Murderworld Spider-Man #1
The Murderworld stream will not be stopped and, as its dwindling contestants grow more desperate, the wall-crawling web of death surrounding them begins to tighten – Thwip, thwip...Murderworld is a chaotic contest filled with treachery and tragedy from the minds of Ray Fawkes (One Soul, Constantine) and Jim Zub (Conan the Barbarian, Avengers: No Surrender) illustrated by Farid Karami. Arcade and his schemes have been a punchline in the past, but this game is no laughing matter. Each issue ups the ante and will keep readers guessing right up until the end. Don't miss it!
The body count in Murderworld: Spider-Man isn’t quite as high as in the first issue of Arcade’s homicidal free-for-all. Losing ninety contestants including the point of view character in every issue would be a tall order. But that doesn’t mean this issue is any less fun. Zub and Fawkes continue to deliver on the promise of the books’ title. The murders go on and Arcade keeps laughing.
Eden Abraha, an MMA fighter, becomes our new point of view character after Paul’s death in the final pages of the previous Murderworld. Eden is more qualified (as much as anyone can be qualified) than Paul was and she doesn’t scream her way through the issue. In fact she proves more than capable–to the point of being ruthless enough to let other contestants take the hits so she can avoid them. Only a few pages go by before Eden and the other contestants face the next big challenge, and this is when we realize that Murderworld: Spider-Man doesn’t refer to the hero but to the newest way Arcade is going to kill people. And that carnage is only a lead-in to a much more clever cliffhanger.
The big success of Murderworld: Spider-Man is in how it delivers another fantastic spectacle for Arcade fans. The homicidal redhead is only on panel a few times in this issue, but he has no shortage of quippy, pointed, and mocking dialogue on voiceover to the contestants. It’s the large focus on Arcade that makes the issue, as well as the continuing story, work. Zub and Fawkes do insert another scene centered on a hero (in this case Black Widow) looking for Arcade’s Murderworld, but the story is still primarily focused on the contestants.
As a new point of view character Eden is interesting enough, but her level of competence takes away some of the fun that was present in the first issue with Paul. Though it makes sense that the utterly unqualified characters would end up very dead very fast. Eden even comments on this as the issue goes on, evaluating the contestants who are left. She’s a character that, even in her life before Murderworld, seems to be primarily survival instinct with relatively little personality beyond that. As such I didn’t connect with her in quite the same way, but part of that could be a result of how much I enjoyed how frantic Paul was in the previous issue.
Karami’s depiction of Eden is largely what makes her work as well as she does in Murderworld: Spider-Man. She exudes strength and attitude on every page. While her personality as communicated by the narrative isn’t the most compelling, Karami’s art paints a very interesting picture of what she must be thinking. There’s the sense of a mind at work behind her eyes as he depicts her constantly checking out every contestant around her. This is the image of someone who is sizing others up, preparing to do whatever she has to to make sure she wins.
The Spider-Man appearances are very effective, and Karami and Sotomayor accomplish something together that they may or may not have intended. The Spider-Men’s webbing is much thicker than usual and almost white in color. The visual discrepancy is subtle but effective in adding a bit of extra menace to the characters. Trussing people up in thicker looking webbing, especially covering any part of their faces, adds a surprising amount of menace.
Murderworld: Spider-Man is another fun and funny romp that highlights how gloriously insane Arcade is when he gets to actually do what he always wants to do: kill people in complicated and entertaining ways. Zub and Fawkes are doing an outstanding job telling this story, and the art teams haven’t missed yet.
Murderworld: Spider-Man #1: Who’s Next?
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 10/1010/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10