Spider-Verse: Spider-Zero TPB (2020)
A fun Spider-Ride!
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is my favorite Spider-Man movie to-date. In fact, it’s one of my favorite animated movies of all time. And the main reason for that is because it comfortably leans into the strengths of its comic origins. The movie embraces the art, quirky characters and origin stories of its source material. For me, it remains the gold standard for comic book movies. So I was only too happy to pick up Spider-Verse: Spider Zero. Fortunately, like the movie, this 6-issue comic also leans into its strengths – as an unofficial follow-up to the movie. Mostly, the entire comic is an excuse to introduce us to new and creative alternate versions of Spider-Man. And that’s why it works so well.
In Spider-Verse: Spider Zero, Miles Morales gets pulled into a multi-dimensional portal by Spider-Zero. She needs his help protecting the new Web of Life and Destiny. Miles has to search the Spider-Verse for answers. Along the way, he meets some interesting characters.
I’ve never read a Miles Morales comic before Spider-Verse: Spider Zero. So going into this read, I only had the movie as a reference to the character. And, for me, the biggest strength of the movie was Miles’ connection to the Spider-Verse. In my mind, Miles is now the poster child for every non-Peter Parker version of Spider-Man. So through Miles, I expected this comic to introduce me to more spider-themed worlds and characters. And I’m glad to say the comic delivers this in spades.
What I liked
In Issue 1 of Spider-Verse: Spider Zero, Miles gets pulled into five different Spider-Verses before he finally meets Spider-Zero. It’s a great set up for the rest of the comic run because it gives us a taste of what’s to come. We immediately get a sense that the purpose of the comic is to expand the Spider-Verse.
As with the movie that came out a year earlier, Spider-Verse: Spider Zero (first released in 2019) uses different art styles to explore different characters. For me, this is the kind of story that comic books were designed to tell. The writers get to tell their story and the artists get to tell theirs. (I found a similar dynamic in Killmonger, Future State: The Flash and Future State: Aquaman). And the Issues get to be more than just chapters in this Spider-Man comic – they get to be stories themselves. Issue 5 captures this essence better than any other through the Christos Gage/Juan Ferreyra duo. The art is outstanding and the writing is a great set up for future Spider-Man Noir stories.
Interspersed throughout Spider-Verse: Spider Zero are Spidersonas – three for each of the 6 Issues. ‘Spidersona’ was a hashtag that coincided with the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse theatrical release. Artists from around the world submitted their own Spider-Verse concept characters through the hashtag. Marvel smartly used Spider-Verse: Spider Zero to feature eighteen of these artists and their creations in the comic. It’s a classy touch by the publisher and makes the comic that much more likable.
What I didn’t like
While I felt the writing was generally consistent across Spider-Verse: Spider Zero, I felt like the artwork didn’t always live up to its potential. As mentioned earlier, I think Issue 5 was strongest of the Issues because of the writing/art combination. Juan Ferreyra, in particular, leans heavily into a distinct art style that suits the character and genre. Ferreyra’s artwork carries the story as much as Christos Gage’s writing does.
Unfortunately the other artists didn’t capitalize on this opportunity as strongly as Ferreyra did. Spider-Ma’am‘s world in Issue 2 would have worked a lot better with a more vintage comic style to match her ‘Pishposh’ and ‘Scallywags’. The character of SP//dr in Issue 3 should have been more Manga-inspired like she’s been in previous comic iterations. Webslinger‘s world in Issue 4 should have been far dustier and Western-oriented than it turned out. Overall, the bulk of the artwork in Spider-Verse: Spider Zero was a missed opportunity.
Spider-Verse: Spider Zero is a fun read. If you’re into seeing new and creative characters and world-building, you’ll enjoy the read. That said, this comic misses the depth that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse had in its script. The many iterations of Spider-Man were fun, new concepts to me in the movie. But at their heart, each character had motivation and felt grounded to something bigger than themselves and their conceptual creativity. Spider-Verse: Spider Zero lacks the depth that the movie gave to its characters. Instead, the comic just has fun introducing us to new characters and worlds.
Source: Marvel Comics 1-6 (Completed) (2020)