Punchy takes a look at the first issue of a brand-new Spider-Man title! Spider-Man and Rulk battle the Mole-Man's minions! Plus Joe Mad is back and you can read it on your iPhone for free!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Avenging Spider-Man #1
Written by Zeb Wells
Artwork by Joe Madureira and Ferran Daniel
Even though he only joined the Avengers relatively recently, Spider-Man has always been a character at the heart of the Marvel Universe and one that works pretty well in a team-up with almost every other superhero. This is why he was the main star of Marvel Team-Up for all those years, and why he shows up in every other character's book once or twice a year, and why he's on two Avengers teams plus the FF. Spider-Man plays well with others and this new series is set to showcase that, as it details the many adventures Peter Parker has with his fellow members of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Now, most of the discussion online about this book has been about the fact that each print edition comes with a code for free digital copy for use on smartphones and such, and while this is good stuff for the comics media to discuss as it's a big step forward in the Big Two finding a workable way to do digital comics, it has kind of over-shadowed the actual comic itself. So, I'll get back to the digital stuff at the end and first focus on the story and art, which is really the most important thing.
This issue is actually pretty slight, not much happens, but what does happen is so enjoyable and accessible that it doesn't matter. Whereas Amazing Spider-Man has just wrapped a fairly continuity-heavy event, with villains that haven't been around for years, Zeb Wells launches this book as something a complete Spider-Novice could pick up and love. Sure there's a few little references to Peter recently losing his Spider-Sense, and Jonah is Mayor, but other than that, this is the kind of big, easy to get into comic the industry needs if it's going to attract new readers. If you know someone with a passing interest in comics, give them this, and they'll be able to read it without a Masters Degree in Ditkology.
It was just great fun to see Spider-Man and Red Hulk interact, Wells' dialogue was fun stuff, continuing the good work he did when he was part of the 'Brand New Day' rotation of writers. He has a great voice for Spider-Man and this issue provides a great showcase for his sense of humour. Wells also does a good job at showing who Red Hulk is, especially for readers who may not be familiar with his own ongoing series or previous appearances. He's a no-nonsense military man, and it's going to be fun to see him bounce off of Spider-Man. Wells' J. Jonah Jameson is also hilarious.
You can't really talk about this issue without mentioning Joe Madureira, who makes his second triumphant return to comics with AvS. On the basis of this issue, it's going to be a bigger success than his first one, Ultimates 3, where his art was dragged down by a poor story from Jeph Loeb and muddy colouring from Christian Lichtner. The colours in this book from Ferran Daniel are much lighter, and therefore a better fit for Joe Mad's pencils. This book is Madureira back at his cartoony best, and it's a visual feast, especially as his art tends towards extremes, and you get the great contrast between a truly massive Red Hulk and a spindly little Spidey. The only problem is the persistent worry that Madureira won't be on time, but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it. Right now, this comic looks good, and that's all that counts.
Overall, this was a strong first issue to a book that promises to be a great one for attracting new readers. This is widescreen, exciting comics in the Marvel Manner. It's got Spider-Man, Red Hulk, the Mole Man and little to no obtrusive continuity. If you like Spider-Man but have fallen off the wagon, or are new to comics, Avenging Spider-Man is your ticket in. Hell, you can even read it on your phone!
Digital Discussion – So here's the part where we discuss the digital issue with this book. I'm pretty much a digital comics skeptic. I much prefer holding a print copy in my hands, but I do have an interest in the medium's progression so I was excited to see how this would work.
And the answer is... really well! Each copy comes polybagged, to stop sneaky types using codes in the store without buying the book, and contains a unique code that allows you access to the book on your web browser and also through the Marvel Comics app on iPhone/iPad and Android. So far I've looked through the comic on both my laptop and a family member's iPhone, and it was seamless, it took me 10 minutes to access the digital copy, and it's great to have so many ways to read a comic. I think this is the way forward, digital and print should complement each other, not be in competition. I hope this experiment works, and maybe this will end up being the way all comics are in the future. Having every comic be polybagged will be pretty lame though. I wonder if there's a way around that?
Review by: Niam Suggitt