RELEASED in parallel to Marvel’s Tom Holland fronted Spider-Man series, Sony’s animated Into the Spider-Verse was a breakout hit in 2018. A box office smashing, critically adored, award-winning super hit. When it comes to Peter Parker, it seems that audiences just can’t get enough.

Except, that’s not quite true. While there’s no doubting cinema -goers love Marvel’s friendly neighbourhood web-slinger - no fewer than nine Spider-Man films have released successfully since 2002 - when it came to Into the Spider-Verse, Peter Parker wasn’t actually the main attraction. Here, the Spidey we know and love was just one piece in a seismic multiversal puzzle.

Fans of the Marvel comics have long since known of alternate iterations of Spider-Man. While the multiverse has only recently been explored in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such is a concept decades old in the comics.

Introducing the multiverse to mainstream audiences, however, remained a significant risk in 2018. Asking fans to accept another Spider-Man in cinemas, even as Tom Holland’s Spidey was still very much live, was one thing. Asking them to accept Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir and Peter Porker was another matter entirely.

Sony needn’t have worried. What with its bold visuals, sharp humour and brave approach to meta-narrative, Into the Spider-Verse proved itself more than a match for the live action franchise. A sequel was inevitable. Two were ordered.

Across the Spider-Verse, which hit cinemas yesterday, picks up the story just over a year on from its predecessor’s conclusion. When a new villain - Jason Schwartzman’s the Spot - threatens the existence of every universe in the multiverse, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) must once again team up with Gwen Stacey (Hailee Steinfeld) to save the day.

As before, it is the film’s animation, as much as its storytelling flair, that stands it apart. Blurring comic book stylisation with more typical three dimensional animatics, Miles’ universe boasts a depth of colour and verve like cinema has never seen before. What’s more, each new universe he and Gwen explore enjoys a unique style of its own. Watch for noir, punk and abstract expressionist backdrops.

Not to be outdone, the story too offers surprising twists and thrilling outside-the-box thinking. As penned by Lego Movie creators Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, Across the Spider-Verse offers a veritable whirlpool of creative ingenuity. It’s like nothing else you’ll see this year.