Graphic Novel Review: Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Geddon; Amazing Spider-Man: Friends and Foes

Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Geddon

Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Geddon - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

Amazing Spider-Man: Friends and Foes

Amazing Spider-Man: Friends and Foes - Credit: Archant

Whether it’s fighting alongside his inter-dimensional counterparts for the sake of innumerable realities, or battling costumed crooks in the depths of the New York underworld, you just can’t keep a good web-slinger down…

These two collections span a wide web for the wall-crawler, but at the heart of both is the heroism and self-sacrifice which has characterised Peter Parker for almost 60 years.

In the Spider-Geddon event, a sequel to the groundbreaking Spider-Verse, Otto Octavius’ experiments with clone technology have provided a gateway allowing the return of the Inheritors, a nigh-unstoppable family of psychic vampires who feed on the life force of spider-powered beings.

Emerging from Otto’s cloning machine, Jennix, Morlun and Verna claim the lives of Spider-Man Noir and Spider-UK, and then set about regenerating their siblings.

What follows is a race against time as the so-called Web Warriors (Spider-Men and Women from across the multiverse) strive to prevent the Inheritors from resurrecting their leader, Solus, and establishing a new base of operations on the mainstream Marvel Earth…

The rich diversity of web-slingers featured in this series include a Wild West cowboy, the giant Japanese robot Leopardon, anarchic Spider-Punk, a Spider-Man based on this year’s video game, and a “hive mind” Peter Parker whose body consists of thousands of individual arachnids.

Despite the hefty weight of this volume, there are aspects of the storyline which take place in spin-off titles uncollected here, something which wasn’t really the case with the original Spider-Verse saga, although efforts are made to fill in any gaps in the narrative throughout.

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With the mainstream Spidey off fighting Morlun in one of these spin-offs, his appearances here are limited, but the rich cast of characters ensures his absence never detracts from the story. Like many sequels, it isn’t quite up to the standard of the original, but is still a first-rate exploration of the Spider-Man mythos across multiple realities, and a whole lot of fun to boot.

In contrast, Friends and Foes is a much more grounded collection, focusing as it does on Peter Parker’s close compatriots in New York, including his new roommate Fred (Boomerang) Myers and former lover Felicia (Black Cat) Hardy, as well as his blossoming rekindled romance with Mary Jane Watson.

Writer Nick Spencer offers a sequel of sorts to his acclaimed series The Superior Foes of Spider-Man as Myers drags Pete along for a drink at The Bar With No Name, favourite haunt of the costumed criminal fraternity, an absolutely perfect buddy comedy storyline which ticks all the boxes.

Then in the second storyline we see MJ attend a support group for people with close links to superheroes, while Spider-Man and the Black Cat face off against the Thieves Guild in a bid to reclaim the stolen possessions of the Avengers…

The characterisation throughout this volume is spot on, being at times moving and insightful, and then segueing into humour and fun. Spencer has a perfect grasp of the motivations of his protagonists, and the interplay between them is worth the admission price alone. Add to this a compelling narrative and the hint of major threats to come and you’re looking at a superior Spider-Man scribe who still hasn’t reached the top of his game.