REVIEW: The Spider #5
The dead walk the streets of New York City. Well, they’re not really dead and they’re only on some streets, contained in buildings and such, but they’re mid less zombies and Richard Wentworth, The Spider, has to stop them and help find a cure for their condition. Will he succeed?!
Previously in The Spider: Attempting to put a stop to Anput’s zombie gas scheme, The Spider goes to confront her but is caught in a highly predictable trap.
MORE SPIDER, LESS MAN
Picking up immediately from last issue, The Spider battles with Anput before lighting out of her hideout with a canister of the zombie gas, which Professor Brownlee intends to use in the creation of an antidote. The chemical of the gas is traced to Wentworth Industries, which is run by Richard’s father. He goes off to confront his old man and then zips off intending to stop Anput’s plan to zombify the city.
The Spider’s dialogue is much improved from last issue—gone are the Parker-esque quips and rejoinders that feel out of place in a hard-boiled pulp tale like this. The totemic association between Wentworth and our friendly neighborhood wall crawler is already too close for comfort without dialogue adding to the mix.
Wentworth’s reckoning with his father lacked the personal pathos I was expecting from a son confronting his father. I gather from the past two issues that their relationship is most charitably described as estranged, but even with that distance between them I expected our masked mystery man to have some reservations about beating the man. As it was, The Spider was workmanlike in his attack, so he’s either extremely good at burying his emotions or the writing for that part was lacking.
SOMETIMES REAL IS TOO REAL
On balance I thoroughly enjoyed the art in this issue. The first pages hit you over the head with lots of grays and blacks that remind you in what kind of universe this book exists: dark and unforgiving.
Though I enjoyed the art, it suffered from a kind of split personality. The panels in this issue can be put into two categories: panels without human faces in them and panels with human faces in them. The former are excellent examples of comics art that evoke a distinct 1930s or 1940s flavor. The latter, however, ruin it for me; everyone’s face is just too photorealistic and, while I appreciate this attempt at more verisimilitude it doesn’t jive with the rest of the book. These panels made me feel as though I was looking at a cutscene from a late-1990s video game instead of a pulp-era story.
BOTTOM LINE: EXCITING CHARACTER, LOW BARRIER TO ENTRY
In the end, my problems with the book are minor quibbles about an overall delightful story. I’m no expert on the genre, but I love these pulp titles Dynamite is putting out and they’ve yet to make a misstep that would stop me from coming back for more. If you like The Shadow or even the more pulpy aspects of Batman, then you should give The Spider a try if for no other reason than the issue number is low and it’s easy to get caught up on the whole run. This issue closed out an arc, so issue No. 6 would be a great place to start picking it up regularly. Four stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!