One of Peter Parker’s most powerful, dangerous, and deadly villains, Morlun, is back (see Spider-Geddon #1) — so why doesn’t it feel like it? It may be because this Spectacular Spider-Man offering from writer Sean Ryan and artist Juan Frigeri suffers from a tonal whiplash that it falls into early on and just doesn’t find the means to recover from, as fun as it all is.
What’s it all about? Marvel’s preview reads:
SPIDER-GEDDON TIE-IN! Few Spider-Villains fill Peter Parker with fear at the mere mention of their name. Morlun is one that gets Peter quaking. The Inheritors are back, and Morlun has set his sights on Peter Parker and Peter Parker alone and will not rest until he’s destroyed the one Spider who has ever bested him.
That’s a thrilling, dark sounding setup. One that could go in any variety of directions that readers would find satisfactory coming out of the affable but suitably dark Spider-Geddon #1, but instead it leans into a quip-filled cat and mouse game that feels like it’s biding time for something to actually happen in the following issue.
It’s hard to deny that this Parker is fun, and Ryan writes him as a quick-witted, quirky and surprisingly lighthearted character who I could see myself caring about in balance to a well-established stakes or darker tone but, that equal weight doesn’t get enough credence here. Morlun merely following along screaming “Spider!” or fumbling through his attempts to kill his most hated enemy feels off-kilter and under-powered — despite the occasional hits he lands trying so desperately to convince us otherwise.
Dissimilarly, however, Frigeri’s art is a balanced, pulpy affair that mostly conveys a good sense of scenery, impact and a good physicality to the cast that keeps things feeling human and meaningful – bruises and blood building on an embattled Parker. It could, similarly to the narrative, stand to be a little darker — maybe cast more shadows along or from our imposing villain, but for the most part it’s a competent and worthwhile offering that does its job — some confusing action scenes notwithstanding.
In the end, this feels like a missed opportunity for the first tie-in born out of a Spider-Geddon where the Inheritors just proved their grisly intention and ability. A largely implausible, but hilarious and light cat and mouse game that could’ve been more but sticks to what felt safe — disappointing but not without merit.