This week, Marvel’s long-delayed new Spider-Man miniseries, W.E.B. of Spider-Man, swings into stores. The series is a tie-in to the recently-opened Avengers Campus theme park at Disneyland, but how does it stand on its own as a comic?
W.E.B. of Spider-Man #1
Writer: Kevin Shinick
Artist: Alberto Alburquerque
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: GuriHiru
The new W.E.B. of Spider-Man miniseries is a bit of an odd beast. Sure, Marvel puts out umpteen Spidey comics a month, so adding another to the mix isn’t particularly a shock. It’s the series’s status as a theme park tie-in that sets it apart. The title has to act as essentially an extended ad for one of the rides in Avengers Campus, presumably highlighting different features and aspects of the experience. At the same time, it also ideally should tell a satisfying, entertaining story. With the first issue in-hand, it looks like W.E.B. of Spider-Man is doing at least one of those things well.
Being based on the theme park ride, it makes sense that W.E.B. of Spider-Man would also utilize the most readily recognizable version of Spidey – the MCU Peter played by Tom Holland. Writer Kevin Shinick extends the high school-aged Peter’s Stark Enterprise internship to include the facility highlighted in the ride, the Worldwide Engineering Brigade, and populates the rest of the issue’s cast with characters either recognizable from the MCU (Iron Man 3’s Harley Keener, in his comic debut), from familiar locales (Onome, from Wakanda), or from other Marvel properties that have crossed over with younger mainstream readers (Lunella Lafayette and Doreen Green, aka Moon Girl and Squirrel Girl, respectively).
Shinick introduces the characters economically for new readers, and the ensuing attempts at oneupmanship from each of them to see who’s the smartest offers a sense of their personalities. Doreen acts uncharacteristically aggressive toward Peter upon their meeting, which was a little off-putting as a longtime fan of hers, but it was still nice to see her again in a prominent role.
Artists Alberto Alburquerque and Rachelle Rosenberg bring everything to life well. W.E.B. is the latest Spidey-related title for Alburquerque, and he illustrates the webslinger’s action with the appropriate energy. There are a lot of talking heads in the early pages as characters are introduced and settings are established, but Alburquerque and Rosenberg keep things visually interesting with lots of character movement and expressive faces, which adds to the characters’ personalities nicely. Alburquerque also nicely conveys the chaos of the latter half of the issue with interesting page layouts and dynamic angles on the action.
As the first installment of a story, W.E.B. of Spider-Man #1 is headed in the right direction with character introductions, some entertaining action, and a few mysteries set up for future issues to explore. As far as Spidey comics go, I’ve definitely read worse, though I’ve also read better. I also have no idea how representative this comic is of the experience at the Avengers Campus theme park (but hey, if Marvel wanted to send me there to review it, they know where to find me). This is also definitely a comic geared towards first-time comic readers — a note at the end of the issue from editor Devin Lewis explains the different roles the members of a creative team plays, for example — and people coming in to the characters from the MCU (or perhaps from a theme park gift shop). If the first issue is any indication, as a light, entertaining souvenir for Disney vacationers, it looks like W.E.B. of Spider-Man will get the job done.
Final Verdict: BROWSE.
Children of the Atom #4
- Currently, all of the X-titles are wrapped up in the Hellfire Gala storyline, and Children of the Atomis no exception. Also using the gala as a plot point, the team continues to try and find a way to reach the shores of Krakoa and crash the Gala. And even though we’ve already seen the big joker played with the intricate plot twist at the end of the first issue, we can only assume that writer Vita Ayala has another card up their sleeve, just getting ready to drop that little joker and mess with our minds even more. I love the feel of this book as it is highly reminiscent of the New Mutants from when I was a teenager, but definitely made for this millennium, and Paco Medina’s fast-paced action gels wonderfully with the thoughtful use of the characters. A solid issue that keeps the ball moving. —GC3
Heroes Reborn #6
- In the penultimate issue of this incredibly strange and, dare I say, subversive Marvel event, the formation of the Avengers continues to more or less occur behind the scenes while Jason Aaron highlights the members of the Squadron Supreme, this time focusing on Princess Zarda, a rougher and much more violent take on Wonder Woman. This was certainly one of the more unique issues of the series since Zarda has more of a knack for domination and power than she has on love or doing the right thing. I found Erica D’Urso’s artwork to be a perfect complement of this, highlighting the brutality and violence of the character as opposed to grace and beauty like her DC counterpart. If you’re like me and have been struggling with Aaron’s run on Avengers, this event is a surprise reminder of his strengths as a storyteller and, for the first time in a long time, I can confidently say that I’m excited to see how this story ends. —HW
Iron Man #9
- Christopher Cantwell and CAFU‘s ongoing Korvac epic continues, this time with an issue focused on the series villain, his past, and his search for someone who can finally understand what he’s trying to achieve. Cantwell has set up an eclectic cast of characters during his run, and this issue adds an unexpected and welcome addition to the group. The creative team also do a great job of making readers feel for Korvac, even if we know that what he’s planning is…less than ideal. This is the second straight issue that present-day Tony Stark hasn’t appeared in and honestly I haven’t even missed him. As long as Cantwell, CAFU, and co. continue putting out great issues like this one, I’m happy to read an Iron Man-less Iron Man comic. —JG
- The X-Men installment of the Hellfire Gala also happens to be writer Jonathan Hickman‘s final issue on the series (but not with the X-line), and he’s joined by a who’s-who of great guest artists. After the stellar previous issue, though, this one felt a little like going through the motions. The issue touches on elements from earlier in Hickman’s run, but doesn’t dig much further into them beyond ‘hey, remember this thing,’ which is a little disappointing, but I suppose you have to leave something for the next writer to play with. As the ‘main’ Hellfire Gala installment of the week, the issue also formally introduces the new X-Men team, which would have been a bit more exciting if the lineup hadn’t already been revealed a few months ago. It’s a fine comic, but not the thrilling exit one would have hoped for from Hickman. —JG
Next week, Planet-Size X-Men #1 unveils the future of Marvel’s X-line!