Spandex Issue 4: O.M.F.G Part One – True Colours
By Martin Eden
Issues 1 and 2 introduced the various characters in this all-gay superteam soap opera, concentrating equally on the superheroing and the complicated personal lives of those involved, to really good effect. But with issue 3 the tone changed, quite magnificently, suddenly it got very serious, and the raw emotions uncovered turned Spandex into something far deeper and darker than we were perhaps expecting.
With three issues under his belt Eden could so easily have taken his eye off the ball. But if anything, the plotting, character and pacing of issue 4 is the best of the lot. It’s so tight, so intense, there’s practically nothing I can tell you about the plot here without giving away something important, there’s so much going on – and all of it’s important, all of it’s shocking.
It’s called O.M.F.G. for lots of very valid reasons. Eden pretty much gets the feel of the comic over right here in this promo ad:
And it does, it really does turn everything on its head, in a series of perfectly set up shocks – by the end of the issue it’s all change, and unlike countless superhero titles from Marvel and DC, here in Spandex, it’s change with a permanence to it. That’s what makes the O.M.F.G. moments work – you’ll find yourself at the end of the book practically breathless and desperate to see where it’s all going.
(“Have we met somewhere before?” – oh yes, you have… page 1 of Spandex issue 4, just before it all starts to go wrong. From Martin Eden’s Spandex)
Here’s what little of the plot I can safely give you – the Spandex team come under a sustained and targeted attack this issue by “Les Girlz”, who systematically take the team down. The ease with which they do this, combined with the absolute ruthlessness and brutality is surprising. But the manner in which Eden sets everything up is absolutely perfect, a practical masterclass in how to deliver a concise, tight and clinical thriller.
(“Hm.” – love that moment, as Pussy, leader of Les Girlz, infiltrates Prowler’s apartment in Martin Eden’s Spandex #4)
And alongside the decimation of the team comes a series of equally stunning personal revelations – again, the soap opera aspects of Spandex sit so comfortably amongst the superhero thriller. And that’s why it’s so very good, reminiscent of the best superhero work of early Spider-Man or classic Claremont X-Men, where it was the relationships of the people under the costumes that appealed just as much as (and often more than) the big fights.
Spandex started out as the “gay super-book”, and although Eden enjoyed the publicity of that, it’s something he’s steering the book away from. Not in content, but in tone – the sexual escapades are just part of these characters lives, not the be all and end all. So, whilst we do see the characters cruise the gay bars of Brighton (and spot a few familiar, and trademarked, characters in the background moonlighting from their own comics and giving us a smile) it’s just part of their character, not the entirety of it.
(Whilst most of issue 4 is tight, pacey thriller, there’s still time for a little comedy to shift the mood – from Spandex #4 by Martin Eden)
Eden’s art is just great, and his glorious use of colour, always considered, always effective, is a big part of our enjoyment. Just the three examples on this review should be enough to show you what I mean – the characters all have their own colour schemes, carefully controlled by Eden, and when necessary he’s more than happy to dazzle us with a nice bit of technicolour as with Glitter and new member Neon hitting the bars in the page above. Lovely.
Eden’s continued development of his characters and his story is really giving us a great soap opera superhero saga, perfectly plotted, brilliantly paced. Issue 5 really can’t come along soon enough.