A swashbuckling Spidey fights Nazis across the world as he and a small crew hunt for some treasure! Spider-Man Noir is a story as pulpy as they come, and it wears it on its sleeve, to its benefit, at least in general.
The real highlight of the series is artist Juan Ferreyra, which should come as no surprise. Before reading, I had already seen screenshots of panels from different parts of the series, one notable one where Ferreyra just nails the comedy in the scene, but the range of emotions throughout the series is impressive, and the way he sells slapstick and creepy adds to the pulpy feel.
The limited color palette obviously creates much of the atmosphere of the series. Black, white, and red are clearly popular colors to build into a palate, but what’s interesting here is that the tone almost exists despite them, instead of because of it. What’s also interesting is that this doesn’t create any kind of dissonance. It isn’t quite assonant, but it exists alongside the tone in an interesting way.
His character designs are creative and memorable in great ways, with characters being cleverly adapted to this universe and time period, while feeling like they belong there more than they do in the 616.
The last issue has a wonderful sequence made of some of my favorite Spider-Man pages in recent memory. There’s great formal work there, and it has a cat in it, which will always win me over.
While I do like the art, I think there are way too many double page spreads in this series. Most of them have fun layouts, and they read fine, but the gutter loss isn’t insignificant and it feels like an odd use of space. The bigger Ferreyra art is cool, but it strikes me as an odd storytelling choice, and it makes for an odd rhythm. That may not totally be a bad thing, but it is odd and notable.
My bigger problem lies with the dialogue. I like the adventurous tone of the story, and the way the characters speak lends greatly to that tone, but I think the amount of dialogue hampers the whole, along with it feeling a bit monotonous. The characters don’t feel like they have individual voices, and the crew just kind of blends together in places. The cast is really fun, too, once they’re all gathered, and I can tell the team was having fun with them, but the combination of Spider-Man being more serious than typical combined with the general tone of the series seemed to make everyone meet in the middle. To be fair, I do really like this tone for Spider-Man, and everything works very well when it’s just him on page. It’s an interesting departure, but not one that’s too stark or so different that it feels wrong. He’s fun, and still knows how to quip, even though he’s a little more serious than usual.
Still, this is a series that I generally enjoyed. The strength of the concept alone feels made for me, dropping one of my favorite superheroes into something as fun and simple as an Indiana Jones film. Even where it falters, it’s a beautiful and fun story that is easy to enjoy, and who doesn’t like to see Nazis get punched? Of course you want to see that, you’re not a monster!
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