At the beginning of a large scale story arc, showing off multiple parallel universes, The Amazing Spider-Man #9 offers:
- Balanced, large scale artwork, that effectively uses comedy, darkness, and light
- Credible characters from parallel worlds that do not appear as shallow copies of mainstream marvel universe Peter Parker
- Themes of slavery and silence introduced through the villains.
- High science fiction: Spider-man as the centre of a character web that spans infinite parallel worlds.
The artwork embraces scale, with several select splash pages. These pages are balanced with comedic moments. Colour and inking is powerful.
In the opening pages of this comic, and once again halfway through, splash pages that capture motion and scale appear. Across the panels, a Spider-man from a distant, parallel reality swings through New York. In another scene, Peter Parker of the mainstream Marvel Universe also swings between buildings alongside new character Silk – Cindy Moon. Colour and ink in theses pages are powerful. Balancing these scenes, the artwork embraces comedy. A spider-man called “Peter Porker” (a human pig) Knocks out a villain’s peon. His punch produces stars, while the lettering reads “Ker Smak!”.
Light and dark are also balanced. A scene where multiple spider heroes from a vast array of parallel universes appear in dazzling bright light arrives moments before a dark, rain drenched graveyard. Here, young Spider-man Miles Morales (Marvel’s Ultimate Universe) visits the grave of his deceased mother. It’s a one of several key moments in the comic’s story that points out how each character has their own unique story. They have people they love, the loved ones they have lost, or the places they live.
Individual characters from several different parallel worlds live their own diverse and deep lives. The comic draws story threads from across Spider-man history to build up the credibility.
The approach brought to characters in this large scale comic book story arc presents each version of Spider-man or Spider-woman as an interesting character. Rather than disposable copies of the mainstream Marvel Universe Peter Parker, these characters have their own lives. Efforts are made to establish them as unique.
To create the sensation of well-rounded lives, the comic pulls together threads from Marvel’s extensive Spider-Man history, both older and recent.
Gwen Stacey, for example, returns as the Spider-Woman of Earth 65.
Another example is the Cosmic Spider-Man. A key moment from Spider-man history: Peter Parker once received, but ultimately gave up, god-like powers from the “Enigma Force”. This version of Spider-Man retained these abilities.
The Inheritors, villains of the comic, show off themes of slavery and silence. References to threads, skeins, and looms also appear throughout the comic, which associates a spider’s ability to spin thread with storytelling.
Through the villains – the arrogant, aristocratic Inheritors – themes of slavery and silence emerge. They have humans enslaved as their pets. They regard Spider-men and Spider-women as food. They tell several characters that they are not allowed to speak in their presence.
Threads, skeins, and looming also appear repeatedly throughout the comic. The phrase “to spin a tale” is relevant here. Spiders spin threads. The idea of a thread as a way to describe linear storytelling ties together spiders with storytelling. An example of this storytelling theme is the god Anansi: a storyteller who takes the form of a spider.
Spider-man appearing at the centre of a web of interwoven but different stories makes sense from this perspective. Peter Parker’s life is tied to each of these diverse characters.
If there is a bigger theme emerging here, the complete story would reveal it. The first issues establishes Peter Parker from the mainstream Marvel Universe as the centre of a vast web that spreads out to encompass infinite parallel universes. It’s a high-science fiction concept.
The Amazing Spider-man #9 is published by Marvel Comics ($4.99 USD). Dan Slott (W.) Olivier Coipel (P.) Justin Ponsor (C.) Chris Eliopoulos (L.) Cover Artwork by Olivier Coipel.