When I first saw the post-Secret Wars announcement for Web Warriors, I dismissed it. After all, we all read “Spider-Verse,” right? Then I saw some character design sketches from David Baldeon in the Marvel Previews that quickly and completely changed my mind. And let me tell you, I am happy that I changed my mind.
Pulling in threads from Larsen, Bagley, Romita, and Nauck, Baldeon’s style is not for every character, nor is it for every reader. The Nova veteran draws rangy, gangly characters that seem better suited to animation than static imagery, but the kinetic, animated energy in his lines and character designs works extremely well for the variety of Spider-characters present in Web Warriors #1. When Baldeon draws Spider-Ham standing next to Spider-Gwen, he cross-pollinates the characters just enough to make their co-existence believable. Many artists would struggle putting anthropomorphic next to human, but Baldeon seems to do so quite effortlessly. Add in a visit to Earth-3015 (the Bakshi cartoon universe) and Baldeon is the very model of artistic versatility.
“There are 40,000 types of spiders in the world,” is how Web Warriors #1 opens, and Baldeon could undoubtedly infuse every single one of them with engaging visual personalities. Writer Mike Costa isn’t afforded the same luxury with a twenty-page lead story and seven characters all vying for definition around and through a plot that is at the same time sprawling and yet, familiar. The end result is a tale where characterization is superficial, but varied enough to establish personalities and hook readers just enough to stick around. Odds are if readers are checking out this book, they have some (at least passing) familiarity with Spider-Man India, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Girl (Anya Corazon), Spider-UK, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, or Mayday Parker from either “Spider-Verse” or assorted other appearances across recent Spider-history. The glimpses Costa offers up here should prove enough to convince readers he’s heading in the right direction.
At the very least, Costa has conceived a relevant plot that requires multiple characters and rewards readers for their suspension of disbelief and their assumption of “True Believer” role. Not only do readers see the heroes from multiple realities, but Costa checks in on a couple different Earths, giving his visual collaborators plenty of opportunity to show off their abilities.
Jason Keith’s colors are a perfect compliment to Baldeon’s pencils and Scott Hanna’s inks, taking the line work and adding depth and character to the intersection of our team of protagonists and their opponents from the Bakshi-verse. Keith adds different hues to the other Earths, visually distinguishing them while also infusing atmosphere. From sound effects to varied caption boxes, letterer Joe Caramagna brings the entire range of his work to these panels, offering readers a dynamic assortment of application and purpose through dialog and placement.
“Electroverse” part one is a wonderful way to launch a series, providing readers with one-stop shopping for a nice variety of fan-favorite Spider-characters. There is a great deal of promise in these pages and a fun set of characters readers are certain to purchase this comic to follow.
In addition to the twenty-page lead and a double-page cast pin-up, Web Warriors #1 gives readers more of the “Spider-Verse” concept to enjoy. Written by Robbie Thompson, drawn by Dennis Medri, colored by Andrew Crossley and lettered by Travis Lanham, “Steampunk’d” brings in Lady Spider of Earth-803. It’s not an exceptionally deep tale, but Thompson and Medri deliver a complete tale in eight-pages. The story gains greater meaning in context following the lead tale, but taken by itself is at least entertaining and fun.
Spinning out of concepts that drove “Spider-Verse,” Web Warriors #1 could simply feel like a retread or an uninspired, sleepwalk through familiar settings, but it doesn’t. This is a ridiculously entertaining comic with the sense of scope Dan Slott used in “Spider-Verse” without oppressive baggage. Quite simply, it’s a fun comic with fun characters.