Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse has been a title with moderate highs and steep lows. The story arc lost steam as it marched toward the final confrontation between Spider-Man and the Goblin, but with the fourth and final issue, Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse ends with a plus. Last issue, and to a lesser extent the issue before it, raced to pack as much as they could in the scant twenty pages allotted, and while #4 moves quickly, the narrative-light/action-heavy story being told is benefited by the same quick pacing that hampered enjoyment from #3‘s more story-driven tales.
We see Norman’s ultimate plan come to fruition: by combining the Spider-DNA he has collected with his own Golbin serum, he augments his own powers with that of the Spider-People’s, gaining the claws of Spider-Man 2099 (or rather, “Spider-Man from the future”), acid powers that may or may not be a manifestation of Spider-Ham’s acid reflux, and a few extra limbs. There might have been more going on in the cartoon, after all that leaves quite a few Spiders unaccounted for, but that’s all we get in the comic. Regardless, Goblin gets a big power boost to establish that he is absolutely too much for one Spider-Man to face alone. And here we get the pay off for what we’ve been building: a big show down between the Goblin and Team Spider-Man.
The fight also serves as a conclusion and recap of all the lessons Spider-Man has learned through his travels: teamwork overcomes adversity, good triumphs over evil, and the power of one person can affect the greater good. While the rising action was a slight inversion of the typical Saturday morning formula, the conclusion was predictable — but that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable. The elements have come together in this issue in a satisfying way because it is predictable. We expected, after three months of building, for the final issue to be one long slobber knocker of an issue with plenty of BAMS, POWS, KZAPPS, and BRAKKS. And that’s exactly what we got. Gravitas might not be the right word to use for a title such as Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse, but #4‘s protracted fight scene did give the issue the “epic” conclusion that is typically missing from modern event comics and certainly missing from the comic this title gets its name from.
The fight itself flowed competently and adapter Joe Caramagna managed to translate the animation to page without any major confusion. While this might sound like I’m damning him with faint praise, sequencing has always been an issue with this title and not one for which I lay too much blame on Caramagna; translation from fluid animation to static images is not the ideal way to lay out a comic book and Caramagna has done well with the cards he was dealt by Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse #4. That being said, the final sequence of Spider-Man defeating Electro via a lightning rod could have a few more panels to further flesh out the actions between what we are shown.
While the Goblin’s fight was butter smooth, the reader was tasked with filling in too much of the Electro confrontation to make it feel as fulfilling, which is unfortunate because it is more or less a giant robot fight and those are always going to be a crowd pleaser. Ultimately, the second half of the book feels tacked on, especially since there was nothing building to the Electro fight. If we had seen maybe a panel or two each issue of Electro biding his time or seething with rage against both the Goblin and Spider-Man, then and maybe then, would this have had the same impact as the first half of the comic.
As Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse concludes, we get a fun, short tale that resembles the original “Spider-Verse” in name and high-concept only. I would not call it as memorable as the original, but it never set out to supersede the Dan Slott story. Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse is a success in that it serves as a solid introduction for younger readers to some of the more obscure Spider-characters while also maintaining an engaging visual edge with a story that’s easy to digest.
However, the comic as it stands will always be second fiddle to the television series as long as it continues to paste directly from the screen to the page; it is the shadow on the cave wall. For this reason,with the conclusion of Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse comes also the conclusion of our coverage of the Marvel Universe imprint Ultimate Spider-Man comic. Instead, we will soon be covering the television show in order to address and review this series as it was meant to be seen. It’s been a pleasure examining this title for you guys these past few months! If you’ve enjoyed my reviews, then I’d recommend you check out my on-going coverage of Spider-Man/Deadpool, as well as my monthly sales write up, Superior $ales Talk. Until next time, true believers!
Ultimate Spider-Man: Spider-Verse #4 gives us a predictable, but satisfying conclusion to the kid-friendly version of Dan Slott's saga. While there is nothing that will wow a reader, Joe Caramagna does a serviceable job adapting the cartoon to the page.