by Brendan McCarthy
It starts off like any other Spider-Man book – Spidey in New York being tackled by one of his famous gallery of villains – The Vulture this time. But it quickly gets a little more interesting, when a nearby Dr. Strange opens a long lost book of the occult, setting off a mystical trap that releases a tribe of spider-demons who set about stealing Spider-man’s soul. This all leads to Spider-man ending up in Strange’s bathtub setting him on a quest to help his fellow New Avenger. See how it gets so wonderfully strange very quickly?
Straight from the off you can tell that this is a homage to the Spider-man stories from the 60’s and 70’s: In the opening pages Dr. Strange wanders around his apartment announcing everything he’s doing, much like the covers of old that neatly summarised the entire book in a few panels. Normally this would feel like a bit of lazy writing but because McCarthy is aware of what he us doing so are we as an audience.
Some people might argue that the story itself isn’t that great and it’s just a vehicle for the fantastic Brendan McCarthy artwork but personally I feel differently. McCarthy takes us back to a time where mainstream comics didn’t all have to be big events, tie in books and crossovers. This story is something that stands completely on it’s own as something designed to be simply fun (bonkers perhaps, but fun most of all).
(How McCarthy is this page – gorgeously insane isn’t it? From Spider-Man Fever issue 1, published by Marvel Comics)
Obviously the star of the show is Brendan McCarthy’s absolutely beautiful artwork. Each page is like looking at something Steve Ditko might have drawn whilst on psychedelics. It’s really something we don’t see enough of in comics nowadays; a style completely against the grain but so beautifully, confidently and perfectly executed. The colours only help to firmly place this book in the surreal and it’s easily possible to get lost for what seems like hours in the details of McCarthy’s artwork.
Brendan McCarthy gives us something that’s rare in comics at the moment, which is a stylish, fun, out of the ordinary and fantastic story. It’s worth it just for McCarthy’s glorious artwork (and the brilliant last line; one of the best I think I may have ever read). Fans of McCarthy will love Spider-Man; Fever, but hopefully new readers will give it a chance and begin the clamour for more McCarthy Marvel work.