In what could very well be the next step in comic book storytelling, Marvel entered the motion comics arena with Spider-Woman, based off of the recently launched series written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Alex Maleev. Available on iTunes, each episode is $1.99 US each or $8.99 US for the entire series with a total runtime of 53:46. Are we witnessing evolution, or merely a fad? And how is the story itself? Pouring through all five episodes, the answers may surprise you.
Starting with the story, Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, finds herself lost in a world she doesn’t recognize. No, she’s still on Earth, but she was replaced by Veranke the Skrull Queen during the Secret Invasion storyline and has only recently returned to the playing field. Making matters worse, at one point Jessica was an agent of practically anything you can be an agent of in the Marvel Universe – all simultaneously – so it’s no wonder she’s a little out of sorts these days.
When SWORD Agent Abigail Brand tracks her down and offers an outlet for that pent up frustration, Jessica feels that she may find herself and knock a few heads in the process, so she sets off to the island of Madripoor. As the story unfolds, Jessica winds up in a whirlwind of activity as local authorities, Skrulls, the Thunderbolts and the New Avengers try to insert themselves into her booked-solid dance card. Once the dust settles, it’s the decisions going forth that has Jessica’s full attention as she continues to find her rightful place in the world.
The story is a really good set up for the new series. With the primary focus set firmly on how Jessica Drew rebounds in a world that pretty much despises her, Bendis hits all the right notes in showing just how powerful she can be while taking care not to neglect how fragile she currently is. The art by Maleev is visceral, but not in a blood and gore kind of way. Instead it’s gritty, with a noir vibe, but still super-hero enough to keep most fans engaged. Having read the first actual issue and combined with how the story plays out in this format leads me to believe that the opening arc is a winner. Now let’s talk about the new technology…
With motion provided by Motherland and sound by Simplissimus, the Spider-Woman motion comic takes some getting used to, at least to someone such as myself. I’d imagine if I were in my late teens or early twenties I’d be absolutely fine with this, but since I’m in my mid-thirties and have spent three decades reading comics, I’m closer to “I can’t program the VCR” than I’d like to admit. Having said that, the technology is pretty cool. Sure, the motion comic media is still in its infancy, but you can see the possibilities with how comics can be used and created in the future.
There’s an actual cast – unlike the Watchmen motion comic DVD that was released featuring one, singular voice for narration and characters – that really does a good job of providing unique voices and inflections to each character. Nicolette Reed headlines the voice talent as Jessica Drew, but it’s her performance as Madame Hydra that really steals the show. Aside from the numerous, repetitive scenes that involve characters falling, I’d recommend this for virtually any fan of Spider-Woman or new technology.