Spider-Man #1

Marvel Knights, 2013

 

by Matt Kindt, Marco Rudy, Val Staples

Reader Appeal/Publisher Rating: T+ (ages 15 and older)

Genre: Superhero/Horror

 

Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1 (2013) is a mesmerizing, nightmarish descent into adventure that almost comes alive within the pages of this comic. While the content would not generally be considered appropriate for children (as indicated by its inclusion in the "Marvel Knights" line), mature teens and adults should be fascinated by this strange superhero journey.

 

The story begins with Peter Parker entering a carnival-esque den of mystery, ostensibly in response to an ad for a freelance photographer job. When he arrives, instead of a job he finds the mystical Madame Web who gives a warning: "The riddle of the ninety-nine problems" is about to begin.

 

An unexpected explosion rocks the scene. Peter wakes up to find himself now in his Spider-Man costume and facing, as if by magic, the evil supervillain Jack O' Lantern. Jack informs our hero that he's been poisoned by a bite from the macabre Morbius (the living vampire) and now may or may not be hallucinating in this house of horrors. From there, scripter Matt Kindt narrates Spidey's descent into madness with an artful skill, commenting on and reacting to the crazy things that converge on Spider-Man as he tries to make sense of his senses—and somehow survive it all.

 

This story is deliberately disjointed as the reader is thrust into Spider-Man's head, trying to solve the mysteries of the moment as dangers hurtle unchecked toward the hero. Kindt is generally up to the challenge here, setting the stage nicely, giving clues as to what may be real and what may be hallucinations, but never revealing too much. He is occasionally wordy and sometimes obvious, but still does a good job of moving the narrative forward and centering Spider-Man's inner dialogue in the comfortingly-familiar personality of Peter Parker.

 

The real attraction here is in Marco Rudy's pencils and Val Staples' dynamic colors. They convey with power and authority the hallucinogenic world that makes up the mystery of this story. Everything is almost perfect, yet always slightly off. Everything makes good visual sense, but is also just a little dizzy and disorienting. It's impressive. A two-page spread near the center of the book (where Spidey hears a call for help) is worthy of framing, juxtaposing red-flecked blackness with blurred light and incorporating text of Peter's fear-soaked thoughts right into the art itself. Very cool (and scary!).

 

Overall, I found myself fascinated by this dark vision of a Spider-Man adventure—though I admit I moved it out of sight when my 11-year-old nephew came over to visit.

 

Parents should be aware that this Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1 earns its T+ rating with graphic violence, nightmarish visuals, and an ever-present atmosphere of fear. According to Marvel Comics, a T+ rating means that "parents are advised they may want to read before or with younger children." I agree.

 

That said, adults and mature teens (particularly those with a taste for the horror and suspense genre) will likely find this a fascinating beginning to a scary superhero tale. Marvel Knights #1 (2013) is the first of a five-episode miniseries.

 

--MN

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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