Not having read any of the other Edge of Spider-Verse issues, I cannot say with any certainty that this was the best of the bunch (although it easily wins for most captivating cover). I can say however that if Marvel is looking to look another Spider-man comic to their line (Spider-Gwen and Silk having been recently announced), then they should definitely try to lock in Gerard Way to work on a SP//dr ongoing once he’s through touring his new solo album. From start to finish, the former My Chemical Romance frontman and creator of the stellar Umbrella Academy, along with artist Jake Wyatt, takes us through a reimagining of the Spider-man mythos that continuously surprises while remaining true to the heart of the character. Things open up this issue with the death of SP//dr’s first human co-pilot, a person that may or may not be an alternate universe Peter Parker. With no other option due to genetic compatibility, SP//dr’s researchers, Aunt May and Uncle Ben in drastically different roles than we’ve seen them before, enlist the pilot’s young daughter Peni Parker as his replacement. In order to do so however, Peni must be bitten by the genetically engineered radioactive spider and form a psychic link with it so that they can co-pilot the SP//dr armor. Following the bite, things skip forward five years as a now fourteen-year old Peni patrols New York as SP//dr with her spider-ally before fighting with an altered version of a classic Spidey foe, and later on, alongside an amazingly redesigned Daredevil.
Like his work on Umbrella Academy, Way’s script pulsates with energy thanks to dialogue that conveys tons of personality. I loved the relationship he sets up between Aunt May and Peni, one that resembles Bruce Wayne and Terry Mcginnis’s from Batman Beyond in that the former in both cases mentors the other while also fulfilling a parental role. Bits of dialogue like Aunt May promising to have dinner prepared once Peni has completed her night’s mission only to have her suggestion of chicken tikka rebuffed due to Peni’s newfound vegetarianism really give readers a sense of history despite both characters only having existed in our memories for a sparse three four pages. Way also manages to employ music in a very interesting way, having the lyrics to what seems like a punk song that Peni plays in her armor, to psyche herself and the spider up, mid-fight appear within the panels, adding further dimension to the teenage Peni.
In addition to the aforementioned awesome cover, Jake Wyatt gives this last Edge of Spider-verse issue a look that perfectly complements Way’s script. The two page spread of the dying first SP//dr pilot stuck with me since I had seen it in early previews, but in context it becomes even more impressive. Later in the issue as we see Peni operate the SP//dr armor, I admired Wyatt’s ability to make a suit of metal convincingly move in an acrobatic manner while still conveying the weight and strength of it. What I most liked however were the little details that Wyatt inserts throughout that give the comic some added personality and humor, such as the cute cat stickers Peni plasters on the SP//dr armor, or the inclusion of Akira’s Kaneda’s trademark jacket among the thugs that Daredevil and Peni take on. Coolest of all though, are the zoomed in panels Wyatt does that focus in on Peni’s spider co-pilot, a move that he does several times to make sure we recognize that the two are a team.
I immediately reread this issue once it was over, and did a little prayer to my non-denominational personal god that Marvel editors would make a smart move for once, and get Way and Wyatt to do some more SP//dr stories. I suggests that you also pray to your individual gods that that happens, or at the very least, you can send a few strongly worded tweets their way. #SP//drongoing
Writer: Gerard Way Artist: Jake Wyatt Publisher: Marvel Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/15/14 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital