Spider-Man: Noir #1 Review

Originally, The Revolution was going to pass on Marvel’s Noir comic books. However, since Fred Van Lente was tapped to do X-Men: Noir I decided to go ahead and give it a try. And I am glad I did since I found the Noir universe to be incredibly appealing. Therefore, I am going to give Spider-Man: Noir #1 a try and see if this title can also hook my interest. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team

Writers: David Hine & Fabrice Sapolsky
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico

Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with the police bursting into the Daily Bugle’s offices. They rush to J.J. Jameson’s office and state that they just got a call that Mr. Jameson had been shot. They enter J.J.’s office and see J.J. shot in the chest with Spider-Man standing on the desk holding a gun.

Spider-Man shoots the cops with his webbing and then exits through the window. The police comment that it looks like J.J. was right about Spider-Man after all. We cut to a shantytown between 72nd and 110th Street along the Hudson that sprouted up three weeks ago. A bunch of squatters began it.

We see Ben Urich at the shantytown taking pictures for the Daily Bugle. Urich then sees May Parker on a soapbox giving a rabble rousing speech that would have made Trotsky proud. May says that the Republicans and the Democrats are all the same and are only debating the most efficient way to turn the people’s blood, sweat and tears into a profit.

The Enforcers (Fancy Dan, Ox and Montana) show up on the scene. They work for the Goblin. Fancy Dan tells May to get off her soapbox. Ox reaches up and pulls May off the soapbox. Peter jumps up into Ox’s face and tells Ox to let go of Aunt May. Ox proceeds to beat up Peter.

Urich then steps in and starts taking pictures of the Ox threatening Peter. Ox threatens to smash Urich’s camera. Fancy Dan tells Ox to leave Urich alone. Dan says that Ox knows that Urich is off-limits. Urich then gives May and Peter a ride back to the Welfare Center that May owns and runs.

We cut to the Welfare Center where Urich says that he has heard that May’s Welfare Center is a hotbed of revolution. May denies that and says that it is simply a place where the homeless can come for a hot meal and a place to come out of the cold.

Peter snaps that the Goblin’s men killed Uncle Ben. May sharply responds that they do not know that the Goblin’s men killed Ben. May then says that she is going to bed. Peter then goes on a socialist rant asking why the gangsters have come after them when the Parkers are simply attacking the system: the banks, the politicians, and businessmen who are ruining the country.

Urich narrates how there was something about Peter’s righteous anger that caught his attention. Urich then invites Peter to come with him for a drink.

We cut to the Black Cat which is the hottest speakeasy in town. Urich introduces Peter to the owner of the Black Cat: Ms. Felicia Hardy. Felicia escorts Urich to his regular table. Urich and Peter order drinks. Peter asks Urich why the Goblin’s thugs said that Urich was off-limits. Urich responds that it must be the power of the press.

Urich says that he likes Peter but that he and May are going to get themselves killed. Urich says that Peter believes that there are good guys and bad guys and that if we all become good little socialists and work for the greater good then everything will be sunshine and roses.

Urich then tells Peter to look around the Black Cat. Urich says this is reality. Urich points out Jimmy Stryder, the Mayor of New York with his mistress. Urich points out Chief Detective Rian from the Vice Squad talking with Emilio Alcuno who owns half of the brothels in New York. Urich then points out Adolfus Crane a rich industrialist who had three of his sweatshops closed down do to Uncle Ben’s organized protests. Urich then points out Norman Osborn, the Goblin, making his entrance into the club.

Urich explains that the Goblin’s thugs came after Ben, May and Peter because he was paid to do so. That it never looks good to use police to squash freedom of speech. Alcuno probably did the deal, Crane put up the fee, Rian made sure the cops were looking the other way and the mayor just sits back and takes his percentage. Urich says that it is a tangled web.

Peter asks why Norman Osborn is called the Goblin. Urich says that no one knows. That Osborn is a man of mystery. That Osborn trawled every circus and carnival to put together his gang of thugs. We see Kraven who was an animal trainer. We see the Vulture who was a geek at a carnival. Vulture was living in a cage and making his living by biting the heads of chickens.

Norman Osborn walks over to Urich and Peter’s table. Norman states that Peter’s uncle was Ben, the agitator. Norman says that Ben’s untimely death was unfortunate. Norman says that he heard that Ben was torn apart by wild dogs.

Peter snaps and throws his drink in Norman’s face and screams that Norman is not fit to say Ben’s name. Vulture lurches to attack Peter but Norman stops him and says that this is not the time or place. Urich quickly gets up and tells Peter that they need to leave now. Felicia Hardy is less than pleased with Peter’s actions and tells Urich to not bring Peter back until Peter has grown up.

Urich yells at Peter for being stupid. Urich thinks about how he is the only thing that is keeping Peter alive at the moment. Peter tells Urich that he got the message in the club. That Urich thinks that they cannot fight these people and that Urich thinks that they cannot win. Peter then adds that he is still not closing eyes to this or run away from it. Urich looks at Peter and asks him if he really wants to do something about it.

We cut to J. Jonah Jameson’s office the next day. Urich and Peter are sitting in J.J.’s office. J.J. states that Urich says that Peter is a good kid. J.J. asks Peter if he wants to join the press. Peter stammers that he wants to study to be a scientist. J.J. interrupts and says that Peter is going to need to make money in order to pay for school. That Peter will make due with a job at the Daily Bugle in the meantime.

J.J. states how there are a million sob stories out there. That Urich has a unique talent to put words and pictures together. J.J. tells Peter to go out there and get some pics that will make their readers weep. Urich and Peter leave J.J.’s office and Peter is stunned by what just happened. Peter admits to Urich that he does not know how to take pictures. Urich tells Peter that Urich will taking the pictures and Peter will be toting the equipment. Urich says that Peter is not a photographer, yet.

We see Urich and Peter working as a team to take pictures and get stories of all the sad things happening in the city. Urich thinks how Peter reminds him of himself back when Urich was young and full of idealism and the arrogance of youth and thought that he could change things.

Urich and Peter cover a story of a man who was in debt to the Goblin and ended up killing himself in hopes of the Goblin then leaving his wife alone. Unfortunately, the wife just inherited her husband’s debt. That the Goblin always collects.

We cut to Peter and Urich having coffee at a diner. Urich narrates how Peter finally really opened up to him. Peter revealed that there were rope marks on Uncle Ben so he could not fight back when they beat him. And then while Ben was still alive they set wild dogs on him and they tore him apart.

Urich narrates how he already knew about how Ben Parker died. But, what Urich did not know was that it was Peter who found Ben’s mutilated body. We cut back to Urich at his office desk. Urich narrates how Peter has every reason to be a twisted, cynical and bitter. That Peter has every reason to give in and let corruption eat his soul.

We see Urich injecting heroin (I guess) into his arm. Urich narrates that the fact is that some people are strong and some are weak. Urich narrates that Peter was wrong about one thing. That it was not wild dogs that tore into Ben. We flashback to that night and see that it was the Vulture who tore into Ben like a wild animal.

Urich states that the Vulture was treated like an animal for so long while he was a geek in the carnival that the last of his humanity slipped away. And that the Vulture developed the taste for human meat. We see the Vulture chomping away at Uncle Ben.

Urich asks the question of how does he know that Ben had been cannibalized by the Vulture. Urich states “Because…God help me…I was there…” We see the Vulture chomping on Uncle Ben with Norman Osborn, Fancy Dan, Ox, Montana, Kraven and Urich all watching. End of issue.

Comments

The Good: Spider-Man: Noir #1 was a good read. This was a wonderfully constructed issue. I liked the decision to start this issue in media res with a hook “ending” in the beginning with Spider-Man fleeing J.J.’s office after having apparently shot J.J. and then zipping backward to the beginning and slowly but steadily building in intensity before arriving at a shocking second hook ending with the final page of this issue.

This was an intriguing way to structure the first issue since the reader is left wondering what led up to the opening scene and what really happened while at the same time also curious about the actual ending of this issue and what is going to happen next between Peter and Urich. David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky did an excellent job doing their best to capture the reader’s attention with this issue and getting the reader excited to come back for the next issue.

Spider-Man: Noir #1 was a nicely paced and plotted issue. Hine and Sapolsky kick off this issue with an attention grabbing scene and then ease off the gas and let the story simmer for a while as they quickly introduce the reader to the Noir Universe versions of the various Spider-Man characters.

The introduction of each character is done in a pleasantly succinct manner that gave the reader a good feel for each story without slowing down the issue or breaking the flow of the story. Hine and Sapolsky built a sound foundation for this story as they treated the reader to an impressively fully fleshed out and detailed setting in this Noir Universe.

Hine and Sapolsky serve up plenty of solid dialogue and quality character work. The best work was with Urich and Peter. Both of these characters were well developed and had nice external voices. Hine and Sapolsky were able to generate great chemistry between Urich and Peter in a very short amount of time.

I love the Noir Universe versions of the various Spider-Man characters. They are all so well done and interesting. J.J. and Urich do not require much work to their characters in order to properly fit into the Noir Universe. Having Felicia Hardy being the owner of a the hottest speakeasy in town by the name of The Black Cat was perfect. This was an excellent twist on Felicia’s character.

I dig May as the Socialist rabble rouser. This is certainly a much more exciting version of Aunt May than the 616 or Ultimate Universe editions. Peter was nicely done. Hine and Sapolsky managed to keep Peter true to his core ideals while presenting him with a proper late 1930’s spin on his character.

This version of Peter is actually nowhere near as likeable as the 616 Universe version of Peter. The Noir version is certainly whinier, a little yappier and just a tad annoying at times. However, Peter has the proper naïve and idealistic outlook on life. And since Peter Parker has always been the everyman character in the 616 universe it made sense that the Noir version of Peter would be a man of the people and a believer in Socialism.

I particularly enjoyed that Norman is a gangster who gets all of his thugs from circuses and carnivals. Even though Norman may look like your typical gangster, it is obvious that there is much more than meets the eye with Norman. I am curious to learn more about Norman’s past, why he is called the Goblin and why all his men are from circuses and carnivals.

Norman’s collection of freaky flunkies are well done. The Enforcers act pretty much like they do in the 616 Universe. Then we have Kraven who has a wonderful character design to match the Noir Universe. Of course, the best of them all is the Vulture. I absolutely love the Noir Universe version of the Vulture. Hine and Sapolsky take a goofy villain that I have always viewed as a joke and made him utterly chilling. This is one sick and twisted villain that immediately captivates the reader’s attention. I definitely look forward to Spider-Man locking horns with the Vulture.

My favorite scene in this issue is when Urich and Peter are at the Black Cat club where Urich reveals to Peter the “web” of corruption that blankets the city. I liked how Urich described how all the different characters from the head of the vice squad, the pimp, the rich industrialist, the mayor and the gangster are all connected and how they all played a role in Uncle Ben’s murder.

Spider-Man: Noir #1 ends with an incredible ending. My jaw was on the ground when I saw the last page of this issue. Hine and Sapolsky first surprise the reader by revealing that Urich is a drug addict. Then they shock the reader with the fact that Urich was present when Urich was killed by the Vulture. I cannot wait to learn to what extent Urich is involved with Norman Osborn.

Carmine Di Giandomenico does a solid job with the artwork. Giandomenico’s style of art fits the mood of this title. I particularly like Giandomenico’s design for Spider-Man’s costume.

The Bad: As much as I enjoyed Spider-Man: Noir #1, this issue might have moved a bit too slow for some readers. This issue also may have lacked enough action for fans that desire a fair amount of action in their comic books. Also, the fact that we only see Spider-Man in costume for the first couple of pages may turn off some readers who expect to see Spider-Man getting the majority of panel time.

My one complaint with the artwork is that it is too inconsistent. Some panels looked great while others looked rushed and sloppy.

Overall: Spider-Man: Noir #1 was an enjoyable read. Hine and Sapolsky construct an intriguing corner of the Noir Universe and immediately hooked me into this story. While this issue does not move at a blistering pace or provide the reader with much action, it is still an textured read that gives the reader plenty to think about and chew on. Spider-Man: Noir #1 was a solid set-up issue and I expect more action with the next issue.