Spider-Geddon is here! Or, it was supposed to be with Spider-Geddon #0‘s two stories — the first, “New Players” by writer Christos Gage and artist Clayton Crain, and the second, “Check In” by Jed MacKay and Javier Garron. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and what we really have is what should’ve been billed as another Edge of Spider-Geddon issue. All setup, marginal payoff.
The first offering, “New Players,” fares slightly better than the second: Charged with bringing the Peter Parker Spidey from Insomniac’s 2018 PS4 game into the comic world, Gage does a compelling job. Quippy, affable, and unique, the story clips along at a decent pace that throws this world’s Peter in a stark contrast to Otto Octavius’ Superior Spider-Man that plays hilariously well. It’s undeniably challenging to channel the character of something created for one medium into another, but this is about as good as it gets in terms of dialogue and narrative — the added mystery and tension helps even if it does seem like a bit of positioning, just getting everything into place to start Spider-Geddon proper.
Its unfortunate, then, that Crain’s art — normally a real treat — feels so disconnected from the pulpy, engaging fun of the dialogue, but it does. I don’t think it’s for a lack of trying, as the characters themselves are rendered very faithfully, realistically, and with an almost untouchable physicality unseen in comics today. But far too often, they feel disconnected from the scenes they’re in — as if they’re standing atop them, like a ransom note pasted together. Had just a little more time and attention been given to the background details, to marrying the two main elements of character and world here, I have to think things would feel more cohesive, but they just don’t and more than distracting, it feels disappointingly disorienting.
“Check In,” the issue’s second story, feels similarly unfocused. If it’s hard to ignore that the first story here feels like positioning, it’s entirely impossible now as this is nothing but transitory passage into a Spider-Geddon proper (that readers may have assumed may have already been here given that this issue moved past the Edge title). There’s some fun spider-on-spider riffing, and it’s undeniable that this story, transcribing the return of the Inheritors is both important and necessary, but it feels rushed, claustrophobic and lacking in character. The only real boon here is Javier Garron’s fun, varied and faithful splash heralding the full force Spider-Geddon in the coming weeks – here’s hoping we see more of his work in that story because it does have a specific charm that doesn’t get to shine here much.
All in all, this issue has its strengths, primarily in Gage’s fun and effervescent adaptation of the game world’s Spidey and Garron’s art, but they’re too few and far between for this to feel like a full, confident step into Spider-Geddon as it ought to be, and now that we’re nearing the full force of this event — a sequel to what I personally consider one of the best Spider-Man stories of all time — these things, their plotting, pacing, and tone become more and more important only to be underdelivered on here. We’ll hold out hope for the next one.