I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 3 comics last week: Batman Eternal #40, Amazing Spider-Man #12 and Action Comics #38.
The best comic I read last week was Amazing Spider-Man #12.
This “Spider-Verse” story line that Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has been weaving over the last few months of the Spider-Man titles is really something different. It boarders on “original” and that’s saying something these days. It’s a universe crossing story that pits Spider-Man against a brutal and timeless family of extra-dimensional beings who are intent to feed on him because of his connection to some kind of “spider-force” that gives him his powers. Seems this family takes their dislike of spiders to a whole new level…
If that set up in-and-of-itself isn’t particularly original, Slott’s choice of Spider-Man’s allies on this adventure is: every incarnation of Spider-Man that has ever appeared, and not just in comic books. Slott is pulling together EVERY incarnation of Spider-Man which he can legally use (and maybe some he cannot). We’re talking all comic book Spider-Men, the television cartoon Spider-Men, the live action Spider-Men, the Japanese Spider-Man, a Spider-Pig… and on and on.
Now that is a clever concept.
The idea that all fictional incarnations of this character “exist” in parallel universes that Spider-Man (and his enemies) can access through a typical deus ex machina is a very good one. There are moments, like when the main Spider-Man – the one that stars in Amazing Spider-Man every month – is interacting with the Spider-Man from the 1960’s Marvel Cartoon, that are so ridiculous that they are transcendent.
Ably assisted on this arc by artist Olivier Copiel and on this issue by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Slott has put together a story where it seems that anything can happen. He manages to juggle the cast of spiders nimbly and give them all individual personalities and has created at least one break out character already – the Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman of an alternate earth who has already received a comic series all her own that will premiere later this year.
And, truly, the last page of this issue – the reveal of another Spider-Man from another alternate world – is pretty shocking… in a very good way.