A race of being called the Inheritors have been feeding off of the life forces of Spider-People. Their prey from many different dimensions has teamed together to battle these foes. Spider-Man 2099 was assigned with Lady Spider to study the dead body of an Inheritor named Daemos. Sadly, cloned versions of Daemos were harassing them and they found nothing valuable in his dead body. Therefore, Spider-Man 2099 and Lady Spider teleported to the last place they saw the rest of the Spider-Men, a dimension where Spider-Man had cosmic powers to fight off the Inheritors. Only, upon arriving, the lead heroes found the past safe haven in rubble, with a few dead Spider-People laying on the ground, due to the events of Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) #11.
The issue opens up with Spider-Man 2099 and Lady Spider walking in the ruins of the past safe zone. Miguel is afraid that the Spider-Men are all dead and there is no other option but to wait to die. Lady Spider throws up, and then apologizes for being “unprofessional.” There’s no reason to be professional he insists as she embraces him. As he’s reassuring her, Miguel spots Leopardon, the giant robot belonging to the Japanese TV Show Spider-Man. It’s in disrepair from the events of Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) #12, but Lady Spider thinks they can fix him in a laboratory she knows.
On Earth-803 (Lady Spider’s home dimension, in the setting of 1895 New York), May Reilly (the civilian identity of Lady Spider) asks Harold Osborn for access to the lab in “the Stadium” for her “friend,” Lady Spider. She emphasizes that it needs to be secret, and Harry explains he must inform his father for permission. If he follows through, she agrees to have dinner with him. Later, Harry is informing his father, Norman (who every Spider-Fan recognizes from the 616 Universe) of May’s request. He replies, “How can we turn down the needs of such a brave woman?” Harry thanks him, but Norman has a secret agenda with Lady Spider for he is … the Green Goblin! (Surprised, huh?)
Back in the destroyed safe zone, Lady Spider teleports and tells Spider-Man 2099 she has set up the lab for repairing Leopardon. They must begin transporting the robot piece by piece. Miguel is worried about the repair because he isn’t a technician, but Lady Spider is confident because she happens to be one.
Meanwhile in Earth-803, Norman Osborn calls some of his allies to get some revenge on Lady Spider for stopping them from kidnapping the Mayor in Spider-Verse #1 (Story 3). In the laboratory, Spider-Man 2099 explains that his ally’s design for the robot needs radiation. As he discovered in the autopsy of Daemon’s body, the Inheritors are vulnerable to it and it could be deadly for them in battle. Being that it’s 1895, May doesn’t quite know about radiation but she’s heard rumors about “scientists working with strange glowing materials that are supposedly poisonous.”
Miguel then gets a call from Peter Parker in Earth-3145, who asks him to join him in the effort against the Inheritors. (Gee, why didn’t Miguel call Peter earlier?) He explains that he’ll catch up to the rest of the Spider-People after repairing Leopardon if he sends their coordinates. Suddenly, Harry Osborn wanders into the lab and is amazed by the giant robot. When Lady Spider tries to convince him to leave, she accidentally refers to him by name although he’s only met her as May. Possible questions are halted by the appearance of the Steampunk versions of Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Vulture, and Mysterio! The main villain calls, “Some eligible suitors have come to call!” Spider-Man 2099, convinced that they don’t have time for distractions, dodges a pumpkin bomb and cuts the Goblin’s neck with his razor-sharp claws. He seethes that his throat is cut and he should bleed out in a few minutes. Really, Miguel intentionally missed it and the criminal won’t die, but it’s a good bluff.
At the same time, Harry Osborn yells at the villains to leave, resulting in an attack from Doctor Octopus, who seems to recognize him. Mysterio, the coward he is, “pwoofs” away. Ock decides that the Six Men of Sinestry will continue without him. As she confronts Ock, Lady Spider explains “sinestry” isn’t a word and she just so happens to be correct. At the other side of the battle, Spider-Man 2099 kicks Vulture but Electro zaps him, causing him to fall out a window. Outside, our hero impacts a strange aircraft containing Kraven the Hunter, who self-assuredly boasts that the window is unbreakable. He is wrong and quickly surrenders.
Inside, Lady Spider is hit by Doc Ock and retreats behind the head of Leopardon. Electro, frustrated with his comrade’s slowness in defeating her, electrocutes the robot head. The remaining three villains realize that the Green Goblin fled the scene but assume they have Lady Spider defeated. That is just the opposite as Leopardon, with separated parts, turns on. His glove impales Electro into a wall, and his foot does the same to the Vulture. Doctor Octopus is shot down by Kraven’s aircraft, manned by Spider-Man 2099.
After inspecting Ock’s body, Miguel orders for a lead container to brought to him. It turns out that Ock’s arms’ power center was radioactive, and they are able to use it on the robot. Anyways, he would have died of cancer in a few years if they didn’t remove it. They are also able to use the other villains’ technology to rebuild the robot and soon enough, Spider-Man 2099 thinks they’re ready to test it. Lady Spider wonders where Harry Osborn went after he gained consciousness. Our prime hero makes fun of May’s lover, but she defends him. Speaking of Harry, he knocks on the door of his father’s office and enters despite being told not to. He is surprised to discover Norman in his Green Goblin costume. Seeing he has a “problem,” Norman shoots his son.
In the end, Spider-Man 2099 and Lady Spider fly off on Leopardon. She wonders where Harry will take her for dinner, and he explains she can worry about it after the battle in Loom World. Little does she know that her lover is most likely dead. The two heroes are seen again with their giant robot in the conclusion of Spider-Verse, Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 3) #14.
Alternative universes in Marvel are tricky plot elements. On one hand, it can be fun and interesting to see another version of the regular Marvel universe, especially when a specific character is focused on. It has worked especially well for Spider-Man, with alternative characters such as Ultimate Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, and Spider-Girl strong enough to man long solo series. On the other hand, alternative universes can be tiring, especially if they are used simply as a plot device without much thought. At a certain point, the fact that they “don’t really matter” can get exasperating. During the main Spider-Verse event, Slott has been fairly successful in keeping the story in the former area regarding the alternative characters. Unfortunately, many Spider-Verse tie-ins meander in the latter area, as many new characters are introduced and readers are left with a “who cares?” impression. Spider-Man 2099 #8 suffers from this concerning the dimension of Spider-Lady, but there are redeeming qualities to the issue.
Spider-Lady is essentially Marvel’s idea to make a Spider-Character inspired by the popular Steampunk movement. The fact that she was introduced in an anthology book doesn’t help her as a character right off the bat, especially because May isn’t a memorable character besides her Steampunk costume. Peter David decided to use her during his tie-ins with Spider-Man 2099. He’s typically a solid writer, and one would assume he could really build her character up. While his writing of her isn’t bad in any sense, David fails to really define May as a character and when he sends her and the title character to her dimension, readers aren’t particularly interested. It seems as if he throws Miguel and May into her home universe just so he can mark it off his “to do” list for the tie-in. The Six of Sinestry aren’t particularly interesting as villains either. I realize that David only has an issue to flesh them out, but it would have been more impactful if he had just used a single villain like the Green Goblin. The fatigue readers feel from all the new Spider-Man dimensions being introduced in the tie-ins doesn’t help David out either.
Despite this, Peter David’s plotting of the story is solid and keeps things engaging. He accomplishes a lot by modern standards in the span of a single issue. Despite the large amount of villains, the pace is brisk and doesn’t slow down. I particularly admire the plot development with Leopold. It’s cool to see the giant robot during the story, and it gives the tie-in a sense of purpose as the robot is important in turning the tide of the epic final battle against the Inheritors. Another plus of the story is the brief, tragic subplot of the relationship between May and Harry. The concise one page scene where she basically invites him to a date is the highlight of the issue. It’s sad to see Harry die at the end but it’s highly unlikely that Lady Spider will ever show up in another comic to follow up on the subplot anyways.
The best part of this issue, as seems to be the case with most of them in the series, is the artwork by Will Sliney. He establishes the Steampunk feel of the issue and the Six of Sinestry all look pretty good. Of course, Sliney didn’t need the change in scenery for his art to shine because it always does. While Rick Leonardi’s depiction of Spider-Man 2099 defined the character during the 90’s, Sliney’s artwork defines him in modern comics. Also, although I typically don’t like his colors, Fabela impresses me with his tones in this issue during the sequences of Lady Spider’s dimension.
Spider-Lady and her universe are largely forgettable, but David's plot is still interesting. Sliney's artwork is phenomenal too, but you didn't need me to tell you that, huh?