Thankfully, Marvel was wise enough to make it available for free to everyone around the world on their website (limited time only, I'm not sure how long it is going to be there) and I was able to watch it. I have watched the motion comic twice already, and my general impression of it has been very mixed. Hit the jump for my review.
Alex Maleev delivers arguably what is the best job of his career. I am a big fan of his run on Daredevil, but this is miles ahead of that, not to mention the rush job he delivered with Secret Invasion - Dark Reign. The shadowy mood and setting of Spider-Woman are perfect for Maleev's style. What's also astonishing is that he did his own inking and coloring (at first I thought it was weird that the credits of the inker and colorist didn't appear in the credits, and I was about to reproach Marvel for it). The art is just perfect all around, and I can't give enough words of praise to it.
On the story side of things, Brian Michael Bendis is playing to his strengths: a single protagonist living in a seedy world, much like his work in Daredevil. This being a first issue and all, it's all about setting the character, her motivations and the world she inhabits. I found sections of it a bit repetitive, explaining stuff I already knew from all the other comics I read, but considering this is aimed more to casual readers, I understand the need for it.
There's not much new to this story, but what's there is good and provides an interesting conflict for Spider-Woman to face. I figure the second issue will provide more information and plot, considering all the introductions are out of the way with this first issue, and Jessica Drew joins S.W.O.R.D. and jumps into the heat of the battle at the end of the comic.
There's no easy way to say it, but the sound was for the most part horrible. I don't know who chose the voice actors, but for some reason Spider-Woman has a faux-British accent that becomes noticeable at all the wrong times. Abigail Brand's voice sounds at times robot-y, I'm not sure if this was intentional or not but it becomes distracting too. Spider-Man's guest appearance boasts the best voice acting all around, but he's only in it for a minute or two.
The music does provide a good background and help set the general mood, but it's also sometimes played when the characters are talking to each other, and there's one specific part, when Spider-Woman attacks Spider-Man, that I can't hear what she says because of the music and sound effects.
To make matter's worse, Bendis uses some words that sound completely stupid when read aloud. Words that sound like they came out of a Jeff Foxworthy stand-up routine, such as "Doohickey", "thingamagig" and (my personal favorite) "bull-caca" all make a groan-worthy appearance. Also, this might have been just me, but every time someone said "skrulls", I kept hearing "squirrels".
The motion is very stiff and is mostly made up of flashing lights, zoom-outs and zoom-ins, backgrounds passing by, and the occasional body part moving. I understand that these are the failings of making a motion comic based out of an existing comic, as opposed to creating a completely original animation, but I just wasn't very impressed by it. There were also some amateurish mistakes, like when Brand and Spider-Woman get inside the (seemingly public) bus that goes at what looks like 100 kilometers per hour, and never stopping in the (what I assume are) the streets of London.
Verdict - Avoid It. I can see how this might appeal to casual fans, to whom this is aimed for, but this is a very cheap substitute to an actual comic. I'm all for progress, but this feels like a waste of time, considering how long this has been delayed in order to animate it, and I don't see this format replacing comics any time soon. It's not all bad, but I think the actual comic will be much better. Ironically, for other circumstances that I noted in this article from last month, I won't be checking that out either.