|THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN No. 9, January 2015|
Topping the November 2014 comic book sales figures, as reported by Diamond Comic Distributors, with 135,280 copies “The Gathering” really sees the “Marvel Worldwide” “Spider-Verse” storyline publishing bandwagon begin with gusto. Promising a plot which features every version of Spider-Man “that has appeared in any media”, this thirty-four page extravaganza contains some genuinely sinister and disturbing moments. Not least of which is the inclusion of the cartoon pig Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham of Earth-25.
Indeed within the first few pages a vampiric looking Morlun has snapped the neck of the resident Lunar New York Web-head. Whilst the super-villain’s bigger brother Daemos swiftly dispatches another multi-verse Spidey, this time a non-Hulk Bruce Banner variant, by breaking his spine. Grim and somewhat gory stuff which quickly establishes just how high the stakes are with this series. Just who the Inheritors are is something of a mystery, but Morlun’s family are clearly extremely powerful, vicious, bloodthirsty and most definitely playing for keeps.
Fortunately Dan Slott’s script is not entirely morbid ‘doom and gloom’ as the action is interspersed by the appearances of several more versions of the web-slinger as they gather at Central Park on Earth-13 under the protection of Cosmic Spider-Man. The sheer number of wall-crawlers however is slightly confusing and obviously not helped by the vast majority of them wearing similar blue and red webbed costumes. It is clear however that long-time fans of the Spidey comics will swiftly recognise old favourites such as Spider-Ham, The Scarlet Spider, Spider-Man 2099 and Ben Reilly. Whilst all readers will doubtless enjoy the introduction of new characters such Spider-Woman Gwen Stacy and Old Man Spider of Earth-4.
Artist Oliver Coipel provides some cracking visuals for this story, especially in his illustrations of the scenes involving the Inheritors. Only occasionally does the Frenchman produce a poor drawing and the few panels are simply where he attempts to depict physical comedy, such as Spider-Man doing a double-headed take when told of “the coming battle” with Solus and his family.
Quite possibly the highlight of the issue however is actually the epilogue story “The Feast”, which affords a very grisly look at both the dining habits and family dynamics of the Inheritors. Not only does Dan Slott’s script allow some fascinating insight as to what motivates the various homicidal family members. But it also shows their bloodlust for feasting upon the bodies of their prey; notably a vampire Spider totem and a Man-Spider.
Unfortunately Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artwork is not quite up to scratch with some of the tale's early panels containing a number of rather wooden awkward-looking figures. But the Italian cartoonist’s double-page illustration of the Great Web of Life and Destiny is colourfully impressive and a fantastic nod to so many classic versions of Spider-Man; such as Spider-Hulk, Spider-Pool and the 1967 animated series Spidey.
|The regular cover art of "THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN" No. 9 by Oliver Coipel|