11 Nov 2011


Writer: Zeb Wells
Art: Joe Madureira & Ferran Daniel
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: It’s funny how things pan out; not three years ago Marvel decided to take things back to basics with Spider-Man, reducing the number of regular titles to one - albeit with a thrice monthly schedule - and giving Peter Parker something of a fresh start thanks to the One More Day and then Brand New Day storylines. Having decided that the thrice monthly thing, and the rotation of artists and writers to fit such an enterprise, was too much, Marvel scaled things back further to the excellent Slott/Ramos/Caselli twice monthly roadshow that is currently Amazing Spider-Man. That hasn’t stopped the webbed-wonder appearing in a slew of other titles in the meantime - see Avengers, New Avengers, FF and any event book that Marvel puts out each Summer - and it appears that now the House That Stan Built are happy to renegotiate on the whole ‘one dedicated Spidey book’ deal.

Avenging Spider-Man is set to go for a team-up premise, with each arc focusing on a plot where everyone’s favourite arachnid hero ends up paired with another character through the span of the story. Deciding against the obvious ‘Team-Up’ title is probably a good move as Marvel have used them before with mixed results and ‘Avenging’ certainly gives us an idea of who we might be seeing as the guest stars as the series rolls on. Wells and Madureira drop us right into the thick of things with the Avengers taking on an army of AIM agents with their marauding battle robot and this is used to remind everybody just how much Peter Parker has going on in his life and just how he fits into the multipurpose team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (‘He’s not in the X-Men!?’ Scott Summers would seeth!). It’s noticeable that Wells is a writer who fully understands the comedic side of his lead character with a handful of playful sarcasm, some self-depreciation jokes and one or two modern culture references thrown into the first half dozen pages or so to give this new title an instantly fun feel.

Opting to go with Thunderbolt Ross aka The Red Hulk as the initial foil works really well as this just accentuates the ‘odd couple’ premise, with the two heroes barely sharing anything in common. The gruff, silent Rulk will give Wells plenty for Spidey to say as he tries to fill the awkward silences that inevitably turn up in between the ground shaking action. And action is where this debut seems to excel!

Wells has our heroes leaping from one scrap to the next and this allows fan-favourite artist Joe Madureira the opportunity to remind us what he does best. He retains that dynamic style that he became famous for and that first page of four panel fighting fun is almost worth the wait and cover price alone. The man knows how to get the most from a page with a full compliment of close-ups, wide angles and splashes giving a fast and frantic touch to the whole issue and his years working in the video game arena have certainly kept him in good stead when drawing ginormous subterranean monsters! He’s also an artist who wrings every last drop of expression from the Spider-Man mask’s eyes and that’s not something that many illustrators manage to accomplish. My only criticism of his current style is on the inking side and I personally preferred it when he worked in tandem with a separate inker, such as Battle Chasers’ Tom McWeeney, as I think it gave his work greater definition. Here he occasionally succumbs to that scratchier style that many pencillers do - see the aforementioned Ramos’ work on Avengers: The Initiative - when they end up inking their own linework.

Wells signs this debut off with New York-based, moloid carnage with a neat political plot twist that will be interesting to delve into next issue and with more laughs to be had with the Spidey & Rulk partnership I’m certainly looking forward to it...


There’s just something that doesn’t sit well with me with this title and what Marvel are doing. At the premium $3.99 pricepoint I’m already a little wary about adding this to my pull list despite the evident quality. However, when I read the final page of the story - I’m not even going to wade into the groan-worthy Avengers: X-Sanction teaser in the back which irks me even further - I found myself mentally noting that it hadn’t taken me all that long to read. Conducting a count and then further recount, the Avenging Spider-Man content contained within this #1 comes in at 24 pages... and by 24 pages I actually mean 22 pages as that superfluous, anger-inciting double page nod to the creative team, editorial team and fluffy pets belonging to everyone at Marvel and Disney - a move possibly taken from Mark Millar’s big bag of tricks (oh yes, I’m onto you sir!) - is a bitter reminder that, with no guarantee of quality, the House of Ideas is getting far stingier when it comes to quantity.

Thanks to Big Joe Mad’s damn fine but splash-heavy, panel-lite style we get far, far less story over the course of 22 pages than we do in an equivalently sized and priced issue of Amazing with Ramos or Caselli pencilling. That’s understandable when we consider the deadline issues that Madureira has had in the past and bigger images/less detail should help with keeping this comic hitting the stores on time but it still makes me feel a touch shortchanged when parting with those 4 bucks, especially when Wells is such a bloody good writer who can really craft a story. It does also seem a touch unfair to compare the two Spidey titles in such a way but realistically, at $3.99, Avenging is competition on the shelves with, not a companion piece to the established Amazing. Had Marvel taken a $2.99 stance with this title, even if it had been for the first arc, there would be no quibble, but if push came to shove this minute I know immediately which Spidey book of the two would find itself out in the cold and that’s unfortunately down to a publishing decision that has slightly tarnished a promising series at it’s outset. 6/10

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