As an experimental run, some can go overboard. This was the case for the predecessor of Marvel Knights: Spider-Man 2013, Issue 2, which pulled out all the stops in the first comic to some confusing debris. Even for a story based on a drugged haze, it went completely bonkers and that’s a stretch to achieve. Luckily, this follow-up finds a fair balance between dissonance and structured chaos. There are some questionable plot points, but those may be revealed in context later on. It, luckily, listened to reason in regards to its art style already. That’s something.
Peter Parker continues his story that sees him forced to run a gauntlet with dozens of his mortal enemies at once, under the influence of some mind-altering substance. In this portion of the event, he’s trapped on a plane with elementally themed foes: Hydro, Sandman and Shocker. It’s pointed out what a terrible decision that is, but an explanation for it is still forthcoming. Regardless, the plot will only span over this short period and take moments to go from quips to introspective monologues on the side. There are some human blips under the action to be found. One moment stands still just how men turn into super villains. It’s a question not often brought up anymore, so it’s commendable to see Peter rationalize, certainly in this current befuddled condition.
Art sees the continuation of Val Staples and Marc Rudy’s coloring and outlines, but in a much more defined manner than the first issue. Where, at first, they lobbed in every style imaginable, they now go for a much more defined and categorized look, which yet holds many formats. Panels are still ripped and torn into pieces, but each gets neatly barricaded into their own respective border, at the least. Periodically, some more unrelated or detached frames will make their way on the page; there’s no avoiding their overall ambition. Regardless, progression is now almost fluently readable. Text may hop from left to right or miss critical context, hidden in some panels, but nothing that will have readers sleuthing for an answer.
Similar things are true for design in itself, with slightly warped images getting more sharp colors and outlines, to keep them prominent. When hazing swashes are used, this time, they are confined to their box, without destroying other works on the page. For instance, Mysterio’s fuming façade deserves some unclear drawings, but it doesn’t overtake other important details. It’s a compromise, even if these differing styles that are randomly altered without rhyme or reason and are still not matched to the hallucinating troubles of our hero. They’re more directed to the artists’ whims, so some slight frustration can still linger. This will likely not change anytime soon.
If there is one other lesser scruple, it’s that the entire plot point takes in just a fraction of time and actions, stretched over numerous pages, with added filler. Since there is some interesting banter within, it may not be detrimental to all readers, but it will feel like the issue ends prematurely. Perhaps an aching for more can be seen as a good thing, but not when there had been no incentive to read on prior to it. It, once more, sets a lot of pressure on upcoming episodes and that’s a timer that will eventually run out of sand. Let’s start having comics rely on their individual strengths, instead of having them rest on the laurels of the grand finale. It’s quite demanding to ask a reader to carry on and count time until that arrives.
There is hope in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man 2013, Issue 2. That’s a portion of good news, when thinking about more editions to come. It’s still slightly off and confusing at times, but it’s starting to form into a better narrative and a more consistent, sharp art form. In itself, it carries the momentum forward for at least one more try. Peter will need to pick up the pace form there.