Marvel’s Multiverse has undergone a bit of contraction, one could say that the Multiverse has been destroyed! For those that remember the original (1984) Secret Wars storyline, you may recall that the heroes and villains were transported to a planet called Battleworld. This year's Secret Wars installment features a Battleworld planet once again, however this time Battleworld is all that remains of the entire Multiverse. This patchwork planet consists of a heterogeneous mix of fragments of worlds which no longer exist.
One of those world-fragments is featured in the latest Spider-Verse miniseries, which reunites various web-slinging heroes from across the Multiverse; namely Spider-Gwen, Spider-UK, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man: India, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Girl. The Spider-heroes have no idea how or why they’ve ended up on this planet, but they all have realized that they aren’t in Kansas anymore…
The story opens with Gwen Stacy swinging through the city, patrolling for criminal activity. As Gwen makes her way to a graveyard, a site that also happens to be her place of solace, she interrupts the Jackal and his goons who are digging up a body. The grave robbers are no match for Gwen; they’re webbed-up with ease. Gwen leaves them for the police but not before she makes a quick stop at two gravestones belonging to George and Gwen Stacy. Gwen can sense that something is obviously not right about ‘this world’ she’s currently living in and she mentions weird memories that continue to pop into her head. She has no idea of the origin of those memories, but she does feel displaced in this new world.
Elsewhere, at the docks on the outskirts of the city, the Enforcers are overseeing what appears to be some sort of illegal transaction. Billy Braddock (aka Spider-UK) and Anya Corazon (aka Spider-Girl) ambush the Enforcers and quickly work to subdue them and their henchmen. The Spider-Duo soon discover the Enforcers were merely a trap as group of armed security forces try to corner them. Luckily for Braddock and Corazon, Pavitr Prabhaka (aka Spider-Man India) was tracking them and he quickly jumps in to the melee, allowing all three Spider-People to escape.
The story then returns to Gwen, who’s struggling to reconcile her foggy understanding of where she is versus where she should be. She’s fully aware that ‘Gwen Stacy’ has already died in this universe, which makes this situation even more vexing. Moreover, she made the mistake of googling herself and discovered that Gwen Stacy was killed by the Green Goblin during a battle with Spider-Man! She also uncovered that Spider-Man had disappeared not long after that incident. At this point, Gwen is living in a halfway house using the name Woodley to hide her true identity. She is currently working with Liz Allan, as an employee of Ozcorp Industries, but Gwen describes that job as a means to an end. She spends her day gathering information to understand how and why she is in this universe.
Speaking of Ozcorp, the company’s founder and current mayor of New York City Mr. Norman Osborn holds a press conference regarding the use of his security forces throughout the city. Osborn explains to the media that the use of his security at the docks the night prior (ie, the incident between the Enforcers and Spider-UK/Spider-Girl) was part of long-term sting operation meant to bring in the Enforcers. His damage control seems to work as no one in the media suspects that he’s lying. After the press conference Norman intentionally stops Gwen, who was in attendance, and commends her on the quality of her work with Betty Brant. The moment is a bit surprising to Gwen and does not help with her suspicion of Osborn and his possible knowledge of her current displacement.
With her suspicions reaching a crescendo, Gwen decides its time to check out the Ozcorp Special Projects laboraties that she had been casing for months. After using her spider-powers to break in, she uncovers files on a Sinister Six project as well as research on other Spider-people. Eventually she discovers an even bigger surprise…housed deep within the Special Projects labs is Peter Porker, the Spider-Ham. Much to Gwen’s dismay, whilst she is trying to free Porker she is confronted by Norman Osborn who states, “I’ve been expecting you.”
This is one of those issues where a lot of things happen and at the same time nothing really happens. I'm fine with that for the leadoff issue of a mini series, the goal is to set the stage and this book delivers on that.
The mystery of how/why the Spider-heroes have converged on this planet is on the forefront of this story, but no progress is made toward a solution. In fact, more questions are raised. And in a way that's almost irrelevant, what we're seeing in this story is what the Web Warriors do despite not knowing their place. And each one of them, minus Spider-Ham of course because he's unconscious, is looking to fight crime, help people and basically act heroic. It creates an interesting philosophical spin on super heroes, so I'm pleased to see the subtle dissection of the archetype. The story shows promise, let's hope it stays on track.
The story's protagonist, Spider-Gwen Stacy, also features her own subtle yet intriguing spin unique to this universe. It involves her interactions with Norman Osborn, the CEO of the company she works for and Mayor of the town she lives in...oh, and he might also be the man who killed this universe's Gwen Stacy. But she doesn't know that for sure, plus she's not dead! She suspects he might be involved (which is why she works at Ozcorp), yet he's a complete gentlemen to her...could he actually be innocent? I guess we'll see but this is an interesting plotline because it is not something you could do if you brought Gwen into the 616 universe...because everyone there knows he killed Gwen Stacy!
Oh, and one last thing, Ozcorp spelled with a 'Z', now I know we're in an alternate universe!
Great start, interesting storylines, we're all systems go for a new Spider-Verse tale!!