Marvel’s Multiverse has undergone a bit of contraction, one could say that the Multiverse has been destroyed! For those that remember the original (1984) Secret Wars storyline, you may recall that the heroes and villains were transported to a planet called Battleworld. This year's Secret Wars installment features a Battleworld planet once again, however this time Battleworld is all that remains of the entire Multiverse. This patchwork planet consists of a heterogeneous mix of fragments of worlds which no longer exist.
One of those world-fragments is featured in the latest Spider-Verse miniseries, which reunites various web-slinging heroes from across the Multiverse; namely Spider-Gwen, Spider-UK, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man: India, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Girl. The Spider-heroes have no idea how or why they’ve ended up on this planet, but they all have realized that they aren’t in Kansas anymore…
At the conclusion of Spider-Verse #2, Spider-Man Noir had just aided the five other Spider-heroes in defeating Carnage and Tombstone. However, the six web-slingers looked incredibly outgunned against the Sinister Six (Kraven, Electro, Sandman, Doc Ock, Scorpion and Vulture) that had just arrived on the scene!
Kraven and the gang had surprised the Web Warriors at the conclusion of the prior issue and that is exactly where Spider-Verse #3 picks up. Kraven extends a cordial invitation to the Web Warriors to join them for dinner with their employer (he does not say who that employer is, but all signs point to Norman Osborn). The Web Warriors decline the invite and a fight ensues but once again the lack of a cohesive fighting strategy leaves the Web Warriors unprepared to defeat the battle-hardened Sinister Six. Soon after, Kraven and his five teammates are lugging the unconscious web-heads to their employer.
Upon arrival at Ozcorp, the group is met by a rather apologetic Norman Osborn. He claims that he only sent the Sinister Six because he heard Web Warriors were confronting Carnage and Tombstone and he wanted to send qualified muscle to handle those two villains (in case they could not). Noir then asks Osborn how he was privy to their location (fighting Carnage in a warehouse) to which Norman responds, “I got a phone call from [Spider-Ham]”. Porker defends his seemingly traitorious action by saying that Osborn is his friend. Apparently Porker was not held against his will at Ozcorp…although he was probably persuaded by the ample amount of food.
Eventually emotions within the group get settled and Osborn explains to them why he needs their help. Apparently all six share a ‘resonance’ derived from their ‘morphogenetic fields’ which have become synchronized with each other (thus enabling Pavitr to track each of them). Norman claims that he was suspicious as to whether or not they were costumed criminals or heroes and it was his duty to protect the people of the city (which is why he squashed the notion of their existence when talking to the press is Spider-Verse #1). But since he realizes that they are all good people, he wanted to bring them in on one of his special projects…aka The Web.
Norman leads the Web Warriors to a laboratory containing a 5th dimensional energy field (The Web), which he was able to focus-in using Ham’s resonance. He postulates that this may be some protean form of the universe. Osborn also claims the field had been destroyed and that he wanted the team’s help to fix it since “they are all of part of [The Web].” He incentivized the group by telling them that he thought this Web was the key to figuring out where they came from and how they got to this universe.
Gwen was freaked out by this revelation and she calls for a private meeting with the Web Warriors. Unfortunately for Gwen, she is in the minority and all the other group members want to stay at Ozcorp to help understand this energy field. Gwen decides to leave but not before giving Osborn a piece of her mind. She tells Norman she’s leaving Ozcorp and won’t be returning unless she finds out he’s hurt one of her friends. Gwen then rips open a window and web-swings out of the building toward her place of solace, the graveyard which she visited in Spider-Verse #1. Once she reaches the tombstones of Gwen and George Stacy, Gwen is approached by the supposedly-deceased Peter Parker!
Ok, raise your hand if you thought Norman Osborn was evil after reading Spider-Verse #3.
That's right, I'm convinced our supposedly 'good' Norman Osborn that we've seen the last two issues is actually up to no good. I know that officially makes me Captain Obvious with that bold claim, although I will defend myself by saying that he does nothing of obvious evil intent in this story. I'm going off the panels where he's depicted at his desk, hands folded and fingers interlocked whilst Scorpion and Electro stand behind him. That just looks plain old evil to me. Interestingly, Andre Araujo's art depicts Norman with a malicious look whilst actually saying nice things. And Norman lets Gwen leave without any trouble at all, how could that be evil?! I like the dichotomy there, once again subtle but effective. But make no mistake, he's evil.
Moreover, he's got access to a 5th-dimensional energy field and he needs the Spider-heroes in order to better harness/understand its power. That's got double-cross written all over it!
I have to admit I was surprised by the appearance of Peter Parker at the conclusion of the story. I'd love to know what this universe's Norman Osborn thinks of this universe's Peter Parker. Nice work by the creative team to throw that curve ball.
Slightly better than the last issue, hopefully we're gaining momentum here...