Spider-Woman Begins Again

By Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
Published by Marvel Comics

Essentially this issue is the motion comic that was available online weeks ago.

Which isn’t to say it’s a bad thing. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev craft the continuing tale of Jessica Drew, aka the Spider-Woman.

She’s been run through the mill the past few years. Towards the end of Secret Invasion we found out that Spider-Woman was the Skrull queen. At the end of it all she’s despised the world over. This comic is where that leaves off.

In one of the finest looking comics you’ll read all year much of the issue is Jessica sulking about being the world’s most screwed-up person. Even worse than Wolverine. She even contemplates suicide by her own powers right to the head. But luckily for us she doesn’t. Bendis loves her too much to let her go and do something stupid.

Then a way out is slipped under her door. An envelope with a note. When you’re ready to face the world…

Like any good movie, any good noir, we get her inner thoughts through narration. We see the beats in between. The thoughts and looks that don’t require words to describe them. There’s more than a page or two without text at all. For a writer known for his wordiness he knows when to let it breathe and when to let Alex carry the script.

Then we find out what this series is going to be about. S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), which I first saw in Joss Whedon’s now-classic Astonishing X-Men run, wants to hire Jessica to essentially hunt evil aliens and weed out the rest of the invading Skrulls. As well as thirty-one other alien races on the planet. She does her thing, using her Private Detective and Super Hero skill set, and she gets paid for it. On her terms, as much as she wants, and when she’s done she can go back to stare at the wall.

She even gets some rather cool James Bond-type devices that will get her information and detect when the aliens are close.

From there, in one of the most dynamic transitions I’ve seen in a very long time in comics, we’re taken to Madripoor. The actual seedy corner of the Earth.

In these pages Maleev shows us why he’s not just a comic book artist, but a draftsman of his craft through art, color, and most importantly, page layout.

One of the points that many comic fans tend to complain about is the lack of action in a super hero book when it’s made more realistic. I tend to take the opposite viewpoint. I love a good build-up with great dialogue. Anybody can write an action sequence with two panels to a page. But it takes much more to create the setup.

After we get the brief on Jessica’s origin, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man comes crashing in through her hotel room window. She’s been set up. Spidey wants her to come with him and rendezvous with the Avengers.

Then we get the big beat down and a twelve-story drop to the street. I won’t ruin the ending for you but if it’s not enough to make you pick up the next issue I don’t know what will.

But I have a problem with this comic. I bought the motion comic weeks ago, which is more like the old Marvel cartoons then a comic book, and I honestly thought the artwork is better. If only because it was polished and poke and prodded for what they needed to produce it. The motion comic even had one of those cool James Bond type intros with the graphics that fly across the screen. I can only compare it to what J. Scott Campbell did in Danger Girl years ago.

However, the dialogue is much much stronger in the comic. It’s much more realistic and less awkward. I don’t know where things got lost in the transition but…let me put it this way…I tend to write my own comics just like Bendis does (or at least this one). Everything is written like a movie. Be it the dialogue, the transitions, etc. It’s more street level with those beats in between without the dialogue. For me, the dialogue he wrote is pretty much perfect for the character. In the motion comic it was changed and in more than a few parts, hearing them read aloud was very awkward, whereas if you read those same parts out loud from the print it flows naturally.

So where am I getting at with this? Buy the comic. I would even say buy the motion comic as well. It’s cheaper. It’s all new and shiny. But if you want the better experience go with the printed edition. Then again, I tend to be old school that way preferring to hold it in my hands. So buy both. It will compliment the printed page.

It’s a great read from a couple of solid creators that love the source material. How can you go wrong with that?

Anthony Schiavino can be found talking comics, movies, television and all things pulp at his website PulpTone.com, Facebook, and Twitter.


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