Spider-Geddon #2is necessary. It’s also dense, verbose, grandiose and needlessly complex. Do these things balance each other out? Not entirely, no, and it’s fair to worry that Gage and Molina may have bitten off more than a spider can chew, that this entire thing may collapse from the weight of the story they’re trying to tell. Is it still a sight to behold for any super, or slightly above the norm spider-fan? Absolutely, and if you count yourself among us, you should not miss this.
What’s it about? Marvel’s preview reads:
The Inheritors have made landfall and have drawn first blood. Now the Spiders have to gather their army and start their missions. But can it possibly be enough for an incredibly powerful family that eat Spider-People?
Unfortunately, that reads significantly more succinctly than things actually play out narratively.
The plot work here is, for lack of a better term, a disaster. Characters, especially The Inheritors, go on repetitive near-soliloquies that attempt to not only catch us up on the Spider-Verse plot, but also all of the previous tie in books that got us to this point in time, as well as their current thoughts, motivations, and intentions — with added quips and barbs thrown in for good measure. And while this is largely confined to The Inheritors, nearly all the characters have at least one moment like this as large speech bubbles and numerous editorial notes get in the way of the action in the interest of catching us up and conveying things that could be done visually in equal measure — significantly more showing is done than telling.
There’s so much going on it’s hard to comprehend: The Inheritors return, Otto makes a choice, Gwen suffers a defeat, and more. Any one of these things can and should have been drilled down into to offer a compelling single issue, as they’re all individually good and worthwhile plots — they just don’t get breathing room. It doesn’t help midway through the issue, then, that a whole new element is added in telling the reader to seek out Edge of Spider-Geddon issues to see where and when Spiders go throughout their individual missions, introducing weird stops and starts to the narrative that attempt to force interconnections rather than utilizing all of what’s already on the page.
Thankfully, to his and the story’s benefit, Gage does continue to write a fun, compelling, diverse cast of characters (among whom Otto Octavius is my favorite here – “The die is cast!”, Octavia Otto responding “I’ve always wanted to say that”), and the character-focused drama and interplay works to great effect as it did in the first issue. One scene between Spider-Gwen and Otto is especially good and highlights a real heart and knack for characterization that will carry us forward at least for now, assuming this second issue is a plotting heavy issue to pay off in the future in impacting ways for characters we, and Gage, obviously care about.
Molina’s art is, akin to the narrative, a fun, fluid and highly character-focused but uneven offering. When things work, they really do — The Inheritors offering a sinister grin at a 2/3 head tilt, or draining the life from their foes, and Gwen’s suit fighting back against one of those very same attacks being good examples. However, where it falters is noticeable and largely due to trying to convey everything that’s going on plot-side. One particularly garish page Sees Otto looking at a screen tracking potential allies, Insomniac’s new games-verse Spidey amidst some pigeons, and still then Kaine and Otto again on a rooftop all on the same page in a confused, magazine ransom note-like hodgepodge of places and ideas. It’s rendered well but ineffective visual storytelling that focuses on all the wrong things like showing how people are getting places, rather than giving credence to the conversations they’re having.
Ultimately then, this issue is one on an unequal footing. It feels necessary, and sometimes fun, to follow all of these plot threads from their sure footing to new and unexpected ground in a way that may pay off in massive, character-focused revelations for characters spider-fans everywhere know and love. But it also feels like there’s just a bit too much going on for the story’s, and the creative team’s, own good. I’m still on board but I’m slightly worried about the direction things are headed to say the least.