This week Spidey’s on the run again in the Marvel Legacy relaunch of Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Image gets into the vampire game with Dark Fang!
Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #297 (Marvel Comics)
While I’ve enjoyed Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert’s Spectacular Spider-Man series, there hasn’t been a lot done with it to make it stand out from its bigger brother, Amazing Spider-Man. However, all that’s set to change now that Marvel Legacy has set in, and the rebranded Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #297 raises the stakes and the action in this series considerably.
Faced with trying to protect his “sister” Theresa Durand, Peter Parker has now been put in the crosshairs of The Grey Blade and The Tinkerer, who’ve sent a team of mercenaries to track down Peter Parker and Spider-Man to get to her. A majority of Peter Parker #297 is a huge action set piece, as Peter Parker must make his way through his apartment building and escape without revealing he’s Spider-Man, which is easier said than done.
Despite the fact that this issue barely covers the fact that Spidey revealed his identity to J Jonah Jameson last issue (aside from a quick reference when Jonah arrives to save him), I have to say, this is the strongest script Chip Zdarsky has done on the series. A good mix of jokes and action, this issue is a great showcase for Zdarsky being more than just the “quirky comic guy” that he built a name for himself on with Howard the Duck. The only gripe I have is that this issue and the series in general, don’t really fit in with where the other Spider-Man titles are currently in the Marvel universe. An editor’s note giving us some kind of idea of the chronology of this story would clear this up pretty easily.
On the art side of things, I have to admit, Adam Kubert has been a little lackluster with this series. However, like Zdarsky’s script, this issue has some of his strongest work on the title, which is a pretty big relief. I was worried that Kubert was going to fall into the “established artist who’s phoning it in” that we’ve seen a lot of lately, but that’s not the case here, as there are some really awesome and dynamic action pages in this issue, especially when Spidey makes his way though the mercenaries in his way.
Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #297 is a pretty easy issue to jump into, but you might want to go back and grab the issues from the start of this run before it was renumbered to get the full story. Zdarsky and Kubert really brought their A game for this issue, so here’s hoping they can keep it going for the rest of the story arc.
Dark Fang #1 (Image Comics)
How would a vampire react to our world of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Image’s new series Dark Fang looks to answer that question, and the results may surprise you. Written by Miles Gunter and drawn by Kelsey Shannon, Dark Fang is a really unique twist on the vampire tales you’ve read countless times, and Valla’s origin story is pretty cool as well.
After spending a hundred years in the ocean, Valla returns to the world of humans in the modern day. After discovering her victims are obsessed with a “glowing box”, she learns of the different ways that she can use it to make money, something she is in desperate need of since she’s been gone for a century. Quickly becoming an internet sensation, Valla adjusts to her new lifestyle of internet fame and fortune, until a mysterious black spot appears on one of her fangs.
Dark Fang has a lot of fun skewering our obsessions with technology, but the thing that stands out the most to me is Valla’s back story. While this first issue is book ended in a weirdly disjointed way, once Miles Gunter’s script focuses on Valla’s history as a vampire, I was really intrigued. It’s a weird cross between Dracula and The Little Mermaid¸ and it works surprisingly really well. While the other aspects of this issue aren’t as strong as that, it’s enough to get you to understand Valla’s worldview, and make you hope for more flashbacks to her time under the sea.
Speaking of The Little Mermaid, that’s a clear influence on artist Kelsey Shannon’s art. While Dark Fang is definitely drawn in a cartoonish style, it actually works really well for the world Gunter and Shannon set up. Like Gunter’s script, Shannon’s art is at its best in the “origin section” of Dark Fang, where the artist can really cut loose with some stunning undersea landscapes and panels.
Despite the awkward opening and ending of this issue, I’m still curious enough about Dark Fang to keep going with it. The clever twist on Valla’s origin story and her feelings towards modern culture are pretty entertaining, and I really want to see where her story goes from here. Fans of vampire stories like Interview with the Vampire, Dracula, and even Twilight would probably find a lot to like here.