Graphic Novel Review: Marvel Knights Spider-Man: 99 Problems

15:36 04 April 2014

Marvel Knights Spider-Man: 99 Problems

Marvel Knights Spider-Man: 99 Problems

Archant

Spidey gets surreal in this trippy psychological adventure

(Panini Books)

The MK imprint is enjoying a renaissance of late, offering unusual creative teams the chance to tell relatively out-of-continuity stories about some of Marvel’s biggest characters, with a maturity and edge you probably wouldn’t get away with in the mainstream line.

The premise of this particular book is simple, but there’s nothing obvious about the five issues contained here, and it may just be one of the most challenging Spider-Man stories of recent times.

Kidnapped and drugged at the orders of a mysterious protagonist, the webslinger is forced into battle with 99 supervillains ranging from A-listers like Venom and Sandman to barrel-scrapings like the Silver Fox, apparently to prevent the loss of hundreds of innocent lives…

But instead of a series of straightforward slugfests, writer Matt Kindt and artist Marco Rudy have produced a merging of the psychological and the surreal, offering an insight into Peter Parker’s confused mental state at the same time as portraying his increasingly desperate battles as an intense and trippy stream of visual consciousness.

The intention is obviously to show events from Peter’s drug-addled perspective, and as he is gradually ground down by the strain of defeating an apparently endless array of bad guys, his descent into exhaustion and physical collapse. You can imagine that after five issues of storytelling in this fashion, the reader is left just as confused as Spider-Man.

It’s not that the artwork isn’t absolutely incredible, because it is, or that Kindt’s script is hard to understand, it’s just that the continued blurring between reality and illusion, the wildly unconventional panel style, and the relentless pace of the storytelling starts to take its toll after a while.

There’s no way you would get away with this sort of story in the main Spidey book, which of course is why the Marvel Knights line was created, and it’s good to see creators let off the leash now and then, but let’s not make a habit of books like this eh, I don’t think my psyche could take it…

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