“Try Something New.” That challenge is the whole reason for this feature’s existence. Month in and month out we buy the comics we know and love, the ones we look forward to every time but there are countless series that travel under our radar, ones that we just don’t give a chance and get passed by. That’s why I made a vow: every week I’d pick up an issue for a series that wasn’t on my pull-list in the hopes of finding a hidden gem. Welcome to Off The Shelf where we’ll discover if my leap of faith paid dividends this week. Also, I should mention that there be SPOILERS in this review. You are warned! ________________________________________________________
Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #1Publisher
Matt Kindt and Marco Rudy
Prior Experience With Title
Well my favourite Marvel character is Spider-Man so I’m pretty well-versed with Peter Parker and those that populate his world.
Why Did I Give It A Shot?
Did I mention Spider-Man is my favourite Marvel character? That and it’s a nice change of pace to see Peter Parker as Spider-Man once again.
The issue opens with Peter strapped for cash and needing to accept outside work (taking family portraits at a decidedly creepy house) to pay the bills. Upon approaching said house, Peter hears the word “help” emanating from it and he goes insides only to see Madame Web surrounded by a bunch of blonde girls. Madame Web proceeds to tell him that it is his destiny to be here but he is fated to die. Before disappearing, she mentions that he needs to solve 99 problems and then the girls, who are actually robots, explode. Our hero, now in his Spider-Man suit, encounters the villainous Jack O’Lantern who poisons him causing Spider-Man to completely trip out. He then does battle with Morbius, Man-Wolf, and Frakenstein’s Monster in some beautifully drawn scenes that end with a mind-blowing double page spread where the panels are separated by not lines but by sentences, words that are the thoughts in his head. He emerges from the battles to encounter the Beetle who is restrained in a giant net with more of the robot girls but before he can react Arcade makes an appearance, complete with 8-bit avatars floating around. He informs Spider-Man that his employer has arranged for Spidey to run a gauntlet of 99 villains, a gauntlet that he must succeed in overcoming if he wants to know the location of a much larger bomb that is primed to go off somewhere in the city. Arcade gives Spider-Man a blue pill, a pill he refuses to take though Arcade has informed him he already has (his perception of time is off from the poison…still with me?) and then Spider-Man is magically transported onto a plane flying in mid-air, more villains ready to pounce to end the issue.
Peter Parker: I’ve got a lot of secrets. Crime-fighting of course. Bitten by a radioactive spider that gave me great powers, great responsibility, all of that? Sure. Also? Taking degrading jobs to pay the bills when Jameson decides he’s had enough Spider-Man photos.
Peter Parker: Part of me is still hoping this is just a crappy photo job. Spider-sense is going crazy, but I go in anyways. It’s what I do. I guess I’m just an eternal optimist.
Spider-Man: Jack O’Lantern? Is that you? What are you doing in here? How many times do I have to punch you in the jaw before…
Jack O’Lantern: You don’t feel the poison yet? I think you’re in more trouble than you realize.
Spider-Man: You know…the life of a freelancer. Freelance photographer. Super hero. It’s all the same…you just…have to take…what they…take what they give you.
Final Verdict: Marco Rudy produced one absolutely drop-dead gorgeous issue with his art worth the price of admission alone. The story may give me a slight headache in trying to keep up but the art will keep me coming back for more. Thusly, I’m going to Add It To My Pull-List. I can’t wait to see how this mini-series plays out.