WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Spider-Force #2, by Priest, Paulo Siqueira, Marcelo Ferreira, Symon Kudranski, Oren Junior, Roberto Poggi, Guru-efx and VC’s Joe Sabino, out now.
With each issue of Marvel's Spider-Geddon, more Spider-heroes from across the multiverse join forces to fight against the Inheritors. Part of the fun of this event, much like Spider-Verse that came before it, is the introduction of these new, alternate takes on one of the most familiar characters in comics. If you’re expecting them all to be different takes on Peter Parker, however, you’re mistaken.
One of the most successful new characters to come out of 2014’s Spider-Verse was Spider-Gwen, aka Gwen Stacy. The iconic costume inspired cosplayers, and she’s become so popular that she’s a major player in Sony's animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, too. It proves that, if you deviate from the Peter Parker mold, you can find great characters. And while it’s too early to comment on just how great this newest Spider-character is, it’s clear that not all Spider-Men need to be Peter Parker.
Spider-Force follows a smaller group of heroes as they break from the Superior Spider-Man’s mission in Spider-Geddon to track down the crystal that contains the soul of the father of the Inheritors, Solus. Finding and destroying this crystal will prevent Solus from being reincarnated, hindering the destructive mission of the deadly hunters. The team includes Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew), Ashley Barton and Spider-Kid, who followed their leader Kaine to the radioactive Earth 3145, where the Inheritors had been kept prisoner until their escape. The tables turn, however, when the team gets trapped there, alongside the Inheritor Verna, who’s after the same crystal containing her father. What they all soon discover, though, is that they’re not alone on this world.
In Issue 2, we discover that not only are there humans in orbit around Earth 3145 -- they survived the radioactive apocalypse that killed everyone else -- but that one of them carries the powers of a Spider-totem. When readers think of prominent astronauts in the Spider-Man family, J. Jonah Jameson's son, John Jameson, no doubt springs to mind. Sure enough, this Spider-hero is indeed the famous astronaut. But unlike in Marvel's 616 universe, in which he finds a red gemstone on the moon that transforms him into the Man-Wolf (seriously, comics are amazing), here he gains a radically different set of powers.
It’s shown to us in a vision that John Jonah Jameson III undertakes a mission into space, but unknown to him his suit contains a spider (whether it’s radioactive isn’t made clear). As he ascends into the heavens, his rocket is bombarded with the same cosmic rays that imbued the Fantastic Four with their powers, and he’s granted abilities unlike any Spider-Man before him. Aside from the usual super-strength and agility, he appears to have advanced telekinetic powers, and his webbing is energy-based, allowing him to shock those it touches. He appears to know of Peter Parker, but says the version from his Earth was killed years ago. However, the spider-powers have found a good home in John. He’s always been an honorable man, but here he takes his responsibilities as the guardian of the last remaining humans on his world very seriously.
The issue ends with John confronting Verna on his space shuttle, shocking her with his webs, and driving a stake through her heart, taking the explanation of her as a multi-dimensional vampire somewhat literally. In this case, though, poetic justice is served, as the stake is actually the crystal she’s been looking for, and as it drives through her chest there’s an explosion of red lightning that threatens both John and the ship they’re stranded on. Whether this new Outer-Space Spider-Man will survive is left as a cliffhanger, but as a new character in the Spider-Verse, it’s fun to see someone who’s not Peter Parker for a change.