If you’re at all into comics, it’s likely you’ve recently heard about the biggest event in Spider-Man history: The Spider-Verse.
For those who haven’t heard about the event, the Spider-Verse follows the Superior Spider-Man (Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body… It’s a long story) as he gathers every Spider-Man from as many dimensions as possible to defeat Morlun, a powerful being who has made it his mission to hunt down and kill every version of the web slinger. It brings back a ton of old Spideys and creates some new ones (including Gwen Stacy who absolutely needs her own series right now, because Edge of Spider-Verse #2 was amazing).
While the plot is exciting, it’s not the coolest part about this event, nor is the return/introduction of some of the coolest versions of the hero I’ve ever seen.
The exciting part about this is the fact that it is really the first ever cross-media event in comic book history.
As per usual with a comic event, the Spider-Verse takes place over the course of about several different comic series, a few of which were created just for the event. What separates this from a normal cross over is that this event also enters into television and video games.
Ultimate Spider-Man on Disney XD is currently airing a four-part arc following Peter Parker as he crosses dimensions to stop the Green Goblin from taking the DNA of every Spider-Man he can find. Every episode follows Peter meeting with a different iteration of Spider-Man (including Miles Morales, who will be played by Donald Glover) to stop the Goblin. The episode with Miles should be extremely interesting, since in his universe Peter Parker is killed.
Spider-Man Unlimited is an iOS and Android running game similar to that of Temple Run, but it features everyone’s favorite web slinger, as well as those of other dimensions, fighting different versions of the Sinister Six.
In the decades of comic book history, something like this has never been done. Every time a movie, a show, a game, or a new comic spinoff is created, it exists in its own universe. The plots are all independent of each other and the events of one world almost always have no bearing on those of another. But it’s also well established in both Marvel and DC franchises that multiple universes exist. And sometimes worlds do collide, which they literally did in a recent New Avengers arc. But there never really is a story or event that goes, “Hey, we’ve got all these universes across all these different mediums and characters who are easily able to traverse them. Why not work with that?”
That’s what we’re getting right here. And it’s extremely exciting.
I’m not saying you need to go read The Amazing Spider-Man or any of its spinoffs for the event (except Edge of Spider-Verse #2 because seriously it’s fantastic). I’m saying that the world of comics, not just Marvel, keeps proving that its break into the world of other media isn’t stopping any time soon. DC has numerous series like Arrow or Flash on the CW and Supergirl coming to CBS, not to mention a setup for Justice League movies. Image is taking Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers series and giving it a show on Playstation Network. Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman has a movie scheduled for 2016. The Fables series got its own game by Telltale, as did The Walking Dead, which already had its own hit TV series with another on the way.
The comic book industry hasn’t spent much, if any, time recently trying to get more readers. You never saw huge ad campaigns or promotions for comics like you would TV shows and movies. The sudden influx of comic-based shows and movies might have brought in a few more readers (or more than a few since the numbers indicate comic book sales have doubled in the past 10 years), but for the most part the plan was to tell the story to a larger number of people, and obviously make some more money.
Now, that’s happening. People who have never read a superhero comic can have legitimate discussions about superheroes. People are rightfully excited about upcoming stories in the movies and shows.