EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #3
SPIDER-SMASHER RETURNS! After her hit debut in MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN, Miles’ sister Billie Morales’s alter ego is still needed in the Empire of the Spider! Plus, the origin of the secret Spider-Character who debuted in SPIDER-MAN #7 is told here!
Edge of Spider-Verse #3 follows the series format and breaks into two stories, one set in the main 616 continuity to establish Spider-Boy introduced in Spider-Man #7. The second story expands on the alternate future featuring Spider-Smasher, the adult sister of Miles Morales. The Spider-Boy story is written by Dan Slott with pencils from Humberto Ramos, inks by Wayne Faucher, colors from Edgar Delgado, and letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna. Spider-Smasher’s entry features writing from David Betancourt, art by Julian Shaw, colors from Andrew Dalhouse, and letters by VC’s Joe Caramanga.
The first story picks up after the events of “End of Spider-Verse,” and Spider-Boy is in the prime Marvel universe, but no one remembers them. This includes Peter Parker and Miles Morales, who Spider-Boy claims to be the sidekick of. Now, the young hero is trapped in NYC with no support and the issue is split between his search for someone who knows him and then a fight with a Slott-established spider foe. Revealed to be a young redhead (roughly 9-10 years old), Bailey Briggs, the character bounces between Aunt May at F.E.A.S.T and various workers, but no one knows him.
A bit of his power set is revealed when he tries to find any tether to his life, tapping into some kind of psychic webs that lead him to help a young woman being attacked by Mister Negative’s Inner Demons. He makes quick work of them and connects with the woman, who’s also staying at F.E.A.S.T with her family. They take in Bailey after he reveals his identity and explains a bit more about his situation.
Slott’s script is rapid-fire and moves from moment to moment while working to give a specific sense of Baily’s character beyond hyper spider-kid. Bailey feels like an attempt to capture the personality of Impulse (of the Flash family) for a Spider character and it shows on the page. The humor and character work fall flat due to the insistence on not revealing any information about the character beyond a name and design.
It might be a slight reaction to the way this issue was marketed, but after reading, Bailey’s powers, origin, or connections to the main universe are no clearer than before. On paper, the writing tries to indicate there should be a reason to connect with Bailey, but the execution of the script is hollow. This comes from a lack of concrete detail that makes the character little more than a fun design that evokes more interesting figures (Impulse and Anna-May from Renew Your Vows). The story goes through the motions, feeling like a string of moments without a sense of momentum.
Ramos does an excellent job illustrating the moments, infusing hyper-kinetic energy into Baily’s every movement. The high-flying, busting moves that Spider-Boy uses play to Ramos’s strengths as a spider artist, giving the action a compelling couple of pages. The other portions of the book are less exciting, and his facial expressions especially, are lacking. Outside of Baily’s puppy dog face at the of the story, the faces feel much of the same and don’t match the emotion from the dialogue.
That inconsistency bleeds into anatomy as well, as Spider-Boy’s costume feels swallowed by his eyes and sneakers. They feel like exaggerated elements that crunch the rest of his body, and it becomes distracting when he’s unmasked or just speaking on the page. Some of that might be the design and coloring of the costume, which consists of red and blue mostly unbroken. A dash of webbing or something to break up the red on the lower half of the body might help to fix the issues.
The second story of the issue is a stronger outing, picking up where Miles Morales: Spider-Man #41 left off. Selim, the evil clone of Miles, is dead and his Empire of the Spider has crumbled, but Brooklyn is still suffering the effects. With all of the Spider-characters dead or gone, Billie Morales has taken up the mantle of Spider-Smasher and works to help restore the borough. An old acquaintance of Miles, a new Black Cat or Gata Negra, reveals to Billie where the medicine and supplies meant for the neighborhood are.
This tip leads Billie to attack the criminals before being knocked out by Bullseye, requiring her to receive treatment from the minor Spider-Man character Cardiac. He’s been helping to treat the people of the neighborhood and offers his support to Billie to take down Fisk and retrieve the medicine. The two fight the malnourished, bearded Kingpin and while he gets away, the duo can recover the medicine.
Betancourt’s writing is solid in the story, getting to play with a mix of new and existing characters to create a rich sense of this new reality. While Saladin Ahmed laid the foundation for Billie’s character in the original appearance of this universe, Betancourt gets to explore the fallout of victory with a cost. The focus on character balances well with the simple story of retrieving medical supplies and helps to establish the more community-driven storytelling of the character.
Shaw’s art panel to panel is strong, giving a sense of life to Billie and these characters that play on the weariness of the world while keeping it grounded. The linework balances between hard and kinetic, ensuring the action pops but the emotion and tiredness are ever present, even as the world tries to rebuild. The flow between panels and sequential storytelling is a bit lacking in places, as some juxtapositions or progression of panels can be confusing. There’s a moment where Billie is not wearing her mask, then suddenly has it, and removes it again. On the page, it is difficult to follow and requires multiple readings to track.
Edge of Spider-Verse #3 is a mixed bag of a comic, with a strong script and fairly consistent art for the Spider-Smasher story, and a hollow execution of Spider-Boy’s next installment. Of the two, it’s a shame that Spider-Smasher does not have an ongoing plot or title, as it tells the more interesting story that remixes known continuity and characters to new effect. With the right push, it could be the next Renew Your Vows or Spider-Gwen and give Miles a boost by fleshing out his supporting cast’s staying power.
EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #3: Doesn’t Do Whatever a Spider Can
- Writing - 5.5/105.5/10
- Storyline - 5.5/105.5/10
- Art - 6/106/10
- Color - 6/106/10
- Cover Art - 5/105/10
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