On the Panel – Edge of Spider-Verse

Oct 6, 2014 | Posted by in Comics

Issue 4 – “I Walked With A Spider”

Bit of a departure from what might be expected in this Edge of Spider-Verse. Up until this point we’ve been looking at variations of a hero with spider powers -oddly only one of them has been a Peter Parker so far- but this time we follow someone far less heroic and some might argue tragic.

This particular universe visit focuses on Patton Parnel who starts off the comic torturing an ant with a magnifying glass and waxing scientific about the results. On first impressions he seems to be at best a very troubled young man so it doesn’t seem right from the first page. It doesn’t get any better on the second page as he is seen to be spying on his attractive red headed neighbour  Sara Jayne with a pair of binoculars, to make it even creepier he talks about collecting “samples” from her “living area”; this is so far something that makes my skin crawl.

Something unexpected happens when Sara Jayne talks to Patton when on the way to their school trip to Alcorp industries. Sara Jayne seems to be an animal rights activist who assumes that Patton will join her on a crusade to stop animal experimentation at this particular company. Patton goes along with this through no choice of his own but finds himself captivated by an unusual spider specimen that he feels compelled to free. As might be expected it bites him and he ends up in Alcorp’s security but is quickly released due to Sara Jayne taking all the blame for him.

Patton quickly begins to feel awful as his new powers start to assert themselves at the same time he receives a beating from his Uncle Ted. This is where the reader can begin to understand the main divergences between Patton Parnel and Peter Parker can begin to be seen. Obviously what Patton does through torturing the ant and spying on Sara Jayne is questionable behaviour but at least some of this can be attributed to the fact that his Uncle Ted is abusive to him, I found that page to be pretty grim despite the fact it doesn’t directly show it but the noise effects as Sara Jayne cries while Patton pleads for mercy. One of the main things that contributes to Peter Parker’s character is the fact that he had a loving upbringing by an Aunt and Uncle who would do anything for him whereas Patton Parnel hasn’t had the same stability which has probably informed his character in some fairly socially unacceptable ways.

Edge of Spider-VerseAfter this point the comic begins to get a little disgusting as Patton’s powers manifest very differently to Peter’s, the first thing we see him doing is feasting on a mouse that was caught in a trap and enjoying it. It’s quite an unsettling moment as we see him start to become something monstrous. This only gets worse as he feeds on a cat and eventually people which includes taking revenge on his Uncle Ted. What unsettles me most is that there’s absolutely no resistance to the change that he accepts with open arms pretty much right away. He seems to be at ease with the fact that he has become a bloodthirsty monster that feeds on any living thing he can get his hands on.

What is even more disgusting is that it turns out he’s driven by an instinct to mate as well as feed which includes him leaving eggs in Sara Jayne who unfortunately witnesses them hatch at the end of the book. Patton himself is take away by Morlun for something called “The feast of thousands”, something I imagine will be a big part of Spider-Verse. Whether Patton survives the encounter with Morlun is up for debate at this point and whether he deserves to is another debate entirely.

Despite only a short appearance this character is really complex, I like the fact that his upbringing seems to be at least partly responsible for his detached attitude. He doesn’t see other life as worthwhile because that courtesy has never been extended to him plus his torture of creatures unable to defend themselves would be directly informed by being too weak to stand up to the abuse he’s had to face. He approaches everything clinically and scientifically because it is probably too terrifying to allow any emotion to sneak through the detached veneer he has cultivated over the years. The world around him is clearly something to be studied hence him objectifying Sara Jayne with no remorse felt over the invasion of privacy.

His change is something that is handled really well as many characters would be struggling to maintain their humanity but Patton embraces his new physical state completely. Clearly he has never identified with the rest of the human race so to become something other than human frees him. He clearly enjoys being driven by the soulless, murderous instinct and happily casts aside his fractured humanity. There’s a tragedy in that nobody ever cared about him enough to give him a reason to not become a monster. I like how this story plays out as a horror from the perspective of the monster while still making the creature feel beyond redemption.

  • 7/10
    I Walked With A Spider - 7/10


The more I think about this issue the more I like it. Patton Parnell is a really nicely complex character who clearly has some intense emotional issues as well as being a complete outcast in almost every aspect of his life. His transition into the monstrous creature that he becomes is a swift one and he clearly enjoys it which makes it all the more unsettling. This is a great contrast to Peter Parker and I hope he gets to see this monster that could so easily have been him in the upcoming event. The biggest issue I have with it is that I actually want to see more from this world but I am unlikely to which is a complete shame given how fascinating a read this was.