Seemingly unaffected by whatever events have yet to transpire in “Secret Wars,” several spider-type heroes remain banded together after the events of “Spider-Verse” and even get an official name in “Web Warriors” #1. Mike Costa and David Baldeon largely pick up where the last Spider-event left off and take the opportunity to expand on some of the individual Spider-folk in the issue’s main story, while Robbie Thompson and Denis Medri deliver a brief but flavorful backup tale featuring the Victorian-esque Lady Spider (the Spider from Earth-803, for those keeping track). As whacky as the idea of a multiversal team consisting of alternate versions of Spider-Man might still seem, all creators involved make it work with some character development and carefully rendered visuals.
Both Costa and Baldeon set forth a pretty strong challenge for themselves and don’t waste any time rising up to it. As they pit the Web Warriors against the cartoon versions of the Sinister Six from Earth-3015, both writer and artist alike have to somehow make sense of an already disparate and displaced group of heroes while they face off against foes even more out of place. Rather than try and take the whole situation with deadpan seriousness, though, they boldly acknowledge the childlike simplicity of this world, flaunting and poking fun at its tropes and creating a whimsical, enjoyable and amusing battle. Knowing that any team featuring Peter Porker can only be taken so seriously, Costa deftly walks the line between serious and absurd, making a fun story that’s never too much of either.
Baldeon walks that same line just as skillfully; the opening double-page spread alone contains a variety of artistic styles spanning from straightforward to cartoonish. Spider-UK is respectfully drawn and nicely enhanced by the shading from colorist Jason Keith, yet he looks right at home side-by-side with the caricature-like rendering of Spider-Ham. All somehow seem to fit right in amidst the distilled, animated versions of Doc Ock and company, who are drawn with thicker outlines and little detail and filled in with solid colors. It’s an audacious attempt at blending such different styles, and — though that shouldn’t work — it does, and does so beautifully.
With only comparatively everyday threats to face, at least compared to a multiversal upheaval, Costa takes a moment to focus on individual characters, such as Billy Braddock’s loneliness and loss of purpose, Pavitr Prabhakar’s technical prowess, and — most compellingly — some bonding between Spider-Gwen and Mayday Parker. Even for those who might still be tempted to dismiss the whole notion of this title as ludicrous, Costa’s character development makes it compelling, as these characters from such diverse realities nonetheless share a common bond. If strong characterization and impressively diverse art weren’t enough, Costa mixes things up further with another trans-dimensional team later in the issue.
Thompson and Medri’s Lady Spider backup is no less entertaining, despite being a comparatively simple heroine vs. villainess story, albeit with a time-altered twist. Thompson’s eight-page done-in-one story is straightforward out of necessity, yet he does tie it into the main story with a mystery that will presumably unfold in future issues. Medri’s fine, detailed lines for the Victorian-era setting are stunning, made more so by Andrew Crossley’s rich, colorful palette.
The notion of a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is thrown out the window here — or, at least, the neighborhood part is. However, “Web Warriors” #1 is just too much fun not to like.