The Spidey crisis on multiple earths continues in “Amazing Spider-Man” #12 by Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith, part four of the “Spider-Verse” event, but the premise is starting to wear a little thin. Even though these countless versions of Spider-Man alternate between largely standing around and fleeing from one dimension to another, Slott offsets the staleness by introducing a fresh cadre of surprising Spider-beings while also presenting a couple of twists that could change the course of the Spidey slaughter and give the storyline a booster shot.
Like the other chapters of “Spider-Verse,” readers are asked to suspend a lot of disbelief in order to enjoy the story. The term “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” certainly doesn’t apply, as every term in that phrase is a misnomer; many of the characters are decidedly unfriendly, and the preponderance of various incarnations negates the singular “Spider-Man,” all of which are hopscotching around the multiverse with the same ease as swinging across the street in their own respective neighborhoods. Some are easily — and permanently — dispatched within the span of a single panel, hardly seeming all that heroic, let alone super-heroic. A room full of individuals with similar powers diminishes the uniqueness of the character, even if some of them are pigs or cowboys.
Yet, despite all the reasons not to like Slott’s story, it’s just too much fun to totally dismiss. While the dichotomy between such a dark and macabre premise and the flippancy from some of the lighthearted and outright comedic versions of Spidey is a little off-putting and makes readers unsure of how seriously they should take this story, it’s the kind of dimension-spanning epic every Spider-fan probably fantasized about. Many of Camuncoli’s illustrations look like they were inspired by a kid playing with all of his Spider-Man action figures at once on the living room floor, and Slott and Camuncoli manage to bring out the inner fanboy of even the more skeptical readers.
Camuncoli and Smith are probably bleary-eyed after painstakingly rendering over a dozen different Spider-types across several different worlds, not to mention all of the various members of The Inheritors, the extra-dimensional family preying on anything ever bitten by a radioactive spider. Practically every panel is worth scrutinizing for this very same reason to ensure that no character is missed, even if they’re just biding their time in the background. Colorist Justin Ponsor has stocked up on plenty of red and blue for all of the Spidey costumes he has to embellish but also gets to provide colors for a diverse assortment of other earths, among them a world devastated by nuclear war and another that apparently never made it out of the Jurassic age.
The art team has the nigh-impossible chore of not only differentiating between all of these Spider-personas but also making it believable enough when, say, comical Peter Porker is standing next to the ever-pompous Otto Octavius/Superior Spider-Man. The Inheritors also look particularly villainous throughout, and especially so on Olivier Coipel’s cover, an understated but ghastly family portrait with the heads of many a Spider-Man mounted on the wall behind them like a twelve-point trophy buck.
Slott adds a little variety to the story by momentarily focusing on Peter’s web-mate Silk, who is also being hunted but pretty much on her own, while another subplot featuring Spider-Woman becomes a potential game-changer. Slott wisely switches things up to show there’s more to the story than just a continuation of the gathering of Earth’s Spidey-est Heroes, a breather that was probably welcomed by the issue’s artists.
The events branch off into issues of other Spider-titles tying into “Spider-Verse” and the editors make sure readers are aware of this with a series of pertinent footnotes. While these notations will be welcomed by those diving headfirst into the event, to others they become annoying by issue’s end, and almost give the issue a feel of an unwelcome, invasive advertisement, akin to those seen on the bottom of the TV screen during viewers’ favorite shows.
“Amazing Spider-Man” #12 is the perfect drug for those looking to get their Spidey overdose, but those who don’t care to double down will probably find themselves overloaded with these not-always-friendly, trans-dimensional Spider-Men.