by Etienne Paul, CMRO Editor
Written by Dennis Hopeless with Art by Greg Land, Jay Leinsten and Frank D’Armata
Published: February 2015
What is it with super-heroes and trying to hide their costumes and look inconspicuous? Seriously about half of this comic has Jessica Drew and Carol Danvers walking around New York in their costumes, covered with large dark grey trench coats. Now I am assuming they are doing this to look inconspicuous because although it is cold, we are talking about a character who can survive in the vacuum of space, a chilly New York afternoon is not likely to cut it. What makes it so amusing is that unlike Carol who can just about get away with it because the red collar of her costume is not that strange looking under her coat, Jessica is walking around in her full face covering spider-mask; she looks like some sort of exotic stripper ready to rip off her coat. It is just weird.
Jokes aside, I do still love the art in this book, even if Greg has a habit of making his female characters legs so thin they should snap under their own, greatly reduced, body weight. I know the things that are said about his tracing, sorry, drawing, but frankly if the art looks good I do not care if he used 1,000 chimps or if he pain staking drew every hair follicle by hand, if it looks great that’s all that matters. When people say something is terrible simply because of the process that was used, rather than the end product, I am reminded of the conversations people said about animation when computers were used for the first time. Again, if it works, I am happy with it. And in this comic, it just plain works. All the back grounds are gloriously rendered and shaded; this book in fact has probably the least ‘flat colour’ panels of any Marvel book I have seen for a long time. All the characters are stunningly beautiful and most of the pages are better than your standard cover art. But then again, I like pretty women in comics so clearly I am biased.*
This comic does the extremely difficult task of transitioning from what had been the most glorious of comic crossovers – Spider-Verse – through her association with the Avengers and on into her own solo series. It had been my biggest concern about this book; could it live on its own? Well if this is anything to go by this will not only live on its own, but thrive without the constraints of the event comic and more importantly, without 4 alternate Spider-females infesting her book.
Unsurprisingly with Hopeless writing this, it has a really solid humorous undertone. I do not mean this is a comedy but much like the other books he has written in the last few years it follows the same lines as the Marvel films; you can tell a dramatic action based story and not kill it with an injection of humour every so often. Watching her battling tentacled aliens and trying to have a normal conversation with Rogers was entertaining and this book got a couple of good chuckles out of me.
I think one of my concerns is that we have gone from a hugely male dominated Spider World (Amazing Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Superior Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2099, Ultimate Spider-Man) to having Silk, Spider-Woman and Spider-Gwen all starting at basically the same time. And really, are they all needed? The many faces of Spider-Man have worked partly because they were not all concurrent, but also because they were so different – Superior and Amazing in direct competition, Scarlet Spider a lost, semi mad loner and his weird friends and 2099 is mostly a time travel story. However our three new female Spiders, are all much the same, I think many comic readers would struggle to differentiate between them.
I really hope the writers do manage to emphasise the differences and, more importantly, the strengths of the characters, because at heart they are really distinct. I do worry this is about to take a swing into ‘Hawkeye’ territory as she decides to go back to her street roots, rather than carry on fighting as a full time Avenger. I do not think I can stomach another ‘what a superhero does on his time off’ style book, but if they swing it to a more Black Widow-esque book, then I have high hopes for this.
The big bombshell at the end of the book is the reveal of a big up-coming change and having sneaked a peek, I am not convinced. I like how it is done currently and I think changing that will be a shame. However I am also aware that they have a habit of fiddling with stuff only to put it back later to glorious applause and raised readership, but perhaps it will grow on me as he book continues.
I’ve loved this book since it first came out, it is one of the few books to survive an event comic this close to its inception and seemingly come out the other end in as good a shape as when it started; unlike the poor X-Men book which basically ended after 4 issues when it was hijacked by Battle of the Atom. The art is perfect for this sort of book, but knowing my luck Greg will last 6 issues and some hack will come in and ruin it. Hopeless is anything but what his name implies and his wonderful writing will keep me going even if the art does decline, but while this lasts I am happy to sit here and flick through this book again and again and hope that it continues for a long time.
* And depending upon your perspective, a horrible misogynistic evil man.