Comic Vine Review

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Edge of Spider-Verse #4 - I Walked with a Spider

4

Not all neighborhoods get a friendly Spider-Man.

The Good

The wonderful thing about these Edge of Spider-Verse one-shots is that, since they established that not all of them end with recruitment by SpOck: they are free to introduce characters who are bizarre, completely different takes on the Spidey archetype (or totem, if you prefer) and they aren’t required to do any follow-up or plan a “larger” story. That’s definitely been the case here, where we’re introduced to Patton Parnel, whose alliteration may be familiar but little else is. He’s a detached, likely sociopathic loner with an abusive uncle who gets bitten by a radioactive spider. But the transformation he undergoes is far, far more twisted and horrifying than the ones that made Puny Parker into a hero. Clay McLeod Chapman seems to be channeling the old EC publisher, known for its darker more depraved subject matters (also the main target, unfairly, of the Comics Code) and this very well reads like the most messy TWILIGHT ZONE (or somewhat standard TALES FROM THE CRYPT story) ever written, complete with narration that could almost be Rod Serling in places. In this case it’s a good thing that we’re spending so little time with this character as you wind up just hating him and just about everyone around him (with the exception of Sara Jane) out of the gate, and I’m not sure how much of them I could take. The appearance of the, let’s say, catalyst for the ending actually comes as a strange relief AND he fits the tone of the comic, even if he is a little dapper for it. We’re then...let’s say “treated” to one of the most bizarre, terrifying endings I’ve read in a very, very long time.

Elia Bonetti does a great job of evoking the style of those old-timey horror comics while still bringing a very modern sensibility to the surroundings. This a very realistically drawn comic, which amplifies both the characters’ drama and their inner-turmoil as well as their grim darkness. Veronica Gandini is a big part of evoking this tone with a color palette that’s plain, but not boring and that’s an important distinction. This is clearly a comic trying to “occur” in a semi-real world, so the proportions, action, and colors aren’t over-the-top nor fantastical, but that helps to ground it and make the events even more impactful.

The Bad

The frustrating thing about these Edge of Spider-Verse one-shots is that, since they established...wait, I feel like we’ve been here before, have we been here before? That’s right: the nature of these issue is both great and...less-than-great, let’s say. While these characters are lost causes, it feels like this issue ends just as it was getting started. And while there’s a cliffhanger (and I really can’t emphasize how gut-churning it is) at the end, it’s not one that they’re likely to actually continue.

The art generally works and looks great, but there are a few panels where the characters, and especially their facial expressions, look flat in terms of both dimensions and expressions. It’s rare, but happens enough to point out.

The Verdict

This doesn’t add much to the “mythos” nor build of SPIDER-VERSE, but that’s not really what it’s here for. It’s here to be a single serving of another take on the Spidey we all know and love (and in this case: are glad we don’t know and probably kinda hate). I especially got a little fanboy glee when the climax of the issue was revealed and just flat-out loved the horror comic aesthetic of the rest of the issue. Whether or not you’re interested in the overall event, this is worth checking out if you want a solid one-shot horror comic.