After many months of waiting, the second issue of Margaret Stohl and Juan Ferreyra’s Spider-Man Noir is finally here. Spoilers for Spider-Man Noir #1 ahead.
In 1939 Marvel’s one and only Nazi-slugging web-slinger is searching for Holly Babson’s killer. His only clue is a cicada stone necklace that she had in her possession when she died. Together with Dr. Huma Bergman, the victim’s sister, Spider-Man (Peter Parker) travels to London. However, Spidey doesn’t realize just how important the stone is, as he is followed all the way to Europe by some mysterious men.
The Marvel noir universe is ripe with political intrigue due to the tension caused by the second World War. Stohl uses this atmosphere to give a superhero spin on a classic noir war story. This super-powered detective is out of his depth when it comes to politics, until you give him a goon with a gun to pummel. Bergman and their pilot, Harry, provide some great banter with Noir. The dialogue feels straight out of an old radio play, adding to the film noir feel of the comic.
While, Stohl’s writing lays the foundations for the tone of Spider-Man Noir, Ferreyra’s incredible art provides that dark and gloomy feel that is so prominent in noir films. The mostly grey color pallet allows for some creative tricks light and shadows. One of the best examples of this is the Peter’s body covered in shadow with his large round glasses making it appear as if he is actually wearing his costume. The deep shadows underneath Peter’s glasses, complimented by the white lenses obscuring his eyes, paint him as a morally ambiguous character. This is a quality that is not present in most interpretations of the Webhead. Because of the subdued colors, the uses of bright color stand out like a red fish in a blue pond. They allow the viewer’s eyes to be drawn towards the source of that color. That source is often important within the pages of the story, such as the red indication of Spider-Man’s spidey sense or the blue light of the moon.
The political intrigue hidden within Stohl’s superhero detective story peaked my interest, but the murky mysterious feeling of Ferreyra’s art made me focus on every little detail of each panel. The way he clearly outlines the white and grey shapes of characters in front of similarly colored backgrounds adds to the morally ambiguity of those characters. The darkness obscuring the assailant’s appearance adds to the mystery. The combination of Stohl and Ferreyra shapes what may be my favorite mini series from Marvel of the last few years.