When I reviewed the mainline Spider-Geddon issues as they came out late last year, I found they had both their highs, and their lows. The story, and especially character-first writing, was nuanced and engaging. The narrative really felt like it had something to say about heroism in the Spider-Verse in the face of a seemingly immortal threat like The Inheritors rather than just cashing in on sequel potential. It was also frustratingly dense, erratic, and singularly focused on the characters that have since found their own solo series: Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and Otto Octavius (the Superior Spider-Man). All the while, I kept coming back to the thought: “will this read better as a trade? Outside of waiting for issues? Outside of waiting for all these tie-ins to wrap up?”
The answer is both yes and no. Ultimately, however, Spider-Geddon under the penmanship of the primary, and immensely talented writer Christos Gage, and main artist Jorge Molina, gets more right than it does wrong.
What’s it about? Marvel’s preview reads:
Collects Spider-Geddon #0-5 and Vault Of Spiders #1-2. SPIDER-VERSE united every Spider-Person ever — now SPIDER-GEDDON will destroy them all! The Inheritors have escaped their radioactive prison planet and made their way to the Marvel Universe. As the villains draw first blood, a whole Spider-Army must reunite to keep them at bay! Starring Spider Man, Otto Octavius, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, Spider-Woman, Spider-Punk, the live-action Japanese TV Spider-Man, the Spider-Man from the new PS4 video game and many more Spiders — including some brand-new ones!
If that sounds like a lot to keep up with, be assured that it is. There’s no denying that even fully collected, this narrative gets pulled in myriad directions and you’ll benefit from the Edge of Spider-Geddon and appropriate tie-in TPBs (each of their own varying quality, Ghost-Spider is great, Spider-Force is obnoxious) to really contextualize it all. The Inheritors are a kind of present, albeit surprisingly toothless threat — especially after they take a few lives — but so too is the budding rivalry between Otto and Miles, the weakened leadership with a missing Gwen, and more. Not to mention explaining how all these spider-people got here in the first place! It’s simply too many ideas for one web. Including Vault of Spiders, rather bland collection of essentially “what if” spider-stories, doesn’t help with problem either, even if the Toei Supaidaman one absolutely rules.
That being said, when Spider-Geddon hits its stride — as it does especially in the opening and closing issues — it really hits a stride. Gage is an engaging, exacting writer and the consideration to the characters here is second-to-none. Otto is abrasive and brash but whip-smart, Miles is provocative and idealistic but endearing, Supaidaman is cautious but really in love with big, dumb, showy robots and swords. Put all that character work on the Spider side up against The Inheritors, and you have a lot to work with. There’re blindingly fast fights, a fair share of sensible infighting, and the emergence of one of the most genuinely interesting new and threatening villains to the Spider-Verse in years as these characters try, desperately, to find a solution for an enemy that just doesn’t seem to die.
This is ultimately a narrative about heroism in its many shades, not just black and white, and Gage effectively captures the nuance of that topic through astoundingly realized voices for the main players, even if some other holdovers from Spider-Verse and the like blend into the background. It’s crazy, erratic comic fun even if it isn’t as dire and serious as its title might make it seem, and when it needs to hone in on the characters that we’re focusing in on after this is all said and done, it does that perfectly well.
Similarly, Jorge Molina, and subbed in artist Carlo Barberi’s, artistic efforts are pulled in a lot of different directions but do a great job of realizing the important stuff when needed. I can’t express the simple joy that seeing all these of these characters I really sincerely love all in one place brings me time and time again. It was true in Spider-Verse and due to the careful consideration, choreography, and detail of these artists, it’s equally true here. Scenes where Miles commands all of the Spiders to pile onto their vampire foes, or wields a giant anime sword, are poster worthy and nothing can take away how exhilarating it is to turn the page and see a full spread of something like that. These artists lean into both the demands of pulling off those reveals and high octane moments, as well as the fun of them, near every time. There are multiple giant robot fights for God’s sake.
That also means that sometimes, the visuals are chaotic, uneven, and underutilized. There’s simply too many actors on this stage and not every scene knows where to put them. Characters’ individual costume designs are unique enough to stand out, but their physiques, poses, and choreography quickly sets them into a sea of sameness. It’s hard to tell — especially in big fights and pivotal scenes — exactly what’s happening, and I had to re-read one major death because I simply didn’t parse the significance of what happened physically the first time around. This is to say nothing of how rote and by-the-numbers back and forth dialogue scenes can be, where little expression is used (everyone is wearing a mask so that’s kind of forgivable) and characters remain static. These scenes pass by with little muss or fuss, and they still convey the information they need to, but they are noticeable lulls compared to all the genuinely good fun elsewhere.
In the end, Spider-Geddon succeeds, but maybe not in the way you would expect, or the way it necessarily meant to. It sets out to do one thing: be the end of the Spider-Verse as we know it, seemingly at the hands of one of Spider-Man’s deadliest and most immortal foes. It succeeds at being something entirely different: a surprisingly character-driven, genuinely fun, launching off point for a much more expanded and nuanced Spider-Verse than ever before. Your mileage may vary, especially considering that what’s here isn’t what’s on the label, but there’s no denying that these creators really tried. I’d rather applaud their successes than wallow in the letdowns.