In this over-sized issue, the storyline that has been building for months finally reaches into the life of “our” Spider-Man, as he is recruited by the Spider-Bunch, and we glimpse into the life of Morlun’s family, now named the Inheritors, a.k.a. the Inheritors of All Creation.
In fact, there’s not a lot of action in the issue at all– there’s one bit with the Spider-Bunch versus Daemos, but that’s not anything we haven’t seen before. There’s also some token kerfuffle with the Looter and a crew using some abandoned spider-tech from Dr. Octopus’ time as Superior Spider-Man (whew! that is “complicated.” No wonder why Silk herself just shakes her head and says “Stop.”) But it does allow for various spider-characters to show up one at a time, and it’s too all the creators’ credit that the book flows so well and stays so engaging despite the lack of action, the abundance of exposition, and the fact that the readers already know pretty much everything already.
Some things play off of the reader’s familiarity, including the opening sequence that begins with nearly all the classic Spider-Man tropes in the space of a couple of pages, before revealing we are in fact watching the demise of “Spider Moon-Man.” Other things remain remarkably vague, such as why “the Other” matters so much, and what the Web of Destiny actually has to do with anything. Some of that is a bit frustrating, but understandable as we need to work the narrative through, but it does keep Morlun and the Inheritors more as types rather than full characters in their own right.
What seems to be emerging, however, even with such “types” for our villains, are themes of family. That seems to be some part of the Inheritors’ whole deal, but it’s made much more poignant when it’s contrasted to the glimpses we have of Mayday Parker/Spider-Girl and Miles Morales/Ultimate Spider-Man.
I’m reminded again of why I count Copiel among my favorite artists. His figure drawing is beautiful, and characters pose with emotion, even when standing around giving exposition, a feat that’s doubly hard when nearly everyone has fully covered masks. He’s also not afraid to bend the Spideys into crazy twists that feel dynamic but not distorted. One of the signs of a versatile artist is how the artist blends the fantastic into the realistic, and with Spider-Ham, Copiel proves he can handle the cartoony as much as the dramatic. Another sign is how an artist handles a dinner scene, which is notoriously difficult to stage and layout. The entire epilogue is nearly all a dinner scene, but the sequence is never dull nor confusing.
Except for the last panel of the book. The figures are too obscured by the special effects that the composition of the panel is almost impossible to read. It’s a dramatic moment for the story, but it’s somewhat ineffective in execution. That’s not the case with the opening panels of the book, to be sure. Some deliberate intention there, perhaps, in response to the oft-criticized pandering to the male gaze? I’d be surprised if the interwebs were not flooded with Tumblrs and Flickrs of Parker in his underwear, as sexy as he’s ever been.
The slow burn of the Spider-Verse sub-plot finally blooms into full-plot here, and it's handled superbly. There's less action than I'd like, especially for an over-sized issue, but the key feature here is not plot but characters-- and nearly all of our starring characters are allowed some change to interact, if not to have the spotlight. Beautiful art, engaging characters, high-stakes plot, definitive tone, and even overarching themes? This is an example of events done right.Other Tidbits: -- I just noticed that Silk's webshooters go SWIPP instead of Parker's THWIP -- In case you hadn't noticed, I'm quite proud of my Marvel trivia knowledge, but even I find my head swimming when trying to place the various iterations of Spider-Man shown during this storyline, or other trivial tidbits like "Peter Parker's Pad." I'm assuming that all or nearly all of what we see has appeared before, but it would require a greater mind than even mine to annotate this series. If someone finds a good source of annotation, leave a note in the comments. Thanks!