The Spider-Punk(s) are hitting the road!
Earth-138’s band of rock and roll heroes led by Spider-Punk himself are heading cross country to unravel a government conspiracy that threatens the sense of freedom they have fought to obtain. The last time fans saw Hobie Brown, the Spider-Punk, he took his ax to President Norman Osborn’s neck. Although his tyranny was seemingly ended, Hobie Brown and his allies discovered a network of high-tech weapons caches left by Norman Osborn.
This mystery set out by writer Cody Ziglar, penciller Justin Mason, color artist Jim Charalampidis and letterer VC’s Travis Lanham is leaving one hell of a trail for our heroes to follow. However, with Kraven and his gang behind them and Taskmaster still hunting them, the Spider-Punks are only likely to run into more explosive action.
Although this issue was mainly marketed through a tease of the Earth-138 Daredevil equivalent, Spider-Punk #3 offers a surprise for X-Men fans. At this issue commencements, we rejoin the Spider-Punks as the Marauders are chasing them down. In this universe, the Marauders are a Mad Max-style biker gang consisting of Armour, Sunfire, and Daken.
On top of being a pleasant surprise for fans of the characters, their introduction at the very beginning of the book allows readers to jump right into the action. This opening set piece instantly grabs fans’ attention whilst also allowing Ziglar to imply that a significant amount of traveling has happened in between issues, meaning readers get to skip the slower parts of this road trip.
The abrupt insertion of the Marauders into this story also conveys that the Spider-Punks are now entering unknown territory, with more surprising introductions on the way. This unknown territory allows for significant experimentation when it comes to the visual tone of the book, mainly found in Charalampidis’ coloring. This experimentation is exemplified by Charalampidis’ portrayal of Sunfire’s mutation.
A mass of red, orange and yellow brushstrokes exploded around him, all circling around each other forming this raging mass of hellfire. Not only does this representation of Sunfire create an eye-catching focal point to grab readers, but it sets a precedent for new emerging color palettes throughout the rest of the series.
These new distinctive color palettes ensure that each stop on this road trip is unique. Following the encounter with the Marauders, the Spider-Punk’s van is out of commission and they need to stop in Philadelphia for repairs. As Philly is home to this universe’s version of Daredevil, Mattea Murdock, the city is bathed in vibrant shades of red, pink, and purple emanating from neon and LED signs, offering this Neo-Noir color palette reminiscent of Javier Rodriguez’s colors on the 2014 Daredevil run.
Of course, Daredevil is the highlight of this issue. Earth-138 has a specific aesthetic for all its characters. It was important that Daredevil’s traditional powerset be translated into the punk aesthetic naturally. The decision by Ziglar and Mason to make Mattea Murdock into a drummer was an incredibly charming twist on the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil recruits Ms. Marvel and Spider-Punk to assist her in taking down KingPin.
In order to scope out Fisk’s hideout, Daredevil bangs her drumsticks against the rooftops to activate her radar sense. This scene in which Mattea shows off her powers is a great piece of character acting from Mason, as per usual, and cements the insane fun factor that Spider-Punk’s universe brings.
However, Daredevil’s appearance in this issue is little more than a cameo. By the end of the issue, she sees the gang off and stays put in Philly. This would be fine as just a fun bit of worldbuilding, it lacks any major connection to the overall story. There is no relation to Daredevil’s battle against KingPin and the Spider-Punk’s need to fix their van. As heroes, Hobie and Kamala would help regardless, but the fight would hold more weight if they needed to overthrow Kingpin in order to get an important piece of their engine.
Moreover, if the cover for the fifth issue in this series is anything to go by, Daredevil will appear in the book’s finale. It’s a rather awkward narrative choice to leave Mattea in Philadelphia instead of having her tag along at the end of the issue. Arguably, the only scene which affects the overarching narrative of the book is the reveal in the last two pages that Norman Osborn’s head is being kept alive by the venom symbiote. Whilst all he does is deliver a, somewhat, cheesy monologue threatening the Spider-Punks with the dangers of ‘Government Intervention!’ it’s just the right amount of cheesy to feel fun to be on theme.
In my opinion, Spider-Punk #3 fails to deliver on its major promise. The introduction to Mattea Murdock’s Daredevil is a fun addition to this universe. However, her implementation lacks any weight to justify her appearance. This feels like a set-up for a return in the finale when she could have easily been incorporated into the main cast. Daredevil’s inclusion can be seen as little more than a detour than a core plot point.
Despite this misstep on Ziglar’s end, the visual experience of the book is still intact. The illustrations from Mason and colors by Charalampidis are still stellar and really cannot be faulted. Obviously, some fans may differ in regards to personal preference on the style, however, the techniques these two are employing really make this book a treat for the eyes. And finally, the confirmation of Norman Osborn being alive will likely set up the reader’s expectations for an exciting challenge for the rock and rock ideals of the Spider-Punk!
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