First came Spider-Verse. Then came Spider-Geddon. Now the End of the Spider-Verse is upon us in the first issue of Spider-Man, the latest volume of Spidey’s adjective-less series. The previous events saw Peter Parker team up with various spider-men, women, girls, pigs, and all matter of folks from across the multiverse to take on the Inheritors, a terrifying group of nigh-unstoppable villains with a penchant for Victorian-era garb and devouring people with spider-powers. The head of this twisted family was Morlun, an imposing monster from Parker’s past who was once successful in actually killing our beloved hero – not permanently but still.
This time around the big bad is a different obscure villain: Shathra, a wasp-like “dark goddess” from another dimension. Like Morlun, she has an insatiable appetite for spider-folks, known as Spider-Totems and a personal vendetta against our own Peter Parker. Fortunately the new Madame Web has been recruiting totems, new and old, from across the Spider-Verse but even they may not be enough to combat this new threat. By the end of the issue, friends become foes, foes become friends, and things may never be the same…again.
Spider-Verse mastermind Dan Slott returns to put a cap on his multiversal epic with a script that delivers all of the action, fun, and shocking twists fans have come to expect. Slott wastes no time dropping our luckless hero into his latest event, which manages to feel just as epic as a story like this should be. The story is tightly-paced but doesn’t feel rushed, thanks partly to the higher-than-normal page count. Joining Slott is superstar Mark Bagley, who has the distinction of pencilling more issues of ongoing Spider-Man titles than any other artist. He absolutely knocks it out of the park, bringing Slott’s script to life with glorious visuals that evoke Bagley’s epic run on Ultimate Spider-Man.
For all its strengths, Spider-Man is not without a few flaws. Despite the otherwise solid script, some of the dialogue is overly-wordy, particularly in an early crowd scene, and a number of jokes fall flat. Though it didn’t really deter my enjoyment, there is an issue with accessibility, especially for readers unaware of Parker’s current status quo (Spidey works for Norman Osborne? And Osborne once again knows his secret identity?). Shathra is also a character I had to look up, having read and forgotten about her first appearance ages ago. And while the Edge of Spider-Verse tie-in series is not essential reading, there are a few plot threads from those stories that come to fruition here that otherwise have little context. Overall, however, this is a solid first issue to a new Spider-Man series and an excellent way to kick off what is presumably the last Spider-Verse event.