Split between two tales, “Spider-Verse Team-Up” #1 leads with its best swing, giving readers a pair of adventures featuring five bearers of the Spider Totem. Teaming up to cast their web wider, the Spiders manage to avoid Morlun and the Inheritors, but that doesn’t mean this issue is completely void of conflict.
After all, when talking about a Spider-Verse filled with variations of Spider-Man, it only stands to reason that there would also be variations of his foes. Dexter Vines’ inks add richness and depth to Dave Williams’ pencils and tight storytelling in “The Power of Positive Thinking,” the lead tale of this debut issue of “Spider-Verse Team-Up.” This story brings Old Man Spider-Man, Spider-Ham (even though he is billed as “Spider-Man” in the credits page) and Ben Reilly together to fight a flock of Vultures. Williams does a magnificent job of making the various Vultures distinct, including a few truly creepy close-ups of the elder Vulture and the vomitus Vulture. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are on target, giving the story a 1990s feel without completely dragging the appearance back twenty years. He also adds textures and tones as well as sparkle to the freshly spun webs and stardust to the portal that teleports the Spideys.
Christos Gage writes a fun adventure in the skies over Earth-94’s New York, playing the witty pun stylings of Spider-Ham and Ben Reilly off one another, and occasionally in unison. Williams picks up on that buoyancy, giving the Spider-characters a delightful romp through the early portion of the lead. Towards the latter half, however, the energy begins to fizzle out of the story as the Spider-Men and Spider-Ham do an awful lot of standing and talking. Williams keeps those scenes light with Spider-Ham’s naturally exaggerated gestures, and everything bounces forward at the end of the story as Gage and company point the readers to “Spider-Verse” proper.
The second tale in this comic book, “The Luck of the Parkers” checks in on a vague, unlabeled reality where the spider bite put Peter Parker in the hospital instead of swinging around town. Roger Stern is onboard for this adventure, which features Six-Arm Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir checking in on their other self.
Joining Stern is artist Bob McLeod who helps complete the throwback impression this tale projects through with his strong storytelling and clean figure work. More at home with the New Mutants than Spider-Man, McLeod fits in with this adventure quite nicely, giving Six-Arm Spider-Man a wide range of expressions, including gestures with all six hands. What isn’t seen due to Spidey’s mask is evident in his pointing or waving, giving McLeod another vehicle for his solid storytelling. McLeod takes it even farther by drawing ghost images of Six-Arm as he bounds around his opponent in this adventure.
Andrew Crossley’s coloring is straightforward comic book coloring. Solid hues and moderate shading on the characters as befits the story while the backgrounds (and especially the open panels without true backgrounds) absorb the more experimental coloring notions. Joe Caramagna’s lettering holds “Spider-Verse Team-Up” #1 together as he is the only creator to contribute to both portions of this comic book. The letterer does a nice job of clearing the artwork when Gage’s tale gets exceptionally verbose and setting Spider-Man Noir’s caption boxes to guide story flow in Stern’s chapter.
Like “Marvel Team-Up” from the 1970s and 1980s, “Spider-Verse Team-Up” #1 doesn’t do much to enhance the overall narrative in place around “Spider-Verse,” but it does deliver an extra spot for Spider-fans to check in on some of their favorite variant webslingers. Although it is timed to run parallel to “Spider-Verse” proper, this comic book feels more like additional “Edge of Spider-Verse” build-up, as the “Spider-Verse” event is unchanged from the actions taken in the complete tales presented here. All said, this is a fun read that gives readers a chance to enjoy the madness brought about by “Spider-Verse” without overwhelming dread lingering behind every page turn.