Spider-Verse Team Up #1 – Friday Flash Review
Shadowhawk and Bane of Kings take a look at the latest tie-in mini-series for Marvel’s Spider-Verse event.
“After my disillusionment with both the end of Original Sin and the start of Avengers & X-Men: Axis, Spider-Verse seems to be going all-out in every way possible and Spider-Verse Team-Up #1 is pretty damn awesome.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields
“Fans of Spider-Man will find something to love here. It might not be essential to the main events of Spider-Verse, but that doesn’t stop it from being great fun to read.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
Spider-Verse kicked off good and proper this week in Dan Slott’s damn-good The Amazing Spider-Man #9 when Peter Parker, Cindy Moon and Jessica Drew from Earth 616 met up with other Spider-heroes from across the Omniverse. Morlun and his siblings have decided to step up their fight against the Spider-totems and have been journeying from world to world in order to kill the Spiders of the worlds in question. Now it is time for Peter Parker to join in the fight, but he isn’t the only key character here, for we have others as well. Others like Old Man Spider-Man, Ben Reilly, Spider-Man Noir and Six-Arm Spider-Man.
And that’s what writers Chritos Gage and Roger Stern cover in Spider-Verse Team-up #1, a title that seeks to tell us more about the alternate Spiders and what they are like, what their own motivations and thought-processes are and all that kind of stuff. This is also an excellent issue, easily among my many favourites of the week.
In the first story, we see Old Man Spider-Man and Spider-Ham journey to Earth-94 to track down Ben Reilly and bring him into the fold of Spiders who have banded together to fight back against Morlun and his family of Inheritors. It is a great story because it is pretty much traditional Spider-Man. Jokes, wit, humour, sarcasm, pointing-out-the-bloody-obvious, heroic streak. Everything. Christos Gage is one of my absolutely favourite writers in the industry and there’s never been a moment or an issue where I feel as if he has let me down. Not at all. This story is just another example of the same.
Dave Williams is the artist here with Dexter Vines on inks, Chris Sotomayor on colours and VC’s Joe Caramagna on letters. By and large, the art here is really good, especially in those scenes where Spider-Ham kicks all sorts of Vulture-ass. Williams’ storytelling is pretty smooth and speedbreaker-free, and the colours by Sotomayor really top things up. Though I kind of wish that Vines’ inks were a bit more substantial in some places. But that’s just nitpicking really.
The second story features Six-Arm Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir. It deals with a slightly different theme than the one before. In this particular reality, Peter was indeed bitten by a radioactive spider, but instead of becoming a hero, he turned sick and fell into a coma. This makes him altogether too weak to stand up to Morlun or any of the Inheritors and this unlikely duo now has the duty to do something about it, to keep Peter of this world safe and maybe even treat his particular affliction, where one of his arms has turned into a spider-leg of sorts.
As before, this story too has a lot of heart, but it is also more serious in its implications and the thrust of the narrative. And I really loved the dynamic between the two heroes. It is very fresh and unique and it totally works. Replace the two heroes and story would end up being completeley different.
In the midst of all that is happening across the Great Web, this is also the first story in Spider-Verse to actually get some kind of a happy ending and that all alone makes this worth a reader.
Bob McLeod is the artist here, with Andrew Crossley on colours and Joe Caramagna on letters. As with the previous story, this one too was excellent. Just seeing Spider-Man Noir is an exercise in having tons of fun, so I’m not complaining here at all. Strong characterwork and good sense of visual storytelling make this one as great as the first with respect to the art. If there’s anything lacking, it is that Peter’s particular affliction does not reflect in the pretty monster he becomes.
Bane of Kings:
Much like with AXIS, Spider-Verse is being beefed up with a selection of mini-series to flesh out the event. Spider-Verse: Team-Up is very much the AXIS: Revolutions of Spider-Verse, with two separate storylines that focus on the various characters involved in the event. In this case, it’s all Spider-Men, with a lot of action going on featuring a variety of fan favourites.
Split into two separate, standalone storylines, the first section opens with The Power of Positive Thinking. Spider-Ham, Old Man Spider-Man and Ben Reilly are all featured here and it’s written by Christos Gage who is one of Marvel’s most underappreciated writers right now – he’s really excelling on pretty much everything that he writes (you can also find him on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 over at Dark Horse) and this short is no exception. With pencils from Dave Williams, inks from Dexter Vines and colours from Chris Sotomayor, the first section of Spider-Verse: Team-Up gets off to a positive start when a flock of Vultures attacks the Spider-Man on Earth 94. This is a universe where Peter Parker lost the powers of Spider-Man, and as a result Ben Reilly is now the protector of NYC. It’s lighter, more carefree in tone and it’s great to see how Reilly handles the appearances of Spider-Ham and Old Man Spider-Man, who are all written well by Gage who is certainly a writer who I would love to see return to this mini-series to write more Spider-Men in the future.
Dave Williams pencils don’t always work as well as they should here which is unfortunate. Sometimes it’s pretty good but it doesn’t quite hit the mark in all places, but for the most part Dexter Vines’ inks and Chris Sotomayor’s colours are pretty good. So whilst it’s not perfect, the first chapter manages to look relatively solid.
The second chapter, The Luck of the Parkers, is probably the stronger of the two, if only just. Roger Stern and Bob McLead (with colours from Andrew Crossley) offer up an interesting twist on the familiar Spider-Man origin story, featuring Spider-Man Noir who is one of the characters from Edge of Spider-Verse who I mentioned that I would have loved to read more of. So it’s great to see him in action here alongside an Eight-Armed ally, with a very different Peter Parker to save. The artwork is also pretty good as well, so it’s great to see that this issue has given me the chance to explore some otherwise unfamiliar creators, and now I’m kind of interested in reading more from both Stern and McLead.
Even if Spider-Verse: Team-Up isn’t quite essential to the main Spider-Verse storyline, it’s still a recommended buy. Don’t expect overly complex narratives or plots that take up more than one issue, but Spider-Verse: Team Up #1 manages to be pretty solid. There are a few issues here and there but you can’t go wrong with this book, and it’ll be no doubt interesting to see what direction the series goes from here. Whilst it might not be memorable, it’s a nice, relaxing read that I wouldn’t mind becoming a new ongoing series rather than just a limited one, like the previous Spider-Man Team-Up books that we’ve had in the past.