Saturday, June 17, 2006

COMIC REVIEW - Spider-Man: Torment (1990)

Originally published as Spider-Man #1-5 (1990)
Written and Art by Todd McFarlane

Todd McFarlane made a name for himself drawing Spider-Man in a fresh take that remains somewhat to this day. After a long stint on Amazing Spider-Man, Todd wanted to stretch his limbs and give this writing thing a shot. So Marvel gave the dude his own (adjectiveless) Spider-Man book and I'll never forget the cover of that first issue; Spidey in that one pose amid a background of webbing, which came in either metallic silver, metallic bronze, or full-color varieties. The full-color one was kinda lame, but the silver and bronze variants were pretty cool and perfectly matched the tone of the book's first major arc; a five-issue story called Torment.

Anyone familiar with McFarlane's art should know what to expect; lots of nice little setpieces that sometimes gets a bit chaotic for its own good compounded with a lot of faces that look to have been molded from Playdoh. It's an acquired taste and a style that fit the time it was produced in. Sadly, the same can be said for the story; serviceable for the time, but not something that holds up over time. A shame too, because the premise is actually interesting, with Spider-Man having to deal with an infection of sorts, as well as a more primal Lizard compared to what had been presented before and another sinister force with ties to an old foe who has left this proverbial plane of existence. Although to be fair, I do like the little moments between Peter and MJ; those are nice.

One thing is for certain; Torment would be a learning curve for McFarlane, who would go on to produce the comic series Spawn and essentially create a merchandising empire for himself. Not one of the guy's best efforts and in terms of quality Spider-Man stories, there are certainly better ones, but for a pilot effort, it got the table set and is certainly worth a read as a period piece.

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