Throw in a heaping helping of The Shadow, a sprinkle of The Batman, a dash of Mack Bolan, and what do you get? Probably a ticket the the insane asylum if you weren’t describing a comic book hero. The latest issue of The Spider has arrived, and Major Spoilers presents its review.
Previously in The Spider: Anput is using a new chemical to turn people into zombie like beings with no hope of surviving… that is unless The Spider can track down the criminal and put her away for good.
INGREDIENTS FOR A GOOD STORY
Crooked cops, an evil villainess, a masked crime fighter who has difficulty keeping his secret identity secret, mindless zombies roaming the streets – it sounds like the making of a great story, and it is. This issue finds Richard Wentworth confronting the enemy as The Spider, but the tables are turned as Anput knows all about his real identity thanks to crooked cop Joe Hilt. The issue has a few interesting exchanges, a few fisticuffs between the hero and the villain, and an interesting turn when the reader discovers how the Spider made himself immune to tarantula venom. Though I half expected it, I like how David Liss played the exchange and reveal out on the page. It was just enough of a hook to push this issue over the top for me.
What I like about The Spider is that Mr. Liss spends time making the difference between The Spider, who kicks butts and takes names, and Richard Wentworth, the freelance adviser to the police who does the actual investigating. I like the in plain sight nature of how the Spider goes about trying to solve the crime and put the pieces together that leads him all over the place – from his father’s company with military contracts, to Little Cairo where Anput is holed up, to his friends and operatives all across the city, to the eventual chemical attack at the baseball stadium. This issue moves quickly and continues to build the story in a more or less natural way.
But there are few concerns that I have with the story; the first is that zomibes seem so played out right now, and though the zombies in this issue aren’t the undead, brain eating, contamination spreading creatures we’ve seen in any number of other books, the fact that Mr. Liss calls them as such seems forced. The other problem I continue to have with the series, is so many people know, or pretty much assume, that Wentworth is the Spider, that the secret identity schtick isn’t going to work in the long term. I don’t know if this is something that will continue, but with everyone and his brother knowing Richard’s identity, and the fact that the Spider kills, it seems Wentworth is an easy target for the police in the long run.
MODERN TAKE ON PULP HERO
I appreciate how Dynamite Entertainment takes the pulp hero, and instead of going with the funny wig and vampire fangs went with the look of the Spider movie serials. Though the transformation still feels like a weird mash-up of Batman and the Shadow in the design, i like the overall feel the character brings to the page.
In this issue, Colton Worley uses a painted style that is very different from what we have seen from Dynamite’s other books. This is very refreshing as it breaks from another tradition, and makes the book feel so much different from anything we’ve seen before. There are still a few times where Mr. Worley’s depictions of facial features (namely the mouth in many three-quarter head shots) skew a little weird, but fortunately, his dramatic style and composition make the page flow and help propel the story forward.
BOTTOM LINE: I LIKE THIS A LOT
Though there are many odd tropes that fill this issue, I’m still really enjoying the heck out of this series. The characters are interesting, the story is engaging, and I want to see how Richard Wentworth balances his secret life with his real identity. Will the Spider defeat Anput? Of course he will, but it is the adventure getting to that point that is thrilling. There’s still time to pick up the previous issues and get caught up on what is going on, and I’m giving The Spider #3 4.5 out of 5 Stars.