After eight months of hype, the introduction of new characters, and a prequel mini series, Spider-Verse is finally here. It is being billed as the biggest Spider-Man event of all time, and the opening salvo from Dan Slott, Olivier Coipel, Giuseppe Camuncoli and the rest of the creative team does not disappoint in the slightest.
Dan Slott is in the midst of a historic Amazing Spider-Man (and Superior Spider-Man) run. The man is a life long fan of the character, and has written some of the best stories ever to feature the web slinger. It feels as if Spider-Verse is the story that Slott was born to write, and Amazing Spider-Man #9 does a stellar job kicking off the festivities.
Spider-Verse is a huge story featuring a whole lot of characters, including no less than seventeen Spider related characters. Thanks to the entire Edge of Spider-Verse prequel readers already know a lot of the characters, and it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. For those that are jumping into the story for the main event, Slott does a great job of integrating the sheer number into the script. He does this by using the Peter Parker we all know and love as the anchor. He serves as the entry point for the readers. He has very little idea what is going on, and those around him know far more. His being eased into the bigger situation seems to mirror that of the reader being introduced to so many different characters.
The characters are a big reason why the issue works so well. There’s a mix of new Spider-Men (and women), and old favorites. Whether it’s Spider-Gwen, Peter Porker, or Miles Morales each of the characters feel memorable. Even the ones used as proverbial “redshirts” have a distinct characteristics that made me feel bad to see them go. Then you have the villains who go by the name “The Inheritors” and make their home on Earth 001 a.k.a. Loomworld. Long time Spider-Man readers will know of Morlun and the threat he posed to Spider-Man during his initial appearances during JMS’ run over a decade ago. Slott has slowly reintroduced readers to the character and his previously unknown family over the past few months, but in this issue we get a greater insight into their motivations. This is especially true in the backup that focuses solely on the villains. Readers are introduced to new characters and concepts while seeing firsthand why they are hunting the Spiders. This is another aspect of the story that Slott handles so well in both stories. He uses Morlun as a base to show just how dangerous The Inheritors are, and why the story is one of such a large magnitude. He takes mythology introduced by JMS years ago and blows it up to a degree where it makes sense that every variation of Spider-Man will be needed to stop this threat. Even the 616 Peter Parker acknowledges at one point that based on his experience it’s bad news if there’s more like Morlun running around. Slott puts his twist on Morlun, the idea of the Spider-Totem, and The Other. This is him playing off of established continuity while creating something new and more expansive than these concepts ever were before.
Olivier Coipel jumps on board as the artist this issue. In trying to figure out how to describe Coipel the one example that kept jumping out to me is Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather is the best boxer of this era, he only fights a twice a year and they are always the biggest of events. Olivier Coipel uses a pencil instead of gloves, but that is essentially what he is to comics, and more specifically to Marvel. Coipel is one of the great talents in comics, and when you see his name on the cover you know it’s going to be something special. As one would expect from the artist, he doesn’t disappoint. Whether it’s the layouts, the angles he uses, the way he is able to make each spider character look distinct, or his take on the menacing villains, he scores a knockout on every page of the book. While every page is a beauty, two stick out specifically. One has Peter Porker punching out a guy in all his hammy glory, while the other is a double splash page featuring nearly twenty variations of Spider-Man. There’s a reason why Coipel is in the position within the industry that he is today, and it’s because he is hands down on of the best in the business.
The backup story features art by Giuseppe Camuncoli. Those of you that have read any of the other reviews I’ve done of his work know how I feel about his art. This may sound like a broken record, but he is one of the most underrated Spider-Man artists ever. He may not be the superstar that Coipel is, but he more than holds his own in his backup on The Inheritors. The best page in the entire issue just may be his look at “The Great Web of Life and Destiny.” The scene around the dinner table is brutal, and helps convey just how nasty these villains are. Between the two artists you’ll be hard pressed to find a better looking book on the stands.
Amazing Spider-Man #9 really does feel like the beginning of something special that will celebrate the character of Spider-Man in the biggest, most explosive way possible. When you start thinking about the implications that the dimension hopping story may have on the greater Marvel Universe with Secret Wars coming up, and the scale Slott and company are aiming for becomes even more mind boggling. You can tell that this story is a labor of love from a group of creators that truly love Peter Parker, and Spider-Man in all of his (and her) variations. Believe the hype, Spider-Verse is going to be one wild ride.
The Verdict: 9.5/10