Spandex #6A comic review article by: Kelvin Green
You can find out more about Spandex at spandexcomic.com.
This is one ballsy, gutsy comic. Spandex has always had a streak of brazen audaciousness running through it but it culminates here -- although with one more issue to go in the series, I wouldn't be surprised to see more twists and turns -- in a bold plot development that really does change the entire tone and direction of the comic. There's no hesitation or prevarication, just Martin Eden dropping a big old plot twist in the readers' laps with nothing more than a "Whoomp, there it is," as those sultans of hip-hop the Tag Team might say. It's the kind of thing that Grant Morrison used to do back when he still knew how to write comics, and it's exciting to see a creator still taking risks with the genre.
The rest of the issue is somewhat more conventional superheroics, as we get a few more flashbacks into the origin of the Spandex team, a bit of banter and some clever power displays. One could argue it's a bit pedestrian in comparison to Martin Eden's Big Idea, but one could also argue that the contrast is quite deliberate, to make that big development I can't stop going on about all the more effective. Either way, even when he's going through the basic building blocks of a superhero story, Eden knows how to do it well; unlike certain other writers of superhero team comics, when Eden writes a scene of characters sitting around talking, there is a point to it aside from filling up space.
That said, there are still a couple of wobbly moments. The villains' scheme is still somewhat obscure -- although there are hints that there is more to be revealed -- and one or two lines of dialogue seem a bit strained, as if Eden is trying just a bit too hard to make an impact. There's also a hint that Eden might be about to use one of my least favorite literary devices, but we'll see what happens in the next issue before I castigate him for it.
Aside from a couple of clumsy panels here and there, the art is some of Eden's best, his gift for chracterisation and storytelling helping to make the most of an issue that is light on the punching; doing the flashbacks in the older art style used in early issues of his previous title The O Men is a neat touch, and the final page is a simple but oh so effective composition that does justice to the aforementioned big plot twist.
Also included with the issue are three mini comics from T'sao Wei, Robert Wells and Garry McLaughlin, highlighting the histories of some of the title's supporting characters. All are short pieces that work best in the context of the main series, but all three boast strong art -- quite different in style both from each other and the main title -- and each plays with the standard format of the comic book; McLaughlin's fold out eight-pages-in-one technique in particular is quite clever. Although it would be dishonest and unfair to judge the main issue on the basis of the free gifts, the very fact that there are free gifts at all is a pleasant and welcome touch.
Every few months or so when this comic drops through my letterbox I'm reminded of how it's almost absurd how good Spandex is; Martin Eden writes and draws the title in his spare time, and yet it is better than most of the comics put out by the alleged professionals. I can't figure that out.
Kelvin Green erupted fully formed from the grey shapeless mass of Ubbo Sathla in the dark days before humans walked the earth. He grew up on Judge Dredd, Transformers, Indiana Jones #12, The Avengers and Spider-Man, and thinks comics don't get much better than FLCL, Nextwave and Rocket Raccoon. Kelvin lives among garbage and seagulls and doesn't hate Marvel nearly as much as you all think he does.