REVIEW: SPIDER-MEN #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Sara Pichelli
Color by Justin Ponsor
Letter by Cory Petit
Cover by Jimmy Cheung

$3.99 / 32 pages

Published by Marvel Comics

If I’m Brian Bendis, I’m very happy to be working with Sara Pichelli, because she’s the reason to read Spider-Men #1. I really don’t mean to be harsh, but there’s honestly nothing here other than spectacular comic book art that would sway me to recommend this to a reader, unless they very much enjoy Spider-Man swinging around, mostly talking to himself about how much he loves New York. It’s a first chapter, except it doesn’t really even feel like enough to be called that.

We all know the premise now: Peter Parker of the Marvel Universe proper meets Miles Morales of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. If it’s your contention that it doesn’t matter why or how that happens, and you just want to see those two kids hanging out and cracking wise, then this will probably be just up your alley. Not in this issue mind you. Next issue definitely. This issue gets by on attitude, familiarity, and the promise of what’s to come, provided that the reader is well entrenched in the Spider-Man world, in both classic and new varieties. I think that’s what bothers me about it. There’s nothing outwardly wrong with the issue. It’s fun enough to swing through, and Spider-Man is Spider-Man, and something has gone awry, and hijinks will very likely ensue. Yet the other side of things is that this is as circular as circular gets. Putting aside the easy grab of Joe Quesada stating they’d be “out of ideas” if they ever did this story, this is the same ol’ thing, and while there is a market for that, it is dwindling, because even they are getting tired of walking up and down the same roads. Or at least I am. It’s possible that the story will surmount that feeling, but there wasn’t anything in the first issue to make me expect otherwise.

And yet, there is still Sara Pichelli. She’s one of the most exciting new talents to come along in a long time, and she meshes so well with Bendis’ sensibilities that the pages flow incredibly well. The storytelling is effortless and clean. Her cityscapes are equally impressive, and she and colorist Ponsor managed to give the two dimensions of New York perceptibly different feels. They are not the same place, and that comes across. Her classic Peter Parker looks like an adult male, where her Mile Morales looks like a kid. He should, because she’s the artist who brought him to life. I also really like that she’s very good at putting life into a Spider-Man mask that should be largely lifeless. It has to be done subtly, otherwise it gets weird. Her version of the mask seems to have textured, slightly mirrored eyes, and when she wants to express an emotion on Peter’s masked face, she tweaks the eye shape just so, and it really works. You have to look for the specific changes, but the feeling comes across instantly. The fact is, you can read through this issue without even reading any of the text, and you’ll know exactly what’s happening. The art is just that good.

If Spider-Men sounds like something that’s going to make you comic book happy, then by all means, read this. You’re going to get a well produced comic book that’s nothing you don’t expect. I can’t speak for what’s going to happen with the rest of the series, but as a first issue, it’s nothing I didn’t know from just reading the premise, and nothing happens in the pages to suggest otherwise. Yet, Bendis has the voices of these various Spider-Men down cold, and if you enjoy spending time with them, it will be worth it for you. It’s going to take a little something more to get me excited at this point though, and I don’t think it’s wrong to expect that from your comics.

Story: 2.5 / Art: 4.5 / Overall: 3

(Out of 5 Stars)

Pull Spider-Men #1

Comments

  1. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    One thing I’ve always loved about you guys, you especially Josh, is your ability to review something and leave us with the impression “Look, just because I didn’t love it doesn’t mean you won’t.” So many critics think they are the end all be all of opinion but you guys know it takes different strokes to move the world and to appreciate different stories. It’s part of the reason your site is my favorite.

    • CaseyJustice CaseyJustice says:

      Very true. This actually does sound like something that I’d like, but I totally get why it wouldn’t appeal to more discriminating tastes.

    • koryrosh koryrosh says:

      Agreed. I’m actually amazed that Josh never actually said “I didn’t like this book,” but still manages to give us a clear impression that this book isn’t for him.

    • markavo markavo says:

      I too agree with @RoiVampire’s sentiment. Most of the site users are also happy to debate their likes and dislikes without having each other go away from the conversation thinking the other is a jerk/stupid for not liking what we like/stupid for liking what they like.

      The site is great place to state opinions, get feedback from dissenters and support from supporters all while appreciating the art of Comics as a whole. A lot of positive experience happens on a site named “FanBoy” and the credit for those experiences starts from the top and works it’s way through the site users.

      :-)

    • AceBathound AceBathound says:

      Josh usually does a good job of saying just because he doesn’t like something, others may. Except Fear Itself. ;)

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Some things are objectively bad.

    • Gene Siskel had a great quote about objectivity/subjectivity and opinions that I love:

      “There is a point when a personal opinion shades off into an error of fact. When you say ‘The Valachi Papers’ is a better film than ‘The Godfather,’ you are wrong.”

  2. markavo markavo says:

    I think the story comes too soon but I’m PUMPED about Sarah Pichelli drawing Miles again. This review doesn’t make me want to check it out any less and my hesitant feelings toward the story are confirmed. Considering I was going to think that going in I’ll probably be pleasantly “Not disappointed”.

  3. i really appreciate the honesty in this review. Seems like Its really all about being firmly aware of what your own expectations for these big 2 event books are before jumping in.

  4. Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

    Great review, Josh! I think I’m gonna check this out for the art alone as I’m not really a Spidey fan. But wow, that page posted above is GORgeous!

  5. ed209AF ed209AF says:

    Possibly what Dan slott was referencing in this tweet.. http://www.twitlonger.com/show/hqa6l2

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      I’m going to be a dick for a second: I really hope so.

    • tripleneck tripleneck (@tripleneck) says:

      I read that tweet earlier, too. I don’t think he was referring to Spider-Men #1, but it’s funny that it applies (given Josh’s review). I took it more as a personal manifesto for his own writing. I have noticed that Slott’s arcs usually seem to have meaty beginnings.

    • When I read Josh’s review I immediately thought of that Dan Slott tweet.

    • For once, Dan Slott is on to something. That bugs me so much when a #1 issue is just so light on story and they barely offer anything to keep you interested for another issue.

    • @TNC–Yup totally agree…i want to be wow’ed by a first issue. I don’t care what the names are on the front of the book or what the character or concept is…if its not there on those pages and i’m not hungry for more i’ll probably forget to come back for issue #2.

      Its a first date….you gotta bring it, or else its a one and done!

  6. diebenny diebenny says:

    Exactly what I expected and exactly my sentiments (all along if you’ve followed my posts on the matter).

    I’m glad people will be into this, and Pichelli is a god damn amazing artist, but this isn’t for me.

    Great review Josh, in saying just that. Things aren’t for everyone, but hey man, if this is something you’re interested in, fuck yeah, you’ll probably really dig it, and that’s awesome.

    I need to go back and compile my Bendis posts on this site over the years into a word document or something. It’d be interesting to see the curve from “Fuck on!” to “Mmmk” to “Ok, this isn’t for me anymore.”

    Also, I’m glad to see more reviews that aren’t four or five stars. Not a knock on any of those reviews, we just need a mixed bag. Differences are cool, man.

  7. Andrew Andrew says:

    That’s disappointing to hear. I wasn’t expecting to be amazed, but I tend to love most of Bendis’ work involving Spider-Man, so I am undeterred. If I I am underwhelmed by this issue, I’ll always wonder if I would have had that reaction on my own or if I’ll be influenced by Josh’s review. Alas, I’ll never know!

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Don’t you dare blame me.

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      I am of the opinion that bad reviews actually help you enjoy the product better. It lowers your expectations and then you may end up being pleasantly surprised. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard bad reviews of movies, and then gone to see said movie and coming out of it saying to myself, “That was really good! I don’t know what those people were talking about!” or at the very least, “That wasn’t that bad”

  8. I just love the fact that Marvel did this series when Joey Q said, as josh mentioned in the review, that this company will have ‘run out of ideas’ if it was ever published.

  9. akamuu akamuu says:

    Spot on review. This would have made an interesting digital comic teaser for a first issue, but it’s otherwise a beautifully drawn Spider-Man art book with virtually no story.

  10. Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

    I admit I’ve only followed Ultimate Spide-Man by trade. But it’s been one of the consistently best written books – and best portrayal of Spider-Man – I’ve read.

    Miles showing up in the Marvel U proper would actually be the only thing that might have drawn me back into buying a regular universe Spidey title. But given how much I already spend on comics, even Sara Pichelli’s art is not enough on its own. (And Josh is right: she is fantastic.)

  11. ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

    Disappointing to hear. I was really looking forward to reading this.

    Hopefully the story will pick-up by the second issue, and by the end of the mini, we’ll have a satisfying story.

  12. I don’t understand it. Miles is better off on his own.

    • Smasher says:

      I agree. They could have waited on telling this story.

      However I am looking forward to seeing how they introduce Miles Morales in the regular Marvel Universe. I think he would be well-received in the regular MU (though obviously not as Peter Parker/Spider-Man replacement).

  13. rafterman rafterman says:

    I read it. Awesome art. But like so many Bendis things I just find it so empty. Bunch of nothing leading up to the end. Nothing happened. His stuff is way too decompressed and it’s just talking. One thing I really liked was how the lettering changed in the story. The style of regular Marvel 616 is different from the Ultimate style. It was cool.