Current Reviews


Tangled Web #15

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer & Artist: Paul Pope

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens by taking us into the basement of a dilapidated building, where we find a man is busy constructing a suit of battle armor, much to the annoyance of his fellow tenants, as we learn he's also the building fix-it man, and the armor is eating up all his time. We the see the man returns home, where he has a fit when he discovers his young daughter has adorned her wall with a Spider-Man poster, and as he rips it off the wall we see this man has a serious beef with super-heroes. We then see that later that night this man leaves the apartment with a large hockey bag, and the daughter takes to listening to the radio report of a battle between an armored super-villain and the police. After figuring out that this battle is occurring a few blocks from her home, we see this young girl hops on her bike in the hopes of seeing Spider-Man in action. However once at the battle sight we see her spot that the armored villain is carrying a rather familiar looking hockey bag, and when Spider-Man arrives to take down this armored baddie she realizes her father is about to be sent to jail by her beloved hero Spider-Man.

While I understand why he chose to end his story when he did, as it allows the reader's imagination to tack on the ever predictable finish to this battle. However, since this issue was a one-shot and we're unlikely to revisit this young girl, I found myself actively annoyed at this book for ending right when the material got interesting. I mean I want to see how this girl deals with the idea that her father was sent to prison by Spider-Man. Sure the guy was a creep, so she might very well become an even bigger Spider-Man fan, but most children tend to love their parents no matter how badly they are treated by them, so it's more likely it will inspire feelings of resentment, and even hatred of Spider-Man. In any event, engaging in conjecture is about all I can do as Paul Pope only takes us so far before he simply ends his story in mid-note. I like this book's done-in-one approach to storytelling, and I love the idea that each story has itself a new creative team, but this issue cries out for a second chapter, and since it's unlikely to get one I can't recommend it, unless one's a fan of being left hanging by the writer.

If one is dead set on picking up this issue then I can't very well stop you, and there are elements to the book that I found quite enjoyable, starting with it's central character, who comes across as quite charming, in spite of her rather unpleasant surroundings. I found her musing about what Spider-Man looks like under the mask to be cute, but my favorite element would have to her scrap book of villains that she pulls out when she hears the news reports about an armored villain having it out with the police. Sure it's a bit odd that she views a villain being in prison as a means of writing them off her list of possible suspects, as super-villains escape from jail even more than they return from the dead. Still, I did find this scene quite endearing, as was her "kid hearing an ice cream truck" reaction when she figured out that this was likely a new villain making their debut appearance. However these earlier scenes only serve to make the final page all the more frustrating, as Paul Pope offers up a fairly engaging character, and after placing her in an interesting situation, he packs up the cart & heads off to his next project.

Paul Pope's work has its moments where it impresses the heck out of me, with the opening shot of the young girl's apartment building being a wonderful visual of urban decay, as is the following page as the art travels into the basement of this building. The art also does a nice job conveying the anger of the girl's father as he rips up her Spider-Man poster, and the anguish on her face as he's doing so. There's also a nice sense of raw energy to the scene where the Stag-Beetle blows apart a police car, and the art also does a pretty nice job conveying the idea that Spider- Man can be rather creepy, as the scene where he confronts the young girl plays almost like a scene out of a horror film. However, there are also elements to the art that I can't say I'm overly fond of, starting with the art's need to clearly outline the lips of all its characters, which makes them look like throwbacks to the silent movie era. I also can't say I enjoyed the rather flat coloring that this issue uses, as it's almost like someone told Lee Loughridge that he could only use three colors on each page.

Final Word:
Okay, I'm a fan of this book's current format that has a new creative team arriving on the title for every arc, and I also enjoy the idea that most of the stories thus far have been standalone issues, that deliver a complete story in a single issue. The problem this month is that the story isn't done when Paul Pope rolls the final credits. He creates a fairly interesting character in the young girl, and he sets up a pretty interesting crisis for her to be faced with, but after arriving at this stage of the game the story simply ends. Now I realize the ending is fairly easy to predicate, as Spider-Man eats armored goons like this for breakfast, but I want to see this girl's reaction to the idea that her father is being sent to jail by Spider-Man. The book is an interesting read while it's lasts, but the only really surprise that it delivers is the abrupt ending that it's saddled with. It's an engaging character, who's faced with an interesting problem, but the non-ending killed my enthusiasm for the material.

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