Following the formula for the title’s debut issue, Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 is composed of two tales teaming up Spider-Folk in various formations. People who grew up referring to “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” simply as “Star Wars” will find their Spider-Man swinging through Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 as the story “Too Many Spider-Men” brings the Ralph Bakshi Spidey from the 1967 cartoon together with Miles Morales from Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man as well as the contemporary Spider-Man from the current “Ultimate Spider-Man” cartoon on Disney XD.
Penciler Dave Williams perfectly nails the look for the Bakshi weblinger, right down to the web pattern stopping at the mask with no webs on Spidey-67’s body. Colorist Chris Sotomayor replicates the groovy, bold tones from that beloved cartoon while Williams crafts backgrounds and cityscapes that are simplistic and non-distracting. Inker Dexter Vines keeps everything crisp and clean and works tightly with Williams’ work as the two vary lines, weights and textures between each of the representative Spider-Men.
The visual aspect of “Too Many Spider-Men” is rounded out by letterer Clayton Cowles. With a subtle change in type style for the Bakshi Spider-Man, Cowles hits the target, but then misses as Miles Morales’ trademark mixed-case type is left by the wayside. It’s certainly among the tiniest of nits to pick visually, but it seems to me some consistency should be applied when changing type – either change everyone to match the world case, as was done in Spider-Men, or let each character carry their trademark speech patterns. After all, Thor’s Asgardian-speak is present in most (if not all) modern-day Marvel Universe appearances.
Fancy font discussion aside, “Too Many Spider-Men” is exactly what Spider-Verse Team-Up should be: entertaining and expository. With this cross-section of Spideys, writer Christos Gage has guaranteed to hit many of the first Spider-Man or favored Spider-Man among the readers of this series. In doing so, and merging the adventures of these three together, Gage gives readers a nice shot to learn about the other Spideys while adding in some humor and adventure along the way.
The opening adventure is a nice way to launch the comic book, but Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 doesn’t stop there. Gerry Conway comes back to the adventures of Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy as “A Spider in the Dark” follows Spider-Gwen on a recruiting mission to Earth-21205 and introduces readers to a Peter Parker who took the death of his Gwen Stacy real hard and acted upon it with ambitious finality.
Verna of the Inheritors follows Gwen to this Earth from appearances in “Spider-Verse,” setting Gwen and Peter up for a battle that seems filled with casualties. Conway excels at displaying the changes these characters endure under slightly different consequences. While Gwen Stacy’s death had an irrevocable effect on Peter’s life on Earth-20125 and Peter’s death altered Gwen’s life on Earth-65, the characters still share a passion for justice and carry a responsibility to do the right thing. Conway gives readers an interesting investigation of the character’s personalities through the fractured crystal of alternate realities.
“A Spider in the Dark” is drawn by Steven Sanders with colors from Andrew Crossley and lettering by Clayton Cowles. At points in the story, Sanders channels Jim Cheung’s style, particularly when the Goblin unmasks. Sanders and Crossley come together in a beautiful fashion for the all-too-familiar flashback sequence depicting the demise of one world’s Gwen Stacy. The duo use sepia tones, softer lines, delicate shadows and grit and noise associated with love-faded photographs.
The rest of the adventure is fairly straightforward, packing in Parker luck, dwindling embers of love lost and plenty of conflict. Verna proves to be a match for the Spidery duo, but Conway’s story has plenty of room to entice readers to request more. Conway definitely understands the impact his decisions about Gwen Stacy had on a readership as well as the legend of Spider-Man and shows readers that it was not a decision easily made. He also uses the platform of “A Spider in the Dark” to prove his validity in this universe (universes?) with the webslingers. Truly, Conway is familiar with the weight of responsibility and the expectations of power.
This is a supplemental title to the main “Spider-Verse” story going on in Amazing Spider-Man, but in being relegated to supplemental reading, Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 excels, giving readers just enough of a sample to seek out more. In this issue’s case, that “more” could be more adventures of Spider-Gwen or the Bakshi cartoon or even Miles Morales. Spider-Verse Team-Up #2 continues the variant play session in the sandbox, giving readers plenty to enjoy and hope for more fun from the ever-expanding web of “Spider-Verse.”