Review: Spider-Man and Venom – Double Trouble #1

I think this book is a disgrace and let me tell you why.  I think it’s an insult to readers of Marvel Comics, and fans of Spider-Man and Venom, that Marvel is selling this title at a 3.99 price point.  The overall quality of the book, which I will delve into in detail below, is sub par for ANY comics company that purports to call itself professional; let alone a venerable company like Marvel.  This title has more in common with 50 cent bin books than a #1 release for one of the “Big Two”.  The publisher has slapped a T for teen rating on the book, I suppose to market it to teenagers, but it could be marked 4+ and sold to toddlers.  There is no edgy material here and to suppose that the sub-par artwork makes it suitable for teenagers is insulting to teenage comic book fans in my opinion.  They like good artwork as well.  Anyway, lets get into it.

Mariko Tamaki (Skim, Emiko Superstar) pens this first issue.  In my opinion everything begins with writing.  A superbly drawn book can suffer greatly from sub-par writing and an amateurishly drawn book can be elevated by incredible writing.  Unfortunately, this book does not distinguish itself in any way.  For MANY panels in this book we get Spider-Man or Venom singing variations of the classic “Spider-Man Theme” to themselves in a way that is supposed to be cute and endearing and comes off as nauseating and a waste of time.   Tamaki then takes us, for many more pages I might add, on some slap-sticky hijinks showing the pitfalls of Spidey and Venom rooming together and Ghost Spider as the downstairs neighbor.  You starting to get a sitcom feel and why do we want to subject children or anyone to that?  Suddenly, on page 20 of a 24 pages book, Tamaki thrown the one and only plot point at us and leaves it at that.  This plot twist, torn right out of “Freaky Friday”, is left like an orphaned child with no explanation, no lead up to it and no interest on my part.

As painful as the writing was, the artwork is worse.  I could go into any high-school art class and the majority of the students there could have drawn this story to a higher standard.  Each panel has the look of modern “cookie cutter” animated TV shows but to a lesser standard.  The line work, character design and execution are all amateur with no inking what so ever.  Additionally, the book is colored in single colors with the occasional second tone added for a hint of shading.  There is a reason that animation, especially weekly shows, suffer in quality compared to art in feature films or comic books.  Drawing each cell takes time and so animators cut corners in order to produce the sheer number of drawing to put together a feature.  Here, in what is purportedly a monthly book, the artists have to produce 24 pages of artwork every 30 days.  With other projects and deadlines that time-frame is most assuredly shorter but is is not unreasonable to expect a professional to be able to draw a project to a professional standard, even under those circumstances.  When you are Marvel comics and are asking 3.99 for a book fans should demand that quality; quality they do not get here.

I can’t recommend anything about this book.  The artwork is boring, the dialogue ridiculous (my God Venom say ‘nom nom nom’ for goodness sake) and the plot practically non-existent.  The artwork is a horror show; amateurish and unbecoming of a Marvel book and the characters that grace its pages.  I applaud the desire to bring in younger audiences but if this book is presented this way for that effect it is a failed effort that is an insult to the very readers you are trying to court.

Writing – 1 of 5 Stars
Art – 1 of 5 Stars
Color – 1 of 5 Stars

Overall Score – 1 of 5 Stars

Writing – Mariko Tamaki
Art – Gurihiru
Letters – Travis Lanham