As of the publishing of this issue the mega-crossover event “Spider-Verse” is over and I couldn’t be happier. The story started strong with the Edge of the Spider-Verse titles and quickly lost steam and narrative focus. If there is one consolation prize from the whole event, it is that Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriquez were able to introduce readers to their interpretation of Gwen Stacy and launch their own title; coincidentally Spider-Gwen #1 launched today and I enthusiastically encourage readers to pick up a copy. Amazing Spider-Man #15 concludes “Spider-Verse” with an epilogue issue that allows Dan Slott to reset his chess pieces while winking at future stories.
Slott’s previous Spider-Man event “Spider-Island” also featured an epilogue issue, Amazing Spider-Man #673, that helped to further underline just how satisfying the story had been up to that point. Following the siege on Manhattan, the story was tremendously successful in not only reestablishing the new status quo for Peter but also emotionally testing Peter and his supporting cast. Carlie broke up with Pete for ignoring her and lying about his superhero alter-ego, Mary Jane wrestled with giving up her spider-powers, Peter realized his secret identity might not be so secret anymore, Jonah and Robbie shared a strong drink at a local pub, and New York delivered a stirring tribute to Spider-Man that tugged powerfully on my heartstrings.
Amazing Spider-Man #15 is a fine conclusion to “Spider-Verse,” closing up most of the dangling plotlines, but ultimately reveals just how minute the emotional and narrative consequences of the event are. Peter’s return to New York City is a welcomed relocation after six issues of him hopping around the multiverse but carries with it little to no change in attitude for him, other than an unearned declaration that he now believes that he’s more than prepared to run Parker Industries. I’d understand this development if I felt that Peter had been an effective leader of the Spider-Men over the past several issues or if I ever sensed in him a lack of confidence about his role at Parker Industries. I always assumed that Pete was full of self-confidence but lacking in self-awareness about his inability to complete Otto’s formulas and his employees’ overwhelming fear of him.
Unlike Peter, May Parker’s (Spider-Girl) story is satisfyingly concluded in a sequence wherein she adopts her late father’s costume and graduates from Spider-Girl to Spider-Woman. Slott has penned a touching ending to her story that pays off all of the time spent on her throughout the “Spider-Verse” event. The same is not true for many of the other Spider-Men, who just waltz back through their portals as if they are done partying for the weekend.
What Amazing Spider-Man #15 spends most of its time on is sending each character back to their native worlds, complete with an editorial note to advertise their upcoming books (is this all that editorial notes are good for anymore?), Otto’s scramble to prevent his pending death, and the appointment of a new Master Weaver. Each of these is capably handled but features a novel’s worth of text to explain how each development works. If anything, it proves that sometimes with time-travel and dimension-hopping the less that is explained the better off we all are.
Otto attacks the Great Web, destroying universes with every slice of the Master Weaver’s knife, all in an attempt to cancel his return to the 616 universe. The ensuing fight is a natural development for the characters but is presented by Guiseppe Camuncoli as visually confusing while Dan Slott’s characters describe their actions in large blocks of text. The scene manages to succeed because the stakes are so high but Peter’s domination over Otto seems redundant, especially after their battle in Amazing Spider-Man #11. Otto is then kicked back to Superior Spider-Man #19 with his mind conveniently erased and his character development during “Spider-Verse” undone.
Additionally, the Master Weaver’s identity is revealed to be none other than a future version of Karn only to be replaced by the current Karn, essentially undoing the reveal just so Slott can make a metatextual joke about fan speculation. Even the obligatory rebirth of Kaine undoes the one major character death that occurred during “Spider-Verse.” Just like Superior Spider-Man’s lackluster conclusion, Amazing Spider-Man #15 effectively undoes any and all of the consequences of the story short of the Master Weaver bringing all the lost Spider-Men back to life.
Some of Camuncoli’s awkward renderings of the human figure reappear in this issue but for the most part he does the best that he can in depicting a location as nebulous as the Master Weaver’s domain and with a story consisting mostly of masked characters talking to each other. Still, it is hard to accept Peter’s strangely enormous trapezius muscles. Colorist Justin Ponsor’s multicolored portals, backgrounds, and layered lighting effects do well to give the book just enough visual appeal.
Still, I have to admit that compared to the previous issues of this arc it was nice to see a bit more emphasis on character, even if Pete’s jokes quickly grated, and a return to New York City. I’m eager to read a Spider-Man comic or two that is allowed to function outside of a big event, relaunch, or major status quo shift that will “CHANGE EVERYTHING AS YOU KNOW IT” at least until the upcoming “Renew Your Vows.”
"Spider-Verse" comes to a less than satisfying conclusion with all of the Spider-Man universe's chess pieces essentially reset. This final issue is a bit too obsessed with advertising other titles and reestablishing the status quo to tell an emotionally satisfying tale but the quieter nature of the ending does allow for a few character moments to sneak in.