Friday, April 9, 2010

Spider-Man: Fever #1

by Brendan McCarthy

Growing up, I was never really a fan of either Steve Ditko or Doctor Strange. I felt that the former's art was often stiff and awkward, and that the latter was always ridiculously over-written and overwrought. (Granted, my first exposures to Ditko were in the later issues of Rom, Spaceknight, around the same time that the covers were by people like Mazzucchelli, Smith, Zeck, and other artists that I really loved at the time, and his stuff looked so childish in comparison. Then there was Speedball.....).

Anyway, I have liked McCarthy since I first came across his work on covers for Shade the Changing Man (the Milligan version, not the Ditko, a connection which I only just made as I typed this). I've tried to follow his work, but so little of it has been in comics. For this reason, I got excited to learn that he was doing a three-issue Spider-Man/Doctor Strange story for Marvel.

Now that I've read it, I can easily say that it's the best Steve Ditko comic I've ever read, in much the same way that Gødland is my favorite Jack Kirby comic.

The book starts with Spider-Man engaging in yet another pointless fight with The Vulture, while back at his house, Doctor Strange gets a book he ordered delivered in the mail. As it turns out, the book is booby-trapped, and he lets loose an ancient spider evil kind of thing to crawl around in the city's drain pipes. Spider-Man ends up in Strange's bathtub, where he is preyed on by an Arachnix Spider-Demon, and gets his soul taken on a Webwaze energy stream into some other dimension.

Things get pretty psychedelic at this point, in the way that McCarthy does best. The book is beautiful and kooky, and pretty enjoyable all around, and the best part is that there are still two issues to go.

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