I’ve long since given up hope that “Spider-Verse” would be as fun or character oriented an event as Dan Slott’s “Spider-Island,” but Amazing Spider-Man #13 contains a few moments that have started to steer the ship back on course. Still, “Spider-Verse” is totally unfocused, even in its final chapters, and still has yet to earn any poignancy that would justify the investment, emotionally and financially, that the book asks from its readers.
Peter Parker continues to play backseat in his own book to his ever-growing supporting cast of Spider-totems. Even this late in the story, Peter still has not come up with any compelling plans or decisions that would designate him the protagonist of the series, much less the leader of his growing cast. If there is a central focus to this issue it is the forthcoming attack on Loomworld and Peter recruiting the alternate universe Uncle Ben to their team. On both fronts Peter is completely ineffective, other than to provide some limp words and ideas amidst the growing arguments between the spiders, only to be upstaged by Otto and Anya.
In lieu of Peter getting any moments in his own book, Otto is presented with several situations to shine and develop. Early on Otto realizes both that an alternate version of himself was responsible for destroying an entire universe and that the Peter he is dealing with is from the future, implying that he would eventually lose. Both of these revelations are pretty interesting developments for the character which would be exciting to see him wrestle with. However, the book places him in inspirational mode and has him one-upping Peter during an inspirational speech to Uncle Ben instead.
That speech is interesting, as it is the villain equivalent of a half-time, locker-room speech and a nod back to the speech Uncle Ben gave Peter in Amazing Spider-Man #700 (“One More Time!”). Yet, it comes from almost nowhere and reignites a complaint I had about the Superior Spider-Man series and select portions of Dan Slott’s run on the book. That complaint is that none of these characters seem to have consistent psychologies, at least not ones that we are privy to as readers, other than what is necessary for the plot to move forward. This is alienating to readers and damaging to the slow build of drama in any book.
With “Spider-Verse”’s characters’ behaviors and ideologies continuing to be consistently inconsistent, the back-and-forth squabbling that defines this book is rendered meaningless and boring. Instead of a whimsical, multi-verse spanning event, “Spider-Verse” has continued to be stuck in small rooms as various Spider-men bicker over their next action and whether or not everyone is onboard. The only real action of the series has come out of the check-ins to the various B-titles, books that are actually having fun with their limited cast of characters and the asinine plot of “Spider-Verse.” In this book it is too little too late and it ruins the fun of reading those books, especially when the outcome of them is ruined in a throwaway line.
In terms of action, Amazing Spider-Man #13 concludes with a dramatic action sequence with presumed, tragic consequences for a major character in the Spider-Man mythos. The sequence, and the rest of this book, is illustrated wonderfully by Camuncoli but feels a bit anti-climatic given that it is merely an inverse of a previous large-scale battle we’ve already read two issues back. Two issues ago scissors beat paper but this time rock beat scissors. That’s about how complicated these battles have been, despite how beautifully drawn they are. At this point, discovering who the biggest “bad” is just isn’t enough to make me care about people punching each other anymore.
Another major reveal that has been building since the beginning of the “Spider-Verse” event is the role that the Bride, Scion, and Other play in the story. While the plotline featuring Peter’s sexual attraction to the Bride, aka Silk, has been dropped altogether, the reveal here is less than exciting. Turns out that the Inheritors only need them for their blood so that they can erase the future creation of all Spider-totems! I don’t know about you, but it’s not exactly the kind of reveal worth writing home about (if people still do that). I already knew they wanted to collect the three prophesized characters, so just reinforcing that doesn’t really change this story in any way at all.
My unease over how “Spider-Verse” has been told echoes the sentiments of Spider-Man India in this book: the story and its characters seem expendable. The Spider-Men and their various incarnations continue to make bonehead moves, plot details are explained through magical scrolls, and boring characters and ideas continue to be introduced in the final chapters of a story that should be getting smaller and more emotionally focused. Meanwhile, key dramatic elements like the recruitment of Karn are relegated to the B-titles which continue to prove to be the more fun and plot focused parts of the “Spider-Verse” story, if only by comparison. I’m ready for the final battle if only so that “Spider-Verse” can end and make way for smaller and hopefully smarter storytelling beginning with Amazing Spider-Man #15.