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Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #1-3
By Mark Millar, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Ian Hannin
Published by Marvel Comics

Welcome to the newest incarnation of the worldís favorite wallcrawler as seen through Marvelís darker and edgier Marvel Knights imprint. This opening storyline for the series is built on three simple elements: realism, action, and suspense, and itís those elements that suck you into Peter Parkerís hunt for Aunt May and the mysterious figure that has kidnapped her.

Marvel fan-favorite creator Mark Millar is the scribe for this new version of Spider-man and he quickly stamps his unforgettable writing style on this timeless character. Issue one opens with an exhausted Spider-Man in a gruesome fight with the Green Goblin and quickly shows us Millarís unique style that he brings to this character with the opening fight scene and its brutality. Millar is easily able to incorporate his style of realism into Peter Parkerís life in each issue of this new series, but Millar also keeps Parkerís sense of humor and charm that fans love about the character. Every issue finds Spider-Man in unique situations that Iíve never seen Spider-Man in before and it was refreshing to see a highly corporate character pushed to the edge in so many ways. Thereís an intense sense of suspense and a nice dash of realism that expands the borders of what this character has been through before now and leaves you very curious as to how much more those borders will be pushed, as proven by the end of issue three. Millar also introduces new abilities for one of the villains and reveals a truth about a classic Spider-Man villain that I never knew until now. Having said all of that, though, allow me to say this...

This isnít Millarís best work and itís evidenced by a few things such as uneven dialogue and even scenes that appear for really no reason whatsoever, one scene in particular in issue two that has absolutely nothing to do with what was happening at that moment in the story. These items were a bit disheartening to see especially considering how thoughtful so much of the rest of the story is at this point. I primarily chalk it up to Millar getting his handle on the character and have little doubt that the appropriate adjustments will be made along the way through what is a very enjoyable opening storyarc overall.

Millarís partner-in-crime is none other than penciler Terry Dodson with his wife Rachel Dodson inking and the two couldnít be a better choice for this series. This is without a doubt career-defining work for Terry Dodson who is finally getting his chance to make his mark on the wallcrawler, both artistically and literally as the story requires. From the opening fight scene with the Green Goblin in issue one to the phenomenal last page of issue three, Dodson is easily making Spider-Man his own, completely bypassing any "breaking in" curve most artists need with a character that they havenít worked on before on a regular basis. One thing that has been particularly impressive to me has been the costume redesigns of all of the villains introduced into the story so far. Dodson adds dynamics evenly balanced with flair to all of the costumes and the Vultureís costume redesign was particularly impressive to me. So far in this new series, Dodson has done brilliant work as defined by his attention to detail, realism and his gift for portraying unbelievable action as required for this intense storyarc.

Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #1-3 takes us into a different world and setting than what we are normally used to seeing Spider-Man in and itís quite refreshing at this point in the series. Millar has definitely taken a gamble on how Spider-Man should react to the situation that he currently finds himself in and I think that Millar beats the house. Coupled with the breathtaking art team of Dodson, Dodson, and Hannin on colors, this series just may set the standard for how the boundaries of corporate characters can be convincingly handled in the future without losing the more endearing elements of that character, as this series sacrifices none of that for the sake of a compelling story. Grade 4/5

-- Chris Hunter



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