Vault of Spiders #2 // Review
As the event known as Spider-Geddon rolls on, Marvel is taking the chance to expand on old fan-favorite characters, and is even introducing new characters to further expand on the multiverse that is Spider-Man. For readers who want more Spider-Man without the drama of the world-ending Spider-Geddon or the baggage of continuity, the first issue of Vault of Spiders was a great sample of what could be done. Returning for a second issue, the creators involved once again churn out some magic.
Once more, the entire book has a framing device of Karn, the Weaver of the Web of Life, looking for more Spiders who could join the fight against the Inheritors. However, the real focus belongs to the Spiders themselves.
The first, simply titled Spiders-Man, is not a typo that the editors overlooked. This short story is written by Cullen Bunn, drawn by Mark Bagley, inked by Andrew Hennessy, and colored by Chris Sotomayor. Travis Lanham provides the lettering, and does so for every page on the book. Spiders-Man focuses on a New York under the rule of a Goblin Queen. Somehow, she has every major Goblin who has fought Spider-Man under her sway: Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Demogoblin, and… Jack O’Lantern. Against them is the apparently lone hero of this world, Spiders-Man. As the reader finds out in flashback, he is not Peter Parker, but a hivemind of spiders who believe themselves to be Peter. While the character of Spiders-Man might be more of a black comedy character in the main event, there’s enough angst here to fill a thousand Parkers. The entire comic is dark and horrible, like some of the best gothic horror you can get when the main characters wear spandex. Even the action is appropriately disturbing, and the ending is something out of a great horror movie. Special mention goes to Lanham for his choice to give Spiders-Man unconventional word balloons to represent his “thousands of spiders talking” communication. It only adds to the creepy vibe in the comic, and helps cement this as the best of the book.
The second chapter of our anthology, The Spectacular Spider-Ma’am!, focuses on what has been an infrequently referenced joke in the annals of What-If and Spider-Verse: What if Aunt May was bitten by the radioactive spider? Writer Ryan North dares to answer that question, with David A. Williams providing the pencils and inks, and Andrew Crossley providing his colors. Honestly, this story is a nice balm to the soul after the enjoyably dark Spiders-Man. Brightly colored, wonderfully detailed, the story is a hilarious throwback to the 1960s. A real nice touch is that Aunt May also has a team helping her out: Uncle Ben and Peter, who provide some fretting color commentary and advice as the senior citizen Spidey fights the Vulture for the first time. While it was said that Spiders-Man is the best tale, this one is almost just as good.
The final tale of the anthology, The Spider: Shock the Spider takes a different look. Rather than a Parker, it’s a younger George Stacy who takes the role of the Spider. Written by Geoffrey Thorne, with art by Todd Harris and colors by Andres Mossa, this final chapter takes an interesting look into what Spider-Man could be as a cop. Unlike Spider-Man’s bright spandex, the Spider uses dark clothes and heavy armor to keep himself safer. In fact, the Spider even uses combat boots and stays out of the spotlight as much as possible. It’s an interesting take on the mythos, and a pragmatic Spider-Man for what looks like a more down to earth world.
All three of these stories are worth reading, but only the last one could really benefit from a full issue expansion. That puts this issue well and above over the first Vault of Spiders issue, and well worth your reading dollar.