Spider-Man has one of the biggest rogues galleries in comics with some absolutely terrifying villains that have done horrifying things over the years. Within the first few pages of Spider-Man #1, Cadaverous jumps to the front of the line. I will admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new mini-series. I figured it would be a fun series where writers J.J. Abrams and Henry Abrams make a splash in the comics industry. I could not have been more wrong. This is something new and different with some rather shocking twists and turns.
I’m going to be cognizant of spoilers as it’s best to experience this book cold. Spider-Man #1 introduces us to a different version of Peter Parker. He is still the costumed hero we know and love, but he’s been put through some major tragedy…or rather, some more tragedy. Bad things have definitely followed this poor guy around for a bit.
What is interesting is how he deals with this. Everyone handles trauma differently and when you put on a costume and swing through New York City half the time, you probably have a pretty unique perspective on it. I’ve criticized recent depictions of Peter as it seems he’s a little cut off emotionally from those he cares about the most. I’m sure there’s a psychological reason for some of this and as an outsider to his life, it can be tough to understand.
I think I take it hard because Spider-Man is my favorite comic book character and when he does something like push away loved ones, it disappoints me. I know he’s a better person than that so I want him to show it. A key component to the character, which we saw beautifully in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is that no matter how many times he gets hit, he gets back up again. That changes with this comic. He gets hit so hard, both physically and emotionally, that he just can’t do it anymore. It’s heartbreaking.
Artist Sara Pichelli captures that emotional weight bringing Peter down. He’s not his happy-go-lucky self anymore. The world has broken him and it shows. He’s a shell of what he once was. What’s funny is that this is a huge contrast to the opening pages of Spider-Man #1, showing a battered and bruised web-head that still manages to hold his head up high and crack jokes, even with the insurmountable odds stacked against him.
Cadaverous is a real standout in Spider-Man #1. This villain is nothing short of terrifying. He’s robotic with a hint of humanity buried deep within his hulking frame. His very appearance is like something out of a horror movie. Letterer Joe Caramagna adds to this unsettling visage with dark grey word balloons and haunting, robotic font that sends shivers up my spine.
Colorist Dave Stewart gives the opening pages a dystopian feel to them. Cadaverous’ towering physique drowns out any and all hope the moment he appears on the page. It’s like he blocks out the sun. What puts it over the edge are the hints of red that spiral through his robotic body. Are those just wires? Or is that blood pumping through it? Either way, it’s super creepy.
It’s pretty easy to guess where a chunk of Spider-Man #1 is going after you get into the thick of it. What sets this apart is the path the characters take to get there and the questions that arise along the way. This is providing a truly unique look at Spider-Man that I am welcoming with open arms. I am anxious to see how the seeds planted here will bear fruit.