Review: The Amazing Spider-Man #9
” It takes an acrobatic writer to balance big ideas with the fun of Spider-Ham socking a bad guy in the kisser, and Slott proves once again that he can do whatever a Spider-Writer can.”
The Amazing Spider-Man #9
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Release Date: Wed, November 5th, 2014
Okay, I’m going to show my age here: I remember when special, multiple-comic book storylines were just that, special. When I first started reading comic books back in 1990 at the tender age of 10, I remember the first crossover I had the opportunity to read as it was published monthly, The Infinity Gauntlet. And while I just missed the hey-day of Marvel’s Secret Wars and DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, I remember the joy and amazement I felt as I read the first issue of Gauntlet. I had only been reading comic books a few months, and even seasoned readers told me that this sort of crossover didn’t happen often. I couldn’t wait to see if Thanos would actually win or, at the very least, kill off a few heroes who would actually stay dead.
However, as I got older, while that joy of reading a really good comic book crossover never faded, I did become more cynical about the drive of such stories. As the years passed, so did the number of crossover events increase per year. And while long-time comic book readers bitch about Event Fatigue every time an Infinity War or a Future’s End or a Secret Invasion hits newsstands, sales clearly show that someone is eating up these event books, which drives companies like Marvel and DC to continue to churn them out. And I get it, I really do. As I’ve said in other articles, while I love reading a really good comic book story, I know that the comic book business is first and foremost just that, a business. Still, there’s a way to do these types of big events right while being a viable source of revenue for a publisher.
And damn, The Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott knows how to do that in spades. In the past few months, Slott and Marvel Comics have been teasing fans of an event promising EVERY SPIDER-MAN EVER, meaning every iteration of the character within Marvel’s “prime” reality and its various alternate universes and timelines. While there have been echoes of what was to come in the Spider-Verse storyline in Amazing and in the Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries, Slott gets the ball rolling in The Amazing Spider-Man #9, coming out like gangbusters and throwing more Spider-types at readers than you can shake a Doctor Octopus’ leg at. (That sounds supa-creepy. Moving on.) Those teases, though, are not necessary to enjoy the issue, but, seriously, go read them, especially the Edge issue featuring a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman and Mary Jane Watson as a rock-and-roller. Totally worth it.
The necessary details: Morlun and his family, who can be thought of as energy vampires that feed on any beings with the stench of a Spider-person, have decided to wage a full-scale assault on the Spider-Men and Spider-Women throughout the multiverse. To stop the threat that Morlun and company pose, the multiverse’s Spiders are gathering, with Peter Parker, our Spidey, brought into the fray. How will Peter deal with this danger to his fellow Spider-types and what will the weight of being told he’s “the greatest of [all his fellow Spiders]”?
I started reading The Amazing Spider-Man, after a long hiatus from following the book, when J. Michael Straczynski joined the comic as writer. In his first storyline, he introduced Morlun, filling the villain with a menace that made readers momentarily believe that Spidey might not make it out alive from facing the energy vampire. Since Morlun’s debut, no other story has ever matched that initial story’s level of gravitas and high stakes. Slott is able to take what was so awesome about the character—his relentlessness and creepily predatory nature—and multiple it with the addition of his family. Peter Parker barely managed to stop Morlun in his past encounters, so the introduction of all the other Spider-folks into the fray feels like a necessity, not merely a gimmick to sell books.
A story that promises to be so dark could easily go off the rails, but Slott brings joy with the inclusion of so many Spiders that you forget that many of them might not make it out alive. Seeing Spider-Clone Ben Reilly, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Girl, and Old Man Spider interacting with our Peter Parker taps right into the spot in my brain usually reserved for curmudgeonly snark and replaces it with pure happiness.
Of course, the beautiful art by Olivier Coipel makes all of this pop out of the page. When it was announced that he was going to be doing the pencils for the story, I figured that, at the very least, the book would be pretty. However, in a story with some many Spider-people, another artist might produce pages where the characters have no defined designs. However, Coipel is a pro, giving readers faces that are different from one character to the next. With a book containing such a huge cast, that in itself is a feat.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a book at its best when it combines fun and dynamic action that is used to speak to an overarching theme, such identity—as in the story Spider-Island or in The Superior Spider-Man—or the abuse of power—as in the early Black Costume/Venom tales. For Spider-Verse, however, Slott seems to be touching on a variety of those ideas, including responsibility, identity, and one’s place in the world. It takes an acrobatic writer to balance those sorts of ideas with the fun of Spider-Ham socking a bad guy in the kisser, and Slott proves once again that he can do whatever a Spider-Writer can.