Vault of Spiders #1 // Review
Anthology books can be a wonderful thing. When done right, they allow lesser known artists and writers a chance to work their magic and create a compelling story (albeit often with a lower pagecount). Spider-Man’s events have dabbled in this before, with the previous Spider-Verse event also using its anthology series to introduce fan-favorite twists on canon, or to even see what craziness could be come up with on the fly. Vault of Spiders is certainly in that vein, and it definitely has way more hits than misses under its belt
As an anthology book, the framing device is that Karn, the weaver of webs and assistant to all Spiders across the multiverse, is looking for more Spiders to join the fight against the Inheritors.
The Web-Slinger is an unconventional tale for Spider-Man, in that it takes the Spider-Man mythos and applies it to a western setting. Cullen Bunn wrote the story, while Javier Pulido provided pencils and inks. Muntsa Vicente applied the colors, while Joe Caramagna put the words and sound effects on the page. What results is a wonderfully bizarre western, with a web-shooting gunman facing off against his world’s version of the Green Goblin, a snake-oil salesman whose product backfired badly. It’s an interesting tale, especially since this Spider uses lethal weapons on top of his webs.
The real gem of this collection belongs to Final Galaxy Battle!, a tale by Jed MacKay with Sheldon Vella handling the pencils, inks, and lettering. Why no colors, you may wonder? This ‘lost manga’ is about the Japanese Spider-Man, aka Takuya Yamashiro of Earth-51778. As this Spider-Man comes from the tokusatsu (live action) brand of action like Power Rangers, he has giant robots, over-the-top poses, and lots of explosions. This chapter focuses on Takuya’s final battle against Prime Minister Monster in space, featuring Spider-Man’s giant robot Leopardon in combat. What follows is an insane amount of detail and a loving re-creation of an updated 1970s manga style. The entire thing is also presented as a fan-translated affair, which is even more hilarious. This story alone is worth the purchase if you’re a fan of crazy.
A unique entry on the collection, Spider-Byte introduces a new entry into the Spider-Mythos: a digital Spider-person. Written by Nilah Macgruder, a student named Margo spends her free time between classes in the digital realm of VR headsets, saving people from crooks and stopping identity theft as Spider-Byte. Alberto Albuquerque brings the script to life with his pencils and inks, while Andrew Crossley colors in the story. Travis Lanham handles the lettering in this short. While a solid story, it straddles the line between “hokey 90s version of the internet” and the completely bizarre chat games that have popped up in the real world’s VR spaces. It works great to show how chaotic a virtual world can become, and is a fantastic chance for Albuquerque and Crossley to flex their proverbial art muscles.
The final tale of the anthology, Savage Spider-Man takes a similarly strange stance on Peter Parker. Abandoned in the Savage Land at a young age, Peter was taken in by spiders who trained his body to defend the land from hunters and poachers, much like Ka-Zar the Hunter. James Asmus wrote this particular tale, and it harkens to some of the best Ka-Zar and Tarzan stories found in comics. Juan Gedeon’s pencils and inks are top-notch, providing a unique design for the Savage Land’s Spider-Man, that also feels like a throwback while still being its own thing. Andres Mossa also seems to delight in a jungle environment, using his coloring skills to great effect in the wild and bizarre Savage Land.
In all, this is a great package of unique takes of Spider-Man and his mythos. The only real complaint is that some of these stories are just too short. However, the overall quality of these stories more than makes up for their length, a rarity in anthology publications from Marvel and DC these days.