06 November 2012

on the spider & the red she-hulk

Every time I search for it on Comixology I pull up that other guy, but I think The Spider (David Liss/ Colton Worley) might be better than any of that other guy's books right now.  Every time I hear that some company or another is reviving a bunch of pulp characters, it sounds great but inevitably I end up disappointed.  (I'm looking at you, First Wave.)  When Dynamite became the latest publisher to roll out some of these characters, I think most people's attention was drawn to Garth Ennis on The Shadow.

I know mine was.  But I ended up dropping The Shadow two issues in.  Just wasn't my thing.  Instead, my attention has been drawn to The Spider, which recently wrapped its first arc with #5.

Going in I was a complete Spider Newbie, having never read anything with the character before.  In light of that, I have little insight into whether this is a faithful re-creation or something more radical.  I just know I like it.  Under Liss' pen, The Spider is kind of a cross of Batman and Daredevil, clearly branded as a vigilante and wanted by the police.  He has a secret ID but it's maintained with Daredevil-esque levels of efficiency (meaning basically he's fooling no one).  The first story arc involves a villain named Anput who has zombie dust that she's using to... well... turn people into zombies.  Sounds pedestrian, I know, but it's developed well.

The art by Worley is, I think, painted?  It's hard for me to tell sometimes these days given the advances in coloring.  It looks painted, though, and Worley really goes nuts on the layouts - there are all kinds of cool, inventive designs - many of them relying on the spider-web motif.  If anything he gets a little too creative at times, sacrificing clarity for design, but make no mistake - this is a good-looking book.

Overall this is one I'd recommend checking out if you're into pulp-y superheroes.  Liss hits a lot of the right notes here - he did a terrific job on his Black Panther run, and this feels very similar.

- I've seen a lot of guff directed at Marvel over the new Red She-Hulk (Jeff Parker/ Carlos Pagulayan/ Wellington Alves) series - much of it centered over Marvel not slapping a new #1 on it as part of Marvel NOW.  For those who don't know, She-Rulk took over the numbering of the Hulk title, meaning it begins with #58.

Paradoxically, the remaining criticism I've seen of the book is that it did a lousy job of being a first issue.  Which it did - because it wasn't a first issue.  It was a 58th issue - says so right there on the cover.

That's not just me being flippant - those who have been enjoying the book in its previous incarnation will be happy to learn that nothing has really changed other than the lead character.  Most of Rulk's supporting cast is still around.  The art's the same.  Parker's still writing.  It's just a new start with a different title character.  The series is essentially unchanged in every other respect - it's still a fun, mid-list Marvel book that doesn't take itself overly seriously.  I suppose one could question the way Marvel has chosen to market it, but I'm really not invested in Marvel's success or failure.  I just like the comic.  It's good meat-and-potatoes superheroes.

- I mentioned my lack of Valiant-fu a few posts back.  Well, as if on cue, Comixology started releasing Quantum & Woody digitally.  This was a superhero/ comedy series by Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright, and the first issue is free.  Check it out if you haven't - it's genuinely funny, and I'm kicking myself for having missed it the first time around.

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