Comics Time: Spider-Man: Fever #1


Spider-Man: Fever #1

Brendan McCarthy, writer/artist

Marvel, April 2009

21 story pages


(UPDATE: Now with fewer hideous mixed metaphors)

I went into Spider-Man: Fever with absolutely no brief with Brendan McCarthy, not even his Solo issue a few years back. All I knew is I liked the looks of the preview images floating around the Internet–I mean, I would–and wanted to see more. See more I did: McCarthy’s scribbled psychedelia, powerfully augmented by his and Steve Cook’s woozy glowy neon colors is a thing of gooey beauty. He’s even calling the style “glo-fi,” much to my delight!

Would that the surrounding comic were equally delightful, but it’s a pretty perfunctory rehash of Bronze Age rehashes of Silver Age storytelling. An avalanche of knowingly stiff dialogue, which turns out to be as numbing as the unknowing variety, crushes whatever action hasn’t already been flattened by the surprisingly inert physicality McCarthy cooks up for Steve Ditko mainstays Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. (Nice-looking Vulture, though.) There’s even some embarrassingly cringeworthy African-American dialect, for that true late-’70s feel. I’m as happy as anyone to have a Spider-Man comic featuring a mystical poetry-reciting dog-god named Pugly, but when it comes to reading the thing instead of just looking at it, turns out I oughtn’t have gone beyond those preview images for the glo-fi thrill I wanted.

(Interview link via Jog.)

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8 Responses to Comics Time: Spider-Man: Fever #1

  1. David says:

    Say it Mean Girls style: Wrong! So wrong!

  2. David says:

    Say it Vibrational Match style: Where you see “inert physicality“, I see a Spider-Man who’s all harsh angles and elbows being squashed, flattened out, and a Doc Strange who’s at home with the harsh geometrics McCarthy conjures up.

    Where you read flat pastiche, I read Spider-Man as a jerk who gets shut the hell up by the story (his words like jutting elbows –> drooping limbs), and Doc Strange as a badass who can turn exposition into information with the right gestures (verbal, physical).

    Also: the mystic spider dialogue is genuinely fucking creepy, for reals, when combined with the images, yes?

    In lesser hands this would be mere set-up, but this issue had a whole lot of “?something else?” working for it — that creepy wee arachnid bastard, crawling up the Vulture’s back, fr’instance! Like something from Seven Soldiers, only (yes!) far more unsettling.

    I saw the biggest, most bulbous-assessed spider of the year last night, sitting on my windowsill. I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to these wee beasties, but last night, after having read Fever? I tell you, I wanted to kiss the wee fucker!

    The “hey, I’m a black guy!” dialogue was a bit cringey though, pastiche or no.

  3. I just see dudes standing around like a manikin about to fall over. I mean, we’ve all seen what Ditko people at home in harsh geometrics look like, and you, Mr. McCarthy, are no Ditko. You come at the king, you best not miss. Also, I think the spider-creatures were far more goofy than creepy, albeit intentionally so.

    The writing was (in the Vibrational Match parlance) naff, but I’m at least glad you granted me the ebonics. Eww.

  4. Also, good to see you again, David!

  5. David says:

    See, I’d say McCarthy is Ditko. In fact, he’s well Ditko. Tasty fucking Ditko.

    And yes, the spider creatures are goofy, but goofy can be creepy too — see, also: everything in Seaguy.

    We can both probably agree that the Vulture has an awesomely silly outfit, right? And yet that wee hat wearing baistart crawls up his back, it looks even more absurd. I think that’s where the unsettling thing comes in for me, particularly with the toxic colours Steve cooks up for the spiders. It’s like someone’s taken the glo-fi lollipop of the earlier Doc Strange scene and melted it down into a septic salsa sauce — it’s all very wrong, from the silly on up.

    Plus, the noises the spider makes are ridiculouslt OTT, but they keep coming back to me, making me feel queasy, just like the colour scheme. I feel that way with the writing throughout the comic, actually. Like the figure work, it all seems of a piece with the psychedelic shit.

    I threw up after I wrote my earlier comments. Probably something I ate, but I’m going to blame it on Fever: a sickly treat that just won’t settle.

    Still, I’m happy to agree to disagree so long as we can both accept that fact that Mean Girls is always right. What it’s right about is up for debate, but hey.

    And yes, it’s good to see me too!

    Heh. Only kidding. Thanks Sean!

    Hope you’re well.

  6. David says:

    CORRECTION: In my earlier note I made reference to a “bulbous-assessed” spider. I hope that the sensitive reader will have mentally corrected my comment so that it reads “bulbous-assed“, but I fear that I might have caused offence to delicate arachnids.

    So, for the record, let me be clear: I would never joke about the debased and upsetting culture of bulbosity assessment that exists in the arachnid world, and anyone who tells otherwise is a braggart and a fiend.

    Thank you for your time.

  7. Thom Reese says:

    I’ve always liked Spidy and Doc Strange together. But, as of late, the wallcrawler has seemed rather flat and used up. I like that Strange is no longer Supreme sorcerer. That

  8. COOP says:

    Dunno, I loved this, but I’m a sucker for Brendan McCarthy from way back. There was an anthology in the 80’s with him, Milligan, and some other Brits that was completely wiggy and mind-blowing to teenage-me. Wish I could remember the title – I think Eclipse published it.

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