The concept of the Spider-Verse is getting a lot of attention right now. Marvel Comics is kicking off its newest Spider-Man event in the pages of Edge of Spider-Geddon, a sequel to the 2014 event Spider-Verse. Recent trailer for the upcoming animated feature Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse have also sparked a lot of interest as Peter Parker will be meeting Miles Morales and others on the big screen for the very first time. The concept of almost unlimited versions of Spider-Man from across the multiverse teaming up holds a lot of potential and still sounds like a lot of fun.
However, there’s a lot about this story that requires explaining, especially for readers eyeing Spider-Geddon who weren’t around for the original Spider-Verse. It is based on concepts dating back to 2001 in the comics. That’s why we’re here to provide a quick informative guide of everything you might need to know in order to enjoy this new comics event and the upcoming animated Spidey feature. So have no fear, your friendly, neighborhood explainer is here.
The Web of Life and Destiny
When writer J. Michael Straczynski was guiding the Spider-Man franchise, he added a lot of big mystical and science-fiction elements to the character’s mythos. The biggest of these was the Web of Life and Destiny. It is a construct that weaves all of the various realities in the Marvel universe together, allowing individuals to travel between different universes and providing the potential to sometimes see the future or possibly even destroy entire realities.
The Web is maintained by a single figure known as the Master Weaver and connected to the many versions of the Marvel universe by Spider-Totems who connect the animal and human kingdoms. There are multiple totems on each Earth serving different purposes, but they are all bound to this multiversal web and given access to it. This addition to the Spider-Man comics reframed Peter Parker’s radioactive spider bite as part of a much greater destiny, rather than a random accident.
The other important addition from Straczynski’s time writing Spider-Man was the creation of a new villain, Morlun. Morlun is a seemingly immortal being of immense power. He belongs to a family of hunters who originate from the same Earth as The Web of Life and Destiny. His family attacked the Master Weaver and seized control of the Web in the past in order to travel across the multiverse, hunting and consuming Spider-Totems to empower themselves and extend their lives. Morlun has a particular fascination with Earth-616 due to the ability of its Spider-Totems to regularly evade and torment him. This began with Ezekiel Sims, but was continued by Peter Parker in the storyline known as “The Other,” leading to a lasting grudge and shame from his family.
The entirety of Morlun’s family is known as The Inheritors. They are led by their father figure Solus and contain six siblings in addition to Morlun: Bora, Verna, Brix, Daemos, Jennix, and Karn. All of them are hunters of Spider-Totems, although Karn holds a special place within the family. When they first attacked the Master Weaver, Karn was disinclined to violence resulting in the loss of their mother. As a result he was forced to forever wear a mask to hide his shame as the others reveled in their multiversal travels and feasting.
The events of Spider-Verse were framed by a series of one-shots and prelude issues under the name “Edge of Spider-Verse.” In addition to introducing a lot of new characters, these issues also set up the central threat of the series, that The Inheritors were growing more aggressive due to a prophecy that their domination of The Web of Life and Destiny would be threatened by the rise of three new Spider-Totems, referred to as the Bride, the Scion, and the Other. In order to avoid this fate they were hunting more Spider-Totems than ever in the hope that they could eliminate these three and ensure their continued success. This increased aggressiveness also led to a greater awareness of their activities and the banding together of many Spider-Totems who would lead the fight in Spider-Verse.
Spider-Verse and its many tie-ins resulted in a massive battle across the universe with many Spider-Totems dying along the way. It was a truly enormous event, the largest of writer Dan Slott’s decade-long run on Amazing Spider-Man, and defies easy summary. What’s most important to understand is how things turned out.
The Spiders were eventually aided in their darkest hour by the Inheritor Karn who turned on his own family to protect the multiverse and stop their destruction. After their defeat the Inheritors were deposited on a radioactive version of Earth where they were left in a bunker from which they could not exit without dying. With The Inheritors defeated, Karn accepted the role of Master Weaver and gathered a team of Spider-Totems to protect the Web of Life and Destiny and repair the damage done by the Inheritors.
There are a few key characters from Spider-Verse that are likely to come back into play for the events of Spider-Geddon. Here’s a run down on the lesser known Spider-Totems you may want to be familiar with...
Kaine: Kaine is an imperfect clone of the original Spider-Man from Earth-616 and the Other of the prophecy. He was killed during the conclusion of Spider-Verse, but later resurrected and now functions as a superhero under the title of Scarlet Spider.
Silk: Silk is from Earth-616 and was bitten by the same spider as the original Peter Parker. She was the Bride in the prophecy and remains active as a superhero in the main universe of Marvel Comics.
Benjy: This infant boy of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson was the Scion. He is too young to even remember the events of Spider-Verse, but loses his parents to the Inheritors. His older sister Mayday remains to protect him and his destiny.
Ben Parker: This version of Uncle Ben became Spider-Man in his own reality, but failed to protect his family. At the end of Spider-Verse, he left his Earth in order to protect Benjy and watch over him alongside Mayday as their "grandfather."3comments
Spider-Gwen: Spider-Gwen (who actually goes by Spider-Woman and now Ghost Spider) was introduced during Edge of Spider-Verse. She has become a regular multiversal traveler, playing a key role in battling the Inheritors and protecting the Web of Life and Destiny ever since.
Superior Spider-Man: In addition to the original Peter Parker from Earth-616, the version of himself in which he is actually Otto Octavius (a.k.a. The Superior Spider-Man) became involved in “Spider-Verse.” This created a loophole in which Otto managed to preserve a form of his consciousness to survive his eventual erasure, one that will be receiving his own series during the upcoming event.