Ok so I was a tad wrong in my last hint. Noir takes place in the 1930s not 20s. To be fare, they don’t actually give the dates in the books. So you have to use context clues. Most of those clues could easily go for the 20s as well as the 30s. Anyway, no more excuses. Lets Get on with this.
In 2009, Marvel started to release a series of miniseries based of the old noir genre. For those who don’t know what noir is, imagine the old fashion detective movies. That’s noir. Spider-Man was one of those miniseries. Matter of fact, it was two of them: Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face. Noir was also one of the four Spider-Men used in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
So lets take a look at our hero. This Spider-Man looks something like this:
Ok that’s actually pretty cool. Aviator’s goggles for the eyes, dressed in dark colors to reflect the black and white of the classic noir films. I like it. But to me, it doesn’t scream Spider-Man. It looks kind of like what he would have worn on his early outings. Question is though, where are the red and blues? Every alternate version of Spider-Man had their own versions of the classic red and blue costume. Even if it didn’t have the same design, it still had the color scheme. Oh, there was one? It was in the concept art? Well lets take a look:
Um, ok. I can see why they didn’t use it. Let me say this, I actually like this suit. Remember, the story takes place in the 30s. The suit is something that could have logically (well comic book logic at least) existed during then. Its made from leather and canvas, and still uses the aviation goggles that wound up in the regular suit. That being said, I can see why it wasn’t used in the final cut. As much as I like it, it looks kind of silly (then again so do the normal red and blues.) It doesn’t even go with the noir feel they were going for. Sadly though that noir feel is not really felt.
The Story is pretty good, but there’s no real mystery to it, and the point of a good noir series. Like I said, the best example I can give is old black and white detective stories. But that is not felt in this series. However, It did capture the feel of another genre. The dark tone, the thumb twiddling mastermind. The mystical aspect of his origin, and even his primary motivation at first being revenge, there by making him an antihero. It’s a genre known as pulp. The best way to explain pulp ist think of movies like The Phantom, The Rocketeer, or even (as much as I hate this movie) The Spirit. All of those are examples of pulp. Some of them better then others.
So lets get to the story of the first miniseries. The first miniseries was an origin story, And it was DARK. It had Uncle Ben’s death (like every origin story for Parker has.) Rather then being shot by a burglar though, he was eaten by the cannibalistic geek (the kind that bites the heads off of chickens) Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture. You know, this guy:
The Vulture was one of the sideshow freaks that worked with the Goblin, Norman Osborne. See Osborne recruited all of his lackeys from circus sideshows. There is a very big reason for this that I’m not going to spoil here. His group consisted of the Enforcers (Ox, Fancy Dan, and Montana), Kraven (an animal trainer, rather then a hunter,) and the man of a thousand faces, the Chameleon:
Chameleon plays a big part in the story because of his ability to copy any face, accomplished by his clay like features. The series also had its own version of Ben Urich, Felicia Hardy, and J. Jonah Jameson.While it met with mixed results, the miniseries was generally received positively. Positively enough to receive a sequel series. It was known as Spider-Man Noir: Eyes Without a Face.
The second miniseries involves racism and Nazis. More specifically Nazi Doctor Octopus performing lobotomies on African Americans in an attempt to remove their free will. So yeah, like I said. This shit is DAAARRK. This story really did have the noir feel to it. The mystery of a missing person, and the horrific and sad reveals made me feel like I was reading as old detective novel. This is not the last time we saw Spider-Man Noir.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t mentioned this Spider-Man’s powers yet. That’s because I was waiting until I got into his roll in Shattered Dimensions. See Spider-Man Noir’s mechanic in that game was stealth. That’s because of many of the other versions of Spider-Man, Noir does not have super strength. Also, he normally doesn’t have the ability to scale walls. Madam Web gave him that ability, as well as refining his ability to spin webs. Normally, when he shoots his webs, its more dispersed. Its almost like a net. Both of these changes, however did not last. When the game ended, so did his enhanced abilities.
Well here’s the part where I say what I think of Noir’s particular series. Check out both mini’s. The first one is more pulp then noir, but the second is noir all the way. When it come’s to Shattered Dimensions, I’ve said it once before, I’ll say it again. It’s a decent game and it should be checked out.
Next time will be part one of a three part article on Ultimate Spider-Man.