(Marvel Comics, 2015)
Writer – Elliot Kalan
Artist – Marco Failla
Colors – Ian Herring
Spider-Man and the X-Men have been teaming up since before there was a series called Marvel Team-Up; so Spidey seems a logical choice to take over for the late Wolverine as benefactor of the eponymously titled series. However, that long and storied history is not evident in this first issue; in fact the X-Men of those early team-up days are downright hostile toward our friendly neighborhood web slinger when he shows up hand-picked for the job by Logan himself. The hostile attitudes of the older X-Men are just a warm up for the vehement animosity Spidey finds waiting for him with his inherited class of young mutant students.
Writer, Elliott Kalan gets the dynamic between Spider-Man and the X-Men all wrong from the very beginning; there is no chemistry here, the relationship seems to be devoid of the years of shared history. For this book to succeed that paradigm has to be corrected; the character interaction in this issue is just too antagonistic for Spidey’s one liners and generally humorous demeanor to work in any authentic sense. The unfriendly vibe makes much more sense with the students; here it works just fine calling to mind a John Hughes sort of quality as the group of misfit students face off against the new teacher. It’s a trope that works no matter who the characters are as long as the classroom is the setting.
This is a perfect environment for Spidey’s witty banter and comedic lightheartedness to take center stage. The cast of students Kalan uses also works to Spider-Man’s strengths as teacher/ comedian; he gathers an eclectic ensemble featuring: Rockslide, Glob, Ernst, Eye Boy, Shark Girl, No-Girl and Hellion, not exactly the A-list but this group does have a certain chemistry that could keep the book interesting if used properly.
Marco Failla provides some really clean, stylized visuals. The artwork works extremely well with the lighter subject matter, the character designs are slick, dynamic and energetic. Failla’s ability to play up humorous moments is a major strength that serves him well on this issue and one I’m sure will continue to develop as this series finds its footing. Ian Herring’s vibrant colors add electricity to Failla’s imagery that makes every page pop and come screaming to life, especially the Danger Room sequence, brilliant.
The comedic tone doesn’t seem to work quite as well when applied to the villains, particularly Unus the Untouchable. The Dino-Duo of Stegron and Sauron fare a bit better when handle with humor, still there just isn’t enough of a tangible threat to carry the issue; Kalan’s underlying theme of an infiltrator does little to bolster the threat, it does add an air of espionage to the narrative while providing Spidey with a more personal reason for being at the school as well as deepening his connection to Wolverine.
Spider-Man and The X-Men is entertaining however it seems to be plagued by a feeling of being superfluous and just unnecessary as anything beyond a spotlight book for the underclass of X-Men, not that that is a bad thing in itself but I have to wonder if there is enough here to sustain an on-going monthly title, perhaps these characters would have been better served by an occasional mini-series or inclusion in one of the other X-Books. Overall I did enjoy the issue if for no other reason than my love of Spider-Man, if this title is to have a long run Kalan will have to get the dynamic between Spidey and the young X-Men right. (3/5)
Reviewed by Shawn Warner (@shawnwarner629)