Review: Spandex Special / Author: Martin Eden / Artist: Martin Eden / Publisher: Spandex Comix / Release Date: Out Now
The past few years have seen both DC and Marvel attempt to either introduce new or retrofit old characters to be advocates of equal rights for the LGBT community, with varying degrees of success. Each attempt is met with media furore in the US, which usually curtails progression and forces the publisher into taking a middle-of-the-road stance on the issue. However, in an increasingly comic book friendly world, creating a new character who listens to electronic music and dresses like Skrillex (see new Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes) remains a relatively easy, perhaps even cynical task; capturing current trends and profiting off the zeitgeist is Business 101 – taking cataclysmic creative risks is not.
Which is perhaps where the charm of Spandex comes from. This book is what it is; it won’t try to ease you gently in to this new world, it won’t hold your hand through what will certainly be jarring terrain for some readers, and it definitely won’t apologise for it.
The Spandex Special crams enough drama and intelligent pastiche into its pages that a 2nd, perhaps even 3rd reading is an absolute necessity. Martin Eden, creator and self-publisher of Spandex, has crafted an incredibly dense narrative, full of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references to his previous work, and plenty of foreshadowing as for where the story may go next. Focusing on the immediate though, Eden has written a compelling drama series featuring a whole host of original (some strange, others wonderful) characters who are bound to make you laugh, cringe, and perhaps even rethink your notions of normality.
The plot this time focuses on a mostly new team of characters using the ‘Spandex’ moniker, protecting the mean streets of Brighton (a city rife with Gay Zombies and Pink Ninjas) against the always-there threat of supervillain team-up Les Girlz – and the deliciously evil Ms Fantastic. Without giving anything away, the rebooted team and layered nature of the plot make it incredibly easy for new readers to acclimate to the blissfully honest storytelling and often sassy dialogue.
The Special is a humorous, risqué comic about a family of characters, whose defining characteristics are not their sexual alignments (despite their monikers), but the absurdity of the situation and the soap opera nature of the entangled romances their superhero duties force them into. It is a credit to indie comics as a whole, and a reminder that although the genre’s power allows it to rebel against political or social agendas, it is pointless unless the book remains accessible and above all else – fun.