Secret Wars is giving us another chance to revisit old Marvel storylines and worlds. One storyline Marvel is revisiting is Spider-Verse. While Spider-Verse only ended a few months ago it did leave quite an impact on many Spider-Man fans. With a whole domain in Battleworld dedicated to the Spider-Verse characters we are able to spend more time with these Spider-Men and Spider-Women. Does Spider-Verse #1 deliver the goods? Let’s find out.
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Andre Araujo
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In Mount Olivet Cemetery the Jackal and his henchmen are digging up some graves. Spider-Woman (Gwen Stacy) appears out of nowhere and makes quick work of Jackal and his men.
As the police arrive to arrest the Jackal and his henchmen Spider-Woman takes the time to visit the graves of Capt. George Stacy and that world’s Gwen Stacy. Gwen thinks of how her own memories are a blur since arriving in the world she is in.
Elsewhere, at a local naval pier Pavitr Prabhakar (Spider-Man: India) watches some gangsters making a deal. Suddenly Spider-UK (Billy Braddock) appears to stop the gangsters. Before he can do anything some snipers get Spider-UK on their sights. Spider-Girl (Anya Corazon) appears from the shadows to take out the snipers. Spider-UK and Spider-Girl team-up to fight the rest of the gangsters.
As they finish off the gangsters Pavitr suddenly sense incoming police drones and changes into his Spider-Man costume. The police begin swarming Spider-UK and Spider-Girl in order to arrest them. With Spider-India’s help the three Spiders are able to get away from the police.
The three Spiders meet under a bridge where they each reveal their true identities and how each of their memories are a blurred mess. Pavitr tells Anya and Billy that he believes that they are all connected by some sort of web.
The next morning Gwen gets back to her place at a halfway house. While in her room she surfs the web to get more details on the death of that world’s Gwen Stacy and how Spider-Man disappeared not to long after that. Through her research she is able to find one person that may have been involved with that world’s Gwen Stacy death and Spider-Man’s disappearance: Mayor Norman Osborn.
At the mayor’s office Norman is holding a press conference to talk about the previous night’s incidents at the graveyard and pier. Norman says that all of the criminals are in custody and the rumors of Spider-Man being on the scene are not true.
As he dismisses the media Norman greets Gwen, who is using the name Woodley to hide her identity, as she is one of the recent hires at Ozcorp. Norman says he has noticed her work and hopes to talk to “Woodley” again soon.
Gwen heads to Ozcorp headquarters and while roaming around she finds the Ozcorp special projects room, which she has been investigating for the last two months. Gwen changes into her Spider-Woman costume. Avoiding all of the cameras, Spider-Woman gets one of the special projects worker’s security pass. When she searches the computers she finds a file marked “Sinister Six.” Inside the file she finds information on other Spider-Men and Spider–Women.
Spider-Woman probes the security guard for answers and he points her to a nearby room labeled “Peter.” Spider-Woman goes inside and finds Spider-Ham being experimented on. As Spider-Woman sets Spider-Ham free Norman arrives and identifies her as Gwen Stacy, saying he was expecting her. End of issue.
The Good: The one thing that immediately stood out after reading Spider-Verse #1 is how lived in this Battleworld domain felt. Mike Costa does a good job giving the characters we saw spotlighted in Spider-Verse a new set of problems to deal with. These sets of problems bring up more questions to the greater events of Secret Wars while still acting as its own story.
Costa did not waste any time in establishing this Battleworld domain taking place sometime after the events of Death of Gwen Stacy. By using this specific story as a reference point in Spider-Verse #1’s opening Costa was able to give additional weight to the early revelation of Spider-Gwen, Spider-UK, Spider-Girl, Spider-India and Spider-Ham all being transplants in this Battleworld domain. Now instead of having characters just dealing with the politics of Battleworld we are given more of a mystery story that is unique to this domain.
I particularly enjoyed how Costa decided to explore Spider-Gwen’s journey in this domain. Seeing Gwen take the by being the first Spider to take it upon herself to find out what is really going is smart. Since this is a post-Death of Gwen Stacy world it makes sense that she would be the one to take the most initiative to piece things together. Seeing Gwen already executing her plan by working at Ozcorp for the last two months gave you a good idea of how independent she is compared to the others.
The fact that her plan pits her directly against Norman Osborn made things even more interesting. Having Norman acting as the Mayor of this version of Manhattan instantly built him as the key villain of this story. Given the fact that in this world Spider-Man has been gone for a certain amount of time brings up a lot of questions of what actually happened in the big bridge confrontation. The ending with Norman revealing that he knew Gwen’s secret identity all along adds to the mystery of what happened during that night.
With the main featured story in this issue lacking in the typical Spider-Man comedy department the Spider-Ham back-up was able to make-up for it. I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for any story involving Spider-Ham. The back-up definitely continued the more somber note of the main story but it did give Spider-Ham a few opportunities to drop some witty lines here and there.
The Bad: The one knock I had with the story is the fact that Pavitr Prabhakar, Anya Corazon and Billy Barddock all sounded like generic characters. There was nothing about how they were written that felt unique to them. The dialogue each character was given could have been easily given to one of the other Spider-Men and Spider-Women featured in Spider-Verse. There was nothing unique that made these characters recognizable outside their costumes. I was especially disappointed with how generic Billy sounded since he was someone that took a big leadership role during the events of Spider-Verse.
The other disappointing part of Spider-Verse #1 was the artwork. While Andre Araujo started the issue off strong with a good Spider-Gwen sequence it all went down from there. The art seemed to get worse with characters just looking ugly by the end. There was a lack of fluidity to the art, especially with the action sequences. Seeing how the art never got better made it feel like Araujo rushed his work because he was more worried about deadlines instead of turning in solid artwork.
Overall: Spider-Verse #1 is not a perfect issue but it did set up a world that has major possibilities. By using a post-Death of Gwen Stacy world Mike Costa opened a window for some interesting character developments for people like Spider-Gwen. The fact that this world’s main Spider-Man is missing and the other Spiders past life memories are blurred adds weight to what exactly is going on in this part of Battleworld. It’s a mystery that has my interests peaked. I just hope the art sees major improvements in the next issue.