Robbie Morrison is a British writer with some skins on the wall. At the time that “Call of The Wild” was released, he had been writing for titles like the incredibly popular over the pond comic book, “2000 AD” for almost a decade. Since then, he went on to work on “The Authority” and even create popular titles like “Nikolai Dante” and “Shimura.” He bounced around briefly in American comics and one of the places that he bounced was this issue of Spider-Man’s Tangled Web.
Jim Mahfood, or Food One, is now an established Indy cartoonist with a strong urban vibe. Jim didn’t get famous and sought after until he hit it big with Marvel when he did the Generation X (famous for featuring independent artists) Underground Special in 1998. This caught the eyes of the folks at View Askew media and they contracted Mahfood to make two comic books based off of the movie, “Clerks.” He had success with his book “Grrl Scouts” and various guest gigs as the years went by. He steadily increased the profile of his hip-hop/punk-rock/graffiti art style over the years until in 2008, he became the official spokes-artist for Colt 45 Malt Liquor. Now he is doing graffiti on cars for the Nissan “Juke” and being recognized in galleries as an “urban artist.”
So, what happens when two under-appreciated and long-term talents get together on a Spider-Man anthology out of continuity series 10 years ago? Well, issue 19 happens. I remember buying this issue in high school and being floored by it. Morrison and Mahfood’s quirky adventure through the life of a reformed villain is sure to please. We see how sad loneliness is and how unpleasant it can be if you are accompanied by the wrong friend. The Wile E. Coyote-ish aspects of Grizzly and his new friend’s relationship keep the book amusing and the stark realism of the situation that he is in becomes comprehensible. Mahfood’s colorful and detailed cartooning is really on display in this issue. He likes to hide references to musical artists and street culture jokes in the background of much of his work and it feels like a Where’s Waldo book at times. In the same page, Mahfood also finds a way to put you into the situation. If a story can make you feel like a recently released, depressed, ex-con in a bear suit, then that is one talented creative team.
Even though, through a twist, our story doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending, you flip the back cover closed feeling good. Grizzly has gotten to a place of peace and you have had a few laughs along the way. Even though the creative team are stars, the book’s sense of humor is really what drives the art and story. The book itself possesses an unequivocal sense of timing and pace that make all of the jokes work on multiple levels. I highly recommend this one and even if it’s the only issue of the whole Tangled Web series that you read, I don’t think that you will be disappointed.
~ Scott Deaux ~