By Martin Eden
Okay, here we are, the (sort-of) conclusion to Martin Eden’s technicolour superhero series (reviews of previous issues here: #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). I say sort-of as there will be a Spandex Special in Autumn 2013 continuing some of the plotlines he’s introduced here. But make no mistake about it – this is very final.
I’ve enjoyed ever issue of Spandex thus far, as Eden seems to be (almost) incapable of a misstep, no matter which way he goes. The first couple of issues were great introductory things, the third issue a spectacular lesson in mood and emotional despair, but it’s the 4-part O.M.F.G. story in issues 4-7 that gets the big headlines, including the moment at the end of issue 6 where we find out the big, big, BIG secret of Spandex member Diva after Saga invades her mind:
(Seriously, you really think I’m going to tell you the secret now? Go and buy the comics dammit. From Spandex issue 6 by Martin Eden)
So when we get into this issue we’re certainly into aftermath territory, after all, with what went on last time, there’s few places Eden can really take his team now.
So he doesn’t. He simply, neatly, cleanly (almost) wraps everything up, does a classic Kirby / Lee thing and finishes the team’s adventures in such a way to open up the next adventure in the final pages, beautifully and perfectly presented in the last 8 pages as a fast cutting series of 9 panel pages, focusing on nearly ever possible member of the Spandex cast we’ve met so far, wrapping it all up and opening up the next chapter. Or something like that anyway.
Because that’s the real reason Eden’s superhero saga has proved so popular; it delivers classic, well-intentioned superhero tales of old, yet cleverly wraps them up in modern trappings, this is classic superhero soap-opera a la Stan & Jack or Chris Claremont or John Byrne with added adult sensibility. The sexually diverse, as gay as it wants to be element of the comic is treated, quite rightly, as simply another thing going on in their lives – these are people who are gay and are superheroes, not gay superheroes. The distinction is not just important, it’s the core of what makes Spandex work.
There’s so little I can say about the actual plot here that doesn’t touch on the big reveal, so I wont. Likewise there’s clues all through the artwork, so here’s an edited first page to give you an idea….
And now a little of Liberty’s reactions to what has occurred:
I’ve talked so much about Eden’s characters, his plot, his dialogue, and I’ve always tried to mention something of his artwork. Which improves and improves through the series. Frankly the work in issue 1 has the look of almost a different artist to the work here. That’s stellar progression.
There’s such colour here, such detail where it’s required, pages full of tight work leading into a page of near total silence, mood given free reign, action sequences choreographed to perfection leading to moments to deliberately stop the reader’s progression. That’s wonderful control of the reading experience, just as I’ve come to expect from Eden.
And here’s two wonderful sequences. Big panels where needed, opening out, big emotional full stops…
Or tight talking heads leading to wonderful action shots – love, love, love the body language of Pussy as her head snaps backwards in panel 3; that is mastery of creating movement in one panel.
Seriously, you have pretty much the whole story here. This time round you even get a special Spandex; Black & White supplement (you can see more of that here).
The Spandex special issue is out later this year, but don’t wait, go and buy Spandex issue 1-7 from Eden’s website, and there’s a Spandex Volume 1 from Titan Books that collects issues 1-3. Hopefully we’ll see Volume 2 collecting the rest at some suitable point in the future as well. It deserves a complete collection.