That said, Uncle Ben’s appearance as one of the Totems surprised a lot of readers, and The Amazing Spider-Man #13 deals with the reactions from the various Spiders — Peter Parker, especially — as the Inheritors wait for the prophecy to fulfill itself.
For the main group of Spiders on Earth-3145, things have come to a screeching halt. Thanks to the irradiated surface which is lethal to the Inheritors and the bunker’s built-in safeguards which prevent detection, the Spiders can rest a little easier knowing the threat of violence is lower than it’s been since the Spider-Verse arc began.
And while the Spiders get introduced to the Totem of this Earth, Solus and his brood wait for the prophecy to fulfill itself. As it’s foretold by the Weaver, it’s only a matter of time before the Bride and the Other for some untold reason come to Loomworld — the last place they’d ever want to willingly go.
Or so you would think. More on this later.
Back to Uncle Ben, Peter becomes livid when Ben tells his origin story. After getting bitten by the radioactive spider, the famous uncle who said the line, “With great power comes great responsibility,” practiced what he preached by becoming a superhero up until the fateful day when the Emerald Goblin took away the two most important people in his life — his nephew Peter and his wife May. Unable to cope, Ben threw away his suit, leaving it in a trash can in an alley. When it came time for Ezekiel to offer him a bunker to escape Morlun, Ben went into hiding and remained there as the world was destroyed by a nuclear device created by Otto Octavius.
Peter reels at Uncle Ben’s cowardice while the Superior Spider-Man gets to experience firsthand how much damage he can really do. Silk, meanwhile, slips away when Peter shows the group the scrolls Spider-Woman sent via her busted teleporter. Feeling responsible for Spider-Woman being stranded in the Inheritors’ stronghold, Silk decides to go on a rescue mission, and Spider-Gwen tags along.
On Earth-802, Black Widow and the Scarlet Spider go over the remains of Jennix’s cloning facility. With so many of the Spiders dead, Kaine goes into a rage and teleports himself to Loomworld, leaving Widow stranded.
After Anya Corazon deciphers the scrolls which tell of a ritual that will keep any new Totems from ever emerging and requirements for the ritual — the blood of the Scion, the Bride, and the Other — the group sees that Silk’s disappeared. They reach out to her and discover she’s on Loomworld along with Kaine Parker, the Other, who goes full-spider in order to exact revenge. The Inheritors launch a hunt after feeling Silk’s presence, and the family separates as Morlun, Solus, and Daemos take on the Scarlet Spider.
Kaine manages to kill Solus, but he’s no match for Morlun who snaps off one of his appendages and stabs him in the back of the head. The Twins and Verna, accompanied by a host of Goblins, quickly overwhelm Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen, and Silk.
It’s time for the Spiders to come to the rescue, but Uncle Ben can’t muster the courage to don his suit one last time. Peter makes a go of it to inspire Ben, but it’s the Superior Spider-Man who finally breaks through.
The plot’s dense in The Amazing Spider-Man #13, and all of the side-stories begin to converge towards the arc’s conclusion. Unfortunately, the construction of it all feels globbed together as the Spiders are now forced to take the battle to the place they’ve been trying to avoid this whole time. It wouldn’t seem so backwards if they had an actual plan, but this part of the prophecy fulfills itself like a train on rails, and it feels a little cheap.
And it’s a shame the main plot falls apart — some of the individual pieces work really well despite the entirety of the issue being funneled to an inevitable showdown. Seeing Doc Ock react to the news that Earth-3142’s Octavius basically destroyed his world is like witnessing Scrooge meeting the Ghost of Christmas Future. Though Ock is quick to sweep it under the rug, I hope the experience makes a mark somewhere, somehow.
There’s also a quick scenario with Pavitr Prabhakar, the Spider-Man of Mumbai, who wonders whether he’s the Inferior Spider-Man because of the striking similarities between himself and Peter who’s in charge of the group. Though the Spiders are all versions of each other, the minor differences between himself and Earth-616 Peter make Prabhakar feel like the odd man out until Spider-UK reminds him that a Spider-Man is a Spider-Man — a hero regardless of universe or company.
The only hero who seems to have really lost his way — Uncle Ben — has an origin story that’s a little too womp-womp tromboney-sound. It’s too on the nose with all that’s going on in — the irony couldn’t be more built up. And though he’s just a variation of Uncle Ben, I can’t help but feel a little bitter taste in my mouth knowing this is the last version I’ll see of him until the Marvel reboot/relaunch/restart.
While The Amazing Spider-Man #13 has its ups and downs story-wise, the artwork, on a similar note, seems like it too is starting to fade. Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artwork this issue doesn’t have the same polish as it did in The Amazing Spider-Man #12, particularly in Uncle Ben’s facial featuring which seems a bit overwrought in the wrinkle department. I’m also not a big fan of the character’s overall design. It’s a wonder that Ben looks the same as he did when Peter first became Spider-Man — you would think the radioactive bite would have given Uncle Ben some leaner muscle that wouldn’t need to be hidden underneath a hideous outfit that looks like a janitor’s outfit ending in Hammer pants.
Cam Smith’s inks and Justin Ponsor’s colors also look a little off compared to their other efforts. Ponsor’s colors last issue were saturated and bold, but they seem a bit washed out with a duller sheen on these pages. I get that the bunker’s lightkit uses hotter lights with a blue tone, but the artwork looks drab, especially in those scenes. Smith’s finishing touches are clean for the most part, but a few panels exhibit some really blotchy shadows — the clearest example of which is the panel where Solus initiates the hunting party. I wonder if Spider-Verse is finally taking a toll on the creative team because the issues up until now have been pretty stellar. It’s this issue, the one before the last in the story arc, that sort of falters in slight ways.
Overall, The Amazing Spider-Man #13 is a decent issue with some clear hiccups that ruin a wee bit of the fun. It wouldn’t be so pronounced if the individual members weren’t great at what they normally do, and the Spider-Verse story continues with forward momentum. There are some pretty powerful moments this issue that speak to the abilities of the creative team, but out of all the five issues so far, this one’s the weakest by far.
In two weeks, we’ll get the climax of the arc, and just in time for Marvel’s Secret Wars leading into a brand new Marvel Universe. I don’t want to think too far forward, but I’m really hoping Marvel doesn’t renumber this.