In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I must begin this review with an honest statement: I do not like Spider-Man. I am not sure why, but I never really liked him. Aside from the occasional laugh, which he does happen to provide in this comic, he is entirely useless to me. The best he has ever given me was a half hour of mild entertainment between Gargoyles and X-Men: The Animated Series when I was a kid. And let’s face it. It wouldn’t take much to entertain a kid in his underwear on Saturday morning hopped up on the sugar and corn syrup in Frosted Flakes.
Even with the above predisposition, Tangled Web 13 is a fantastic read. The best aspect of this comic was the fact that there was actually very little Spider-Man in the issue. I really appreciated this for more than the obvious reason. In lieu of the more commonplace storytelling method that presents the perspective of the super hero, this comic was told from the perspective of the villains. This simple reversal was quite refreshing and provides an intriguing perspective. The reader was exposed to the villain’s life. It makes the villain more human and provides the opportunity for you to identify with them. I was regaled with tales of how Adrian Tooms struggles with his baldness and less than Bieber looks. And how Alyosha Kravinoff uses his silver tongue to seduce the ladies and has no qualms about Kung-Fu gripping Tombstone’s junk to prevent a bar fight.
The setting of this issue was quite unique. It was a two-bit bar in New York where several B-list Spider-Man villains were regulars. It wasn’t Cheers, “where everybody knows your name,” because, to be honest, I didn’t recognize all of them. No, it had the feel of a place that reeked of failure and wasted potential, where has-beens, nearlys, and never-weres gather to drown their sorrows and bicker about Spider-Man. Though how Whirlwind got a single drink down in that helmet is beyond me. Again, it made the villains human and answered that prevailing question of what do villains do when not actively engaged in villainy.
There is a bit of mystery in this comic as well. It opened with an unidentified person entering the bar in a trench coat. He sits down, orders a drink and is soon joined by Adrian Tooms, The Vulture, and then Alyosha Kravinoff, Kraven The Hunter. As they talk, the background is brilliantly filled with images like Doctor Octopus playing pool with a beer in one…. tentacle? The dialogue itself is wonderfully written as it is filled with jokes and one-liners that come when in the company of friends or coworkers. Unfortunately, my favorite lines are at the expense of The Vulture and said by Spider-Man; “Man, you’re so bald you could lead the X-Men. You could be captain of the Love Boat. You could pose for Mr. Clean bottles. You could be the Silver Surfer’s stuntman.” Though Kraven The Hunter’s, “You’re The Vulture. Dude, that’s about a sexy as chemotherapy. You’d get more honey if you called yourself The Gerbil,” is a close second.
Anyway, The Vulture and Kraven The Hunter each tell the most recent episode of how they almost got away with it if it hadn’t been for that meddlesome Spider-Man. The stranger in the trench coat gets up to leave, and The Vulture and Kraven The Hunter protest, inquiring why the interactions between the stranger and Spider-Man are different than their interactions. He states that he didn’t do much, just kidnap Spider-Man’s girlfriend and, as he deliberately places a small pumpkin on the table, utters that he killed her right in front of Spider-Man. He removes the trench coat and hat to reveal that he is Norman Osborn, The Green Goblin. The poignant moment serves to differentiate the B-list from the A-list, the business villains from the truly maniacal.
All in all, this is a solid comic that deserves a read. It has everything I want in a comic; intrigue, good dialogue, a bar, a few jokes and very little Spider-Man. Judging from the other reviews by our majestic writers, this seems to be a series worth your time. I wouldn’t go so far as recommending it. I mean, it’s still Spider-Man. But if you’re looking for some mild entertainment between TV shows in your unmentionables, this series would be hard to beat.
~ Lobster J. ~