Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Read a Graphic Novel. "Spider-Man Noir," and Here's What I Found Out

I was browsing at my good old local public library and wanting to try something new. On the way to the fiction section, walking down the central aisle, I passed the small graphic novel collection and thought, "Why not?" I had looked at the graphic novels before but hadn't pulled the trigger and checked one out. Why not try one?

I chose a thin book on a subject that I was familiar with and picked up Spider-Man Noir. The graphic novel's text author and goodreads self-reviewer posted the following blurb:
With great power, there must also come great responsibility - and when those in power abuse it, it's the people's responsibility to remove them. The year is 1933, and New York City is not-so-secretly run by corrupt politicians, crooked cops, big businesses . . . and suave gangland bosses like New York's worst, the Goblin. But when a fateful spider-bite gives the young rabble-rouser Peter Parker the power to fight the mobster who killed his Uncle Ben, will even that be enough? It's a tangled web of Great Depression pulp, with familiar faces like you've never seen them before!
As anyone can see, the novel's 2009 storyline is familiar and aligned to the familiar characters and events in the Spider-Man movies. However the noir aspect provides a darker and more gritty feel to the novel, captured not so much by the storyline but by the art. The pictured illustrations are literally or visually more dark than many comic books I've read. Spider-Man packs a pistol and wears a costume compiled from old, iconic wardrobe styles of the 1930s--leather bomber helmet, motorcycle goggles, trench coat, and heavy clothes of natural fiber. He can still spit the web, though, and fly through the air with spiderese.

My Conclusions
  1. I found the graphic art of the novel interesting in the depiction of the times, the tone. The illustrations provided powerful and interesting images that concretized the novel's world view.
  2. The graphic aspect of the novel didn't help me with the storyline. I do just fine reading a novel that is all text and with no illustrations. The pictures in my head, built through author description of character and setting and my imagination, are the real canvas upon which a textual novel is revealed. 
  3. There's nothing wrong with a new experience, though, and I enjoyed the read.
  4. The comic book "bubble" dialogue and description in this graphic novel were in tiny letters. Some I read by just attending closely, and for some of the novel I pulled out a magnifying glass to read. The size of the text was just small enough to require just enough effort that I was pulled away from the storyline in order to deal with the physical experience of reading.
So do I recommend the graphic novel? Sure! I experienced no epiphanies, though. It was pretty much what I expected, just smaller than I expected.

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