Although this story does not retell Gwen’s death, it does focus on several other major moments in Spider-Man’s history. These include Flash Thompson being inspired by Spider-Man’s heroics to join the army, Mary Jane Watson’s debut as Peter’s blind date, and the debut of Kraven the Hunter. While retelling class moments is nothing new, Jeph Loeb takes an interesting approach to these by placing them in the background of Peter’s relationship with Gwen. In a sense then, if his story is meant to be taken in continuity, it isn’t really retconning the events themselves, but rather Loeb is attempting to enhance them by adding another layer of depth to the original stories.
Sale does have a tendency to build towards the most iconic shots, forcing moments like MJ’s debut, Kraven’s arrival, and Spider-Man saving Flash Thompson to look more like pin-ups than pages in the story. This does alienate some of the less iconic moments by having them be less detailed. Plus, although these moments are clearly meant to be major focuses, they do look incredibly stiff and out of place.
That’s not to say that Sale’s art is all bad. It’s quite the contrary, actually. Despite problems with consistency, Spider-Man: Blue features some of the best work of Sale’s career. His expressions alone are simply phenomenal. When the stories call for it, his characters are incredibly animated with big bold movements and expressions, while at other times his faces and body language carry the tone of the story through subtle movement and nuanced facial details. Additionally, Sale uses very large panels throughout the book, which allows him to do interesting things with placement, focus, and use of negative space. As a whole, it may be one of Sale’s rockier performances, but when he is on his game, this story showcases some of the best work I’ve ever seen from him.
One of the most overlooked aspects of collected editions is the design of the book, which in the case of Spider-Man: Blue should be considered a crime. Richard Starkings and JG Roshell at Comicraft handled the design of this hardcover collection and, I must say, did an absolutely brilliant job. The fonts, layouts, and overall execution really makes this book appear to be something special. It’s clear that a lot of thought went into every aspect of this collection and it pays off.
Interested in Spider-Man: Blue? Buy it on Amazon.com and help support the Weekly Crisis!