Marvel’s new Spider-UK is introduced in this week’s Edge of Spider-Verse #2 second short, “The Spider and the Dragon,” in a story written by Ramzee and illustrated by Ruairí Coleman, with colors by Brian Reber and letters by Joe Caramagna, as an old threat looms on the horizon that could threaten the whole Spider-Army. This review discusses Edge of Spider-Verse #2, so scroll down to the Rapid Rundown if you’re looking for some spoiler-lite discussion of this week’s Marvel Comics.
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Edge of Spider-Verse #2
I am a Spider-Verse noob (although I do consider myself a fan of the Spidey Cinematic Universe (SCU), ya know, like billions of web-heads worldwide). My Spider-Peeps journey started at Comics Beat, actually, with my review of Spider-Punk #1 by Cody Ziglar, Justin Mason, Jim Charalampidis, and Travis Lanham (well, maybe slightly before The Beat, since Spidey was always my favorite Avenger to work with at Disney’s California Adventure). Ever since, I have been rapidly learning about Peter Parker’s long comic book history, as well as the history of Spider-Man’s counterparts across the multiverse.
Part of what I have enjoyed about the first two issues of Edge of Spider-Verse is how they serve as a roadmap not only to Marvel Comics’ Spider-Verse but also to the upcoming films. With rumors swirling that there could be 200 characters in Across the Spider-Verse, this Edge of Spider-Verse comic run is a great place for new readers to learn more about the diverse cast of characters who will soon be occupying the SCU.
Who is Spider-UK?
If you follow movie news, there was another multiversal Spider-Man rumor recently: Hobie Brown from Spider-Punk #1. If you’re a Parker traditionalist or not a web-head at all, maybe you haven’t heard of Earth-138’s Spider-Punk, but he was Olivier Coipel‘s original Spider-UK design for Dan Slott‘s 2014 Spider-Verse storyline. Except the design was ultimately scratched because Hobie wasn’t straight-laced enough to be Sir Spider-Brit; instead, he was better designed as the anarchist symbol of the underground, and he was left on the drawing board to clash with Marvel’s big bads another day.
Enter Earth-833’s Billy Braddock, AKA Spider-UK 1.0.
I have to admit, apart from reading a few issues of Web Warriors, I am not familiar with Billy Braddock. But for comparison sake with the new Spider-UK, here’s a brief rundown of his life: he was a Captain Britain Corps recruit who (still?) operates as Spider-UK in his multiverse. Unfortunately, he had to witness the death of alternate versions of himself across the multiverse during the last Spider-Verse event. Since he definitely had to deal with A LOT of trauma during 2014’s event (incursions were bad news for Billy), hopefully, he’s had therapy since then.
(Sidebar: One thing I learned from watching Amazon’s Paper Girls is it can really fuck you up in the head to watch alternate versions of yourself die, or future versions of yourself die, etc.)
The new Muslim Spider-UK, designed by Zoe Thorogood (oh, and her BFF is Zooey, coinkydink? no, I think not), is a do-gooder named “Zarina” who works for W.H.O., the Weird Happenings Organization, just like her Earth-833 counterpart (and I don’t know if this will matter, but Zarina’s universe is right next door to Billy, Earth-834). Something else that was interesting about Zarina’s design is another similarity that the second Spider-UK shares with other Spider-Peeps from across the multiverse: bio-electricity, which was an ability introduced by Miles Morales, allowing him (and now Zarina too) to stockpile large amounts of electrical energy and then release it at will in battle.
But the most interesting details about Zarina are the differences. She uses Earth’s electric fields to fly. When the atmospheric fields get strong enough, they produce electricity strong enough to elicit “ballooning” in spiders (basically, spiders can use electric energy from their webs to propel themselves to fly, an ability that Spider-UK shares with her eight-legged friends). Correspondingly, the bio-webbing is also back, so Sam Raimi web-heads rejoice! At least, I hope that I am not the only person in the world that thought the bio-webbing was righteously gross (yes, righteously).
I also thought it was an interesting idea to explore the effects of fasting on Spider-UK’s abilities (hint: there’s a huge impact), and I wonder if this detail will pay out later. On a related note, since Zarina is fasting because it’s Ramadan, the street-level paranormal investigations team provides her time off for religious observance… is that a first? Pretty cool.
Edge of Spider-Verse: The Rest
This event may just be starting, but baby, it’s kicking butt. (And look for Spider-Verse ideas man, Dan Slott, in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, I believe that eye spied him in a courtroom cameo with the Jade Giantess in the trailer. But the Slott cameo may be as tricksy to find as a Shathra appearance before her return in “A Single Thread” by Slott, Paco Medina, Walden Wong, Reber, and Lanham, although I am curious to hear your opinions in the comment section below!)
VERDICT: BUY (Who knows which Spidey will be thwiping (or thweeping?) onto our screens when Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse arrives…)
- Ms. Marvel & Moon Knight #1
- Don’t be confused by that #1, this is the second issue in the strangely structured ongoing Ms. Marvel & … mini-event. Ms. Marvel & Moon Knight #1 by Jody Houser, Ibraim Roberson, Erick Arciniega, and Travis Lanham, with a main cover by Sara Pichelli & Federico Blee, Kamala Khan visits the current incarnation of Marc Spector at the Midnight Mission. As a fan of the ongoing Moon Knight run I enjoyed the character and location cameos. Plus, the evolution of the antagonists make for a more formidable opponent than appeared to the robotic insects in Ms. Marvel & Wolverine #1 last week. The only real complaint is that I’m once again left wishing that the team-up with Moon Knight were taking place in the panels of an ongoing Ms. Marvel series, so we could really see the characters spend some time together. Be prepared to imagine F. Murray Abraham’s voice when reading the dialogue on the climactic page. —AJK
- New Mutants #28
- As this is NOT an AXE tie-in book, readers only need to know that War Captain Magik made a deal with the newly resurrected Goblin Queen, aka Madelyne Pryor, to take control over Limbo, unfortunately, their transfer ritual is interrupted, stranding them in LImbo. With the help of a future and past version of herself, Magik and her team make a last-ditch attempt to retake control of Limbo and get home to Krakoa. In concluding The Labors of Magik storyline, writer Vita Ayala along with artists Rod Reis (main story) and Jan Duursema (flashbacks) give the reader a very satisfying turning point for several characters’ development. For the past few years, Magik has been swinging her sword in the defense of all Mutants and here Ayala takes a beat to explore the trauma Illyana and Madelyne have had to deal with. And out of that darkness, these two characters are given a way to shed their pasts and create a way forward. As much of a character-heavy story this is, it still has plenty of action for readers to enjoy. —GC3
- A.X.E.: Death to the Mutants #1
- This issue is, essentially, the start of the next chunk of Eternals: the Machine is back as narrator, and we hone in on that core group of Eternals again, with a keen eye to their headspace and their perspective of what’s already happened. Kieron Gillen has done a great job with these tie-ins so far, as he takes these tiny moments from the main event and expands upon them, so they feel absolutely necessary in the overarching narrative. Guiu Vilanova and Dijjo Lima team up on art and set the tone with these stoic figures set in shadows, evoking this sense of dread that truly creeps onto the page. There’s a specific panel of Druig that captures the essence of this book with a perfect “oh @%$&” moment. The Eternals finally know the truth behind their existence, and the struggle with that knowledge is going to destroy them. Druig handles it as poorly as ever, but we see his careful facade begin to crack ever so slightly as he tries to live up to the expectations of himself and everyone else. Though the rest of the cast realizes they’re not long for this world, I don’t think they plan to fight it…. —CB