The main cover of this comic proclaims that this is “The Scariest Marvel Book Ever!” and what follows is easily one of the finest examples of an introductory issue in the super-hero space that I’ve read this year. Spine-Tingling Spider-Man #1 by Saladin Ahmed (writer), Juan Ferreyra (art), and Joe Caramagna (letters) is the latest mashing together of all things horror and super-heroics. Unlike the recent happenings with their Distinguished Competition, Marvel’s Spine-Tingling Spider-Man excels at merging the super and the sinister.
Immediately after the cover’s proclamation is this book’s first surprise: a bright splash page of Spidercide coming straight at Spidey! I was expecting something chilling to start the book off, and then maybe we’d dance around some classic Spidey stuff, but clearly this creative team had different plans. They waste no time in treating the reader to a glorious double page spread that has to be seen to be believed: Spidey and Spidercide battle it out across multiple buildings in a collision of the De Luca effect (where motion is conveyed through multiple instances of the same figure(s) in one panel), as well as close up shots that are paneled inside the facades of the buildings.
The next big surprise comes after a couple pages of Peter musing about how blessed he is. It’s similar to the opening of the first Spider-Verse film, where we’re told things that we know right before a twist. You turn the page and Peter wakes up to find himself surrounded! I won’t go too deep into the details because it’s a truly excellent page turn and this is a book that you should experience first hand. Come for the captivating layouts by Ferreyra and stay for the excellent work that Ahmed is sneaking in there. Ferreyra is the star of the book for sure but Ahmed’s scripting is far too underrated.
From the truly shocking page turn reveals to the excellent scene construction, this is a rabbit hole of a book that I fell head first down. It’s a joy to watch Peter’s life literally fall apart, and when the backend of the book shifts full on into horror it’s genuinely surprising. I know I keep saying it was surprising but IT WAS! Even knowing it’s a horror book- even knowing what the cover says- I fell for it. And I LOVED it.
The momentum is cranked up all the way on this one, and when the issue ended I was both disappointed and thrilled. Disappointed because I wanted more, immediately. And thrilled because this is just a damn good comic. It does seem a little like a fad with the merging of horror with superheroes, but Spine-Tingling made me wish every comic was a horror comic.