The fun, continuity-lite adventures of Spider-Man’s early career continue in Spidey #2, written by Robbie Thompson and drawn by Nick Bradshaw. As has been hinted at and dodged in any authoritative confirmation, both on this site and elsewhere, this series appears to be less of an early adventures, in-continuity, between-the-panels investigation and more of a reimagining of Spider-Man’s tales, re-packaged and brightened up for a new target audience.
Taken in that light, Spidey #2 is a bundle of fun. Sharing the recap page from Spidey #1, this issue provides a done-in-one confrontation with Sandman, but also spotlights Peter’s relationship with Aunt May. Thompson could be working from a checklist of requirements for Spider-Man stories, as he not only brings in Aunt May, but also investigates the aspects of Peter Parker’s personality, brings in an appearance of Gwen Stacy (making her even more loveable in the process) and affords his artist the opportunity to drop in Aunt May’s famous wheatcakes, Spider-Man’s belt-buckle flashlight, and even an appearance from Kraven.
Thompson’s artist is Nick Bradshaw, who brings all sorts of crazy detail to Spidey #2. With Sandman sharing the spotlight, Bradshaw takes the gritty theme of issue and plays it throughout, using sand as panel outlines and also adding sandy references (like Peter dumping sand out of his shoes on the porch before going home). Bradshaw’s characters are cartoony, and inherently expressive. The artist’s style lends itself to the gangly nature of teenagers and the bizarre range of movement Sandman employs, but he doesn’t stop there. From Mr. Maxwell’s exasperation with Peter Parker’s daydreams to the rage on Sandman’s face, Bradshaw has an engaging command of caricature expressions, bringing the emotions into body language.
Bradshaw’s style is not for everyone, but the energy he puts into the comic is undeniable. His take on the costume is simpler and less complete, giving readers a quick visual indicator that this Spidey is, quite literally, still earning his webs. The webbing on the mask is only on the front, stopping at the top of Spider-Man’s head and at the sides by his ears. He has also abandoned the red-and-web band that goes up Spider-Man’s arms in favor of gloves over long sleeves. Bradshaw’s take on the spider-sense is also different, appearing more as a flare than tingly, radiant lines. Again, though, this is a quick visual indicator of this Spider-Man being different from the current version.
Colorist Jim Campbell brings a heroic palette to the comic, adding a classic sheen to Bradshaw’s art. Keeping effects minimal while describing the depth of each scene, Campbell’s colors give Spidey #2 more throwback legitimacy. Travis Lanham’s lettering is likewise on par with classic comics. The letterer keeps Bradshaw’s art clean, but also adds italic emphasis to bolster Spidey’s story.
The notion of introducing readers to Spider-Man and his universe through a series of done-in-ones is a great concept, and Thompson and Bradshaw are clearly bringing fun to their work in this comic. Spidey #2 is a lively adventure that reminds readers that Spider-Man is inherently a fun character and his adventures should be fun reads. They don’t bore the readers with excessive detail or extended exposition, but they do give readers enough engage with. This is not a comic for everyone, but everyone should be able to find something to remind him or her to have fun reading comics. This could be considered a gateway or a primer to Spider-Man comics, or it could be taken exactly as it is: a fun read with Spider-Man at the center. The done-in-ones allow Thompson and crew to introduce characters without baggage. So far we’ve met Doc Ock and Sandman. Next up appears to be the Lizard. There’s no shortage of possibilities for this series to investigate, and I, for one, am looking forward to the adventures ahead.
Reviewer’s Note: This review was based upon the digital version of the comic, given the early release date. That said, I have become aware of the presence of a printing issue that is disruptive to the flow of the story itself.