Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Sussing Spider-Woman #2

Or a look at clever storytelling in Spider-Woman #2
by Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, and Travis Lanham; Marvel Comics

Spider-Woman continues to impress me with consistently interesting storytelling. It might not be my favourite story or series concept right now, but I am always delighted by the thoughtful way the story is constructed. If you are someone who likes cerebral, playful layouts Spider-Woman is a comic you should be reading. And if you require more proof, I've got some more evidence coming at you.

There will be *SPOILERS* for Spider-Woman #2 below.

I seriously love this page. The story of the page is that Jessica Drew, who is very pregnant, is being held hostage by Skrulls. Normally, she would beat the green men to a green smear, but since she is ultimately responsible for her fetus, she is also trying to be responsible and wait for help. This page does a beautiful job conveying the conflict between Spider-Woman's fury and her delicate condition. What I love about this page is how the structure of the layout highlights and rotates around Jessica's pregnant belly: the top of half of the page hones in on the stomach while the lower half the page forms an arc with her pregnancy at the centre of it. As many images of frustration there on the page, they are always outweighed and overshadowed by the belly. It's really clever stuff. 

(Also, how charming is the double panel 'KIK' 'KIK'?) 

I also like how the lettering in this page takes a slightly different track through the page. This creates a tension between the underlying layout structure and the flow of the writing on the page. This is done in a way that is still super easy to read, but which subtly helps build the feelings of conflict in Jessica. Smart, smart page.

The next page is also pretty great storytelling. A thing that Team Drew does really well is make effective use of nested panels, and this page is a great example of it. By placing Jessica's foot-tapping impatience into a nested-panel is makes this motion the Most Important part of the first panel. This really highlights Spider-Woman's frustration, but also sets the tapping foot as a recurring element that can then be repeated in the following panels and used as a great little visual signifier of Jessica making up her mind. It's charming as all heck and accomplished storytelling. I also love how when the foot-tapping-descision-panel arrives it leads directly into a tight little sequence that shows determination and drives the reader around the carriage return into the texting in the final panel. These are all fairly small choices, but make for such a fun efficient page of comics.

If you like wonky, smart comics, Spider-Woman is a comic you should be reading.

Spider-Woman #8: turning down the background
Spider-Woman #7: the brilliance of the inset panel
Spider-Woman #6: Guided chaos and multiple reading paths
Spider-Woman #5: Character Design and composition

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