Writer: Brian Reed
Artists: Chris Bachalo & Rob Di Salvo
While current comics are great, there are plenty of good and interesting stories from the past as well. So I have decided to start doing retro-reviews. In this segment, I will look back on completed series that people have recommended to me or those I came across while browsing. I will also be judging them using the same criteria I do in my regular reviews. Now that the explanations done, let’s get on to the review!
The first graphic novel I ever purchased was Dark Reign: Avengers/ X-Men, and I have had great nostalgia for this era of Marvel history ever since. Soon after, I started to get into the Dark Avengers book to learn more about the team. I thought the idea of villains posing as heroes was an interesting concept at the time. Later on, as I delved more into Marvel’s history, I realized it was pretty similar to another disguised super villain team, the Thunderbolts. However, I did enjoy the line up of villains posing as heroes, with Bullseye being Hawkeye, Norman Osborn’s amalgam identity as the Iron Patriot, and especially Mac Gargan as Spider Man. Gargan, who was in possession of the Venom symbiote at the time, seemed to fit the bill for Osborn’s Avengers team, possessing all of the web slinger’s powers. Although the symbiotes influence turned Gargan into an insane cannibal, that did not stop me from finding his tie-in mini-series entertaining and hilarious.
Our story follows Gargan as he lives his life as the new Spider Man, and is loved by the citizens of New York City. While Gargan enjoys the perks of being a superhero, he sets his sights on ruining the life and career of J. Jonah Jameson, who ruined his life when he turned him into the super villain known as the Scorpion. Now, Jameson is the Mayor of New York City and Gargan covertly starts a chaotic gang war which causes further civil distress, as well as a migraine for Jameson in the process. However, Jameson is not the only one Gargan has to deal with, as a group of super villains are brought together by the well-meaning Redeemer, an optimistic but naive psychiatrist who wants to reform Spider Man. Will Gargan be able to pull off his plan and keep ahead of the Redeemer and his gang while sabotaging Jameson’s public image in the process? You better read it to find out!
Action and adventure in comics are important parts of any superhero story, but the writing and the characters help keep me invested in the story. Not only does Brian Reed provide us with interesting characters and dialogue, but there are plenty of hilarious moments throughout this series. The comedy leans more toward dark sense of humor, and that is part of why I love it. Mac Gargan as Spider Man is the same jerk he has always been, completely unrepentant of his actions, selfish, and completely narcissistic. This why it is so funny because it’s the complete opposite of Peter Parker’s Spider Man. The juxtaposition between how the city treats Peter’s Spider Man and Gargan’s is hysterical. While Peter Parker acts with good and heroic nature, the city thinks of him as some kind of criminal, especially Jameson and the NYPD. On the other hand, the police chief in Sinister Spider Man completely trusts him, and is absurdly blind to fact that Gargan has mutilated most of his enemies. More than that, the city loves him, and in every other scene there is an attractive girl snuggling up to him. Even the Daily Bugle treats him as a celebrity. It’s down right insane. Gargan’s sarcastic wit and unrepentant nature were the highlights of the book for me, and kept me interested in what crazy and deplorable action he was planning to do next. The Redeemer and his gang were never an actual threat to Gargan, but they played the role as comedic foils quite nicely. I actually do feel bad because Redeemer is trying to do a good thing, but I also laugh at how absurdly in over his head he is. My favorite scene with him is at the end of the finale issue, I won’t give anything away, but it is pretty funny. Going into this comic, I predicted a fun and anarchic journey, and I am happy to say that Reed’s writing and story met and exceeded those expectations.
Art can either make or break a comic for most readers, and this comic has two great artists behind it. Both Rob Di Salvo and Chris Bachalo do a great job, but having two artists can be a bit of a double-edged sword. While I felt Salvo’s art was clean and nicely drawn, I believe that Bachalo’s art captures the gritty nature of the book better, emphasizing the sheer brutality that Gargan can inflict, and I feel that it just fits the book better.
Rob Di Salvo Chris Bachalo
In terms of panel layout, the action flowed very well from scene to scene. This flow I feel is important because the panels are not structured in a consecutive fashion, the reader may end of getting confused about the order of events. However if there is one particular gripe I have with Spider Man in particular, is that sometimes we never see if his webbing actually hits a building. This can be seen in the scene above, for all the reader knows, his webbing can magically hook onto clouds now. Although I this little pet peeve of mine leaves me annoyed, the art for this book was very solid and I am glad to see both Di Salvo and Bachalo work.
Tie-ins are usually looked down upon by just being padding and taking focus away from the main story line. This comic could have just been a cheap tie-in to the Dark Reign event, but Reed and co. came up with this solid series that had me grinning from ear to ear. Even though I do wish the art style was consistent throughout the entire series, the story and characters kept me coming back for more. The supporting cast get the right amount of time devoted them and Gargan’s juxtaposition of the traditional Spider Man formula made for funny adventure. While it’s by no means perfect, The Sinister Spider Man is a subversive ride that I hope you all will eventually check out.
See you next time,