An average alternate universe story that doesn’t live up to the hype or its creative pedigree, Spider-Man Bloodline #1 smacks of “writing for the trade”.
Spider-Man Bloodline #1 is the big first issue that C.B. Cebulski at Marvel reckons will sell a million copies. It’s written by father and son JJ and Henry Abrams with art by Sara Pichelli and is the first of 6 issues giving us a new take on Spidey.
We start with the city under attack, MJ looking for Spidey and things appearing pretty grim for all involved. New villain Cadaverous seems to be attacking the city, however, his limited dialogue suggests that they actually need Peter for some hidden plotline, no doubt to be revealed in future issues.
The initial battle goes very badly. I won’t spoil things here, and then we jump cut to 12 years later, and we follow the aftermath of that particular event.
Spider-Man Bloodline #1 actually doesn’t give us very much in way of actual plot; we get an intro, written like a first act, and the rest of the comic introduces us to this off kilter Spider-Man world and the characters that inhabit it.
We have Peter Parker, Aunt May and MJ, but I think it’s only fair to tell you that this is not a story that seems to be happening in the current Marvel Comics universe. It reads like an Elseworlds story or a What If, and that realization was my first disappointment.
I actually thought that this arc might be canon, and maybe there will be a wild reveal that tells us it is, but the first issue is pretty much a reimagining of our beloved characters, and that seems to be a missed opportunity as far as the writing talent is concerned.
If I had hired JJ Abrams (and son) to write a Spidey comic, I would have stuck him on the flagship Spidey title and watched the sales go through the roof. Remember Kevin Smith on Daredevil? They relaunched that title and revived the ailing DD with that stunt, and it wasn’t a mini-series or What If. They should have thought this through, especially with Spider-Man sales on the decline.
Anyway, what we get is a mediocre set-up by Abrams, who seems much more interested in writing quirky, unfunny dialogue between the players on the page. There are a lot of pages of people talking, and while there is always going to be a need for that in a Spider-Man comic, there is a LOT of it here. You get the opening gambit, and that’s about it. There are 25 pages in Spider-Man Bloodline #1, and two of them are given to a two-page black screen with the words “12 years later” written on it; literally something that could have been done in a single panel. This is a 5 bucks book, and there are 5 more issues to come, but honestly, there is very little here that makes me want to return. The ideas presented have been done before, there is very little action and it all smacks of “writing for the trade”.
The art is also a little underwhelming, and even the opening scenes lack any real sense of superhero drama. Sure there are ravaged buildings and bridges, but Pichelli’s scratchy style lacks detail and depth. Spidey’s torn mask just looks weird, like it’s glued onto his face, a distraught MJ looks bored and smug, and on page 4, she seems to change her face from panel to panel. Page 21 has probably the worst drawing of Aunt May EVER. It is truly awful and I am afraid not at all suited to this style of book.
I grabbed the die-cut variant copy of this, and I think there were 5 other different covers on the shelf. This in itself seems overkill, I remember when variants were something special, but now there are variants for almost every title that comes out. Why they do this I just don’t know, comic book covers are becoming the new trading cards. Are people just buying the comics for the covers? If so that’s a sad reflection of the industry itself.
If you are a fan of JJ Abrams, you will probably enjoy this, but for me, the art and writing were nothing special. Perhaps future issues will change my initial response, but in the interim, this was an average alternate universe Spidey story that didn’t live up to its hype.