By Martin Eden
Five issues in and we know what to expect from Martin Eden’s Spandex; bright, bold colours, great artwork, diverse sexual politics, personal intrigues cast against the backdrop of superheroics…. and most of all a damn fine, highly enjoyable all-gay superteam soap opera series.
Here’s a previous summary (but a note of caution – this is very much an issue not to be read before picking up issue 4):
“Issues 1 and 2 introduced the various characters in this all-gay superteam soap opera, concentrating equally on the superheroing and the complicated personal lives of those involved, to really good effect. But with issue 3 the tone changed, quite magnificently, suddenly it got very serious, and the raw emotions uncovered turned Spandex into something far deeper and darker than we were perhaps expecting.
With three issues under his belt Eden could so easily have taken his eye off the ball. But if anything, the plotting, character and pacing of issue 4 is the best of the lot. It’s so tight, so intense, there’s practically nothing I can tell you about the plot here without giving away something important, there’s so much going on – and all of it’s important, all of it’s shocking. It’s called O.M.F.G. for lots of very valid reasons.”
Last time round, we watched Spandex get ripped apart by Lez Girlz. Way, way too easily, and there’s a traitor on the team to deal with… although it might not be who the team thought it was.
Here at the start of issue 5 team leader and founder Liberty is on her own. Her team captured, possibly dead, and the last thing she needs is to see this lot outside her door:
That opening really does set up just how screwed Spandex (and especially Liberty) may well be right now.
Liberty faces down the multiple foes, and in between that we see a fascinating origin story…. telling of the past incarnation of Spandex and throwing in a question or two along the way – Diva was in the original Spandex…. hmmm.
But the thing is, I think Eden makes a bit of a misstep this issue, with his pacing and story choices. Everything so far has been so tight, and especially in the sublime issue 3 and shocking issue 4. After the shocks of that one I was hoping he’d carry on the focus on Spandex, look at the Lez Girlz team that so effectively took them apart and move it all forwards in the same style.
Like I’ve already said, it starts on track, and it ended really, really well, pulling everything tightly back together, putting Liberty’s memories in a different, more sinister light, and ending with a stunning cliffhanger.
But in between there was just too much going on, primarily because of this:
Bringing The O-Men (and the Japanese J-Team) into the story just dilutes the action, takes the focus off Liberty and loses some of the tension Eden’s carefully brought to the comic so far.
However, like I said, the ending makes up for this, The O-Men are gone, it’s back tightly focused on Spandex and Lez Girlz again and we’re back on track. Hopefully this is just a small blip in an excellent series, and not something I’d say will make that much difference when we look back on the story as a whole.
To end, a word on Eden’s artwork. Looking back at the art of issue 1, Eden’s work here is many, many levels above where he started, and seeing him improve, issue after issue is a real delight. And one subtle change here that makes the whole package take another incremental step forward is the lettering. Previously it looked hand drawn, here it’s either a computer font or Eden’s concentrated on improving it. A small thing, but it adds to the whole. As does the fun extra stuff included with this issue – bonus Spandex trading cards (collect all 64!) and a 4 page J-Men manga special.
So, despite a few reservations, it’s another excellent issue.
You can (and should) pick up Spandex from Martin Eden’s webstore, and selected (and very good) comic shops – full details at Eden’s website.