There’s an art to filling in plot holes ahead of time that often goes overlooked and underappreciated. The two teams of Spider Totems battling the Inheritors were kept safe in their gathering dimensions by very different plot devices: one the literal cloaking device and the other the Spider-Man who kept the power of Captain Universe, rendering attacking him completely untenable. This, of course, creates the question of why he simply didn’t solve the problem himself, which Dan Slott had preemptively answered by making it clear that if he left his universe, his power did not follow him. After this issue, and after finally having the reveal of the Patriarch of this vicious, vampiric family Solus revealed, that option is off the table. Nowhere is safe and everyone is in danger! Slott does a great job making each of the Spider Totems feel unique and like they’re being given their own voice, making it all the more painful when one of them is lost. That’s actually one of my favorite things about this series as a whole, and it’s on full display in this issue: the actual emotional impact of one of these characters dying, which further serves to heighten the sense of tension as it death comes quickly and for just about anyone, it seems. We also drop off and check in with a few more characters as they try to rally as many troops as possible to this cause. We also get to see current 616 Spidey square off with his Superior counterpart, and there’s something oddly thrilling about both the battle and the very idea behind it.
Olivier Coipel brings his stunning, fluid visual style to this book, and reminds everyone who he’s one of the best artists that can be drawing Spidey. The fighting takes up most of the issue, but never looks boring due to Coipel’s smooth, flowing visual style, but he’s certainly no one-trick pony. The Inheritors are hard-hitting bruisers, particularly when Papa Solus bursts onto the scene. These are characters that dig in and fight in stark contrast to the Spiders leaping and flitting about, and Coipel gives the vision of a pure potential energy just before it’s unleashed. This is contrasted against the battle at the beginning of the issue of Spider VS Spider which is pure agility and very few actual strikes. Coipel also inks the issue alongside Wade Von Grawbadger, John Livesay, Victor Olazaba and Mark Morales, giving the characters weight and form, helping the reign in what would otherwise be an incredibly chaotic scene. Justin Ponsor’s colors are the final ingredient to the visuals, bringing a dark, dour look that would normally be out of place in a Spider-Man comic, but considering the subject matter, it seems right at home.
We get two more here and for some reason it grates a bit more than last issue, even though it’s far fewer instances. We essentially lose two pages setting up titles that have already come out and seem to be doing just fine on their own.
While Coipel does a fantastic job on pencils, there are a few panels where his characters wind up looking just a bit...warped. It only happens in close-up and it’s very rare, but because of how good the rest of the visuals look, it stood out a lot.
This is the most intense Spider-Verse issue yet, and for a series that’s been this cranked up for this long and managed to SUSTAIN it, that is definitely saying something. Slott’s managed to take an epic, far-reaching story and given it an intimate, personal feel that actually puts a lot of emotional investment in its massive cast. A cast that the artistic team makes look incredible in almost every single panel they appear in, balancing action with impactful character moments. If you’re any kind of Spider-fan, you should be reading all of Spider-Verse, but if you can only check out one book, it should be this one.