Murderworld: Spider-Man #1 review

Did you know that when Arcade isn’t tossing superheroes around giant pinball machines he’s running a Squid Game-style TV show on the dark web? One hundred civilians willingly take on odds of 99-1 that they’ll survive Arcade’s twisted toys – and each other – to take home a big cash prize.

We didn’t know about Arcade’s extracurricular activities until last issue… what’s that, you say, this comic has #1 on the cover? That’s Marvel being Marvel, trying for that ‘Collector’s item first issue’ market. So yes, this is actually the second issue of a five-part mini-series. Marvel are also being tricksy by making it look like it stars Spider-Man, when all the arachnid heroes who show up are androids (well, Arcade says they’re LMDs – Life Model Decoys – but surely SHIELD has the trademark on that one).

In last month’s Murderworld: Avengers #1 our hero was a social influencer named Paul Psastor, this time our PoV character is MMA fighter Eden Abraha, who proves to be as vicious emotionally as she is physically. I like her.

We don’t find out who the mystery tough lady is, but we do meet a couple of other players, Alex, a ‘pretty boy’ paramedic, and the more mature Vincent, who surprises Eden with his toughness. It’s a shame the blurb for next issue, Murderworld: Wolverine #1, reveals which existing Marvel Universe character he is, as that would’ve been a terrific in-story surprise.

Also involved, but outside of Murderworld, is Black Widow, who has her own reasons to track down Arcade. She’s enlisted Kitty Pryde for her information-harvesting talents, but the X-Man will help only so much.

Towards the close of the issue Arcade unveils a twist, and if you’re a viewer of brilliant new reality game show The Traitors – as seen in the Netherlands, Australia, the UK and coming to the US next month – it’ll surely resonate.

Marvel really should show more faith in this mini-series. Sure, there’s no big superhero to draw in the punters, but Arcade has name recognition, and successful books have launched with less. Writers Jim Zub and Ray Fawkes have come up with a fun, dramatic take on the Battle Royale model – see also Avengers Arena, also starring Arcade. The focal point characters are quickly sketched in, well enough that I’m invested in their very stupid notion that they’ll be the sole survivor. The Black Widow subplot adds extra spice. And Arcade is alway entertaining.

That downward shot in the first panel can’t be easy to pull off, but artist Farid Karami produces interesting compositions throughout, always in the service of the story. And the final image is a superb quiet cliffhanger, a tsunami of side-eye. I don’t know Karami at all, but I hope we see lots more from him.

Providing more than solid support are two very familiar names, colourist Chris Sotomayor and letterer Cory Petit, while Paco Medina and Jesus Aburtov’s cover is a delight – I can’t name every Spider-LMD, but they look splendid. There’s also a superb credits spread from production designer Sarah Spadaccini, and let’s give a nod to editors Anita Okoye and Sarah Brunstad for their undoubtedly useful input.

This Murderworld mini isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it is providing very solid, stylish Marvel action – give it a go.

4 thoughts on “Murderworld: Spider-Man #1 review

  1. Nope. I gave it a go and was super disappointed. I figured that #1 meant that it was the first part of a story. I hadn’t heard of or seen the previous issue and figured this would be some kind of Spidey adventure. I’m very rarely a Marvel dude, but I don’t mind peeking in on the adventures of Peter every once in a while and seeing what kind of fun he gets up to.
    This book wasn’t that.
    It wasn’t even close. No Spiderman. No fun. No characters that I was familiar with beyond some that barely had a thing to do (Kitty Pryde, Black Widow).
    This was a premise that I probably could have gotten into. But not with a bunch of random characters that aren’t going to be sticking around much beyond the current “mini-series” (if that). If the series is meant to serve as a launch pad for a couple new characters that may show up in other books later on… none of them caught my attention or made me want to read more. Bu the time I was half way through, I ended up skipping or skimming pages of dialogue just in the hopes of seeing someone I might recognize or something that might catch my attention.
    Glad you enjoyed it, but it wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t get past my expectations of what I thought the book would be as opposed to what it actually was.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. For sure! It’s a well told tale and the art looks good.
        And even for being a chapter 2 that’s labeled #1, it’s easy enough to pick up what’s going on.
        But for someone coming in cold, who was expecting a Spider-Man story akin to, I dunno… something like Spider Island? This most definitely was not that.

        Liked by 1 person

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