On his second issue drawing Spidey, Nate Stockman makes it quite clear he’s not emulating anyone. Rather, he’s drawing his take on younger Peter Parker (and young Spidey!) and apparently having a whole bunch of fun doing it. His figures are believable, but wildly animated, infusing every panel of Spidey #9 with vitality that colorist Jim Campbell amps up. Scrub out the story (even though letterer Travis Lanham does a magnificent job throughout the issue) and this is, visually, a timeless Spider-Man versus Kraven fight.
Robbie Thompson’s story keeps Spidey #9 timeless, but gives it smart modern sensibilities, like Peter discovering an old roll of film and the Daily Bugle holding onto the vestiges of a different time, when film was processed in darkrooms. Just because this is set in the high school years of Peter Parker’s adventure, that doesn’t mean Robbie Thompson can’t innovate a bit, such as Spider-Man’s identity-protection thermals masking Parker’s scent from Kraven.
Thompson has given readers dynamic insight into Peter’s personality and problems throughout this series, and Spidey #9 is a grand encapsulation of what life is like for Parker: the Parker luck of missing pictures J. Jonah Jameson actually wanted, the difficulty to pull together funds for the right reason, the optimistic outlook that fuels Spider-Man’s mid-fight banter, and even undertones of self-doubt during the fight, as Peter clearly has different thoughts about his activities than his outward confidence projects.
Thompson and Stockman demonstrate excellent collaboration here, and the most evident example of simple collaboration done right is Peter’s “disaster” of a birthday cake. With an assist on the colors from Jim Campbell, the cake LOOKS like a disaster. It’s barely the size of a dime on page, but it illustrates just how connected writer and artist are in Spidey #9.
I’ve already mentioned that Stockman is making this comic his own (and doing a splendid job of it), but he does bring some significant influence to his work, honoring and even celebrating the work of comic book legends that both worked on Spider-Man and maybe never had a chance. Ditko is clearly present in Stockman’s representation of the wallcrawler, along with some Tim Sale and maybe even a smidge of Erik Larsen. A stitch of Pat Broderick influence comes through in the scene where J. Jonah Jameson berates Parker and throws Peter’s photos in the wastebasket.
This is a gorgeous book that has a lot going for it, visually, and I hope Stockman sticks around for a long time. With Campbell’s coloring, this issue is simply wonderful, Silver Age-y goodness that is chockfull of wonderful drawings.
Still done-in-one, Spidey #9 cements the notion that Thompson is building towards something much bigger and has done so since the first issue of this series. That planning is starting to pay dividends now, which is almost as fun to see, as this series has been to read.