You know the old saying: You can’t please everybody. It’s never truer than in comics, and it’s certainly accurate when it comes to Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse #1. But that doesn’t stop comic from trying. The title of the issue is a clear play on the new Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie that’s coming out, and the cast reflects that desire to tie-in to what’s sure to be a hit for the Spider-fandom. With it coming out around the same time as Marvel’s Spider-Geddon event, though, not to mention the deep-cut character that the plot revolves around, you have to ask: Who, exactly, is this issue for?
The core cast of Web Warriors here are Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Punk and Spider-Pig, and they’ve all hopped dimensions to Earth-717 to locate a being called Gog, who has accidentally ended up on this world after being sent packing from Earth-616 by Mister Fantastic back in 1993. That’s not a typo; this story references issues of Spider-Man from 25 years ago, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a strange choice. Not only is it a weird move for an issue that’s clearly trying to appeal to the broadest possible fanbase, it’s odd from a narrative standpoint. They’re all there because Peter’s conscience has led him to seek out the poor creature, but even with the sliding timescale of comics, surely it’s been years at this point for Spider-Man. Why, then, has it taken him this long to suddenly care about what happened to Gog?
If you put aside these grumbles, this isn’t a bad comic. The banter between the cast is solid, and the characterizations are all on point. Again, the script is designed to reach a broad audience, which no doubt includes the potential for non-comics fans of the movie to pick it up. Because of that, there’s a lot of awkward repeating of names in casual conversation, as well as characters ham-fistedly shoehorning their backstory into a scene even though no one really asked. Abut while this would fall flat in another book, the energy on display in both the script and the pacing lends this comic a certain charm that makes it all ok. All of this gives Enter the Spider-Verse an All-Ages feel to it, which is to say it's light-hearted, accessible and fun.
Aiding this feel is Flaviano’s art, which is effortlessly dynamic in its approach, unafraid to burst forth from the panel borders and throw in plenty of half- and full-page splashes. The characters all have a classic feel to them, yet the introduction of the true villains of the piece includes some smartly modern designs as well. Erick Arciniega’s colors are bold and bright, leaning on the deep blacks that really make the colorful superheroes pop. By the end of the issue, there are around a dozen or so characters involved in the action, and it’s to the art team’s credit that the action is never muddy, the cast clearly defined.
Despite there being no indication on the cover that it’s a tie-in to the currently ongoing Spider-Geddon event, the timing is such that you’d be forgiven for thinking that a one-shot all about a group of spider-powered heroes hopping across dimensions would be related. It’s not, however, merely a coincidence, because the recap page itself delves into the Inheritors and how they threatened the multiverse the first time -- a reference to 2014’s Spider-Verse event that started all of this. Which brings us back to the question about who, exactly, this is for. The answer, seemingly, is that it’s trying to be for everyone.
The recap page about the Inheritors, the timing of the release being right in the middle of Spider-Geddon, the inclusion of a character not seen in 25 years all indicates that this is aimed toward those readers who are following the larger ongoing narrative. It certainly doesn’t appear to be out of continuity, either, in so much as it doesn’t directly fly in the face of current plot developments. The scripting, the title, the character choices (which reads like a ‘greatest hits’ of Spider-Verse characters by the end) and the art all seem to target the more casual reader, though. Neither decision is necessarily bad, and both have been used effectively in the past. You can’t shake the sense, however, that Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse is trying to have its cake and eat it too, which ultimately works against it.
Turning a cynical eye towards this issue, you could dismiss it as a half-hearted attempt to capitalize on the release of a new movie, released at such a time as to also bamboozle regular readers of Spider-Geddon. Once you actually read the book, though, there’s a light-hearted charm that’s hard to be cynical towards. By trying to appeal to the broadest possible fanbase, Enter the Spider-Verse was almost designed to fail, and yet the earnestness of the dialogue and the fun, breezy action on display make it an enjoyable, if unnecessary, romp.