Plagued by that old Parker luck, Spider-Man narrowly escapes a plane crash only to find himself trapped underwater in a submarine with a slew of his enemies in the third installment of Matt Kindt and Marco Rudy’s “Marvel Knights: Spider-Man.” Peter Parker is back — if only for the moment — in this break from current continuity as he’s pushed down memory lane by old foes for a solid homage to Spidey’s history. Though the story feels a little forced at times, Kindt makes some strong narrative decisions that are reflected in and improved upon by Rudy’s stylistic choices.
“Marvel Knights: Spider-Man” has been an odd story so far, to say the least, and this issue is no exception to that. With multiple explosions and drugs involved, the reader still doesn’t know what is actually happening and what isn’t; and, at this stage in the plot, this development is increasingly frustrating. Since the issue glosses over important events such as surviving a plane crash and getting into a submarine it’s submerged, the story occasionally seems contrived to the point of silliness. Although this problem could be solved with some further explanation at the end of this arc, it’s hard not to get hung up on questions like “but — why?” and “how?!” at this point.
However, this issue is the arc’s best yet. Using a World War II veteran’s experience to parallel Peter’s, Kindt employs Spidey’s cool, matter-of-fact narration as a fantastic contrast to his chaotic surroundings. This way, Peter truly reads as “detached,” a theme Kindt establishes at the beginning of the issue. Peter’s voiceover works well in tandem with the action as he uses his recollection of his photo shoot with the veteran to explore the ordeals and consequences of combat. For this purpose, Peter’s encounters with Scarecrow and Tombstone are especially effective; their spiritual defeat resonates with the reader as much as it does Peter, enhanced a degree by his uncertainty and guilt. Kindt also orients new readers by conveniently naming each villain Peter comes across, which proves to be especially helpful for some of Spider-Man’s more obscure villains.
Rudy does a phenomenal job with this issue. The art reflects the twisted, surreal tone of the story through his spindly, stretched out characters and piecemeal layout. He includes several stunning perspective shots that neatly bridge the gap between Peter’s narration and actions, such as the very first page where Spidey appears to watch himself die. Some of his most impressive work shines through his layered pages, ones that appear as though they have been torn to reveal another page underneath and others that look as though they were pieced together like a collage, which gives the book a manic yet cohesive atmosphere. To add to this effect, Rudy’s backgrounds are visually noisy; that is, there is a lot going on, up to and including literal depictions of sounds that fill entire pages for an appropriately chaotic mood. Val Staples’s decision to use a largely red color scheme adds to the claustrophobic setting; the issue reads like a horror movie due to its ominously dark, foreboding colors. Its only drawback involves the coloring of the thought boxes, which are also red and thereby hard to distinguish from the backgrounds.
“Marvel Knights: Spider-Man” continues to have a “Saw”-type horror movie vibe with its latest issue, complete with the genre’s strengths and weaknesses. Although the storytelling has its failings, Matt Kindt and Marco Rudy’s “Marvel Knights: Spider-Man” #3 is well thought out and beautifully drawn.