After Jason Aaron’s surprisingly excellent Immortal Weapons #1: Fat Cobra, I had extremely high hopes for the follow-up issue. The format is novel: a brief, ongoing narrative, kin to DC’s current back-up features, links each issue, but each is otherwise a one-shot exploring a little-known character in the supporting cast of the Immortal Iron Fist. Unfortunately, where Fat Cobra gave a sublimely melancholy look at the jovial martial artist, Bride of Nine Spiders settles into an awkward horror pastiche utterly lacking in martial arts… or in background on the still enigmatic character.
The Immortal Iron Fist was known as much for David Aja’s gorgeous martial arts fights as it was for Brubaker and Fraction’s pulp superhero extravaganza. Some of that excellent design work and fluid art came through in Fat Cobra, particularly in Michael Lark’s brief segment. Brereton, the sole artist on the main story, offers little of that personality to the book beyond stiff, awkward characters and a generic, if tolerable, rendition of any number of horror tropes.
Cullen Bunn’s story isn’t bad: the last time one of the Brides of Nine Spiders was on Earth, a single, living spider remained behind. The creature proved to be immortal, and possessed mystic properties that, if used correctly, could summon and bind the Bride to Earth. This, of course, does not go very well at all. There’s little wrong with the premise, except that it isn’t a Bride of Nine Spiders story. It isn’t even a story about the man who binds her to Earth. It’s a story about a group of thieves stealing a mystical artifact, and that’s a good two steps away from where the action should be.
Swierczynski and Foreman’s back-up feature, continuing the story of Danny Rand and a troubled young student of his, fares better. Though brief, the story gets to the point quickly, working overtime to complete the set-up started last issue. Ending on a particularly chilling note, “The Caretakers” continues to set-up a potentially interesting story.
It isn’t fair to review something based on what you expected it to be. I’m sure that there are many people who will enjoy Immortal Weapons #2: Bride of Nine Spiders. Unfortunately, that story is in the wrong place, in a book marketed towards fans of pulp action and martial arts and purported to explore the backgrounds of these enigmatic new characters. Bunn and Brereton don’t do bad work… they just don’t even remotely fit the title.
– Cal Cleary