Sunday, 5 July 2015

Spandex - Fast and Hard by Martin Eden Review

Spandex is an all-gay superhero team based in Brighton, England, who fight giant women, pink ninjas, and conformity! It’s also, unfortunately, like too many superhero team comics, not very good. 

I liked it but the drawing style might put some people off. Without trying to sound like a dick, it’s very childlike in its simplicity. However, if you enjoy Javier Pulido’s work at Marvel (Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Charles Soule’s She-Hulk), you’ll dig Martin Eden’s style too. 

Of the issues collected here, only half are loosely connected. We’re introduced to the team, they fight a giant woman, and we catch a glimpse of their rival, evil team (which has no payoff as we never see them again). Then one team member is assassinated! … and Spandex don’t really do anything about catching the killer. They’re actually more pro-active about replacing him than serving justice! 

Spandex is a very stereotypically gay book, in that everything about the characters revolves around their sexuality - they have to fight someone who’s a jilted ex-lover, and their conversations centre around who’s sleeping with who. I’m not gay but is this really all gay people do - talk about their love lives to the exclusion of all else? A person’s sexuality informs their identity but it’s not all they are - right?

The other half of the book is a Days of Future Past-type story about a villain who’s turning everyone gray and boring. It’s a look at how conformity deadens individual expression, creativity and truth, as well as a representation and discussion of depression. It’s not bad but still felt weirdly out of place with the preceding superhero antics. 

The tone of this book bothered me - I thought Eden was going for a light-hearted, even satirical wink at superhero comics, and he does do that every now and then, but it’s uneven with sudden deaths and inconsistent storylines. 

The character work was also very poor. The members of Spandex are: Prowler, Liberty, Glitter, Indigo, Butch, Mr Muscles, and Diva - all names to anyone who hasn’t read this book, yet they’re basically just names to me too, and I did read the book! No one character stands out from the other - they’re all essentially the same personality with the same voice. 

I wish I could say this gay superhero parody comic was tons of fun and sharply satirical, but it was just as badly written and plotted as anything Marvel or DC put out every week!

Spandex - Fast and Hard

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