Lately, Morlun's family has been traveling the omniverse, killing and eating the Spider-Totems. Meanwhile, in Avengers (Vol. 5), the omniverse has been dying because of Incursions. The Captain Britain Corps is in charge of protecting the omniverse, so these two problems are of interest to them.
In the Otherworld, the “omniversal hub” of the Captain Britain Corps, Spider-UK AKA Billy Braddock from Earth-833 has booked a chair in the “watchtower scrying room.” It took “some doing” to reserve the seat, but Spider-UK knows it’s absolutely urgent. He feels like something is “off” in the omniverse. Billy scans Earths-1983-1985 for any dimensional intrusions and the machine finds one for Earth-1983.
On the screen before him, Spider-UK views Morlun holding “Amazing Friends” Spider-Man by his neck. (Ya know, the show in the 80’s…Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.) Spidey weakly calls Morlun a monster and says that he can’t even describe his villainy. The villain explains that the hero cannot comprehend his evil because his world is “kinder, gentler than most.” “You honestly have no vocabulary for what I’ve done to your friends,” Morlun explains. Spidey’s innocence isn’t enough to save him, sadly, and the villain sucks out his life force. “Mmm. Never tasted a life force as sweet before. Like a child’s confection,” he describes. Morlun is still hungry, so he commands the “weaver” to find him “a new morsel.” The scene he leaves is quite depressing: Spider-Man lies dead near his dead amazing friends, Iceman and Firestar, in their devastated apartment.
Back in the Otherworld, Spider-UK is disturbed by what he just witnessed. He orders the machine to follow Morlun’s dimensional portal and it shows him Earth-999. In that dimension, Brix and Bora, brother and sister to Morlun, seem to be in a contest for killing Spider-Totems. They are arguing who receives the credit for their newest catch: Spider-Cat from Spider-Island (see Spider-Island: I Love New York City (Story 4)). Brix doesn’t think Spider-Cat should count as a kill because he’s so small, but Bora counters, “Nonsense. A totem is a totem is a totem.” She’s excited that she’s in the lead now and begins singing a sadistic song as she plays with the cat’s body. While Bora consumes Spider-Cat’s life force, Brix jealously says, “Hope you choke on it.”
Once again, Spider-UK is disgusted and asks the machine to change the channel. Sadly, on Earth-7831, the scene is far more horrific. On the Counter-Earth of the Spider-Man Unlimited (Vol. 2) TV series universe, Daemos, brother of Morlun, is sucking the life force out of all the different animal-human hybrids along with Spider-Man. Soon, Jennix, Daemos’ brother, appears and informs him that Father wants him home. Daemos is surprised that “someone finally got [Jennix] away from [his] musty old books and bell jars.” He is more concerned that he’s consuming other animal totems while more spider-totems wait. “This world’s rich with animal totems! Each one more delectable than the last! I could feast for days!” Daemos shouts. He decides that he’ll stop after eating one…two…three more totems. Jennix discovers with his quantum-scope that they’re being observed by Spider-UK: “He looks British. Probably tastes bland. Still, that won’t stop us from eating [him].” Suddenly, Spider-UK orders the machine to cut the feed. Billy Braddock decides that he’s seen enough: spiders of “cross time” are being slaughtered and he must alert the others of the Captain Britain Corps.
Soon in the main base of the Otherworld, two Corps officials, Majestrix Saturnyne and Lady Roma, are worried because the Incursion threat of Avengers (Vol. 5) is becoming direr. They are presented with Captain Lionheart of Earth-5682, who barely escaped an Incursion as it destroyed three universes! Saturnyne is frustrated that the omniverse is crumbling around her and she can’t help to stop it. Roma encourages her, saying they will find a way to end it. Soon, Spider-UK introduces himself to the women and explains that the spiders of the omniverse are dying. “I have universes burning around me! And you would waste my time on insect-men!” Saturnyne yells, obviously infuriated. When she orders Roma to send Billy Braddock away, Roma shows sympathy to Billy’s cause and figures the Incursions and dying spiders may be the same problem. She gives him a bracelet that allows him to travel the great Web of Destiny. Spider-UK is given the mission to save the spiders of the omniverse and put an end to the slaughter. Spider-UK jumps into a portal and vows, “I swear my lady, it will be done!”
It’s quite rare that a backstory contains more content than the primary story, but that certainly seems to be the case here! Dan Slott fits the amount of plot that would take a regular modern writer a full issue into eight pages. He kills off three Spider-people, further develops Morlun’s family, and sets up Spider-UK’s mission to save the Spiders of the omniverse. Plus, he ties the story into Hickman’s Avengers and it makes sense, which I really appreciate.
I know that some people have accused Slott of spending too much time setting up events, but I really appreciate his Spider-Verse structuring. All the set-up issues have all been quite good (Edge of Spider-Verse is one of the best miniseries I’ve read in a long time) and I’ve always been a sucker when it comes to alternate universe Spider-Men. Going into the first part of Spider-Verse next week, Slott will have enough exposition from set-ups that he can hit the floor running. I’m really excited to see what he has up his sleeve for the event.
Another aspect I appreciate about Spider-Verse so far is how somebody has finally decided to explain Morlun’s origin. When he created the character, it was obvious that J. Michael Straczynski intended Morlun to stay mysterious. He never explained where the villain came from or any background, which drove continuity nuts like me crazy. It must have drove Slott crazy too because he’s decided to give the mysterious villain some depth. I like the Morlun family and how they are all connected to the Web of Life. It will be quite interesting to see how the Spider-Men will fare against the terrifying Morlun family.
One of the reasons I like Slott as a writer is he’s fantastic at manipulating Spider-Fans, and that’s what he continues to do in his controversial killings of Spider-people in this issue. He got fans really happy by bringing Peter Parker back…but then killed Amazing Friends Spider-Man and pissed off a bunch of message boarders! The sadistic jokes from Morlun’s family aren’t nearly as hilarious as some people’s comments about the deaths. Really, go on the CBR forums and check them out for yourself. Slott is one riotously devious dude!
As usual, Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artwork is great. He needs to fit a lot of plot into his layout and he does it quite well without rushing anything. The horror and humor is caught well in his characters. Particularly, I enjoyed how horrifying Panel 4 on Page 2 and Panel 3 on Page 4 are. I know Camuncoli will be drawing part of the main Spider-Verse event when Oliver Coipel leaves, and I have absolutely no uncertainty that he will do fantastic.
A great lead-up to the Spider-Verse event. I'm certainly excited for Spider-Verse!
You may have noticed that Spider-UK's first recruitment in his mission was Gwen Stacy: Spider-Woman in Edge of Spider-Verse #2.