Spandex Issue 3 – “…If You Were The Last Person On Earth”
By Martin Eden.
Martin Eden trailed this issue as the Gay Zombies one, but instead of the multi-coloured gore fest I imagined, this issue of Spandex actually turns into something very, very different and hugely enjoyable.
Issues 1 & 2 (reviews here and here) may have introduced us to the rainbow superhero team of Spandex, but issue 3 is where I think Eden’s really starting to stretch himself – it’s a cleverly constructed change of pace and an unexpected twist in the tone of the series.
Following on from the fun and frolics, both in and out of the bedroom of our very colourful team of superheroes and superheroines we’re into far, far darker territories here:
(Welcome to hell indeed. In just a few pages Eden sets the scene for a dour, yet ultimately uplifting issue of Spandex. From Spandex issue 3 by Martin Eden)
We rejoin Spandex a couple of months after issue 2, where Diva, Neon, Glitter and Indigo are the only members left, and for all they know they may well be the last humans left in the world who aren’t under the control of Nadir – a villain who literally turns the world grey – taking all the life, the joy, the passion, the individuality and fire from the people.
This is what Eden really meant by Zombies – greyed out worker drones normalised into blandness and conformity – not what we expected at all.
Martin Eden’s art in Spandex is deceptive. Superficially clean and simple, naive almost. But there’s a lot of very skillful work in there.
And his use of colour is powerfully done – especially here in issue 3 where it becomes more a story element than ever – it genuinely jumps from page after page of grey conformity – a shaft of light, of hope, of individuality on the page. Or, as this scene early on shows, as Diva’s colour is extinguished by Nadir the bleeding of colour to grey is a shocking, yet visually stunning moment of dreary monotonous grey enveloping us all:
(One more down, another colourful light extinguished. From Spandex issue 3 by Martin Eden.)
But not far beneath this superhero tale lies something deeper and more emotive; as the grey world and it’s people drowning in their normalised behaviour is an obvious allusion to the worlds of mental health and the grey, miserable existence of depression.
There have been several brilliant examples recently of books that explore mental health, such as Daryl Cunningham’s Psychiatric Tales and Brick’s Depresso. But just because Eden has decided to deal with the issue allegorically through his gay supergroup doesn’t make it any less worthy, nor any less impressive.
He’s using his characters so effectively to show us just how isolating and terrifying these problems can be, and yet his message, by issue’s end, is remarkably uplifting. Never mind the cheesy song lyrics he uses to try to get through to Indigo, it’s the manner of Glitter’s eventual victory and the huge grin it put on my face that will stay with me – a gorgeous, technicolour ray of light through the grey. Proof that there is hope. We get through, we do indeed survive.
And alongside the serious nature of the issue, there’s also time for a few teasers of things to come in subsequent issues, very interesting things indeed.
All in all Spandex is turning into something rather special. A self contained story in every comic, an ongoing soap opera storyline and, with this issue, a real steel in Martin Eden’s writing. Yes. Rather special indeed.
Spandex Issue 3 is available from Martin Eden or a selection of fine, fine comic shops.