When is an Amazing Spider-Man book not an Amazing Spider-Man book? That might sound like some cheap cryptic riddle that’s been snatched out of the closing pages of a newsstand puzzle compendium or the opening line of the corniest stand-up routine ever, but bear with me, because as far as Edge of Spider-Geddon is concerned, it’s an entirely appropriate and valid opening question. The answer, of course, is when it doesn’t feature Spider-Man. Or more accurately when it doesn’t play host to Peter Parker, the friendly neighbourhood, web-slinging Spider Man fromEarth 616 whose world famous theme tune we all know the words too. That’s right folks, Pete doesn’t make a single appearance in this tome, not a peep, nada, zilch, nothing. However, before you start harrumphing, spluttering and muttering about being bamboozled by the high-up mucky-mucks at Marvel and start formulating letters of complaint and slightly insane sounding tweets, I should clear something up. While it doesn’t feature the Spider-Man, it does feature a bunch of alternate incarnations of Spider-Man from parallel worlds and all over the multi-verse as well as a former Earth 616 wall-crawler. And you know what? It’s pretty darn good.
Acting as a roll-call for the forthcoming Spider-Geddon event, Edge of… introduces, and re-introduces, a number of the alternate versions of Spidey, who will no doubt go on to play a pretty big role in the aforementioned Spider-Verse saga. Each of the four linked one-shots in the mini-series is an involving, intriguing and gorgeously detailed tale centred around, and on, their respective arachnid powered heroes, that familiarises the reader with, and then draws into the bigger picture, the characters in question. Created by a staggering list of talent that includes the always awesome Jason Latour and that chap from My Chemical Romance*, Edge of Spider-Geddon straps its audience into an action packed, plot heavy rollercoaster that admirably achieves everything it sets out to do. It introduces the key-players in a way that immediately lets the reader connect with them. And while that’s all well and good, it’s the final act that presents the who, the why and the how the Spider-Heroes are being assembled and the inclusion of the debut issue of Christos Gage and Mike Hawthorne’s incredible Superior Octopus that really steal the show. Especially the latter because Otto Octavius not only epitomises the bad guy trying to be good, and is the villain that we love to hate, but his somewhat misguided attempt to become the absolute pinnacle of heroic virtue is the gift that just keeps on giving, and Gage and Hawthorne absolutely get that and pick up the ball and run with it in one of the best opening chapters of the year. Spider-Geddon is here, and this is where it all begins… Tim Cundle
*I’m just kidding. While I may not be a fan of Gerard Way’s music, he is the mind behind, and responsible for, the fantastic Umbrella Academy. And yeah, he’s one heck of a writer.