Current Reviews


Tangled Web #18

Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer & Artist: Ted McKeever
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens by introducing us to a man who is seething in rage at the way people around him are butchering the English language, with their poor grammar, improper clauses & overused colloquialisms. We then see him happen across the costumed crime fighter who goes by the name Typeface, and we see this man is inspired by Typeface's heroics to dress up in a costume and become a defender of the English language. Calling himself SpellCheck, we see the grammar obsessed man comes to the conclusion that Typeface could use an ally with his impressive mastery of the English language, and soon Typeface finds that he has gained himself a partner. However, given SpellCheck's only ability is his vast knowledge about the proper use of the English language, we see Typeface's confusion soon turns into outright annoyance. With SpellCheck advising him on everything from how to properly phrase his heroic banter, to the correct use of the tiles that Typeface uses to generate his various letter-based attacks, we see Typeface's frustration has him knocking SpellCheck out and leaving him for Spider-Man. We then see even Spider-Man can't escape the verbal might of SpellCheck.

In the online community there's two types of posters who I consider my pet peeves. The first is the one who actively roams the boards looking for something to bash (e.g. the DC fan on the Marvel boards, the Marvel fan on the DC boards). The second is the grammar corrector, as I can't think of a greater waste of time than pointing out incorrect grammar, improper word usage, and the dozens of other mistakes that are regularly made by the fanboy whose sole concern are getting their points across. Now, it's not my time, so I really shouldn't care how they waste it, but that's why it's called a pet peeve. Now I can't be certain if Ted McKeever had this second group in mind when he wrote this story, but I can hardly be blamed for making the connection, as SpellCheck is the online grammar corrector transformed into a comic character. We then have Typeface cast as the typical online poster, as we see his efforts to carry out his heroic duties are constantly being undermined by the grammar obsessed SpellCheck. With this in mind this issue was delightfully cathartic in the way that it had Typeface dealing with this unwanted sidekick, though SpellCheck does manage to get the last word in.

Typeface has to be one of the more unusual creations to come out of Spider-Man's corner of the universe since the Rocket Racer, and the story where the character made his debut over in the pages of "Peter Parker: Spider-Man", was one of the weakest of Paul Jenkins run, as he took the concept of the character far too seriously. This one-shot issue is much stronger, as Ted McKeever has recognized the lameness factor that Typeface extrudes, and he amplified a hundred fold with his creation of SpellCheck. This in turn allows Ted McKeever to have all sorts of fun with Typeface, and his rather unique gimmick, as how can one not love his method of dealing with evil doers, as we see them laid low by giant letters, or when Typeface's flowery dialogue is critiqued by SpellCheck. One also has the enjoy the role reversal this story employs as we see that this time it is Typeface who has to deal with the unwanted sidekick, and SpellCheck doesn't disappoint when it comes to his ability to annoyed the heck out of Typeface. There's also a nice slapstick quality to this story, like when SpellCheck does his Spider-Man impression, or receives a response from Typeface after he points out how useful he can be.

Ted McKeever's art is well suited to deliver this issue's story, as it has a nice gritty look to it to capture the low rent quality of the story's central characters, but the art also manages to capture the humor of the situation. I mean one has to smile at the series of panels where SpellCheck is beaned in the head by the letter E, or when the inept costumed defender of the English language does his hilarious Spider-Man impression. There's also SpellCheck's silly costume design that has his mask outdoing even Electro's when it comes to sheer silliness (though Razorback still holds the top position for most ridiculous headgear). Now I will concede that there are times when Ted McKeever's figure-work does look a bit odd, as our first look at SpellCheck in costume has the character looking like a zombie who has risen from the grave. However, given his only power is a mastery of the English language, this rather ominous first look at the character seems strangely befitting. Typeface also gets some cute visual moments in this issue, like his encounter with the young child, or the barrage of letters that he sends SpellCheck's way when he doesn't get the message right away.

Final Word:
A delightfully silly issue, where Ted McKeever has all sorts of fun with the idea that an obsessed party will go to extraordinary lengths. Now I'll admit my own online encounters with the grammar police had me instantly casting SpellCheck into a role that I'm not entirely certain Ted McKeever had envisioned for the character, but I had a grand old time with the final exchange between Typeface & SpellCheck, as there have been times when being able to bonk someone on the head with a giant letter would've been the ideal solution. In any event, this issue is a fun, throwaway issue, that has a humorous idea it wants to present, and the issue ends right about the time when the joke was going to run out of steam, so Ted McKeever paced this issue quite nicely. I also have to credit Ted McKeever for actually making Typeface work, as after my last encounter with the character, I never wanted to see him grace the pages of a comic again.

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