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‘Illustrated Guide to the Spider-Verse’ (review)

Written by Marc Sumerak
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli,
Yancey Labat, Marco Del Forno
Published by Insight Editons


Spider-Ham shows up in the final five pages of this compendium of web-slingers.

I wish I were kidding!

But I am not.

Spider-Ham is awesome and better than basically all the Spider-Men absent original-recipe Peter Parker, Miles Morales and maaaaybe Spider-Gwen/Ghost-Spider. (It’s personal taste for the No. 3 spot in the rankings.)

You know Ghost-Spider: she’s the Gwen Stacy from Reality-65 who got bit by the radioactive spider and winds up in Reality-616 where she finds out her counterpart was killed by Green Goblin. Ghost-Spider narrates this guide, presenting entries on every Spidey in her writings and recollections of them.

(Did somebody at Marvel have to map out all of her interactions with the other Spideys among multiversal conflicts? Now that’s some Nerd Olympics!)

Illustrated Guide to the Spider-Verse is one of those coffee table books you get for your favorite nerd who enjoys compilations of lore and information. Y’know, the kind of kid who read encyclopedias for fun. Otherwise, I don’t know how much fun this book is to read.

Instead, it’s all about drinking deep from the multiverse cup and going all-in. It’s not a great reading experience, with the tiny type and about five dozen Spider-Men. It’s so many backstories that I can’t keep track of.

The fun of multiverse projects is how a writer can tweak, modify, augment or pervert the original formula to make something new regardless of how similar or different it may be.

What did various creators envision as fixed points in the Spider-Man story? For many of these, of course, there’s always a Peter Parker, or an irradiated spider. But in other realities, perhaps there’s always a Jessica Drew, or a Gwen Stacy, or even a symbiote. Or that Norman Osborn is always evil, even when he’s not Green Goblin and has spider-powers.

While the Clone Saga of the 1990s remains largely maligned, the shadow of Ben Reilly continued in the multiverse, too, far beyond Reality-616.

And speaking of crazy-weird comic book stories, there’s a ton of Spider-Man comic book gobbledygook to wade through in this tome. The Web of Life? Spider-Totums? Morlun? The Inheritors? Anyone? But much of which leads to our narrator talking about how many of these Spider-Men are dead. So there goes recommending this to children.

My major complaint is that I had to wade through all these Spider-Men and assorted comic book gobbledygook before we got to Spider-Ham! Put him in early or right off top!

Grade: B-


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