Review: Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. #1

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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.

Grade: D

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

5 thoughts on “Review: Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. #1

  1. Yeah, I heard from a reviewer I respect that this was terrible, and now, another reviewer I respect dislikes it too. 😀

    Jeez, two D’s in a row for Bendis. I’ll have to review a Daredevil trade or something. Bendis & Maleev used to be one of those fantastic creative teams.

  2. What’s interesting to me is that the follow-up motion comic to this will be Whedon’s “Gifted” arc from Astonishing X-Men. This is a bad idea for multiple reasons.

    1) We know Whedon’s arc is fun on paper – if it fails here, it will be seen as a failure as a format, rather than a failure of casting/promotion.

    2) It’s ANOTHER writer with highly stylized, quick dialogue. Whedon’s tends to be more entertaining than Bendis’, but still… getting a handle on Whedon’s traditionally quick back-and-forths seems like a lot to ask of a voice acting team who is probably fairly new at this.

    I have no idea why they don’t get someone with a gift for minimalist dialogue to do this. Focus on the art and story, rather than the voice acting.

  3. Pingback: Spider-Woman Motion Comic « Levana's Batcave

  4. I just watched it and didn’t think it was ‘bad’…but yeah, the complaint about Bendis’s dialogue…
    The dialogue is weak. And Brand’s dialogue…is a whole different character from how Whedon originally wrote her. And yeah, that dialogue doesn’t work aloud very well at all. In the actual comic, the line better be Bull-*** or the like, because a dark character saying caca is…yeah… *sigh*

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