Review: Weavers #1

Weavers #1 has a lot going on, so let me give a brief inventory. We have a plucky female lead, a schlubby loser male lead, way too cute tarantino-esque stylized dialogue, a frenetic pace, a great central hook, and poorly designed power set.  In other words, it's a really typical book for Si Spurrier for both better and worse. In the final count, there's definitely more good than bad, thanks in large part to a central concept that I really like, but as with many of his books, I am a little frustrated at how undisciplined the writing is. Si Spurrier has been, for pretty good reason, embraced lately as one of the freshest voices in mainstream comics, but for my money, he has yet to write something that is not to some extent inconsistent in quality, which is to a say, a truly great book. Weavers does not appear to be that first great book, but it seems like a ton of fun anyway. So let's start with that central hook I mentioned. Now it's the first thing that comes up in interviews about the book, is spelled out by the solicit, and is hinted by the cover, but for whatever reason, the central conceit is not made clear until near the endpoint of the issue, so I feel like a spoiler warning is necessary. The idea is this, a crime family is operating in a large city much as the Corleones or Soprano's would, with the small caveat that each member carries in their body a parisitic spider that gives supernatural powers.  Our main character is Side Thyme, who, through no fault of his own, has the spider of a dead member crawl into his mouth, making him an immediate, unwilling initiate in a deeply nasty crime family. As I said, it's a rock solid hook. There's a lot that needs to be explained as time goes on, but the mix of body-horror urban fantasy and light gangster drama is pretty perfect.

Weavers-#1-1The art by Dylan Burnett is a fittingly stylized mix of shadows and cartooning that lands somewhere in the vicinity of Bruce Timm, Darwynne Cook, and Michael Oeming. I have had mixed feelings on the overall quality of Boom's recent offerings, but there's no denying they are putting out a beautiful package thanks to some great art teams. In this case Burnett's work is enriched by the lovely coloring of Triona Farrell who renders most sequences exclusively via shadows and neon light.

So what doesn't work in Weavers? Well the smallest problem, but a pet peeve of mine, is that the main character's powers are visually ungainly and rather poorly defined (a problem I also have with the main character in Spurrier's The Spire). He seems to sort of shoot vaguely tentacle-like projections from his arms...or perhaps his arms become tentacles. Either way it's not visually dynamic in any way, and is, since its never described, hard to physically understand. One exchange in the comic has a member of the Weavers telling Syd not to call their abilities 'powers', which seems like a clear jab at superhero books, but it's a clear weak point in his story no matter what their called.

The tentacles aside, the book is plagued by a Spurrier's self-indulgence as a writer. This is more a matter of opinion since in writers I more uniformly like, such excess would likely be a selling point, but Weavers showcases some awful examples of Spurrier's enthusiasm for over-exaggerated speech. His characters speak incessantly, bathing in the overwrought glory of their own faux-natural dialogue with not enough context to understand or care.  I might be a little bit more forgiving if I felt like something was being accomplished, but I legitimately think most of the dialogue accomplishes very little in terms of storytelling, character-development, or basic exposition. It reminds me more than a little of the recent work of Brian Michael Bendis who seems simply to like hearing himself talk.

From a plot perspective, Weavers has a lot going for it, with some interesting twists that successfully merge the supernatural aspects with the more mundane (relatively speaking) ins and outs of organized crime.  If it can successfully calm down and let its characters and stories breath more, it could turn into Spurrier's best yet. But as is, even mobsters with spiders in their mouths can only get you so far.

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Weavers #1 Writer: Simon Spurrier Artist: Dylan Burnett Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 5/4/16 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital