Sunday, January 16, 2005

Spider-Man/Human Torch: I'm With Stupid #1 - A Review

Written by: Dan Slott
Penciled by: Ty Templeton
Inked by: Nelson
Colored by: Sotocolor’s F. Serrano
Lettered by: Dave Lanphear
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I think I owe Dan Slott my life. Had it not been for this book, I may well have had a rage-induced heart attack. At the very least, I would have said “To Hell With Spider-Man” this week after the latest Marvel Knights: Spider-Man, where Mark Millar proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he had no idea how to write Spider-Man as anything other than a bumbling imbecile who is just there to prop up the “uber-kewl” villains.

Dan Slott knows these characters. He knows them. He loves them. And he knows how to write them. And that love and knowledge is evident in every panel of Spider-Man/Human Torch. From the introduction, we know this is going to be a tribute to the Marvel Comics of yore…

Friends. Rivals. Brothers in arms. Separately, they are formidable. Together…they’re a pain in the butt. Case in point…

We come in on the tail end of a battle with Mole Man, won thanks to a brilliant plan by Johnny Storm. Naturally, Johnny is thrilled that he managed to win using his brains for once, proving everyone wrong about how stupid he is. Not only that, but he’s sure to make the front page of the papers for this. Or so he would have, had Spidey not bumped him off the front page.

Figuring that what he needs to make the front page is some snazzy pictures, he tracks down the guy who takes those really good pictures of Spider-Man and makes him a better offer. And so it is that Peter Parker reluctantly takes a job as the Human Torch’s personal photographer. Partly because the money is a lot better than what Jolly J. Jonah Jameson pays and partly because he can’t say no in front of Aunt May, who wishes he’d stop following around that dangerous Spider-Man. And where it goes from there, I shall leave it for you to discover.

It’s rare in these days of decompressed writing to get a story that features three super-villain encounters, one random bank robbery and numerous scenes that all take place on just one or two pages. What Slott has written here is a valentine to the hearts of old fanboys like me who wish for a little more heart to our heroes and a little more bang for our buck. It also helps that this is easily the funniest book I’ve read in the last month, with several laugh-out-loud moments and a classic “Peter as the Heroic Trickster” moment for all you mythology buffs out there.

The artwork is, as the title says, picture perfect. Templeton has proven himself to be a talented mimic in the past working on the “Batman Adventures” line. He does an excellent job in capturing the styles of Kirby and Ditko while making something all his own here.

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