When I started hunting for reviews on Marvel's latest Spider-Man title, Avenging Spider-Man by writer Zeb Wells and artist Joe Madureira, I wasn't surprised that the reviews were good--Wells and Madureira are certainly up for the task--but I was surprised by how good they were. As a reader, I didn't really have this book on my radar, but after seeing how much folks liked it, and how words like "fun" and "the team-up is back" were being thrown around, I decided to download it and read it myself. As the owner of near-complete runs of Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One, I was pleased to find out that, indeed, as Chris Sims put it, "this comic is Marvel Team-Up, and with this issue, it's earned the name."
But not everyone gave it a flawless review, so let's take a look at what people are saying about Spider-Man and Red Hulk's big team-up ...
Alex Zalben, MTV Geek: "Wells has been slowly building an impressive body of work at Marvel, from a Carnage mini-series, to an epic run on New Mutants that spanned the history of the Marvel Universe. Here, we’re getting Wells flexing his comedy muscles (the writer started in comedy shorts, and currently writes for Robot Chicken) in full force. Here’s a Spider-Man writer who is as funny as Spidey is supposed to be, and the book is better for it. One 'pose' page with Red Hulk and Spider-Man has one of the better riffs on an ‘80s juice commercial I’ve seen recently (you’ll know it when you see it). And even a poster has a gut-busting joke on it in the form of the perfect slogan for Mayor J. Jonah Jameson to use for the New York Marathon."
Jason Clyma, Broken Frontier: "Avenging Spider-Man #1 captures the fun tone of a light-hearted superhero story, while also poking fun at the less than believable nature of the genre. Spider-Man’s team-up with the massive Red Hulk is the perfect mixture of opposite strengths and tones, which serves to heighten the humor and fun. Zeb Wells and Joe Madureira delivered a fantastic first issue, one that hopefully is only the first part in a long run of Spider-Man team-ups."
Iann Robinson, CraveOnline: "Joe Madureira does some spectacular art here. Like Humberto Ramos, John Romita Jr. and a few others. Madureira pencils comics with the understanding that they are larger than life. It’s interesting because he doesn’t do it with bold, clean lines. The work is very delicate, lots of small lines and bits of shading. It lands between the comic art of Ramos and the fine art of Marc Silvestri. Madureira’s stuff bristles with action, everything seems to constantly stretch and move. It gives Avenging Spider-Man a distinct look and allows Zeb Wells’ more action-oriented scenes to jump right off the page."
Patrick Tobin, Multiversity Comics: "As a Spider-Man comic, Avenging Spider-Man #1 is a promising side-trip, but has no bold path of its own. The storytellers provide the personality and flavor, not the story itself. At the same time, it's hard to deny the fun that can be had with these guys, as Wells leavens Madureira's fury with humor and Madureira livens up Wells's conversations with motion. You could do a lot worse. A lot, lot worse."
David Pepose, Newsarama: "So what keeps this book from perfection? The first thing, cliché as it might be, is that I thought Avenging Spider-Man ended just a little too soon — we've got action, we've got setup, we've got the twist, but man I wish this could have been expanded beyond a standard 22-page opener, just to give Mad and Wells some more room to maneuver. The other thing — Mad's self-inking — also gave a slightly washed-out feeling to the book, particularly with Ferran Daniel's digital colors: there were certain pages that almost had a Greg Capullo-style look, which is fine if you're most artists, but this is Joe Madureira, you don't want him to look like anybody else. And finally, there is one off-color joke that Wells put in here that even made my eyebrows raise up — I'm not one for political correctness in my comics, but it's something that probably should have been cut in the editorial process a long while back."
Dean Stell, Weekly Comic Book Review: "Marvel made a big deal out of giving away a free digital copy of this issue with a print copy. I’m a huge fan of digital comics on my iPad, so I was curious to see how Marvel implemented this. Part of what makes Marvel’s iOS app so beautiful is it’s simplicity: You tap the 'buy' button, input your App Store password, confirm that you want to buy and you’re reading your comic. The whole process takes ~5 seconds. What Marvel did here really sucked. You had to go to a special webpage, log into Marvel.com (trying to remember my Marvel password), input a ~15 character code ('Is that a 0 or an O?'), say what comic shop you bought your comic at, agree to accept emails from your comic shop and then go to your device to read the comic. This is not a process that will win many converts to digital comics because the beauty of digital is its simplicity!"
James Hunt, Comic Book Resources: "Usually, I think defending a star rating in the body of a review is a little too meta, but in this case I feel it’s worth discussing. This isn’t a 5 star comic in the sense that it’s the next Sandman and everyone should have a copy on their shelves. It isn’t. It’s a pop comic. A firework, not an atom bomb. But with art this good and writing this entertaining, you can’t fail to enjoy it -- and that’s a 5 star experience however you look at it."