto needs to survive not only their battle but also the battle with the Inheritors.
Like any good confrontation with Doctor Octopus, Peter wins in the end through his intellect and manipulation of Otto’s incredibly oversized ego. Could there be anything better, after all the trials of the Superior Spider-Man era, than watching Peter karate kick Otto in the head? I submit not. I will say that with this conflict resolved it is a bit disappointing that “Spider-Verse” seems not to be a story about the conflicting ideologies of Peter and Ock, a story that I fear we will still never truly get.
Last issue I lamented that both Karn and Morlun, perhaps the most interesting of the Inheritors, have had such small role in this series so far. Karn’s role in his family opens up interesting dynamic potential to see the Inheritors from another perspective and Morlun has the most history with the series and Peter Parker thus far. Amazing Spider-Man #11 brings both of them back but still doesn’t really do much with them. Morlun has a powerful moment at the end of the story but spends most of this issue pumping out exposition that we’ve read over and over again and Karn gets a short moment to check in with his family. I’m hoping that their roles continue to develop and expand, as I’m sure they will factor into the emotional finale of this story.
A curious factor to Amazing Spider-Man #11 is where the story takes place in the timeline of the “Spider-Verse” story overall. In previously released, alternate stories like Spider-Woman #1, Spider-Verse Team-Up #1, and Spider-Man 2099 #6 we’ve seen developments that aren’t reflected in this story, suck as six-armed Spider-Man’s death and Anya Corazon and Spider-Gwen’s chase after Silk. It is strange to read a lead comic that seems to be playing backseat to its ancillary titles and it begs the question of why the ship dates on those other stories occurred when they did.
The biggest detriment to Amazing Spider-Man #11’s story is that it continues the trend of the previous issue that sees the book spending a great deal of time sending alternate Spider-Men off on their own stories that will be covered in the smaller books. I think it is safe to say that everyone would rather read about the adventures of Miles and television Ultimate Spider-Man in their own book, where a writer could introduce the notion that Peter sent them off on their own way, than spend precious pages detailing a story that will be covered later anyway. This would have been fine if the previous book had not already spent a great deal of time covering this and if Miles and television Peter’s quest felt more essential to the overall mission of team Spider-Men. That said, the artwork and sense of humor present during the team-up captures the vibes of the ’67 cartoon wonderfully
Amazing Spider-Man #11 gets some wonderfully heartfelt moments, particularly between Peter and Spider-Gwen, right before it sets out to tear reader’s hearts out of their chests. The appearance of Solus in the Cosmic Spider-Man universe is just as heart-stopping and terrifying as a reveal can be. The hulking figure is impressively rendered by Coipel and his inking team as the Earth shatters below his every footstep. The results of the battle, which is just the right amount of epic storytelling for a book of this nature, and the reveal of the Scion casts the future of this series in serious doubt as things look more and more hopeless for the Spider-Men.
With this sudden turn in the battle, hopefully the book will begin a journey through the multiverse and abandon some of the repetitive visuals of Spider-Men standing around awaiting orders and go truly bonkers with ideas, concepts, and new worlds. The future for “Spider-Verse” has never seemed so bleak but for readers I think the fun has only just begun.