The reason Marvel Action: Spider-Man and the other Marvel Action stories are special is due to the fact that they create an easily consumable comic story without the insistent crossover events on the back of decades of continuity. These are familiar, but in a world on their own - a delineation that has been missing from recent Marvel epics. There is a difference between comics like Marvel Action: Spider-Man and graphic novels. For the most part, comic books are periodicals, meaning that they are published regularly and in an economical format, bound by trusty staples. More often than not, a comic book won’t stand on its own as a complete narrative. A periodical builds off what has transpired in issues before it, where a graphic novel tends to be much longer than the average 22 pages and tells a larger, self-contained story, like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen or Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
Marvel Action: Spider-Man features the Spider-trio made household names in Sony’s wildly successful, Into the Spider-Verse movie. Writer Brandon Easton takes advantage of the opportunity of a continuity-free Spider-Man comic to have original Spider-Man Peter Parker share the spotlight with fellow Spider-people Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy. Rather than use the alternate realities (a fun, but vastly overused, comic book trope), Easton comes up with a clever solution to make the 3 co-stars in her book. Peter Parker, Miles Morales, and Gwen Stacy are all teenage peers and superheroes with Spider-powers and familiar costumes. Easton wasted no time introducing the Spider-trio as classmates who quickly revealed their secret identities to one another, making them something of a Spider-Man team.
The artist on Marvel Action: Spider-Man is Fico Ossio. Ossio excels at drawing the younger versions of the Spider-heroes. His heroes are bug-eyed acrobats with big, bulbous heads that sit atop thin, spindly frames. Ossio conjures creatively stunning designs, and he seems to have an endless selection of poses at his disposal, almost in a Todd McFarlane style. Ronda Pattison is the colorist for the issue and adds so much depth to the action, while allowing the heroes to pop front and center. All three Spiders are instantly recognizable from their comic and movie counterparts, but Ossio seems to have done the slightest bit of tinkering with the costumes to make them his own. Peter’s suit has blue soles, for example, and prominently displayed web-shooters. Not organic, thankfully.
Marvel Action: Spider-Man #2 follows our superhero team as they battle classic Peter Parker villain The Shocker. As the trio attempts to thwart the baddy from laying waste to NYC, the humorous quips and banter are plentiful, and the simple, kid-friendly dialogue makes this story a quick read, but the art had me turning the pages at a snail’s pace to soak in every moment. While the three do not catch or even solve the mystery of who The Shocker is, I would be “shocked” if we were not introduced to the main villain's alter ego in this issue. This issue follows Miles Morales and shows the reader a little more of his home life out of the costume. I will not divulge much of Miles’ side story, because that might spoil the identity of The Shocker. The obvious bread crumbs that reveal the “twist” of this issue is where I found it most evident I was not the prime demographic for this periodical. And that is perfectly fine with me and did not take anything away from my enjoyment of this comic book. This is the Spider-Man story that should always exist, free of cosmic, world-ending weight. This is a FUN book that knows its characters, and any Spider fan will enjoy it for that alone.
This is a promising return to the periodical world with this Marvel/IDW collaboration. Fantastic art, great writing, and a clever premise offer a new take on one of the world’s most popular superheroes. This fresh take is more than just a new beginning, it's a fun series that new readers - of all ages - can enjoy.
Creative Team: Brandon Easton (writer), Fico Ossio (artist), Ronda Pattison (colorist)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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