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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 6 comics last week: Titans Hunt #8, Spider-Man #3, Star Trek Manifest Destiny #3, Superman/Wonder Woman #29, International Iron Man #3 and Civil War II #0.
The best comic I read last week was Spider-Man #4.
Okay, first, I hate this cover. I don’t know why (perhaps because it has very little to do with the actual content of the issue), but I this cover really doesn’t work for me. Cue the “don’t judge a book” manta, because I simply loved the issue.
Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli are a tremendous team. They have been for the last few years as they have chronicled a truly special period in Spider-Man’s history – the Miles Morales period.
If you haven’t been reading Marvel, you may not know that there is more than one webslinger zipping around the Marvel Universe: the adult Peter Parker and the high schooler Miles Morales. While I love Peter Parker, there is just something about a teen aged Spider-Man that works (Marvel Studios figured this out in Captain America: Civil War as they have made the character a sophomore in high school in that film). That might be an oversimplification: there is something about a teen aged Spider-Man written by Bendis and pencilled by Pichelli that works.
In recent issues, Sara Pichelli has changed her art style. Always taught and well composed, her work now really shines. She’s become a master of rendering expressions on faces and this trait serves the book incredibly well. She brings out the humor and awkwardness of these characters. Her panels work so well, they barely need the words. She reminds me of the heyday of Kevin Maguire when he was working on Justice League way back when. I hope she stays on the book a very long time.
The story that Bendis chooses to tell this issue is shocking in that it has so very little to do with the characters in costume. In fact, in the final act of the book when the costumes are donned and the daring do begins… daring, I found myself wishing it hadn’t intruded in the story that was unfolding.
This issue is an amazing mediation on teen body image, perceptions of fame and the power of friendship. It’s Bendis’ Spider-Man channeling Beverly Cleary’s Judy Bloom. By turns funny, sad and a little heartbreaking, this is the best story about teenagers I’ve read in a very, very long time.
What a great start to a new book these first issues of Spider-Man have been.