You can expect occasional dollops of horror with Spider-Man comics. Morbius, the living vampire, turned up first as a Spidey foe, after all. More dark storylines abound in the Spidey canon.
But Spider-Man is not the first comic that comes to mind when you think horror in the four-color world. Marvel’s new double-hyphened Spine-Tingling Spider-Man means adjusting a few expectations.
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Part of Marvel’s new Infinity Comics line made exclusively for the Marvel Unlimited app, the tale makes good use of the innovative, continuous-scrolling format.
Issue one begins with just a few words in a foggy panel, the first bars of a haunting lullaby. Graphic musical notes slip in a few panels later.
Gradually and cinematically, as a few more verses “play” by way of captions, the haunted face of Spidey’s alter-ego Peter Parker comes into sharper focus.
The lullaby is a damming ear-worm, and in lean, long images, its nightmare impact on Peter is exposed, driving him to wall crawling and action encounters but also into a psychological mystery.
The spider-centric song is so creepy and engaging, Marvel rolled out a coinciding audio version with the full lyrics assembled from several issues. That invites a play along while reading.
With four issues now available, the graphic story is progressing with still more chills, including glimpses of the song’s rippling impact on the masses plus a classic Spidey villain and a cliff-hanging, more personal angle for Peter.
When a new form comes along, it’s exciting to see a story that harnesses it to the fullest. It’s even more fun when the effect is eerie and brilliantly imagined.
Marvel’s new Spine-Tingling Spider-Man is credited to Saladin Ahmed and Juan Ferreyra as storytellers.
That seems to suggest the collaborative nature of the creation. Ahmed is primarily a writer with credits including Throne of the Crescent Moon, and Ferreyra is noted for comics ranging from Rex Mundi to many Marvel titles. His work can take turns into the surreal and the unsettling in properties like Colder (Dark Horse).
Regardless of how creative roles are divvied, the result is a dynamic reader experience, fast moving and mingling familiar Spidey tropes with much more.
The artistic style, skewing a couple of steps back from ultra-realism with slightly subdued colors creates an atmosphere of the spectral and unnatural.
Those tall images make the Spine-Tingling world immersive and experiential. Periodic horrific images offer periodic punches, the face of a song-infected soul in close up, a nightmarish bloodshot eye and more.
With Spine-Tingling Spider-Man, Marvel has stopped simply spinning paper comics into digital and developed a new strand with twists and spins all its own.