Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Spectacular Spider-Man #21

It’s finally here. Written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Aspen’s own Talent Caldwell.

Let me start off by picking on a book that is near and dear to me, namely Superman. Currently Brian Azzarello is doing the writing and Jim Lee the pencils. Well, Azzarello just stinks in this title, so therefore the book relies on not much more than Jim Lee’s amazing drawing ability. Some issues have no action in them whatsoever, so its only saving grace is the art. It’s tough to read a crappy script even with great illustrations. Now on to Spidey.

Jenkins is an excellent writer to start with. Here are two stand alone issues (Spectacular Spider-Man #21 and #22) with a guest penciler. Never have a read a comic that had so little action yet was so entertaining and a joy to read. There are no major battles in issue #21. No Doc Ock. No Dr. Doom. NoVenom. No climatic battle for Spider-Man with fists flying and webs shooting. Only a card game.

The book opens with Angel (X-Men) descending toward an open balcony, where Sue Richards (Fantastic Four) is waiting for him. He enters the apartment to sit down to a game of cards. Each year some superheroes get together to play a little poker. The winner donates the money to the charity of their choice. Players in this year’s game include Angel, Black Cat, Dr. Strange, the Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, and Spidey. Dr. Strange, who is new to playing poker, is losing miserably. The beautiful Black Cat instantly distracts Angel. Reed Richards is the dealer.

Then the game takes an unexpected turn. There is a knock at the door, but all the expected players are already in attendance. Sue Richards opens the door and who should be standing there but Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin. As the heroes jump to their feet, he does not attack. He simply wants to join the card game. He offers a nice sum if the heroes win, and if they don’t he gets the satisfaction of sticking it to some superheroes in a game of poker.

As I mentioned early, never have I read a comic with no action in it and have been so impressed. The writing is fabulous, and the art is spectacular. This is just a thoroughly entertaining story. Talent Caldwell is, well, talented. He stuck with the cartoony style that Huberto Ramos starting this title with back in issue #1 and keeps it going here. Excellent work by everyone involved.