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Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. Paperback – March 2, 2011
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Bendis and Maleev blew me away with Scarlet's crazy awesome, but this takes one of my favorite super-heroines and treats her right. It's not nearly as bleak as Scarlet but the action is dirty and intelligent, the dialogue snappy, the antagonists brutal and compelling. Yet at no point does it forget that it's a superhero book.
Anyone familiar with Maleev's art might initially think that he couldn't do justice to a woman in a spandex bodysuit given his art style, but he makes it work and it works well. Though to be fair, Jessica spends very little time in her costume in this run. The more super-powered action sequences are admittedly a little abstract when Maleev does them, but they fit the tone of the book.
Even if you're not overly familiar with the character or her story, this series flows well and gives you the crucial bits. It helps to be familiar with the New Avengers, Spider Woman: Origin, and Secret Invasion of the 00s, but not mandatory by any stretch.
Suffice to say this is one of my all time favorite super hero books, right up there with Manhunter (the Marc Andreyko run), Planetary and Astonishing X-Men (vols 1-4).
I heartily recommend it to anyone that likes superheroes even a little. To those that like Jessica Drew, it's mandatory reading.
-Cross posted from Goodreads:
Bendis writes his dialogue in the style of Quentin Tarantino, like he did when he was doing his creator owned books. I've read better from him.
But the thing I most disliked about the book was the fumetti-style storytelling of Maleev. He does a few great images in the book, and of course... his covers are awesome. But the fumetti storytelling turned me off big time. (Fumetti is comics made with photos.... and Maleev obviously takes photos and uses them to draw from (probably traced in Photoshop).) The result is stiff looking characters who look posed and unreal. Maleev does some amazing coloring with some awesome textures, but it feels wasted on traced photographs. Plus he often re-uses certain poses instead of doing new ones, which upon seeing them... took me out of the story and made me feel he was taking artistic shortcuts. I think he's a great artist, but not when he's relying so heavily on stiff photos. The book would have been much better with characters drawn from his imagination, and I can't believe that it is faster for him to take photos, scan them, manipulate them, trace them, and lay them out in Photoshop... than it would be to just DRAW them. If this is what he's going to do in the future... I would rather he just do the iconic covers (which suits the fumetti style much better) and leave the storytelling to someone who will actually draw the characters from his/her imagination.
Come to think of it... I probably would have enjoyed the story more if the fumetti hadn't been so distracting. I've seen good work from Maleev, so I know he can do it. But this is like some of his later DAREDEVIL run (some of the DAREDEVIL run was good and not TOO fumetti) where the whole thing looked like fumetti.
From what I understand, a motion comic was made of this. I feel no need to watch it, even for free on Netflix.
Jessica Drew was my favorite female superhero growing up. She was the woman desired and respected conterminously. Yet in this book she seemed to be more like an MI-6 Agent rather than a superhero. She slew and slaughtered her way through an Asian city with no compunction whatsoever. She lied and cheated, killed and maimed all because she was hired to do a job for Agent Brand of SWORD. Hunting the so-called shape shifting Skrulls seemed a bit out of place for someone like her.
The character was not at all similar to the one created by Stan Lee in the early 1980s. That Jessica Drew was kinder and gentler. The chiaroscuro of this graphic novel is fantastic to view, however. Nevertheless, there can be such a thing as too much of a good thing.
I'm the ninth person to give this graphic novel a review. I give it Three and a Half Stars.
A. Nathaniel Wallace, Jr.
The story is fantastic and absolutely worth reading, especially if you want to have a little more insight into Jessica's character as she starts getting more time in the spotlight in the Marvel NOW releases. I wasn't a fan of the art style so much, but it doesn't detract too much from the book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who's interested in the fallout for the person who was probably hurt the most by the events of Secret Invasion.