As a whole, Spider-verse may be Marvel’s best attempt at an event comic in years. The core premise and conflict engrossing. the way it celebrates Spider-Man’s long, colorful history is delightful. Even the tie-ins tend to be well-crafted and very relevant to the core storyline. That said, there have been flaws with the approach to Spider-verse, and those flaws threaten to derail the whole experience in this final issue.
Amazing Spider-Man #14 is almost entirely consumed by the final battle between the surviving Spiders and the Inheritors. Everyone’s path finally converges on Loom World as the Spiders press their advantage and Morlun and his family struggle to complete their blood ritual before everything comes crashing down.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with an action-heavy issue, especially given how long Dan Slott has been building up to the big showdown. But there is definitely something missing in this issue. So much of Spider-Verse’s appeal has centered around the dynamics between the various Spider-heroes – Peter and Otto, Spider-UK and Spider-Man India, Miles and the Web Warriors, etc. This issue doesn’t find enough time to spotlight those relationships amid all the chaos. There’s one great scene involving Peter and Spider-Gwen early on, but after that the spectacle overrides the characters.
Worse is the fact that this issue doesn’t dwell long enough on any of the big developments. This issue sees some characters die, while others either fail in their big moment of truth or persevere. Regardless, the script tends to just barrel through it all in the mad dash to the finish. There’s too little context given to what unfolds in this issue. The return of Karn in particular isn’t handled with the gravity it needed. Much of the problem there rests on the decision to shift his the most important leg of Karn’s character arc to Spider-Verse Team-Up #3. Of every plot twist to unfold in the tie-ins, that was the one that most needed to be contained within the core event. In the end, the issue cuts out almost as soon as the fight is over. Issue #15 may be billed as an “epilogue,” but more likely it’l be the place where readers see the character interaction and reactions they didn’t get here.
Unfortunately, the return of Olivier Coipel isn’t quite the boon for the Spider-Verse you might expect. For one thing, Coipel only illustrates about half of this issue before Giuseppe Camuncoli steps back in. It’s not a natural transition, either, but rather one that happens abruptly in the middle of the battle. For another, Coipel’s storytelling suffers from his use of cramped panels that sometimes obscure the flow of the action. In some cases it’s tough to even distinguish which of the many Spiders is speaking. That said, there are a number of pages where Coipel’s detailed art and flair for action shine through. And Camuncoli’s work is dependably solid, as usual. It’s just a thankless job trying to take over for Coipel, especially in the same issue.
Despite all of these complaints, there are elements of this issue that work well. Slott does a fine job of building up the tension and steering his heroes to their big moment of victory. Despite the dark and violent nature of this battle, there are moments of fun and levity to offset the darkness. Once again, Spider-Ham comes to the rescue in that regard. Porker, along with Miles, Sp//dr, and several others feature in various small but memorable moments.
Slott also finds an elegant solution to the thorny issue of how the Spiders are supposed to deal with the Inheritor threat once and for all. Spider-Man doesn’t kill. Mercy is as much a part of who he is as anything else. So how do you adhere to that code while eliminating the menace of a family of super-strong, immortal vampires hellbent on wiping all Spiders out of existence. Slott finds a way to end this conflict without besmirching Spidey’s good name.
Unfortunately, the Spider-Verse saga ends on a relative low note. Amazing Spider-Man #14 packs in a lot of cool moments, but too often the fast pace and action-heavy approach steamrolls right past the big developments. Meanwhile, Coipel’s normally stellar art is prone to weak spots, despite only drawing about half the issue. Hopefully issue #15 will be able to better wrap up this saga with a bow and address the problems of this finale. By Jesse Schedeen