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Spider-Geddon #5 Review: The end is the beginning

The end of The Spider-Verse is here! But it’s really more of a beginning after all.

Christos Gage and Jorge Molina
Price: $7.20

This review contains spoilers

After four Edge of Spider-Geddon issues, four Spider-Geddon issues, and countless tie-in series (themselves having multiple issue arcs), the finale of Spider-Geddon is here, the final review Horcrux before my long rest. How’s it fare? A perfect microcosm of the larger narrative itself, it’s surprisingly strong in the opening and closing – but aimless, overwhelming, and frustrating in the middle.

There’s no doubt that by the final issue here, Gage has kind of written himself into a corner, with too many masters to serve, and certainly not enough time to satisfy them all. Promising a finite end to many of those tie-in series (Spider-Girls, in particular), a massive confrontation between probably the largest Spider-army ever amassed and The Inheritors, and a conclusion to the rift between Miles Morales and Otto Octavius that’s been playing out across the previous four issues.

Mostly, when the issue is focused on big picture, conclusion stuff, it succeeds in delivering them, and goes further in presenting fantastically compelling directions for the future of many of these characters – Otto, Miles, and Gwen in particular (no surprise there, they’re the ones with solo books). However, the transition from opening scenes to that conclusion is rough.

Marvel Comics

Following really cool, somewhat tense, and authentically scary introductory scenes that pick up where the previous issue’s cliffhanger left us with Miles and compatriots seeking assistance from the Enigma Force, and another thankfully retaining Otto’s herodom, if fleetingly, for his coming solo series, the narrative quickly devolves into madness. A conservative estimate would put the cavalry arriving at four or five times as Supaidaman, the Spider-Girls, the original Peter Parker, and even more spiders arrive to fight off their vampiric foes in a confusing, droll way that gives one-page attention to whole subplots and really only works when focused on Miles or Otto anyways. It’s total, unrepentant nonsense that devalues the Inheritors as foes and gives little room for the individual spider-characters to shine. Fun, but inconsequential stuff perhaps not more perfectly summarized than by the fact that there’s two frustrating bait and switches here with Ben Reilly which in the end, mean almost nothing to the larger plot despite how cool and kind of unexpected they feel in the moment (as do giant robot fights).

Those scenes, though, which really focus in on Miles and Otto, two opposite sides of the same coin as they’ve become, highlight the inescapable charm of a Spider-Man book, as well as the strengths of Gage’s writing. When confronted by the Enigma Force, most of his colleagues shirk at the responsibility and questioning of its attention, but Miles steps up to face it. When tasked with finding a way to stop The Inheritors without killing them – although he would very much like to – Otto uses science, and a bit of that trademark smugness to do so. They are not the same, nor do they want to be, but they are both Spider-Man and here, Gage makes the case that they are both needed very well. It’s the perfect stepping stone for their solo stories, which Miles has already begun under Saladin Ahmed, and which Otto will begin under Gage himself next week (to my utter delight, nobody aside from Slott writes Superior as well as Gage, if ‘Geddon has made even one thing clear). From that angle, a more character-driven, experiential lens that I think we’ll see informing some of, if not a lot of, their actions in the coming months or years, I think the narrative here is a success. A trade-off, to be sure, but one that has some real merit in the end to say nothing of how fantastic the sendoff for Spiderling and a few other characters, which I don’t want to spoil – a kind of communal goodbye – is.

Marvel Comics

Similarly, the artistic team here, which features series mainstay Jorge Molina as well as a whole bevy of others, can’t keep pace but delivers some great moments. One page, where Miles instructs the spiders to pile onto their foes en masse, uncovered a kind of gleeful Spider-Man-loving childlike wonder that I haven’t felt in quite some time, really showcasing all that these big, untenable events can offer. Elsewhere, though, the labyrinthine happenings in the center of the book leave a lot to be desired as its hard to tell individual characters apart, hard to tell who’s landing which hits, and definitely hard to feel that the Inheritors are a threat at all. Much like the narrative, servicing all of these loose ends and characters is an exercise in diminishing returns, and while I don’t think the balance is as askew as it is in the plotting and dialogue – Miles with a sword is cool and we’ll take no further questions – there are bits where it suffers unrepentantly.

Ultimately, the service to characters here is good, especially Miles, Gwen, and Otto, who I feel very confident will all have room to grown and breathe in stories born from this. Those stories are still to come, this is merely the setup, falsely advertised as the end – with a hell of cliffhanger to boot. But, there’s a nagging feeling that everything else was just perfunctory setup with little regard for the larger implications or even sense – a good beginning and end, no middle – both on a macro scale and here in the finale.

I feel that I have so much more to say about Spider-Geddon, but that’s because it had so, so much more to say, too. Oh well, there’ll be a big spider event in two to four years and I’ll be here for that, too.

Spider-Geddon #5
Is it good?
A perfect microcosm of the Spider-Geddon event itself, the final issue is strong in the opening and closing, but weak in the middle.
I've seen very few spider-moments as cool as Miles with Sword Vigor or all of the spiders piling onto the remaining Inheritors.
The character-first attention given to Miles, Otto, and to a lesser degree, Gwen - our solo heroes - is smart, focused and unique. Gage has a realized and spectacular voice when he employs it for characters like these.
The main takeaway here, the setup for the future of the Spider-Verse, although somewhat damaged, introduces a lot of great angles and one great villain that I'm pretty genuinely excited for even if the ride was a little bumpy.
The balance of service to the tie-ins is totally askew, Spiderling features as a central character in the latter third, but the cast of Spider-Force is almost entirely dismissed.
The central parts of the story here, both narrative and art, are a mess. It's near impossible to tell what's happening or who's winning.
As ever, The Inheritors remain an uncompelling, (surprisingly) toothless foe. Don't lose your head in trying to understand how Otto's solution for them would work, it's not worth it.
5
Average
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