There’s no question that print media is slowly being supplanted by digital formats. Marvel and DC have both been slowly trying to diversify the types and formats of their publications, and this is the latest move along those lines. Though Spider-Woman #1 is hardly the first motion comic, it is a pioneer in that it is the most high-profile, and the first to begin as a motion comic and then be changed for future print publication. Unfortunately, Marvel choose a poor book with which to launch this particular endeavor: though the format proves impressive, the story within is… less so.
Bendis’ dialogue may have become a staple of his comics, but here, read aloud, it just doesn’t work. The voice actors – Nicolette Reed, Stephanie Thomas and Geoff Boothby – offer relatively stilted line-readings throughout the production, but even the most gifted voice actors on the planet would have a hard time with lines like these:
“This is a very cool doohickey you can’t buy at any stores.”
“This is what we call bull-caca.”
“We have a rendezvous point thingamajig and we’ll get out of here.”
Maleev’s art, on the other hand, works extraordinarily well in motion. The striking visuals give the production a haunted look as we pan over the dimmed neon glow of Madripoor, see Drew fight against a Super Skrull, or watch her have a shadowy conversation with Abigail Brand. Anyone who had their doubts about the viability of motion comics should have some of them put to rest as they see how well it can work here.
Ultimately, Spider-Woman #1 offers a bizarre obsession with mentioning Wolverine at least once every 2 minutes, way too much heavily stylized dialogue, and a whole lot of gorgeous art. With someone like Ed Brubaker, the already noir-touched art might have found a more able companion, and Marvel might’ve launched their new initiative with a bang. As is, they instead provide an unsatisfying opening chapter to a story we’re given little reason to care about.
– Cal Cleary