Forgive any errors in this review.
Mind is blown.
If you haven’t picked up The Amazing Spider-Man #12, go to your nearest comic book shop now. This review will be here when you get back.
In case you can’t get out of the office or the frozen Antartic and don’t mind spoilers, let me tell you what kind of Grade-A awesomeness you’re missing out on.
After last issue’s meltdown — the Inheritors took the fight into the Safe Zone and killed its protector, Cosmic Spider-Man — Morlun and Solus have taken charge of the Scion, the final Spider-Totem. Morlun returns home, leaving his cosmic-fueled father behind to clean up.
With everything going rapidly downhill towards the bottom, Spider-Man UK calls in for reinforcements.
Now, for a history lesson. Back in the ’70s, Toei — the company behind Godzilla — developed a Spider-Man television series for Japan which was very Loosely based on the American source material. Though they had similar costumes and superpowers, the Japanese version of the character deviated substantially with an altered origin story and the addition of the ship Marveller which transformed into the giant mech Leopardon.
Marvel reportedly wasn’t entirely sold on this version of Spider-Man, but the show lasted an entire year with 41 episodes and a theatrical movie. Toys were released in Japan and the States, but for the most part these past few decades, J-Spidey didn’t get much play in the comics.
That’s all changed now with the Spider-Verse. Rejoice, for J-Spidey and Leopardon are canon!
While Solus begins to dismantle the giant robot, the Spiders look for an exit strategy and teleport to another dimension where they find a moment of respite. During a cross-dimensional conversation with Spider-Man 2099, Parker gets cut off by Jennix who reveals the Inheritors have been listening in all along. And now that the Spiders have come closer to finding a weakness thanks to an autopsy of Daemos’ clone, Jennix sends Verna to their position to finish off Parker and his crew.
Meanwhile, on Earth-3145, Silk discovers a world ravaged by nuclear weapons where the irradiated atmosphere becomes a boon because of its effects on the Inheritors, Brix and Bora. Though the air isn’t particularly safe for the Spiders either, they do find a safe area — a bunker courtesy of Ezekiel. And what — or who — Parker finds in the bunker appropriately closes the circle on the Spider-Verse.
The Amazing Spider-Man #12 is page after page of plot developments and action. No panel is wasted, and the pacing is brilliant from start to finish as the story jumps through the dimensions to follow key characters and situations as the battle begins to shift in favor of the Spiders.
And what I’m perhaps most impressed by is Dan Slott’s plotting and awareness. The Spiders won’t have to rely on Slott-providence on the last page of the arc because the means for victory are being provided in measured doses throughout the story. There’s a steady pulse that’s beginning to rise, and Slott’s story gives readers a classic David versus Goliath story that doesn’t skimp on the sling and stone side of it. We’ve been presented with a big bad in the Inheritors who have a definite upper-hand when it comes to physical battle and pursuit. But the Spiders can’t be underestimated — through numbers, heroism, and perseverence, they will succeed, and at what cost?
When considering that last question, you can’t discount Slott’s handling of the inclusion of the various Spiders, familiar and otherwise. Some of it has been fan-service, but let’s be honest — it kind of hurt when Spider-Monkey died. Characterization is key, and while the Spiders gain from being incarnations of Spider-Man, their existence and extinguishing don’t count for nothing. Each death is an incredible loss for a fictional dimension, and we can relate because, not so long ago, Peter Parker was himself deceased.
The polish on this issue and the arc as a whole is shiny indeed, and while Olivier Coipel has been lending his pencils to the last few issues, you won’t be upset that Giuseppe Camuncoli has taken over for issue #12. Camuncoli’s artwork is dynamic and appropriate for the speed and tone of the story with a style that’s parts Coipel and Adi Granov. Panels are filled with characters and action, and the emotional resonance is loud and clear, whether it’s Leopardon losing an arm or Brix and Bora succumbing to nuclear fallout.
Cam Smith’s inks are sharp with lines that bring out the most important details. With Justin Ponsor’s colors adding the spark to the visuals, the combined efforts of the visual team produce a book that’s graphically stunning.
If you’re still on the fence about reading The Amazing Spider-Man, I don’t know how else to get you excited. As a comic book fan, I want my heroes to matter, and The Amazing Spider-Man #12 goes meta by crossing the ocean, taking a real-life version of the character, and bringing it into the fold and making it canon. That expands the universe in a way that, at once, shows us what kind of cultural impact Spider-Man has on the world and pays tribute to it.
And when you see that last page, you can’t help but feel like Peter’s story is — in some strange way — coming home. I don’t know how to explain it without ruining it, and it’s something — like a sort of gift to Spider-Man fans. Slott respects his fans, and he’s building a relationship with readers by proving he’s the biggest fan of the character. His love for the comic is infectious, and the Spider-Verse succeeds because we buy into the madness/genius of it all. This is the complete package, and you do yourself a disservice by ignoring it altogether.
The Amazing Spider-Man #12 (2014)
Words: Dan Slott
Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos