Setting out to scratch the Spider-Man variation itch that just seems to be getting worse as “Spider-Verse” continues to weave its webs across the multiverse, regular “Amazing Spider-Man” writer Dan Slott and editors Nick Lowe and Ellie Pyle enlist a multitude of comic book creators to contribute tales to “Spider-Verse” #1. An anthology, this comic book checks in with five different stories. Some link up to “Spider-Verse” directly, while others simply add more depth to the canvas already covered in Spider-characters.
Slott and regular series artist Humberto Ramos provide readers with a three-page recap to set the stage for “Spider-Verse,” through which they also introduce the Master Weaver. In this sequence, Slott provides a succinct explanation of the scope of this tale, while Ramos’ art is animated and expressive, filled with energetic characters and solid storytelling. Edgar Delgado’s bold colors complete this segment, while Travis Lanham sets the level for the lettering throughout “Spider-Verse” #1. The end result is a concise presentation that would be perfect as a free downloadable comic to prime the pumps and inform the masses who may be caught by surprise with regards to “Spider-Verse.”
Skottie Young writes the “Spider-Clan” chapter of “Spider-Verse” #1 with Jake Parker on art. With wildly gestural poses and grossly exaggerated anatomy, the characters in this installment fight for the right to access a temple, where readers are shown a connection to “Spider-Verse.” Parker fills the story with energy, channeling the spirit of manga and his colorist, Andrew Crossley, gives this otherworldly Spider-Man adventure a bright, unapologetic appearance, sending the entire adventure over the top.
Humberto Ramos slips in a sneak peek at the Steampunk Lady Spider in the three-page opening sequence. Artist Denis Medri has a little more room to stretch, as his collaboration with writer Robbie Thompson even includes a late-nineteenth century interpretation of the Sinister Six (or the Six Men of Sinestry). Of the various installments in “Spider-Verse” #1, this chapter seems the most well-developed with only a portion of the plan being revealed at this time.
A faux Hostess ad buffers “Steampunk Lady Spider” from “Penelope Parker.” The former is silly and fun, a joyful throwback to the promotions of yesteryear, while the latter reads like an all ages adventure from the local Scholastic book fair. Cook does a great job of making Penelope’s story familiar, but finds the right deviations to guide the story into fresh territory. Her playful artwork is well-suited to wind down the adventures of “Spider-Verse” #1 before the final installment.
Dan Slott and Tom Grummett have fun with an interpretation of Spider-Man many readers are certain to be familiar with. The duo, with inks from Tom Palmer, give readers a chance to check in with Peter Parker and Mary Jane as Morlun tracks them down in a presentation set up like a newspaper strip. Slott has fun with the vehicle, and even brings it all back home, weaving the story back into the three-page opening of “Spider-Verse” #1.
The story order appears to be well-considered, giving a brief, clinical overview at the top, an emotionally charged battle of brothers in a realm that’s been published before, an introduction to a whole new Earth in a tale that is engaging and vital, a faux ad, an all-ages interstitial, and a timeless classic most adept to find the common denominator among more seasoned readers. Throughout “Spider-Verse” #1, there is enough familiarity to make the comic book comfortable, but that comfort is easily unseated by the action and adventure in each chapter.
“Spider-Verse” #1 makes a nice supplemental read to the events going on in the “Spider-Verse” mega-arc, and gives readers some back story on “that character shown in that one panel of that issue where that thing happened.” As tie-ins should be, “Spider-Verse” #1 is not essential to the enjoyment of the saga, but the more you know, the more it increases enjoyment potential.