The Amazing Spider-Man (2014-) #9
Marvel has a reputation for being a bit alternate-universe-happy, but this story makes me glad of that fact.
Gathering the mind-numbing number of Spider heroes from the different Marvel dimensions and retaining a cohesive story isn’t easy. It’s quite the feat that writer Dan Slott has undertaken, but even so, there’s just something about this that makes it work.
The vampire-like beast Morlun is back, and his family have been traveling to every dimension, devouring spider heroes. But for some reason, the Peter Parker of Earth-616 (the mainstream universe we’re used to), is special. Morlun is saving him for something, because he’s for some reason denoted the “chosen one.”
While that might be a little bit too reminiscent of Star Wars, Parker is no Anakin, and it is despite all odds both an original and intriguing story. We get to see several alternate spiders throughout the story, which Slott manages to somehow do without completely overwhelming us, partially because only a few get more than brief glances, which works well for establishing a huge big-picture event without having too many big characters. We get everything from a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman to Spider-Man Noir (who’s way cool, by the way), to a Spider-Pig.
No, seriously. He’s an anthropomorphic pig who dresses up in a Spidey suit. Okay, yeah, that one is dumb, but the rest are really cool so it’s kind of hard to care.
The more interesting part of the story, however, is as it pertains to Silk. If you’re not familiar with Silk, she was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #5 (in the most recent relaunch of the title). Her and Peter were bitten by the same spider, and as a result have a strong connection. Their Spider senses draw them to each other, both generally and romantically (or, more accurately, pheromonally). But why is she “the bride?” Is she destined to marry Peter? Is that why she’s so important to Morlun and his evil family?
But more intriguing is the thematic perspective of the “Great Web of Life and Destiny.” It sounds like some kind of New Age concept, but it’s actually a very integral part of the story. Morlun’s family, the Inheritors, are able to travel to the different parts of the multiverse precisely because of this great web. In the epilogue of the issue, the Inheritors go back and forth about what the “Great Web of Life and Destiny” really means to them. They have access to all facets of the multiverse, which could, in a sense make them like lesser gods of the multiverse. So is this a statement about God? About how God treats His subjects? After all, the web is “all things”, as Lord Solus, the father of this twisted family, says. That could be read as some perverted sort of providence, couldn’t it?
Or rather, is the point going to be that the Inheritors are playing god, not having any legitimate right to the rule which they’ve been inflicting upon the rest of creation? There is certainly a will of the universe beyond the Inheritors themselves. In fact, they are simply taking the information that they’re given from the web, and and fitting it into their plan. So in that sense, is the web this universe’s idea of God, albeit a fatalistic one?
Those are the questions that this issue leaves with us, pondering the nature of the universe, why Earth-616’s Peter Parker is important, and whether the future is determined or not. Marvel has a bit of a reputation for playing with alternate timelines, and comic books in general have a legacy of their characters defying supposed fates, so I’m skeptical that we’ll end up with a fatalistic worldview, and I’m hopeful that the sin of the Inheritors playing god will become their undoing. The fact that one issue can bring up this many questions to begin with, however, shows just how good the start to this story is. If you like alternative universes at all, and if you like good old-fashioned Spider-Man action, then this is an arc that you should get into.
Sexuality: Brief partial male nudity
Language: 1 mild profanity
Age Recommendation: 14+