Writers: J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Inking Assistant: Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Sara Pichelli, Dave Stewart
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
In the tradition of genre auteurs like Joss Whedon giving it a go at writing comicbooks, this week’s (adjectiveless) Spider-Man #1 welcomes J.J. Abrams to the Marvel Universe in his comics debut, and he’s not alone. Along for the ride is his son, first-time writer Henry.
I have to admit that this first issue caught me completely off-guard upon reading. Without spoiling anything — although many outlets have already openly discussed it by the time this review goes out — it’s pretty safe to say that J.J. and Henry Abrams’s Spider-Man is absolutely not what Marvel has been advertising. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s pretty ballsy for them to completely bury the actual premise of the Abrams’ supposedly long-gestating Spider-Man story until it’s actual release. Let’s just say the previously released solicits aren’t inaccurate, per se, but they’re also a bit misleading.
Because I think this issue would be ruined by going into it knowing the plot specifics, I’ll say this: it’s a classic Spider-Man story conceit — for good or ill — even if it runs the risk of being a bit too derivative of certain ones that have come before it. The official subtitle given here is “Bloodline,” from which you can form a fairly reasonable idea of what to expect of this series. I’m also really not a fan of a classic (ergo, “problematic”) superhero trope pulled here completely straight and without irony, which definitely soured my reading experience.
A lot has been said about the hiring of J.J. Abrams and his son Henry for this series, namely accusations of nepotism and prioritizing celebrity film creators over up-and-coming voices already working in the medium. I’m not willing to disagree with those claims of nepotism, but in all fairness to the younger Abrams, it’s impossible to know which parts of their script were his input and which were his father’s. I will say that some aspects of the story here feel classic “first-time writer” and fall into some stereotypical conventions of superhero fiction (e.g. the aforementioned character death for motivation, power, and responsibility) that I wouldn’t be surprised if they came from Henry. But J.J. himself isn’t especially known for his writing prowess either, so ultimately, it’s a wash in that regard; YMMV on how you approach the web the Abramses are weaving in this series.
Longtime Spider-Man veteran Sara Pichelli, however, turns in reliably good work. She’s known for her expressiveness and fluidity in superhero action, which both come into play for this issue, particularly the former. This issue is heavy on character drama that requires a deft hand to convey it on the page, and Pichelli excels in that regard, while colorist Dave Stewart adds some good dimension to Pichelli’s linework, linked by Elisabetta D’Amico. With lesser visuals, I don’t know if the Abrams’ Spider-Man be worth giving a look.
(And, completely appropo of nothing, I love the use of the ’90s animated series logo on the cover!)
- Great art from Spider-Man veteran Sara Pichelli
- There's some novelty to the series' big twist
- Really doesn't live up to the hype promised by Marvel
- Cliched script that relies on overdone, outdated tropes
- Other Spider-Man stories have utilized this one's main concept better