DeadMan’s Spider-Man Noir Review
In 2009, Marvel Comics started a series of mini-series called Marvel Noir. The main idea behind it was to take existing Marvel Comics series or characters like Iron Man and X-Men, set them in the mid to late 1930’s, take out quite a bit of the comic book ridiculousness and replace it with old noir crime story motifs. Nine Marvel series got this treatment, including Spider-Man, which is the focus of this review.
Set in 1933, Ben Urich, a reporter for the Daily Bugle, is in one of the city’s shanty towns taking pictures on the orders of J. Jonah Jameson, the Bugle’s editor-in-chief. While there he saves May Parker, an activist fighting for the residents of the shanty towns, and her nephew Peter from the Enforcers and a run-in with their boss Norman Osborn, aka The Goblin, Urich hires Peter as his assistant. After seeing some serious shit, Peter gets spider powers and decides to take the Goblin down.
The story is one of my favorite things about this series. It really delivers on the promise the Marvel Noir collection made, giving readers a much darker and slightly less ridiculous story. The only time they really drop the ball in the story department is how Peter got his powers. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say the radioactive spider bite (or whatever kind of spider gave him his powers) makes a million times more sense than the way he gets his spider powers in this series.
I also really like what David Hine, the writer, did with the characters. Spider-Man’s new costume is my favorite costume to date. It reminds me a lot of the Venom suit Spidey wore for a while. It consists of a leather mask with goggles, a leather jacket, black shirt and pants and combat boots. He even shoots black webs this time around, and I think they are produced inside his body this time instead of coming from web shooters. I know the costume doesn’t really sound in the least bit spider related at all, and it isn’t, but I still think it looks badass.
Spider-Man is a lot more badass in this story, too. Remember in the Kraven’s Last Hunt (and I think in O.M.I.T. or One More Day or one of those) where Spider-Man starts just brutally beating the living shit out of everyone he fights without all the quips and stuff? He is like that almost all the time. He spends most of the comic rolling with a fucking gun, and using it. I really do like the standard Spider-Man’s carefree attitude in the face of mortal danger, but that kind of attitude would just feel so out of place in this story.
A couple of other characters have gotten some great noir treatments to them. Felicia Hardy is the femme fatale owner of The Black Cat bar with a sordid past with Ben Urich instead of the femme fatale cat burglar. The Vulture, instead of being a bitter old man with a flying suit, is now a circus freak in a feathery suit. The changes that were made to Osborn were pretty good, too, but that’s about it. Every other character in this series is essentially themselves in suits instead of their regular costumes.
The art is really well done in this series. It all takes place in that noir New York where it is permanently dark and snowing, and it looks fantastic. There is this cool look to the lights that I really like. Whenever there are lights on or flashing or something, it flares out and has this glow around the source that you don’t really see in comics set in modern times.
Spider-Man Noir is really the only mini-series I have read from the Noir collection, but it left a really good impression. The art captures the style of the genre while keeping it looking modern, the story sets a great tone for that time period and genre and the changes made to the characters really help pull the whole thing together. I will definitely be looking into the other series in this collection. Even if you are not a reader of the main Spider-Man stuff, you should really check this out.
Final Score: 4.5/5