OFF THE RACK: Spider Island – Deadly Hands of Kung Fu 1 of 3

So the interesting thing about this new column, for me at least, is that I am compelled to look at all new books with equal interest and allow the company’s marketing technique, cover style and general artistic style to draw me in.  To that end, this week I purchased a new issue of a Marvel Comics book for the first time in the better part of a decade.


Like most people my age, I spent time in my youth watching Fox’s Saturday morning cartoon shows.  The best of which were clearly Spiderman and X-Men (with an honorable mention to the fantastic and venerable The Tick).  But despite my appreciation and enjoyment of the Spiderman animated series I never got into the comics.  Part of that was the fact that there were four monthly ongoing series that seemed to be in a constant cross-over state.  But part of it was the daunting idea of the history behind such a character and jumping on really late.


As an adult I’ve overcome many of these concerns, especially since I’ve moved away from Marvel and read mostly indie comics and DC titles which for the most part avoid mass cross-over stories (but they still do it…final crises!).


Spider Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu appealed to me from a couple of perspectives.  First, I was intrigued by the Spider Island portion (as someone who avoids Marvel titles I was unaware of the Spider Island storyline currently running) and second I found myself drawn in by the cover.


The cover is very intricate, with the large red spider acting as window into scenes beyond.  The view includes Iron Fist, and two other characters I am not familiar with (one who makes an appearance in the book and one who does not).  Featured on the cover is the main character of the book Shang-Chi, kung fu master.


Part of my nostalgia earlier was actually created by a portion of this book.  Shang-Chi has an interlude with Madame Web.  For fans of the Spiderman animated series you will remember the intricate role she played in several storylines, but I have not seen or heard about her making many appearances since that time.


The internal art of the book is gritty.  Some scenes have the background completely fade away, sometimes it is reduced to vertical or horizontal lines, and sometimes it’s completely refined.  It brings into question if the artist is trying to be dramatic during certain scenes?  If so, it comes across more as laziness than  artistic expertise being showcased.



The story itself, as a first issue in a three part mini-series, does a good job of drawing you in to where the writer is taking the story.  The dialogue in parts is shoddy, though.  The best example of this is an exchange between Shang Chi and Madame Web.


Overall I’m giving Spider Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu 1 of 3 a grade of B-.


Check back next week for an all-new review!


For now,


This is your Bin Fodder Guru Tim Blacksmith signing off.



Store Review: Spider Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu was purchased at Graham Crackers Comics Naperville location, which is on 75th street about three miles East of IL-59.  The Naperville shop is their flagship store in the chain and easily their biggest.  If you’re looking for trades or back-issues, this is a great place to go.  But the new comic selection is less than I would have expected, especially in the Independent Comics area.  The store is fraught with specialty issues, figurines and assorted other comic related paraphernalia.  It’s a good store and part of a great chain.  I definitely recommend checking it out to get a feel for what a large comic shop can offer you.

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