As a follow-up to the delightfully wild and fanservice-laden 2014 event Spider-Verse, Marvel Comics’ newly-begun Spider-Geddon has a lot to live up to. It can’t simply be the return of the threat that kickstarted the pan-dimensional Spider-crossover four years ago.
And so far, it’s setting up conflicts both exterior and interior in some intriguing ways.
Two of the main issues of Spider-Geddon are out now — with oodles of spinoffs too, already depicting the realms of other Spider-heroes being interrupted to join in on the renewed battle with the Inheritors, the spider-soul-sucking vampiric villains that caused Spider-Verse in the first place.
But their setup for the return of the Inheritors has already started to sow some very intriguing dramatic seeds, with the invigorated Otto Octavius at the heart of it all.
Otto, currently operating as the Superior Octopus in San Francisco, is using his youthful body from Clone Conspiracy (look, he’s been on... a journey over the last few years, OK?) to try and out-hero Peter Parker.
That’s basically the reason Spider-Geddon exists in the first place. His hubris in appropriating the technology left behind by the Inheritors — their pan-dimensional technology to send his drones across the multiverse, and even their cloning tech to give him an endless supply of bodies — has directly led to their escape from confinement and a renewed fight for the fate of all Spider-heroes.
Suffice to say, he messed up, big time.
Otto’s wilful ignorance has already cost the lives of two prominent Spider-heroes, thanks to the Inheritors escaping the radioactive prison where they were locked up at the end of Spider-Verse. Billy Braddock, AKA Spider-UK (bit of a dampener on his recent video game debut!), and Spider-Man Noir both perished in Spider-Geddon #1 a few weeks ago.
But this is Otto Octavius, one of the most stubbornly unrelenting people around. Even after all he went through in his time as the Superior Spider-Man and the first Spider-Verse, do you think he’s going to accept that he really screwed the Spider-pooch? Absolutely not in the slightest.
And in doing so, he’s actually setting up a whole new kind of conflict for our gathered amazing friends.
This week’s Spider-Geddon #2 — by Christos Gage, Jorge Melina, Jay Leisten, Roberto Poggi, Craig Yeung, David Curiel and Travis Lanham — sees the web warriors reeling from the Inheritors' return and the loss of two of their biggest leaders... and seemingly a third in the Radioactive Spider-Gwen, when she stays behind to let her fellow heroes make an explosive escape (although have no fear, she’s alive and well by the end of the issue, just cut off on another Earth in the multiverse).
Miles, understandably so, turns on Octavius, laying the blame for Noir, UK and Gwen’s passing directly at his feet.
But in a textbook display of whataboutism — and his aforementioned stubbornness — Otto turns it around: It isn’t his fault the Inheritors are back. It’s the fault of Peter, Miles, and all the other softhearted Spiders, who chose to incarcerate them rather than kill them all.
In arguing as much, Spider-Geddon becomes much more interesting. Rather than being just a rehash of the battle Spider-Verse already started and ended, the conflict of Spider-Geddon suddenly becomes both external (represented in the threat of the Inheritors) and internal.
Otto’s argument immediately drives a wedge into the tangled web of Spider-survivors. Should they kill as their foes do? The result of not doing so has, as far as the group is aware, unnecessarily cost them the lives of three of the most prominent webslingers around.
And suddenly, it isn’t just Otto who thinks killing the Inheritors might be necessary.
Before they can argue among themselves, Karn sends the disparate heroes among the web of fate to re-recruit Spiders from across the Marvel multiverse once more.
But unlike Spider-Verse, they’re no longer simply recruiting for the sake of survival; they’re selecting allies aligned with their moral stance on whether the Inheritors should face death or imprisonment, with each ideology finding figureheads in Otto, redonning his suit as the Superior Spider-Man, and the Peter Parker of Earth-616.
In Spider-Verse, some baffled begrudging aside, the Spider-heroes of the multiverse were truly united in their quest to survive the existential crisis the Inheritors represented. Spider-Geddon seems to be differentiating itself by positing a much more dangerous question: What’s that survival worth sacrificing to achieve?