Spider-Verse Team-Up #1 is the first of a three-part mini-series showing off the various side missions and Spider-Men of Dan Slott's newest event "Spider-Verse". It's a double feature with two different creative teams telling two different stories with two different pairs of characters. Much like the Edge of Spider-Verse mini-series that led up to the event itself, it contains a lot of promise but the results are mixed.
The Power of Positive Thinking
There's a lot of fun to be had in this first story. Elements like an army of cannibalistic Vultures and Peter Porker, the Amazing Spider-Ham make for something that is, if nothing else, unique. It shows off the diversity and fun to be had with a concept like "Spider-Verse" and presents a lot of opportunities for humor. There are some great one-liners and gags primarily coming from the cartoon pig. Despite the dread of the overall series, he shows there is still some levity to be found here.
Williams' work in presenting Spider-Ham's cartoonish form opposite the ugly Vultures and more realistic versions of Spider-Man is excellent. He exaggerates the forms of both villains and heroes to play up their unique traits and draw out what makes these concepts inherently enjoyable.
However, Gage's story doesn't provide much for these characters to actually do. Outside of a rooftop brawl, the entire plot hinges around a moment that is built on nothing and plays like an unearned deus ex machina. Although Williams' action is a delight, there's not much in the way of drama or character to be invested in it.
The Luck of The Parkers
That same lack of conflict carries over to the second story of the issue. There's concern over what to do with a comatose Peter Parker. The obvious answer seems to be to rescue him, but Stern includes some forced drama by having one Spider-Man propose an alternative that is so far beyond the pale it would make the Punisher facepalm. The drama of the story is forced in an obvious manner that creates a barrier to buying into either of the heroes.
This story is hindered by artwork that doesn't appear to be fully rendered. The figures often appear flat on the page, which leads to an action sequence that is choppy at best. McLeod's figures are sometimes posed in slightly awkward positions, neither moving nor entirely resting. They are uncomfortably static. The panel composition and general flow works well, but the draftsmanship here feels rushed.
This story too includes a twist ending that doesn't appear to be particularly inspired. It goes for a quick emotional reaction, but never does anything to earn that reaction. There are three Peter Parkers on the final page and, even as a fan of the character, I felt nothing about any of them.
There's plenty of potential for future yarns in this team-up title, but the initial pair of stories fall flat. Rather than using the carte blanche provided by a nearly limitless cast of Spider-Men, both tales play it safe and make use of obvious endings in order to wrap things up. These are two of the least interesting takes to be found in the big collection of Spider-Verse stories thus far, although there is still some fun to be had.