With the first three issues of Marvel Action: Spider-Man bringing together our three main heroes and slowly introducing them to each other the book feels like it’s finally found its groove, with a much more relaxed and naturally paced story this issue.
The main story focuses on Peter Parker as he comes to terms with having two new friends who are themselves spider-themed heroes. Whilst Peter seems happy to no longer be a lone hero, he feels reluctant to share his web shooter technology with the others, feeling that if he gives them webbing he will lose something that makes him unique.
It’s an interesting thought, that Spider-Man, a character that we are all used to seeing as not only incredibly brave, but also incredibly giving, would be reluctant to share his toys with other heroes. But then this is a Spider-Man who is literally still a kid at this point. He has all of the insecurities and self esteem issues that all teenagers have, and these are definitely playing into how he is internalising this issue. This is one of the best things about doing a series that goes back, that makes Peter a high schooler once again, as it allows us to explore personal and moral dilemmas that the regular, adult, Peter Parker wouldn’t be dealing with.
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Issue four also introduces us to the ever wonderful J Jonah Jameson for the first time, bringing Peter’s grumpy, scenery-chomping editor into this new universe. He is, as always, over the top, full of himself, and absolutely loathes Spider-Man, even if Spider-Man saves him from a costumed villain. Whilst the new Marvel Action series are good ways at bringing new and interesting takes to existing characters I’m glad that Jameson is still the grumpy old pain that fans know and love.
The most exciting thing about this issue, however, is the set up for the next big villain to appear. When Jameson began looking for a way to bring down Spider-Man I thought that this would be the introduction of Scorpion, a character that Jameson had a hand in creating back in the regular 616 universe, but Erik Burnham managed to subvert my expectations by having Jameson contact Kraven the Hunter instead. Kraven has always been a favourite villain of mine, so getting to see him go up against not just one, but three spider-themed heroes in coming issues is definitely an exciting prospect.
The artwork throughout is gorgeous, as always, and Christopher Jones brings a wonderful sense of dynamic action to the fight scenes, filling them with movement: not an easy job for static panels. He also manages to make Spider-Man look great even when doing the most mundane things. He hangs from webs in interesting ways, crawls down walls in unusual positions, and even manages to make climbing in a window look good.
The writing and art on Marvel Action: Spider-Man work brilliantly together, and are crafting a wonderful, entertaining new Spider-Man universe that’s a genuine pleasure to read every issue.