Suffice it to say the celebration but not celebration of Sidekick day for the Spider-Men has been quite a thing. Mysterious fuzzy beings, void dimensions trapped in a can, a convention of supervillains, and keynote speaker Thanos sure can do that to a day.
One of the things that I love most about this series is how it fully lives up to the ideal of an all-age comic, providing plenty of big fun superhero stuff with sight gags and things to chuckle about while also taking the situation/fight seriously. By that I mean the fight with Thanos that takes up most of this issue and their escapades to take him down have humor to them with some gags and laugh-fodder but Thanos being an uber-powered villain is not lost on this series. It’s a struggle for the Spiders to fight the alien being, and they have to outsmart him in order to win the day. Truly it’s just a perfect Spider-Man story, keeping hope and pushing to save the day because that’s what they do.
Mariko Tamaki and Vita Ayala are an amazing set of writers on their own but putting them together is one of those combinations that you instantly know is golden. They completely understand these characters and their motivations, with such love and respect not only for the individual characters that fill these pages but for the Marvel Universe as a whole. It makes perfect sense that Thanos would be like the top-tier A-list celebrity that even the other celebrities gush over meeting, as the villains do here. This is a world where there is Villain Con (also the joke about here being a con to decide the events was utterly hilarious) and the villains are deadly serious but also toned down from their often close to or beyond murderous levels.
This is what makes this overall series of Double Trouble books work. It’s 100% Marvel as we know it in many respects with the sharp edges softened up. They’re not taking the characters or the world and wholesale changing it or pointing a finger mockingly, in fact, it’s more like they are stroking it lovingly on the head like a beloved pet that brings comfort and joy as a long-time companion. I’ve stated before that so many don’t comprehend what an all-ages title means in many cases, creating just a pure comic experience that can be enjoyed by fans young and old. The only continuity you need is knowing the bare basics of who these characters are (and really not even fully that I would wager), other than that it’s just about having a great time.
Part of making the whole thing work so solidly rests upon the artistic style and capabilities of Gurihiru. In one fell swoop these pages are able to hit the notes that lead things to a more comical or fun sort of direction before sliding right back over to something more grounded and powerful. There is just that right bit of cartoonish nature to it, while also making sure that the world they are inhabiting is spacious and has depth and complexity to it at the same time. It really feels like the characters are dancing through the pages, the action so smooth that it might just pop right off the page. I really love how that sort of animated energy I mentioned is mostly relegated to the characters while the various buildings and settings are much more solid and appear like we would expect them to, yet flexible enough to shift for the moment.
A moment like the full-page spread of them moving hilariously through the air vents, taking all physics and reality away in order to nail the perfect visual gag. All while the characters themselves are carrying on a conversation as if they are just straight crawling through the vents rather than the M.C. Escher-style situation we see on the page.
Things are bright and vibrant, fitting that big bold superhero-style look. Paired together with colors that are a bit more toned down to stick with all those repeated mentions I’ve made of a bit more real or grounded type of feeling within this deep space. These color choices as well as the way Gurihiru brings figures to life make the villains really fit what I mentioned before of being dangerous but also sort of adorable and funny in a way. I mean hell, Thanos is scary powerful here, and imposing but also kind of chill. That moment where he signs a headshot for his enamored AIM handler who shows up to make sure he hydrates is the first time I felt like dropping an actual uttered “awwww” about Thanos.
Overall visuals help to tell a giant swath of the story, but the lettering helps tie together the visuals and the story that the writers penned. Cory Petit works on a number of books and always brings an A-game to the pages, and here really makes sure we feel and hear these characters’ every utterance and bit of sound that might be happening during this bold adventure. It’s all about hitting those right tones and energies which is achieved by knowing what to tweak with the various bits of lettering. Dropping bigger or bolder or smaller or whatever type of the font so that we can hear the tonal change from a character, complementing the visual cues on the page that showcase an emotional or other overall change with a character/moment.
Comic books are a beautiful fun visual medium and the best ones really lean into that fully as things like speech bubbles and even the font take on various colors, shapes, and sizes to play with the space. That translates perfectly in a story such as this one where the goal is to be colorful and fun and bold with every bit of the story.
Also, I cracked up but also gasped incredulously at the gall of the character revealed on the final page when I saw the cameo characters that they had basically taken prisoner. How dareth I say! I really hope this means we’re getting another of these minis because truthfully I cannot get enough of them, and the world needs more of this sort of beautiful comic book joy.
Peter Parker & Miles Morales: Spider-Men: Double Trouble #4 is now available from Marvel Comics.
Suffice it to say the celebration but not celebration of Sidekick day for the Spider-Men has been quite a thing.COMICONRead More