After months of lead-up to Spider-Verse, the actual series, and its tie-in material, fans of Peter Parker may find themselves suffering from a form of Spider-Diabetes due to Dan Slott’s Spider-Gluttony. Part 4 of Spider-Verse hit stores on Wednesday, but on some level it seems like Part 14. Even staunch supporters of the tale may be asking themselves: Are 20 issues really necessary to do this justice?

Spider-totems being destroyed. Again. Where have I seen that before?
Spider-totems being destroyed. Again. Where have I seen that before?

Those who have followed Spider-Verse from the beginning can expect more of the same; throngs of spider-totems die; The Inheritors chase spider-totems around different dimensions; a few “whacky” panels are thrown in; Peter Parker needs help, and the issue ends with a big tease to generate buzz for future installments. On the cliff hanger, however, Mr. Slott does not disappoint. More on that later.

The ongoing problem with Spider-Verse is that any story that involves an army of spider-heroes (many who are just different versions of Peter Parker) will obscure those leadership skills that prove he is a cut above all the rest.

Dan Slott's Spider-Man is confused. He needs help! Good thing Dan Slott's creation, Silk, is there to get him where he needs to be. Whew. That was a close one.
Dan Slott’s Spider-Man is confused. He needs help! Good thing Dan Slott’s creation, Silk, is there to get him where he needs to be. Whew. That was a close one.

“I asked for this. The others are counting on me, and I don’t know what to do! I need help! I need…” Dan Slott’s Spider-Man says just before he is saved by Dan Slott’s creation, Silk. What a coincidence.

“Peter, it’s Cindy. … Earth-3145! Trust me…” says Silk, which then prompts Peter to bring his team to her location. Moments earlier, Peter was sent scrolls from Spider-Woman — provided by Master Weaver — spelling out “everything” he would need to know about The Other, The Bride, The Scion, and more.

It is hard to conclude that Peter Parker is the one essential hero in his own book when he depends on so many others to secure victory, let alone the assistance that comes from some Deus ex Machina action (i.e., Master Weaver).

Hmmm. How do we move this along? I suppose there isn't any problem that is too big for the Master Weaver to handle... Thanks for the scrolls, buddy!
Hmmm. How do we move this along? I suppose there isn’t any problem that is too big for Master Weaver to handle… Thanks for the scrolls, buddy!

The best part about Spider-Verse Part 4 is the last panel.

** Warning: Spoiler Alert. **

There is a special spider-totem who has been waiting inside a fall-out shelter on Earth-3145. Alone amongst the rubble of a post-apocalyptic New York City teeming with deadly radiation is … Uncle Spider-Ben. What role he will play as the story unfolds is still unclear, but it’s a sure-fire way to generate sales for Part 5.

The problem with the Uncle Spider-Ben reveal is that it reminds Peter Parker fans that it wasn’t too long ago that Peter died … or became Ghost Peter … or Memory Fragment Peter or some other kind of Phantasm Peter that hasn’t been clarified by Dan Slott or Marvel.

Given that The Amazing Spider-Man #700 indicated that Peter would die and reunite with Uncle Ben — the real Uncle Ben — in heaven, the appearance of an Uncle Spider-Ben isn’t particularly earth shattering. Peter and his real uncle would have had time to talk at length and untangle any unresolved issues associated with his untimely death. Besides, if there are spider-monkeys, spider-lizards, Spider-Hams and a whole host of other weird incarnations, it’s actually more bizarre that there hasn’t been Spider-Jonah or Aunt Spider-May. In fact, why has there not been a Spider-Mary Jane?

In the end, Spider-Verse is a little like one of those Brazilian steakhouses where they endlessly bring out meat, but instead of massive amounts of protein Dan Slott serves up Spider-totems. Even those who love meat and Spider-Man can reach a saturation point. For readers who can digest another eight issues and take a $32 hit to their wallets, kudos. For those hard-core fans who started out strong but are beginning to feel nauseous, at least you can get by with only purchasing ASM issues 13 and 14.

And finally, if you’re screaming “No mas! No mas!,” then save yourself the cash, read my next reviews, and share your opinions in the comments section below.

Exit Question: Is it possible for beings that can consume the life force of Captain Universe to be adversely affected by the fallout from a nuclear blast?

Bonus: Here is an excerpt from the feedback that makes it into the Letters to the Editor section of The Amazing Spider-Man:

“Dear Spidey editors, artists, and everyone else related to making The Amazing Spider-Man comic book… You all are gods! Only someone with such power could have the responsibility (see what I did there?) to make something with so much beautiful artistry.”

Now you can see why modern creators swear off message boards — they’re so used to cherry picking the kind of feedback they receive that they can’t professionally handle unfiltered criticism.

Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Gump: Peter Parker is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get

Related: Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse: Peter Parker sadly gives off ‘Where’s Waldo?’ vibe in his own book

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

35 comments

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Ian. I appreciate it. I think you have sort of put your finger on the pulse of the problem, which is that by jamming so many characters into one story, a lot of good ones are wasted. They get a circus side-show moment, they’re lost in the mix, or they’re killed.

      Have you ever tried to eat “The Kitchen Sink” at any number of ice cream places. They just make this huge concoction of every sort of ice cream available and then load it up with chocolate syrup, maybe some marshmallows, gummi bears, whip cream, and who knows what else. Usually, they’re not very good. People who buy them do so more for the novelty of saying, “I bought this and the few laughs that come with the experience.” Dan Slott’s Spider-Verse is a lot like that to me.

  1. I have not read Spider-Man for some time now, but from the many reviews I have read it seems that Peter is a side character in his own book. Could it be that Dan cannot write Peter and uses other characters that he can write “if he creates them” instead to move the story. Thank you for your review I will be checking out other reviews as well to see the opinions they have.

    1. I think our reviews were posted at almost the exact time last night. I read that around 11:30 p.m. and was like, “This guy is on the money.”

      After four parts and multiple tie-ins, not counting the previous comics leading up to “Spider-Verse” itself, Dan Slott is still in set-up mode, giving us more vague generalities about the Inheritors and prophecies involving “the Other, the Bride, and the Scion” instead of real answers, more Spider-Men and Women introduced to appease the hardcore fan-base who are really nothing more than thinly-developed potential victims to be unceremoniously slaughtered, more scenes from other comic books containing vital plot developments simultaneously acting as elaborate advertisements for those comics, more exposition repeating key information we already know, and more of Peter Parker, despite being the titular hero of the comic and the designated leader of the group, once again falling prey to needless guilt (“This is all my fault”) and self-doubt (“I don’t what to do”), only to be bailed out at the last moment by far more competent, capable, and active allies. On top of all this, and after giving us the typical moment where all hope seems lost as out heroes are backed into a corner against overwhelming odds, Slott, without a hint of irony, uses sheer coincidence and a literal deus ex machina to turn the tide.

      Yes! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Stillanerd. When I saw this I couldn’t help but cheer. The creative crutch of the deus ex machina has been a pet peeve of mine since 2008, and to see Stillanerd nail it gave me hope for comic book reviewers everywhere. Dan Slott seems to be embracing the “god in the machine” while most writers cringe at making such a decision. When I first read it in Spider-Verse Part 4 I thought, “Wait. Is this a joke? Is this real? Is he really doing this? He is!” You can’t make this stuff up…

      Side note: In my lone YouTube Spider-Man review from 2008 I complained about the North Korean-like Letters to the Editors Section, Marvel’s use of deus ex machina, and spider-totems. The more things change, the more things stay the same. 😉

    2. You’re welcome, Doug, and glad you liked the review. And I must confess, when that moment the Master Weaver literally pulled those magic scrolls out of his mechanical, copper-plated ass and told Spider-Woman and essentially told her “these contain everything you need to know,” that’s was the moment where I was just mentally done with the rest of comic from that point forward. Because heaven forbid the characters, much less Spidey, the supposed titular protagonist of the comic, figure how to stop Morlun and his steampunk vampire siblings and big bad Santa Claus dad on their own.

    3. And I must confess, when that moment the Master Weaver literally pulled those magic scrolls out of his mechanical, copper-plated ass and told Spider-Woman and essentially told her “these contain everything you need to know,” that’s was the moment where I was just mentally done with the rest of comic from that point forward.

      What I can’t stand is that websites like i09 will say Dan Slott is “doing the Lord’s work,” for Spider-Verse — not because his writing is sound, but because he shoves little cameos by Leopardon and others into each issue. It’s pathetic. A guy like you is out there essentially pointing out on a site like Crawlspace just how cringe-worthy it is to insert a deus ex machina to get Spider-Verse wrapped up, while i09 is like, “But…but…Leopardon! Buy it.”

      Because heaven forbid the characters, much less Spidey, the supposed titular protagonist of the comic, figure how to stop Morlun and his steampunk vampire siblings and big bad Santa Claus dad on their own.

      That is a very good way of putting it. 🙂

      Side note: I doubt i09’s writer even knew it, but it also annoying for them to use the phrase “doing the Lord’s work” for a guy who retweets Salman Rushdie quotes that cast all religious belief as “unreason.” So because a bunch of Islamic radical terrorist-scum kill people over cartoons, all religious belief is “unreason”? I don’t think so.

    4. Actually, Truthwillin, I’m not blocked from Dan Slott’s twitter because I don’t actually use twitter. Never got around to signing up for it.

    1. I used a hyper link above when I mentioned my “pet peeve” since 2008, but I will gladly share it again. Marvel’s Orwellian message boards prompted me to make that video and then I just realized that I’ve always been much more of a writer. I like YouTube videos, but they’re time consuming to create. I may come back to them in the future…but history has shown that blogging is where I’m most comfortable.

  2. It’s not enough to criticize for me, I have to…. FIX!

    Ok, so I’m writing spider-verse (doug, if you want to make this a post, np just edit me so I sound smarter), here’s what I do:

    There’s a multiverse theory that goes that each time we make a decision, another universe is formed where we made the other choice.

    I’d try to tweak/drop all this totem business and say that orig Peter is important because he’s “the root” of the spiders. Every other Spidey in the books ends up existing because of choices Peter has made. One day he went right instead of left, got bit and became a hero. That same day he went left instead of right, and it was Gwen Stacy that got bit instead. etc

    Not only that, but his CONTINUED existence and choices keeps creating more spideys. Had Peter died to Venom, SpOck would have never been. etc etc.

    We can add something semi-mystical like Peter’s spirit is the only one strong enough to survive just in general as long as he has, and stuff like taking him down would be the ultimate “feast” for the bad guys, but if Petey dies then the “branches” of the Spider tree will lessen and eventually die. etc etc, pad out using action scenes. There ya go.

    1. I think you have a very good idea as far as spider-totem stories go, Nate. Likewise, I don’t think Dan Slott’s idea is bad per se. It’s the execution of the idea that is Spider-Verse’s undoing.

      For example, I think Spider-Verse is incredibly bloated. I think having The Inheritors be this big dysfunctional family of whiny brats was a big misstep. I think too much time was spent trying to think of all the crazy, “whacky” spider-totems that could make a quick cameo appearance and too little time trying to think about how they could be seamlessly sewn into the fabric of the story.

      The fact that Dan Slott had to turn to deus ex machina — Master Weaver is both a god-like and a machine at the same time — to move the story along speaks volumes.

      Sometimes, less is more — and that even applies to stories that are teaming with spider-totems. I wouldn’t care if Spider-Verse was a video game and you could choose from a whole host of totems you wanted to play as (you can thank me for the idea later, Dan Slott and Marvel), but as a comic book it’s just coming across as a convoluted mess. If you’re a juggler and you can only juggle five balls with ease, then don’t try and juggle ten on the big stage. Spider-Verse may be ambitious, but it’s also a case of creative juggling gone wrong.

  3. I love that theory natewinchester, and it’s something I could easily have seen JMS’s take on Peter realizing as the story develops (much like how he gradually works out how to defeat Morlun the first time)

    Funny how Doug mentions this instalment “feels more like part 14″…was that a sly dig at how long it took to tell the story of Maximum Carnage? Rofl

    One thing I did like was Mayday Parker calling her father the true Spider-Man and the rest of the losers she was saddled with were all “fakes”, and it’s hard not to side with her, as she wants to take the initiative and fight to reclaim her brother. Sadly, she does’nt seem to be doing much of anything else other than vent and stand around while things happens. Here’s hoping Tom DeFalco’s story with her in two weeks (Spider-Verse#3), leads to an inspirational turn or two for her.

    1. Funny how Doug mentions this instalment “feels more like part 14″…was that a sly dig at how long it took to tell the story of Maximum Carnage? Rofl

      It’s interesting that you should mention Maximum Carnage, zariusii. It wasn’t too long after that particular storyline that I stopped collecting comics for a few years in high school. Maybe it was a subconscious dig, but yes … I did think that story was rather atrocious.

      I don’t know what it was, but somewhere in the mid-90s comics just seemed to get really dumb. I didn’t like the art and I didn’t like the stories. I think there was something in the water around then.

      On a related note: I had stopped playing with GI Joe figures by that time, but I vaguely remember a shift away from actual soldiers to losers wearing neon yellow and pink outfits, becoming eco-warriors, etc. Sigh.

    2. Ah yes, the “GI Joe EXTREME” phase…there was a cartoon for that that comics’ Steve Englehart wrote something for, but it really didn’t catch on.

      Oh the 90s were a trying period indeed, I don’t blame ya for dropping out. As I recall, the writer of ASM at the time (one of the longest stints on the book) was suffering severe burn-out (much like Slott is now), and during that period you had MJ smoking, Peter’s parents returned and were revealed to be robots created by Chamelion and Harry, Peter retired his civilian identity and became just “The Spider”, and then you had the worst of the Clone Saga, you had some good things though, like DeMatties’ brilliant run on Spectacular which resolved the Peter/Harry feud, and the early portions of the Clone Saga were handled well, and there was that period of 1997-1998 where DeFalco and Mackie handled the books ine the post clone fallout…but yeah, it took a while (and JMS) to really bring things back around.

    3. …but yeah, it took a while (and JMS) to really bring things back around.

      I have my qualms with JMS, but it was his work that really got me interested in Spider-Man again. I even started buying all the back-issues that I missed. I basically stopped collecting in high school, and then when I enlisted in the Army I got a subscription just because it was nice to get a comic in the mail when I was sitting on a mountaintop in Macedonia or the middle of a field in Germany. 🙂

      Once “One More Day” hit I was incredibly angry, and then “Brand New Day” prompted me to just walk away. I stopped for awhile, and then when I saw what Slott was doing to the character — coupled with the comic book “journalists” who serve as little more than the creators’ cheerleading squad — I got back in to write occasional reviews.

  4. Hi, Douglas. I’ve just find your blog I cannot agree more on Slott’s Amazing crapman, and I really hate that Cindy Moon bullshit.
    As in your case, I returned to Spider-Man franchise with the great JMS run, and nowadays I’m kind of a fan of his. As far as I know JMS was angry at Marvel for “The Other” and “One More Day,” which were editorial guidelines that were out of his reach, as he says in “One More Day” Special Edition.

    A new reader from Argentina. Blood.

    1. Hi BloodCrisis,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! I really appreciate it. I hope you don’t mind, but I combined your two comments for clarity since your first post had some characters with funky coding.

      Anyway, I’ll be reviewing the rest of Spider-Verse, so you’re always welcome to comment here. I’d like to hear your thoughts. I’ve been covering Dan Slott’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man for some time now, so feel free to check out some of my past pieces as well.

      Again, thank you for taking time out of your day to add to the discussion.

  5. >a few “whacky” panels
    >Dan Slott’s creation, Silk
    >Deus ex Machina action
    >Uncle Spider-Ben
    >”You all are gods!”

    These days, all comic books* are fanfiction, but some are more fanfiction-ny than others.

    Slott is with Spider-Man up to and including Renew Your Vows. :< I hope that if one thing ends in Everything Ends, it's his parasitic grasp on the book.

    *Big 2. Independents are fine.

    1. Slott has got plots lined up through 2016 last I heard, so yeah, a little while to go yet.

      I could deal with “until” 2016, but “through” 2016 is pretty painful.

    2. 8 years.

      For comparison, Chris Claremont spent 17 years writing X-Men (1974-1991), the longest ever stint on a comic book… and he would have stayed on.

    3. Given the dialog that Slott’s writing on Spider-Man, it does seem that he’s tired of writing the character as his real motivation was bringing is idea of Dr. Ock as Spider-Man a reality. I personally feel that he’s burned out with ASM and wants to focus his time with Silver Suffer. I can not imagine Slott resigning for another 5 years on ASM as he has spent about 8 years on the book so far. And throughout that time, he’s created a lot of new characters as potential love interest for Peter rather than to use other existing characters like Jennifer Walters, for example. If he had used Jennifer Walters and Betty Brant in favor of Mary Jane and Felicia Hardy, that would have been a fun dynamic. Not to mention having the Black Widow and Jessica Drew as frequent guests in ASM, that would have been and interesting story potential. But I do not think that Slott wanted to go there as it’s clear that he doesn’t like Peter Parker in a relationship with a super heroine and would rather put him into forgettable relationships.

      I do feel that 2016 might just as well be the last year for Slott’s run one ASM because we can clearly see that his heart isn’t in the character anymore. His interest peeked with Superior Spider-Man, which I feel is really his last Spider-Man story.

  6. http://www.examiner.com/review/not-even-a-giant-japanese-robot-can-make-amazing-spider-man-12-memorable

    “At this point, even coming up with some sort of theme for a negative review after so many is challenging. Yet there is one exchange which seems to stick. After yet another ride on the merry go round of insanity, Mayday Parker looks right at the iconic web slinger and says, “Stop. I’m done listening to any of you. Far as I’m concerned, you’re all fakes. There’s only one real Spider-Man. My dad. And he’s dead.” The use of awkward short sentences aside, there seems to be something to this. After twenty years of progress, Marvel’s editorial board declared that Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane had somehow tarnished the franchise and put it in a rut apart from what he “should” be. If “Spider-Verse” proves anything, though, it is that the various writers and editors of Marvel Comics are more than capable of getting the wall crawler into a rut without him being married. The only difference is with that marriage annulled, even the pretense of character progression has been undone, and what is left is crass advertisements or corporate maneuvers disguised as a story line. Regardless, once the mainstream Spider-Man lost any pretense of being progressive, it was left to alternate versions of him to pick up the slack. Said slack was picked up by the MC2 version chronicled in “Spider-Girl”, as written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Ron Frenz. In fact, then editor in chief Joe Quesada bragged that said imprint was the place for fans angry about losing the marriage to get their fix. And in that, Peter Parker was allowed to remain married, retire, raise a daughter and have a career, while still having great power and responsibility. It was that version of Peter Parker, among all others, who was genuinely allowed to grow up and become the sort of man his Uncle Ben would have imagined he’d be. And perhaps in losing that, Mayday is right. What was left of what Spider-Man used to represent was finally extinguished, and all that is left is a pale imitation whose only function is to play ringleader to an entire circle of corporately created and marketed duplicates. It is a sorry place for who is arguably Marvel Comics’ greatest superhero to find himself, but it is a place which has been crafted for him due to too many short sighted and aimless stunts such as this.”

    I echo these statements with great empathy. Mayday’s mistreatment has been my strongest bone of contention with this whole story, she and her brother have every right to be the driving force of change and structure to the whole story, and you feel like her passing judgement on these atrocious adolescents is somewhat justified given all they’ve done is place bets on internal conflicts and flee when the going gets tough’n’rough.

    1. There’s a small thing in this week’s Spider-Verse#2 which skips to the very end of the story (!) and sets up a Spider-Man who we are promised will be seen again this summer as part of the Secret Wars event…this one is wearing a wedding ring.

      So yeah, Spider-Verse still has a bit to go and they’re pushing yet ANOTHER alternate world story which will elbow in on the one we’re meant to be focusing on

  7. I think Slott’s writing is poisoned by cynicism. I don’t think he believes that sincerely heroic people exist. Then throw in a comedian mentality, that distorts and balloons characters by instinct, for comical effect, and defensive hostility toward customers, and you have Dan Slott, beneficiary of the Marvel Comics frat house culture.

    1. Jack Brooks, where have you been?! 🙂 Seriously, man…that’s pretty good analysis of Dan Slott’s work. I wish I had you in the comments section a long time ago. Feel free to comment any time.

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