Monday, February 16, 2015

Spider-Man: To the Spider-Verse and beyond

Spider-Man: To the Spider-Verse and beyond
by rick olivares

Sometimes, I get the feeling that I am stuck in the past; liking only the comics I grew up reading.

Case in point: the Amazing Spider-Man.

I thought that the Stan Lee-Steve Ditko stories were the best until Lee continued weaving old Webhead’s stories with John Romita Sr. providing the art chores. When Lee departed the title after writing over a hundred issues, Gerry Conway took over and he is the man known for introducing the Punisher, the Spider-Mobile, and writing the classic “Death of Gwen Stacy.”

How does anyone top that, I wondered? And then Roger Stern later came along with John Romita Junior and turned out some really great yarns that will go down as Spidey classics.

There was “To Fight the Unbeatable Foe” where Spidey takes a beating from the Juggernaut but manages to stop him by sheer dumb luck.

There’s the battle with Mr. Hyde in “Hyde in Plain Sight.”

There’s using his wits to defeat the Whizzer, the Vulture, and Thunderball.

There was “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” a touching tale about a kid dying of cancer.

There are the stories that introduced the Black Cat and the Hobgoblin. And that story that ended Stern’s run… the return from the Beyonder’s world wearing the spectacular black costume.

After Stern’s run, my interest in the title wavered. I picked up the odd issue and story arc here and there such as the annual where J. Jonah Jameson got married but not before getting into trouble with the Scorpion who he sponsored once upon a time to put away his nemesis, Spider-Man. There was “The Death of Jean DeWolff” in the second Spidey-book, Spectacular Spider-Man and later “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” However, for the most part, I was largely uninterested. And later still, as much as I loved the exaggerated art of Todd McFarlane, it wasn’t really enough for me to go back to collecting the comic full time.

When writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Joe Quesada (who was also Marvel’s acting editor-in-chief at this time) released the now infamous “One More Day” story that invalidated Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson, I was incensed. I couldn’t take the now infamous Clone Saga and now, One More Day.

When Dan Slott put Doctor Octopus in Peter Parker’s body while sending the latter into the dying villains’ body, I seethed in anger. But I decided to see what Slott would do.

While it is obvious that Peter Parker would eventually be back, the Otto Octavius’ Superior Spider-Man was a very good title. Although Slott wavered towards the end of the title with its Goblin Wars arc, it was nevertheless, a very good run. With the return of Parker and his subsequent attempts to undo the damage wrought by Octavius in his place, Spider-Verse came up.

And I’d have to admit this story line where all the different Spider-Men (many who have been previously published in different comics or featured in cartoons) band together to defeat the menace of the psychic vampires known as the Inheritors. It connected everyone from Spider-Ham that was first published as a one-shot kid’s comic in 1983 that was later continued with a regular series under Marvel’s Star Comics imprint to Spider-Man 2099 to name a couple.

Amazing Spider-Man was the core title for the story arc while there were other spin-off titles, all of them interesting as it provided glimpses into old and new characters.

Notwithstanding the poor and rushed end to Spider-verse, it is a darn good story and is an instant classic. Now regarding Dan Slott… he will rightfully take his place as one of the Top 10 Spider-Man writers in history.

My 10 Coolest scenes in Spider-Verse (not in any particular order):
1.    When Peter Parker (of Earth 616) tells Cindy Moon (Silk) “Outside. Now.”
2.    Spider-Punk says, “Spider-up or die!”
3.    Superior Spider-Man (the Doctor Octopus controlled Peter Parker) vs. Spider-Man (Peter Parker back in his body).
4.    That tender moment between Peter Parker and Spider-Gwen
5.    The entry of Takuya Yamashiro and Leopardon! (this one is for everyone who ever loved Japanese robots)
6.    The appearance of the Web Warriors and the Spider-mobile! Walloping web-snappers.
7.    The Inheritor Jennix is cloned back to life and says he is disgusted that he ate a Spider-Monkey
8.    Spider-Ham telling off Morlun that he got conned by “Somebody small, pink, chubby, and packin’ a mean left hoof.”
9.    The Spider-Man UK disguises himself as a sheep to track down Anansi only to find out that the sheep could talk.
10. The Mary Janes!

I remember when writer Kurt Busiek and artists George Perez wrapped up their first arc on The Avengers, “The Morgan Conquest,” the Beast asked, “What are we going to do with all these Avengers?” as almost every single of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes past and present were present.

Perhaps the same can be said after the conclusion of “Spider-Verse” as there are man survivors of the different worlds. Some like Silk and Spider-Gwen are runaway hits and slated to get their own books.

Suffice to say that I am hooked once more.

Now hopefully, they don’t mess it up once again.

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